How did karateka of old incorporate sparring into their daily training?
Lately, I've given some thought to certain styles of martial arts in which practices such as sparring are virtually unheard of. I ascribe to the belief that sparring and live training, while not a complete training method in themselves, are very important for the development of men and women who are prepared to apply their skills on the street. Practitioners of these nonsparring arts tend to use two major arguments. The first is that the techniques of their art are too deadly to be practiced in live situations with people they don't wish to harm. The second is that the rules of sparring, which are in place because of the potentially dangerous nature of techniques, dilute the experience to the point where it may become possibly harmful to the development of the student. From this point, the issue seems to develop further, polarizing the martial arts world between forward looking combat oriented martial artists, and spiritually oriented traditional martial artists. Indeed, full contact sparring seems to be associated most readily with MMA, and even one of the driving forces of this forum is the critique that most traditional karate schools do not insist their students engage in sparring type exercises with fully resisting opponents. According to my own observations, from this, we seem to associate sparring and similar exercises with progress, so my question is this: are there records of how the karateka of old incorporated sparring and live training into their daily practices? For those from other arts, do you know of any such records from your own arts? Is it possible that sparring was, in fact, an unnecessary exercise on account of how violent ancient Okinawa actually was? (Karateka received enough actual combat experience that they didn't need to manufacture it during training?)