I really agree 100%. In this liberal feel good world we live in now, people seem to think its wrong to be pushed out of their comfort zones. It breeds a sense that its OK not to push your limitations, and become more than what they are. To me this is the reason why so many lack self confidence, suffer from obseity (sp???) and fail to fulfil their true pontential.
In my club, I'm the number 3. I know that most in the club are concerned about sparring with me. I have not seriously injured anyone, nor to I go in at 100% power. Sometimes I'll up the pace and dig a little harder, but also stick targets that won't cause any serious injury, knocking the wind out of them. However most of what I do to them is to mess with them mentally, the mind can precieve the threat to be alot worse than it actually is. On the street, should they come to be attacked I very much doubt whether they will have be attacked as hard. They will be prepared. And then my job as an instructor and a caring friend has been done.
When I spar with my Sempai James (who's just started posting up here), I get exactly the same thing. Admitedly he's not able mess with me quite as much as he would with the lower grades, but I'm still intimidated as hell by him. His presence and power are awe inspiring. Then I sparr against my Instructor (and Daddy, again just started posting) and I feel like a white belt again. These two still have the ability to almost paralyze me merely through their presence alone.
In November, as most know by now, I'm going out for a training course with Russell Stutey. There are going to be some big hitters out there, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I'm bricking it!
I always doubt that I'm training hard enough, worried that the person down the road is training harder. I've been teaching RBSD class now for a little while and have been doing alot of Adrenaline based training. Yet I still feel woefully unprepared to go and move round with the calibre of Martial Artist I'm going to meet in Cyprus.
To be completely honest I still feel unprepared to deal with the guys on the street, yet in every altercation I've had either personally or through work, has been nothing compared to what I've experienced in the Dojo. This, to me, is a living testiment to my seniors methods!
Sorry to rant on a bit, but I think that the correct attitude of a senior grade is to prepare their less experienced counterparts for the harsh realities of real life combat, not to wrap them in cotton wool and send them out like a lamb to the slaughter.
For me it also gives me a way of understanding my own limitations. A senior grade should recognize the weaknesses and draw attention to them, be they mental or physical. It's my limitations that keep me training, not my success's. It's the desire to break those limitations and become more than who I am. To me, that is true Budo, amd the reason why I train!