Wow, just quickly scanning the responses, it appears that most DO spar (in some form). I Teach RyuTe, though the system (and the majority of schools within it) does do sparring, it's (usually) of the Bogu type (full body protection, Head, gloves, chest protection). Strikes are full power, and “points” are only scored if/when the recipient is sufficiently “rocked” and/or knocked down.
I don't include sparring in my own classes though. What I teach is limited to “self-protection”, which “sparring” would be counter-productive to. Though many would disagree, I don't feel that sparring adds anything to learning to protect one's self. The argument of learning to “take a punch” is BS. Sparring is a sport, there is no correlation to reality contained within it. When I was younger I enjoyed participating in it, but I had no illusions about it being anything but “playing”. Sparring has NO similarities to a Real confrontation. For “us”(in RyuTe), it doesn't allow for 90% of the technique's we practice, and actually trains the participant to perform actions contradictory to what RyuTe endorses.
Although I don't condone student participation in sparring, I don't restrict it either. I've never encountered any discernible advantage obtained by those student's that do (participate in sparring), but I have (regularly) found that those student's (who do) have a more difficult time with the technique's and methodologies that we practice. Sparring, is a sport, that's all fine and good, but it has nothing to do with reality. To fall into the belief that it does, is delusional and miss-leading. As I stated, if you participate in it for the “sport”(entertainment) aspect, that's fine (and it is “fun”, LOL). But to believe it necessary to learning to protect one's self is “silly”.