Real-fights are not the goal. They are the reality.
Real-fights should be fought with full force. The division into levels of the methodical pyramid is meant solely for planning and understanding. The pyramid is a tool for AKBAN instructors to plan training sessions for their students.
The methodical pyramid divides only the learning process—not the fighting - into levels. This division facilitates more professional planning.
The levels of learning progress gradually from general skills to real-fighting:
Physical preparation - general physical capacity: strength, flexibility, stamina etc.
Basic moves - strikes, kicks, throws, basic strikes with weapons etc.
Katas - basic move sequences vs. an opponent.
Randori - full-contact sparring whose variables and rules are determined by the earlier and next levels.
Tatakai - real-fighting;
All planning and preparation is based on profound understanding and analysis of the real-fighting level—this should be the special skill of instructors. If we end up in outer space 'real-fighting' with eight-limbed aliens equipped with laser guns, we would change and adapt our terrain skills, sparring practices, Katas, foundation and physical preparation levels.
Analyzing real-fights, the types of practice required should be considered as well as the number of opponents, their weapons, their mental state and terrain conditions. Overlooking any of these givens would lead to inadequate sparring and deficient preparation.
We practice terrain skills, without which preparation lacks a central component.
Precise and consistent performance at every level of the pyramid depends upon filling the requirements of the previous level. Winning without understanding or preparation is, in fact, 'beginners' luck'.
Mistakes in execution should be located and corrected at the lowest level at which they appear.
The Katas in Ninjutsu are centuries-old. They constitute documentation of real-fights in natural terrain against a great variety of opponents, weapons and techniques. Alongside the adaptation we make to modern real-fights, we preserve the lessons learned from ancient real-fights. This is our tradition.
Foundation practice is not Kata practice. At the foundation level we concentrate on precision, adequate strength and proper movement pattern.
Katas are not sparring. At the Katas level we practice with one or more partners sequences of foundation moves and learn set responses to the opponent's moves.
Sparring is not real fighting! At the sparring level, we conduct fights that resemble real ones in all their components save the main one: there is no intent to harm the partner, but rather to spare him so that he will continue to practice. Partners can be injured quite easily, which may result in suffering and the loss of training time. Fierce sparring is possible by limiting moves (no throws) and using protective gear.