Re: causing no (serious) harm
Some how this whole topic seems delusional. The (lucky) fact is, most of us will not have to defend ourselves physically outside of the dojo. I believe if that is so, the proper context for this discussion is "in the dojo". If that is true, then of course we want to do minimal/no harm to our uke. Which is entirely different from dealing with someone really attacking us to do harm.
On multiple attackers being easy to avoid...it is not necessarily so. For instance, I have a great aunt who lives in a very bad neighborhood. She refuses to leave (she would have to be declared incompetant to get her to leave). In this neighborhood, dealing with multiple attackers is not unheard of (had to deal with it myself). So, in my daily life, being physically attacked is the least of my justifiable worries. But occationally, reality and obligation forces me out of that context, and nothing I could morally do would stop that possibility from occuring. David, are you saying that the instructor in Rob's story could not have been in such a situation?
My first paragraph and my second represent a paradox...aikido is in the dojo because it is unlikely for me to need the physical skills outside the dojo...and yet, there are situations where I could need the physical skills outside of the dojo through no fault of my own. I resolve that paradox by saying in the dojo, no harm to uke. Outside the dojo, let the attacker beware. I was fortunate that my presentation to the would be attackers mentioned above caused them to change their minds. It could just have easily have gone another way. I can assure you that I wouldn't have been worried about them cracking their skulls on the pavement. It is just as sure that I probably would have found simply surviving a much bigger concern.