"Poll: How realistic a goal do you feel is the "aikido" notion of defending yourself while minimizing or negating damage done to your attacker?"
Before the engagement, very. That attitude--compassion?--will lessen the likelihood of conflict to begin with. This is aikido.
Also, I thought this was nicely put (boldface is mine):
Chuck Clark wrote:
In social self-defense situations rather than combat during war, aikido is one system among many others that emphasizes "doing as little harm as possible." It is not only "very realistic" but absolutely necessary for humanity.
Even during war we must keep to "rules" in order to be able to live with ourselves and our former enemies... .