Re: Poll: How realistic a goal do you feel is the "aikido" notion of defending yourself while minimizing or negating damage done to your attacker?
Another story, this one personal.
At a certain point in my training I realized I was able to defend myself, but that I could not guarantee the safety of my attacker. I simply wasn't good enough. So, when someone tried to start something with me I would explain that to them.
"Look, I don't know if I will actually be to defend myself effectively. I'm pretty sure, though, that if I do you will get hurt. There's a good chance that even if I don't you will get hurt. I'm just not good enough at my art to be sure I can use it without hurting you, so I'd really rather you didn't force me to try.'
The thing is, if you say this in the right spirit (real concern for the other person) they will take it seriously and - at least in my experience - back off. I guess there is something really frightening about someone telling you that they really don't want to hurt you, but they will forced to do so if you attack and they aren't even concerned about winning the fight.
Some of you will have noticed that I defended myself without hurting anyone. Okay, it didn't always work, but when it did the outcome was ideal, IMO.