Jean de Rochefort wrote:
1)To me, I think it's better to spend that time on your own techniques. When you've got your own techniques down...move on to more techniques.
Again, I'm not saying that you shouldn't train in other stuff...just that you should know your own first...and know it well.
I would like to support Jean's approach here. From my experience just too many Aikidoka don't put in the effort to understand the application of Aikido principles to "fighting" or real physical conflict. They often prefer to be "bottle fed" by their Instructors instead of applying themselves to derive what it is they need from the training. Oftentimes the reason for this is because the training methods that develop these sorts of skills are not often used in Aikido dojo, if at all.
However imho this is no reason why the individual should not do their own research and training with a "combative" (not in a military sense necessarilly) mindset or goal in place. In my early Kyu days I would take almost every technique we practiced at home or after class and strip it down to its principles and play with it to find ways of it working under serious resistance and extreme force conditions because for me it was, and still is important to know how things would work in a practical sense, regardless of what was being taught on the day.
I think that a lot of folks who practice Aikido miss a lot of the obvious combat applications since thesse things are often not stressed. But as Jean says, if you learn your own stuff well enough it will work for you. The thing is, a lot of Aikidoka don't approach training with the mindset of the typical Jujutsuka, Judoka etc. who expect at some point to test his skills and knowledge of principles on a trained, resisting opponent. It is also important to realise that no one system has all the answers and that ultimately "fighting prowess" comes down to whatever you can do successfully when "it" happens for real and is not defined by any one style or method except your own.
Many get their butt handed to them the first few times and assume that the art is lacking when it is their training methodology, approach and mindset that needs the work. It is interesting to see that among BJJ, JJJ, Judo etc. folks that when an Aikidoka tosses them around a bit or pins them that they don't assume their art is at fault but seek to fix their personal flaws through truthful self evaluation and hard training. I think if a lot more Aikidoka had this approach there would be a lot less question as to Aikido's practical usage and more answers regarding any personal obstacles encountered towards technical proficiency in a free fighting format as done by BJJ, Judo et al.
Just my thoughts. When you don't like the image the mirror presents, fix the image, don't break or tarnish the mirror imho.