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.
Good stuff Larry, I think you hit upon a key point, several actual in you post! What is most important is the attitude you approach your study with. (relates for to my point #1).
Aikido is a interesting paradox. On one hand we talk about it being non-violent, and a way to peace/harmony...yet on the other it is very violent etc. We are told not to worry about technique, but focus on prinicple.
Aikidoka will argue on here ad nausem about these things (me included!) This is why I say you must approach you studies with a goal/purpose in mind.
I agree many come to aikido, not really understanding the paradox and what it represents. Many do not care to internalize the techniques and realize that one day they may use them and need to really understand the application. Others totally focus on the physical fitness aspects and enjoy the "dance". Others may be into the whole KI thing.
Nothing wrong with those extreme approaches, but unless you really put yourself out there at take to heart what it is you are learning and why you are learning it..you will come up short.
One thing I have not really liked about aikido is what I call the "Church" mentality that can exsist in a dojo. The nature of training we use in aikido allows for people to simply attend training and not really put themselves into the training, they can smile, go through the movements, chastize me on my posture/ki and go home. They get a "warm and fuzzy", but never really put themselves into it
I equate this to "church" in the sense that many churches are filled with those that simply attend on special holidays and "check the block". They really contribute not much to their own aikido, nor the dojos.
These type can be dangerous, IMHO. one they end up with a false sense of security about how good they are in "real life"tm. They also set up other aikidoka for failure in by giving them a false sense of security, or aikidoka "smells the BS", and doubts the effectiveness of aikido training. Then comes on line and discusses that on aikiweb!
One thing I have enjoyed about MMA/BJJ is that it is difficult to get away with this. You must put yourself on the line and try hard. The nature of the training holds you accountable.
As I have said before, there is nothing wrong with the approach to training aikido uses, it does well to accomplish the goals of it's founder, O'Sensei. It just is not the only way, nor is it the best way for all endstates!