Re: Aikido does not work at all in a fight.
I agree Peter. What is hard to agree on though is what you actually are learning and why. I mean philsophically it may take someone a short amount of time to "learn" the lessons of aikido. Skill wise you can become fairly proficient quickly as well, especially if you are young and athletically inclined.
However, I think the synthesis of being able to the mental, physical, and spritual aspects AND being able to teach them to others (which IMHO, should be the goal of mastery), could take much longer.
It may also take you much longer (or not) to learn how to apply aikido widely across a spectrum of situations from "real life", to being a Shihan
I suppose it really depends on your perspective about what "learning" aikido really is all about.
As far as working in a fight....I am really stumped to be honest. Not sure why someone would approach aikido as an efficient methodolgy to study "fighting" since aikido really is not aligned with that paradigm (whatever it may be). I think in these situations, you need to pick your focus of risk and/or situations, and adapt/focus your training on those things that are "high probability" for your particular situation.
I know I am being repetitive, but that does not align or is not aikido in my book.
I think how you define learning aikido is based on personal perspective. That said, to learn the basics of aikido, should only take a few years to master (become profiecient) the rote techniques.