Jun Akiyama wrote:
So, what implications does your answer to this poll have on your everyday on-the-mat aikido training?
I voted 'critically important' because that is the ethic which gave rise to Aikido.
The ideal is to leave any and all attackers in an uninjured state. I don't ever expect to reach this ideal (such is the nature of 'ideal'), but it is something that can be approached, gradually, through training.
The implications for my on-the-mat training is that I feel that control is of utmost importance. Right now it seems that the extent of my control is walking through the door, changing, and bowing in.
In regard to not injuring someone who doesn't know the ukemi, I had a really cool experience once. We were working on kotegaeishi and I kept throwing myself into breakfalls. The instructor approached and told me to just take a back fall, and proceeded to throw me a few times. On the last throw he didn't go to the pin and I was left lying on my back, looking up at him grinning. So I started to get up, keeping the connection, giving energy, and all of a sudden he threw me so fast that I flipped right over! I didn't know how to do it properly, but he knew how to guide me into it.
Granted, my experience was in a sterile environment, but I think it shows that someone who doesn't know the ukemi can be dealt with effectively and with minimal damage. It just takes a long, long time to get there, but in the meantime we get to learn a method for at least defending ourselves.