Excellent discussion, and I hear the kami telling me that we are treading ALL OVER Jun's next poll!!!
In the ASU handbook M. Saotome Sensei states that the kihon of aikido must be preserved or aikido will devolve into something else. Let me quote the gentleman since his words weigh more:
Aikido has a basic structure, kihon waza, which allows you to study the fundamental principles of the art. The structure of this training process is the same as a scientific formula. As a formula is an exacting international language that allows scientists to communicate and explore the depths of scientific principle, kihon waza is an international language allowing Aikidoka from all over the world to communicate and explore the basic truths of Aikido. If this basic structure is lost, Aikido is lost.
My last class in Psychology was the Psychology of Language - the Prof said there are several defining world views - rational linear, organic, synthetic, and one I forget. If I adopt the organic view I can speak very plainly about the interconnectedness of all things. In this way I am not referencing the 'mystical' when I suggest that to protect one's opponent is to protect oneself, especially if you are a martial artist and you have to explain to the police why there is a person lying in the ground in front of you. (At my wife's school BOTH parties are punished when there is a fight; this is also true where I work - immediate dismissal)