Hello Ghost Fox
Interesting Thread that you raised. We had a visiting aikidoka to our dojo. He was very experienced, knowledgeable and trained having done aikido for over 25 years.
Over a cup of tea after the training session he commented that aikido was not amartial art in the sense of what the Samuria learned. There is a lot within Bushido that is not covered by aikido such as archery, horse riding and spear. He said what aikido does teach is commitment, spirit and honour. That got me thinking about what aikido was to me and what I really wanted to get out of aikido. I'm afraid that the jury's still out on that one.
There's a lot in aikido besides that martial bits but I think its all interrelated. I not sure that you can practice aikido without principles, philosophies and mental attitudes inherent in aikido.
I also agree wholeheartedly with Chuck. If you are a not trained to properly receive a technique with proper intent, then you can be seriously injured.
Techniques (whether in training or in a self defence situation) need proper intent and control. I guess that's the art part of it and distinguishes it from thuggery. The law, our own sense of compassion and morality will have a part to play too. I dont presume to know the mind of O Sensei, but from what I have read he was deeply and profoundly affected by his experiences and the development of aikido was shaped by these experiences.
I dont think that I will ever get a good understanding of aikido but its sure fun trying