I'm 32 years old, took Aikido when I was 12, and have recently been checking out two highly respected Aikido schools in NYC, watching classes and wanting to get back in it! I've been a fan of O'Sensei's writings, films, read Terry Dobson and George Leonard books, belive in the existence of KI, and have zero interest in hurting anybody and want to take Aikido to revolutionize my life, as so many people have said happens when they take it. I'm in it for the long haul. I have also read that long thread in here regarding how Aikido is supposedly not effective in a street fight, and loved and was educated by all of your astute answers.
OK, here's my question: I notice that most martial arts schools I have been to (Hapkido, Jujitsu, Kung Fu, etc.) all say that they teach "self-defense". If someone attacks you on the street, these schools say that you can "defend yourself" and/or "stop the assailants". These schools use real-life situational offensive strategies (straight punches, roundhouses, chokes, pushes, takedowns) for the student to DEFEND with the kata/moves of the martial art, as a result of this promise to teach self-defense.
I have been, so far, to two highly respected schools and watched 3 classes at each location. All of the attacks with which you are to defend at both schools are either a chopping down (like a sword) coming down on your head, or a chopping at the waist. I know that O'Sensei came from a sword culture. But why are teachers making moves like this in order for us to learn Aikido against when, in the real world, people DON'T ATTACK LIKE THAT!? I understand it's a spiritual martial art, but I feel like this is being TOO esoteric. Is this why Tomiki was invented?
It makes me hesitant to take the course. Maybe I'm an idiot. Maybe I don't get it. But while I want to dedicate my life to an art like Aikido, I also want to be able to defend myself if some guy or guys mess with me.
You guys rock! Set my verdant ass straight!