Can a martial art really have techniques that "require cooperation"? Drills or principle-based exercises, maybe, like kokyu dosa. Still, it seems like aikido techniques should have a purpose beyond just "principle exercises".
All martial arts that I have practiced including MMA methodolgies and BJJ have drills and techniques that require cooperation. The difference in my experiences deals with the concept of aliveness from Matt Thornton. Aliveness is not something you can quantifiably define, I think, except you "know it when you see it and feel it." that said, many can be fooled into thinking what they know and see is alive when indeed it is not! Ask me how I know this!
In my experiences many schools in aikido have either intentionally or unintentionally removed the aliveness aspects of training. This may not be true for all schools and teachers for sure. I think though that this is true for most budo arts and is the brunt of the criticism from many in the Aliveness, or MMA community.
For an example of an statement of training philosophy look at Aikido Shobukan Dojo (my organization's dojo).
Please don't interpret this as a criticism on my part or a inherent flaw with aikido or ASU...it is simply the philosophy as Saotome Sensei as he interprets it from O'Sensei and what he learned. Also if you study with Saotome Sensei you will understand quickly that he personally understands aliveness, albeit he takes a different approach to it...one which I don't believe focuses on developing fighting proweness, but does tend to instill the qualities he sees important in the study of aikido.
ASU, aikido, at least in my experiences, focuses on certain aspects of budo which are beyond the realm or concern of fighting skill.
Within this context, I think it is easy to demonstrate in many scenarios the importance of aikido, maybe not directly in fighting skills, but in many ways that can help people internally as well as externally to deal appropriately with conflict....sometimes in a very skillful manner. Alot of what I think is important about aikido is the concept of transcedence. that is, that we can transcend the daily physical processes of conflict and deal with them in a more refined and skillful way.
Looking at aikido simply as a martial art designed for fighting and comparing it to MMA and that it will become obsolete as it is some how exposed is not a good analogy. Again, I refer to ASU's website...it says nothing that would remotely illude to anything that would even put it in the same category as BJJ or MMA as practiced by many.
That is not to say that an Aikidoka cannot expand his or her knowledge and understanding of things that are martial from the study of MMA or a non-compliant type practice. Frankly I think there is much value in this type of study if you really want to understand the components of what makes this stuff work in a physical sense.
I think the message from O'Sensei and his senior students like Saotome sensei is that you don't need to do focus on the physical aspects of martial arts in order to learn the lessons that he thought that budo could teach us.
Many of us though, like myself, have a need to go through this process in a different manner. We don't so readily accept things at face value and must learn these lessons on our own. O'Sensei might indeed shake his head at me and say, such a waste of time, if they'd only listen!
Anyway that is my take on purpose.
I'd recommend reading Matt Thornton's blog on aliveness.
I think on a personal level there is much that can be learned from this concept. It does not mean that aikido needs to change, or should change the way we practice it. Aliveness is nothing new within the martial world...just new to most of us in the U.S and modern world as it has been re-introduced after being absent I think for a long time!
It may be that many of us must re-learn the lessons the hard way!
Anyway, I refer to my previous post....why are you training, and what do you want from it? Easy question to ask...not so easy to answer, I know!