cheers for that Kevin. I'm sorry to say in my experience alot of dojos aren't as explicit as Saotome's. And even when they are the bigger issue is how do they respond to the question "hey all that self development stuff is great but will it enable me to defend myself".
Re Tony Blauer - read alot about him when he was all over black belt magazine and similar 10-15 years ago and didn't much care for him. Mainly that was based on his excessive use of jargon and acronyms which struck me as an attempt to make the simple sound complex and mystical. Having watched that and other videos linked to it, I'm pretty impressed. It meshes with what I've been thinking as a result of conversations with other coaches and other readings - so thanks for posting it - good stuff!
Obviously I can't speak for the aiki community on how to answer the "big question" that comes up, but I usually start by asking more questions of them rather than answering it.
Questions like, "what do you see is your major risk?" "give me an example of what you are fearing?" "what do you think the odds are of this happening?" "What constraints and limitations do you see in the environment"? all those type of questions.
Usually you find that people have not really thought it through very well, and it is the fear of the "unknown" and vaque "I am in a dark alley with no way out, three guys attacking me, and there is no weapons, or any other thing laying around!"
Anyway, you and I have discussed this in that "other thread" many times!
Well worth a read for those that have not read it. (Does aikido does not work in a real fight.)
Tony Blauer. I was not exposed to him 15 years ago, so I cannot say how he was back then. However, we have come a long way in our understanding as a collective community on things martial haven't we! Maybe it took a while to develop his delivery!