James Davis, Jr.
In my humble opinion, aikido is meant for dealing with people that we don't want to hurt. It's great for dealing with Grandpa when he's off his meds and gets violent. It's great for dealing with Uncle Larry when he's drunk. It's great for dealing with a sixteen year old kid who hasn't seen enough injury and death to know how stupid his actions are. With enough practice, aikido gets both parties home alive without injury.
In my albeit limited experience, aikido sensei ask us not to do everything we've been doing all our lives. I knew how to slap the dogs**t out of somebody long before my first tae kwon do class, but I had to work really hard for a long time to learn how to enter without fear.
Well said. While I understand the idea of learning how to impose control on people by learning proper striking form or how to deal with a tight-muscled attacker (ie-compared with the often ultra relaxed attacks we often see in Aikido), my experience is that it's not so hard to knock the dogs**t out of someone (I haven't heard it said that way in quite some time; ah to reminisce!). The difficulty comes with trying to out-coordinate your attacker...if that makes sense.
In my mind, the different martial arts aren't tools for fighting (ie- resolving a conflict with a desired result) as much as they are tools for learning how to fight and in that sense, having a good teacher is more important than having the right tool (being that these particular tools share many of the same properties and uses). To get a little pedantic, comparing different arts isn't like simply comparing hammers and screwdrivers, unless you're talking about prying something apart (ie-flathead vs the claw end of a hammer). Both can do it, but knowing how to use your own particular tool of choice is far more crucial than having the "right" tool. In the same sense, we're all just learning how to use the same form (ie-body and mind) with precision and potency. Having the right guide is what's important...and the quality of that will vary in every art and is relative to each individual student's learning style. One teacher can be perfect for one student but not another; same thing goes for the form/art itself.