Re: effectivness of technique
Philosophically speaking, I consider myself to be at an Aikido stage in my overall martial arts development. After the Korean dojang I'd been training at moved upstate, I assessed my abilities and decided I needed some throws to round myself out.
I've studied Aikido exclusively for over four years, so I consider myself to be a serious student. And I really like my dojo, but after I make Shodan next year I'll likely split and head for a tactical school. I have also trained extensively in Yoshukai & Goju Ryu Karate, Shao Lama Kung Fu, Hapkido and Tae Kwon Do.
Having said all that, my version of "realistic and effective" is to apply Aikido skills to ones I already use. Not to limit myself to just Aikido because that's what I'm studying currently.