If a controversial understanding of aikido also means an evolution let me start with a phrase that aikido contains only 12 techniques. By name: Irimi-nage, kote-gaeshi, kaiten-nage, shiho-nage, ude-kime-nage, tenchi-nage, koshi-nage, juji-nage, ikkyo, nikyo, sankyo and yonkyo. On purpose I do not count a group of techniques called kokyu-nage which I accept for fun, relax and to practice my ukemi. What do these 12 techniques have in common? Their execution does not require putting uke out of balance. Before a throw, uke is supposed to be on his toes. Herein aikido differs from other martial arts.
It is a simple idea. When you raise yourself on your toes, your body stays straight to keep balance and your hands are powerless. If there is a solid grip established, it is easy to throw someone from that body position. It is apparent that it could be a deadly action, since an uke could be thrown directly on his head breaking his neck. Aikido can be a real threat and this why I consider it as a lethal weapon. It is similar to a gun intended to intimidate an aggressor and not to kill.
Let's look at it from another side. It was Founder's intention not to include any offensive techniques in his art. He never considered aikido to be a fighting art, but only a unique self-defense art. In aikido there is no preparation, no advance, no time for thinking but a trained reflex followed by a technique. The most importantly that action must end any confrontation. There are only two options; to intimidate the aggressor or to kill him.
There are consequences of such thinking. In my view Morihei Ueshiba's development is still unfinished. This possibly makes me an outsider to the aikido community.
I have been focusing on six techniques I found most applicable in real life situations. Each one of them is allocated only one attack. It is actually nothing new and it represents Koichi Tohei's Kitei Taigi: shomen-uchi-kokyu-nage (irimi-nage), yokomen-uchi-shiho-nage, mune-tsuki-kote-oroshi (kote-gaeshi), katate-dori-ikkyo, kata-dori-nikyo and ushiro-tekubi-dori-sankyo (katate-kosa-dori-sankyo). I split each technique in 3 parts to practice them independently. In order to perfect each part it is necessary to allot them different times.
I have developed a specific approach to an attack based on the notes mentioned earlier. Uke's attack always resembles a knife's attack made from a static position and from a very close distance. In this case we take in consideration three cuts and three stubs. It is crucial to achieve two goals at the same time - not to be touched and to establish solid contact with the uke. In order to accomplish that I suggest dodging with a small body movement and following with a forearm circulation (ude-mawashi). We want to establish contact with the uke by grabbing his wrist (a thumb and a middle finger). You have to use the same method for all attacks. Please note that it is the only moment when you can use your opponent's strength of attack to your advantage. Your goal is to stretch out the attacking hand in order to be able to bend the elbow and/or the wrist. By the way, in order to practice this way of dodging, I have designed and constructed a self attacking punching robot.
In order to practice the second part of each technique you can start by grabbing uke's wrist from any side. This exercise is similar to judo's uchi-komi. As I mentioned before your goal is to put uke on his toes and to ensure it I had to slightly modify
the above mentioned techniques. Following the modifications all techniques are finished in the same position. It is important to notice that all pins do not impose any pain to uke, but they cause an expected his subconscious body reaction to joint stretching limitation. The final movement is based on a shoulder's pin.
As a result of the second part of each technique tori grabs uke's arm which looks like he is holding up a sword. It is a very uncomfortable position for the aggressor and gives you an opportunity to make him realize seriousness of the next move consequences. It is also the essence of the art of aikido. You are not going to hurt him and only send him a message; similar to a policeman firing his gun into the air.
I believe that my approach gives answers to some difficult aikidokas' questions: "Why do we call aikido a peaceful martial art?", "How do we use our opponent's strength in aikido?" and finally, "How to deal with attacks by feet, knees, elbows and heads?". The last questions may need some explanations. Without a doubt there is no aikido without a successful dodging, regardless of the kind of attack. Attacks without the use of hands make uke's hands powerless and make it easy for you to raise uke's inactive hand and to pin his shoulder to the desired final position.
Finally, the question remains: "What does aikido mean to me?". Is it a self-defense art? Not really. A self-defense skill is a consequence of practicing aikido, but it does not represent a value by itself. Aikido gives me a sense of responsibility to create calm and peaceful environment and also forces me to prevent any violence around. In its core it is a real face of Pacifism which is senseless without the ability to protect its values.