Phil Van Treese
As I have said before, train as though your life depends on it. What you put into Aikido is what you will get out of it, or any martial art. Does Aikido work? For me, you bet. I was in Viet Nam, Desert Storm and Mogadishu, Somalia on the Blackhawk Down Rescue mission and I actually did use aikido, and judo, to my defense. Wasn't a good thing that I had to do but that's why I am here.
This is my point. It doesn't matter what martial art you study, they can all be effective. Part of whether or not what you train will be effective falls on the shoulders of your instructor. But the majority of the responsibility of whether or not any martial art is effective rests upon the shoulders of the practitioner. Combat it combat, people get hurt in combat. If you are not willing to hurt someone while defending yourself your defense will be ineffective because your preservation is second in your mind and the safety of your attacker is first. Just my two cents.