Amen...I think you hit the nail squarely.
To anyone interested in the topic of self defense, I highly recommend a book titled: "Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence." by Rory Miller.
The author is a prison guard who has significant experience with "street thugs" and insists that these type of attacks are almost always faster, harder and more surprising and coordinated than we could anticipate.
And I think this is why it's important to be able to take a shot or two without freezing up.
on taking a shot or two. I agree. When I started Army Combatives, we always practice from "point of failure". If we are in those situations...something has gone wrong...something failed, and THAT is what we must work our way out of.
Our experienced Shihan always talk about the importance of Ukemi. Ukemi is failure and ukemi should be about not falling or diving, but correcting that failure. So, I believe that we have that element in Aikido if we look at ukemi as a primary important thing.
However, we always seem to start at parity in aikido. An equal kamae. So I believe that many of us begin to translate our training to situations as we will always be on parity or somehow stop the bad guy from ever gaining the iniative or upper hand, and that ukemi is a secondary role.
I personally think this is a very dangerous proposition and perspective.
So for me, I love Ukemi as my ukemi is not about rolling, diving, or laying down, but about me maintaining my integrity, and regaining myself and finding the gaps and weaknesses in nage.
Done right, it makes Nage better too!
So, I think we should really do a better job in alot of cases of emphasizing the importance of ukemi and the role of uke as the person that is primary in waza.