George S. Ledyard
What is viable David? Does it mean that if someone grabs you as they do in class you can perform a given technique? Then sure, I am all over that. But what does that have to do with the ability to defend oneself? As folks are so fond of pointing out, no one attacks that way.
Real world attacks are almost always ambushes, meant to take you by surprise and defeat you before any waza you might know could be utilized. In most cases, predators work in groups so we are talking about multiple attacker situations. In a very significant number, we are talking about weapons (enough that you have to assume the presence of weapons when you train). In that kind of situation, the first guy you touch needs to go down and not get up.
Is that what you are training for in your Aikido? If so you must be training quite differently than any Aikido I have seen. If self defense in a bar is your goal, you need to train in an environment in which there is furniture, non-combatants, the need to integrate verbal along with physical technique. You need to practice in the type of clothes and footwear you'd be wearing. I have never seen Aikido practiced that way. It's the same if you want to use your skills out on the street... You need to train on slippery pavement, amongst parked cars, etc.
Peyton Quinn, who has actually used his Aikido in real situations once said, "You'd be amazed how well iriminage works when you bounce the guys head off the bar..." Is that what you mean by making your technique viable? Because that's what the stuff looks like in a fight. Are you training that way in your dojo? I'm not saying you have to actually practice it that way... but you have to be thinking about it that way when you practice or you won't apply it that way when you are in the middle of it.
It's not about how hard you throw, it's not about how strong your wrist locks are, or if you can move a guy who trying not to move. If you want viable self defense capability, you need to get out of the dojo and cross train, preferably do some scenario based training in which you can check out if your Aikido works in the environment in which you might have to apply the technique. You need to work on your Aikido with people who aren't doing Aikido.
The amount of wishful thinking in Aikido is tremendous. All sorts of folks convince themselves that what they are doing is martial and "viable" simply because they train roughly. If people are getting injured on the mat, then it must be "real", not like those Aiki bunnies. A lot of this is just samurai wanna be non-sense. When I was younger and not so smart I had a lot of that in me. A lot of years of training has shown me how silly I was. I have done combat arts and Aikido, in any way it is normally practiced, in the vast majority of styles, simply isn't one. Attempting to make it into one is like trying to rebuild your Rolls and make it a hot street racing car. No matter how you try, it will never be that because it was designed to be something else.
If one trains properly, a certain amount of self defense skill will be a by product of the training, yes. But if that is your prime concern, you should do another type of training and / or get out and practice your stuff outside of the dojo.
I only go on about this because I see so many people absolutely missing what is deep and amazing about the art in an effort to shape it into something it is not. There is way better training out there for straight self defense; if that's the primary concern, one should go do that training. Why do you think that there is not a single military, law enforcement, corrections, security, executive protection, or personal protection organization out there which uses Aikido as the central core of its defensive system? It's because it's too complex, hard to train, takes too long, focuses on a lower level of force application than what is required in many situations, etc.
I am really serious about this... If you live in an dangerous area in which you expect to have to defend yourself, or you hang around in bars with men consuming alcohol with some frequency, or you have a stalker problem, or any serious violent threat to your physical well being, do some other training. Don't live in some fantasy that your dojo Aikido training will protect you and your family. It might... but there is a lot of training out there that would be a thousand times more certain if that were my major concern for doing a martial art. This is not Aikido's weakness, it is its strength, in my opinion. But I realize that this isn't necessarily something on which everyone would agree with me.