George S. Ledyard
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.
Not really. I think you're assuming people are quite dim and can't react to the circumstances without very specific training. I went into break up a fight about a month back, got into contact with the opponent, slipped on the ice and took him down with me. I extricated myself from under him and got onto my knees and pinned him. I've never trained to do that, never even considered what I'd do in that situaton. I've certainly never trained on ice to have someone land on me while trying to take ukemi while trying to get a choke on. It was just the obvious thing to do with my training in the circumstances.
I was in a position which didn't suit me or what I'm trained to do, so I moved to one that did, that's a principle of Aikido; move to where you're strongest and work from there. I'd argue that for anyone with even a basic level of training in any art that is common sense.
George S. Ledyard
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.
I'd be seriously shocked if we're not all thinking that way. Can anyone here honestly say that they've not contemplated how they would react in a given situtation with the training they have? I think it's true of any art that you care to name that if you don't contemplate it's use outside of training it wont be effective. Otherwise you're just training to train, you're learning nothing except how to learn learning.
In an Aikido context that means you become brilliant at learning Aikido and no doubt your Aikido kata will be excellent, but what good is that? Is being able to perform Aikido kata of any use? Well you can't fight with it, so not martially it has no value. Is the simple repetition of Aikido kata better than the simple repetition of Karate kata? Will you reach any greater spiritual or philosophical insights by performng Aikido kata than you will performing Karate kata? No.
It's only when, IMO, you start imagining how you would apply the lessons of Aikido kata to the real world that you start to really learn Aikido. That's when it ceases to be the repetition of a dead form and becomes a living process and it's only when you start to imagine and mentally reherse its actual application that Aikido becomes an art seperate from any other otherwise you can repeat any kata from any art ad infinitum with the same results.
As you've said, the spirtual content was in O-Sensei's spiritual practice not in his martial practice. So logically the martial practice isn't an efficent route to spirital insights or development. If you want those you have to meditate and practice misogi. Logically the martial side has to stand on its own as martial practice or it is simply a distraction from serious spiritual practice. If it doesn't stand on its own it should be abandoned as a pointless excercise and Aikido should adopt meditation and misogi as it's main practices. Or "recreate" a martially effective form of Aikido.
Personally speaking I practice Aikido because for me it's an excellent martial art. For my spirtual development I go seek the advice and teachings of the monks and nuns at the local buddhist centre, they can help me more in my spiritual practice than my Aikido instructor can.
All the above is IMO of course.