Re: The purpose of Aikido?
The problem here is clear to me. When we really don't understand the purpose of Aikido. Many times as new students, we are given a bundle of information, depending on the sensei creates large variances of what is said. One dojo sensei will say O'Sensei meant xyz, or another will say it is abc. Personal interpretation of much of Aikido plays a fairly large role identifying Aikido's purpose. The standard by which Aikido was built over the years was been altered, been twisted, personal touch added, or changed for a myriad of reasons from ignorance to self-promotion. If you can't hit several dojos of differing styles there are a variety of Aikido books. Therefore, the percent of new students getting the pure purpose is very small.
Aikido's purpose on the surface is pretty evident and widely known. That being said, there is a significant complexity to understanding its application. Please don't misunderstand. The bad aspect is, when an altered purpose is internalized by the student and when taken seriously, for the purpose to fit particular objectives fails causes some student's to do everything they can to discredit Aikido. Upon the realization Aikido's purpose generally is a complicated mix of diametrical opposing ideas of peace and the way of Japanese ancient warfare -self serving promotion of one's self (Samurai mentality/fighting) creates a feeling of being mis-lead. The art then has no substance, and alternatives are sought that are less complex and seemingly more applicable. The student feels mislead, loses confidence in Aikido and seeks out a martial art that is much more simple and is seemingly more applicable to the individual.
What is the point, well it is that Aikido will always suffer greater from students who be come disenchanted with Aikido because the purpose is complex and has lead to many interpretations, and remodels that make Aikido very complex to understand. As a result, people give up and seek an art that is less complicated, and has less variance in its information and application. At this point, there is no solution to correcting this issue leaving Aikido with those, like the original poster, who will challenge it from other arts.
I too feel Aikido or any other martial art is viable into today's world, to a point. That point is at ground level self-defense. Where, for an example, if you search Google News you will find a story about a store clerk who took a gun away from the person robbing him. The store clerk had studied Aikido to take the gun away, probably Kote gaeshi. As for Aikido being use beyond that or any martial art is not practical. Modern warfare has no need for those old weapons of martial arts. Or the martial arts hand to hand techniques, we practice, any more. That includes all martial arts and mixed martial arts too. All martial arts really than on a personal level are the same. Doesn't really matter what you take.