Re: The purpose of Aikido?
Kevin brings up the point of context. Context is key. What is my system designed to do? That is the most important question you face "Reflection".
There are 3 key components found in every martial art system:
The strategy is the underlying principles and theory behind everything you are going to do martially. Aiki, is an example of our (Aikido folk) main strategy. However there are many other things included in the strategy section. Some simple. Like not choosing to go into a clinch, or fight on the ground. There are lots of simple strategic ideas taught in Aikido training.
Technical syllabus is the set of techniques we use. Shihonage, Tenkan, Irimi, Kotegaeshi, etc.
And last we have methods of training. These are the ways in which we train our strategy and techniques. This component is arguably the most important. Because with good training methods, the techniques and strategies will create themselves.
You mentioned Karate, and Judo as good examples of martial arts. You also recognize that what makes these martial arts strong is a live resistance training. Live resistance is a training methodology. All you need to do is add this to your Aikido, and you'll be training like the Judo, and Karate folk.
Now the key to be able to add live resistance as a training methodology is understanding why Aikido strategies and techniques are the way they are. To understand the context of our system. Both Archery and tank driving are martial arts. But if you expect that archery practice is going to make you better at driving tanks, you don't understand your context.