Re: The purpose of Aikido?
There seem to be two things going on here. The OP seems to have a strong desire to be in a sufficiently rigorous environment, and seems to be questioning aikido's ability to provide that rigor on a structural/cultural level.
I'm a relative beginner. I train in a dojo that is way more than sufficiently rigorous for my skill level, and understand exactly how valuable this is. I signed up to learn how to be martial, not dance or comply. I like being shown that my technique isn't working, called out on uncommitted attacks or and knowing that if I lead with my face, it will get hit. I don't like training with deshis who are exhausted at the end of the day and are going through the motions, or rickety or spacey yudansha who are punching the clock.
At the same time, what I find so useful about aikido is not learning how to fight. I feel like I am specifically *not* learning how to do that. The cooperative nature of aikido is a powerful metaphor for how conflict actually works. I get a lot of "Aikido in Everyday Life" lessons from it, that are about avoiding and shaping conflict by understanding the ways in which I am complicit in it. My physical body is in less conflict with the city that surrounds it. I have less conflict at work, in business, at home. Conflicts result in more positive, creative outcomes.
I am the kind of person who needs to learn how to minimize conflict by pretending to fight a lot in a controlled, collaborative way that relies on deploying both empathy and advantage. I do think that this is a sufficiently complex and rigorous thing to do.