I hope this is an appropriate sub forum to post this topic.
the aikido I know has a very deep philosophical points such as: non violence, non ego/self, etc. but it's still an effective martial arts for self defense. I know we're supposed to train both but in dojo, which part should we be more focused on? philosophical or practical side?
I'm not a "police officer" (or anything like it), so my answer is from a "pure civilian point of view".
My "self defense" (practical) training is to avoid be in a place/situation where I my need to "defend myself/others". The day I believe this is not enough, I'll move to other place (like my parents did) or if this is not possible I will begin to carry a gun.
Because of this, my training is focused on learn to listen my body, my partners body and my surrounds. I think our "soul" (or intent, or will, or whatever) "talks" through our eyes, movements, etc. I training to become able to clear my mind from everything, so I can "feel" the others/universe. I try to not cause injury, no matter how "violent" my partner charges against me, because I "believe" that if you aren't able to avoid hurting someone (and I'm not saying that you will never have the need to do it...), you do not have "self-control". Without self-control, no one is able to really control the other. And despite the fact that I "believe" in the "aiki is love" idea and that the "universe/others" talk to us in a manner that you can't hear with your ears, for me, aiki, when there is a "physical conflict", is about control.
Then, like was already said, when on tatami, I just train. Or, at least, I try to do it. My philosophy is there, but I try to not be thinking on it. I just try to do what I believe is what I must in order to learn the things I think are important.
"Thinking", right or wrong, is a slower thing.
So, I try to "internalize" the aiki concept (my believes) when I'm not practicing on tatami. On tatami, I train the ability to use aiki without the need to think on it.
Unsuccessfully until now, I must admit
Hum... I said a lot and don't know if I really helped...
I can only say "Good luck" in your search!