@Brian: aikido is a martial art. one of my reason learning martial arts is to be able to defend myself effectively (aside from the fact that I love learning them) when I had to get involved in a fight. I think one opening can decide the result of the fight.. what's the purpose of doing a technique that you know won't work just to change to another technique?
The purpose of henkawaza is to learn how to TRANSITION
form one technique to another! Do you understand that concept? You're literally learning HOW TO TRANSITION TO OTHER TECHNIQUES
. So, concentrate on learning the transition
Some things that you do in a dojo are really just skill building excercises, like tai-no-hendo, tai sabaki, ashi sabaki, kokyudosa. They're NOT
self defense skills by themselves! But you can't really defend yourself with aikido techniuqes if you don't have these basic skills honed. Get it? Please give this some serious thought, because you're missing the boat here!
So treat those henkawaza sessions as SKILL BUILDING EXERCISES
instead of self defense training and you might get something out of those sessions!
And if you're taking aikido purely for learning self defense skills, I'd suggest you switch to some other art, like Krav Maga, to achieve this goal, you're definitely in the wrong place to achieve this!
Good luck with your training!