How do your experiences inform your approach toward being "martially" effective? How does it affect your training presently and where do you see your training going? How do you approach the psychological aspects of a "martial" situation? Etc.?
Good questions and great post Matthew.
How do my experiences impact my training? Well I am careful to not confuse real life with training for one.
As my understanding of combatives and controlling hostile situations increased I realized that there were many factors involved in controlling a situation.
Achieving control and dominance. You either have it or you don't. There is skill involved for sure, however, I don't believe it is necessarily at the technical level of micro level that we tend to think it is in budo practice. Dominance and/or control is achieved in many ways of course. Usually the guy who gets the jump, has more buddies, or has a more useful weapon has it and will win the fight.
Use of Force/Minimal Force. I think this for me, at least, goes without saying. I always try and use the appropriate force for the situation. Of course, this is also predicated on dominance or control. if you don't have it...well to get it, you may have to use alot of force to gain it back. I think most of us really want to use minimal force, however, in reality we don't tend to really appreciate or understand the importance that "having the upper hand" (control or dominance) plays into the situation.
So....how does this figure into my training? well, I try to focus primarily on understanding the principle of dominance and control and make sure I achieve it. It may be through good ma'ai and reading the situation (space, timing, movement), and being able to read the clues in the situation. I also spend a great deal of time in situations where I do not have dominance and I must work to regain it.
So, I focus on working on "problem sets" that put me in various positions/situations and work through them to regain dominance/control.
Really this can be done through any basic jiu jitsu training I think be it aikido, bjj, or whatever you want to do.
As far as addressing the psychological aspects. Well really it requires you to put yourself through a fair amount of stress and stress inoculation type training. Toby Threadgill has written alot about this and if you do a search on his stuff on the web or on Aikido Journal you can find it. He does a better job than I at talking abou this.
Stress training requires you to define situations and conduct scenario based training. One of the challenges of training like this and the thing you have to watch is to make sure you have competent third party support that can provide you appropriate and constructive feedback while you are training otherwise you run the risk of not correctly identifying weaknesses, or actually finding appropriate solutions/responses to the stress you are inducing on yourself.
I think when you really begin to address "effectiveness" as you define it....Aikido training, while relevant, has very little to help us actually gain any real gains in "effectiveness". Effectiveness, IMO, is specific training that must be done in a very different way than most of us train on a day to day basis.