Re: The Mental Side of Aikido?
having studied both zen and aikido for over 20 years each ... I firmly believe that the highest achievement of an individual is to understand the essence of his/her own mind. when you have achieved that, then self-defense is irrelevant. having said that, unfortunately, there is little inherent in aikido that will get you to this point ... it's all depends on a teacher.
now, studying aikido with the aid of an enlightened teacher can be the vehicle towards understanding the essence of mind, but so can an intense study of physics, geology or gardening (with the aid of an enlightened teacher).
my suggestion ... find the enlightened teacher first and then study with him/her - whatever they teach. it's not at all what they teach that is important, rather that your decision to study is your price of admission to their insights ...