Just to be clear - however much I admire the goal of being able to protect the attacker, I don't have the skill. If my life was in danger from a strong physical attack I would most likely have to become an animal to survive - so much for my training. During practice I don't think much about this. I spend a lot of my time in the feedback loop - discovering that something I am doing doesn't work and then trying to fix it. I am then often amazed at the counter-intuitve natue of the solution.
Such an admirable goal I teach is never to be let go of in the practice on the mat of Aikido. Of course most people believe they don't have the skill to or even that it's possible but I can only say to you that it is not only an admirable goal but can be standard procedure through all levels.
When someone finds what they are doing doesn't work I can usually remind them of why and 100% of the time it is because they have failed to apply one of the principles of that 'admirable goal'.
This is my experience.
Although people read spiritual and equate it with various things I give spiritual principles to apply directly. Whenever someone is stuck I remind them. They may go into all kinds of reasons and feedback and loops and even internal or whatever but I point them back once again to the basic given principles and say there is no other reason.
It's a discipline, it's zen like, it's no detours or other reasons. It's not working because you are not applying the said principle and that's all. Thus the person has no escape, they carry on until they do apply it.
The problem is most are not taught such principles as a discipline and therefor are completely unaware of their effectiveness.
Spiritual principles given as a rule, a law, a must follow, take you to places your mind doesn't want to go to yet when you do apply them you learn something new and enlightening let alone effective.
Then it starts making sense.