He is an excellent karate man with more that 20 years of training. He asked me a question that he says he has asked others in aikido and never gotten an answer that he thought made sense. He asked me:
"If you guys know that aikido does not work in a fight and in training do not really give your partner a convincing attack and then just roll or fall down, why do you do it?"
If you were asked this question how would you answer it?
Saying that aikido does not work in a fight is just the same as saying physics or the natural laws do not exist or are incorrect. I do aikido because understanding the underlying principles of the art is one of the most difficult all the arts I have encountered and I am challenged by it.
IMHO, Aikido is not just about learning aikido techniques. I do aikido primarily to understand and learn the principles of aiki. Techniques are only a very small portion of aikido and learning these is only secondary. What is aiki and how does it manifest itself? Nobody really has the correct answer. Only you will know the answer in your search for it in your decades of practice....or you may not even know the answer no matter how long you search.
Aikido techniques without aiki is not aikido. It is another art.
Aikido techniques only offer a glimpse into what aiki is and how it works. You start practicing techniques to start understanding what aiki is. I also believe aiki is not only unique to aikido. It is also present in other martial arts (even karate) although some are more pronounced than the others (eg daito ryu, judo). Practicing other arts (eg judo) may also offer a glimpse into aiki but the focus is more on perfecting technique.
You start by learning techniques and slowly and surely through repetition, one by one you build your theories around aiki principles. These are the commonalities in all techniques imo. From theories, you then validate these through actual practice and trial and error.
You collect more and more principles and realize later that a technique is just an amalgamation of different principles. A set or combination of principles would lead to different techniques. More and more, all techniques look the same, but are different. So from understanding disjointed techniques, you then jump to move to understanding aikido principles but then you go back to understanding techniques to apply aiki.
Aikido techniques without aiki is ineffective maybe an accurate statement since this is not aikido. This is probably where the majority of us are.
However, it may not be accurate for aikido techniques with aiki. Osensei, Shioda sensei, takeda (daito ryu), kyuzo mifune(judo). These are all small men but they are legends, never beaten in fights. What do they have that all of us don't? IMHO, It is the understanding of aiki or something similar in their own form of art.