Re: Have you actually used Aikido?
yes, twice about 20 years ago, when I was 18 or so. One was at a party when someone came out of nowhere to push/shove me down. Never saw him coming, but when he hit me I turned, Ryokata-tori randori style and sent him to the ground. He did not come back. Getting hit/shoved/knocked around like that is normal in how we practice Ryokata-tori randori so I'd like to think that is why I was prepared and responded the way I did. My body was used to that reaction.
The second was around the same time, getting into it with someone. While they were posturing I noticed his body language and my brain said he was going to throw a right at me. So I waited, kept a good distance and when he did I cut it down and held him bent back in a shihonage. I didn't throw him, but let him go after a few seconds. I practically crapped my pants that it had not only worked, but worked how I saw it in my head. Had things unfolded differently who knows though. There was a lot of setup that helped it work.
In both cases I credit good, hard, physical training with people who always made you work for what you got for whatever level of preparation that allowed me to respond as I did. I have also engaged with wrestling friends over the years in less hostile but no less intense situations and was never able to actually do a technique. The techniques tend to need that less experienced over-commitment to work as expected.