interesting article on aikidojournal.com that seems to address many of the same issues in this thread.
My favourite paragraph:
"One of the first things we learned in Aikido is to relax the body and calm the mind. To get the most out of training, we do not deny the uke is attacking and we do not tell them how they should attack. The Aiki way is to greet the attack, accept it, and blend with it. We redirect rather than resist. We take balance with finesse rather than by force. We attempt to control the situation and do no harm."
There is a time to protect ourselves from ourselves.
There is a time to protect others from ourselves.
There is a time to protect ourselves from others.
There is a time to protect others from others.
There is a time to go on the growl and prowl.
Serenity/wisdom is knowing the difference.