Re: how do we define martial?
Ewen, Nishio didn't think very highly of the Samurai, said they were shit. Nor did he think very highly of most of what's passed off as aikido. Even in the videos he finally made, he goes on multiple times saying that "99% of aikido is ineffective."
In almost all cases, what Nishio gets into, is that the very first movement - the opening - is absolutely vital, and the beginning and the end of the story. He shows how a lot of aikido disregards that first step, and then just proceeds to prance around and deliver the finishing techniques - nikyo, kote gaeshi, shihonage, etc.
If you watch Nishio, he makes a big use of of what he's called something along the lines of the "dead zone." And one of them is uses is 10 degrees off the line of attack. Play around with it yourself. Step off the line 10 degrees and see that uke can not touch you from there. Then try 20, 30 - you'll see quite clearly that you'll get plowed - because if nage is in that position, uke can do all sorts of things, and nage is quite limited. And by then, it's all too late.
10 degrees off the line also does something else; with the first entering step - and the corresponding tai sabaki that manifests from it - your reach magically gets about 9" longer than what it was when uke committed to the attack. That atemi, whether actually delivered as a physical force, is still applied as an energetic force. Uke's center is taken, they are unbalanced, and they kind strike you and kick you and make use of any kind of weapon they may have.
Another interesting thing about Nishio's openings, is that any of them - when applied correctly - are effective against any attack. Think about that. Any opening is effective against any attack.
The important thing that's missed in a lot of aikido - and personally, I think it was because aikido steps became infection with karate steps and range - is that aikido's initial movement is a half step. Not a whole step. You can see even shihan in aikido taking whole steps to 30-45 degrees off the line. That's not martially effective aikido.
Now, if you were a karateka and you were faster and stronger and you wanted to deliver a crushing blow - that would send uke away from you - then, by all means - take a whole step to 30-45 degrees, and knock out uke. But there again, a crushing blow and sending uke away from nage is the antithesis of aikido. Effective aikido invites uke into nage's space. Nage does not disrupt uke's breathing.
Play with it yourself. Take one of the initial openings from the Nishio video. Don't even be concerning with whatever finishing technique he's doing. Just the initial movement. Play with it. Most of them involve a half step 10 degrees off line - whether that half step is forward or lateral. After you've worked with one, just one, have uke try various attacks. Start with hand grabs, then tsukis, then kicks, then weapons. Just do the same movement. Don't even change sides. You'll find that even doing the same opening movement to the same side, uke will not be able to do anything, regardless if they kick left, punch right, haymaker, bottle to the head, kick to the groin.
We've tested this over and over, not only with other aikidoka, but with uke from various arts. We even get kids in on it - getting attacked by adults with bokkens. As long as that first initial movement is done correctly and at the right time - the show stops there.
Hope that helps some. Interested to hear about your explorations. Cheers...