I like this post. Personally the only place I have ever seen criticism of Aikido has been on forums but not in real life. So I have been a bit bemused when ever reading how 'others' see Aikido. In fact I see more criticism from within than from without.
As far as effectiveness goes in the minds of public or other arts for that matter I think Mr. Seagal took care of that one.
The one thing I find strange overall is the idea put forward that people 'hang their arms out there' and this in my opinion is down pure and simply to a lack of understanding of a fundamental principle of Aikido which is that it deals with motion and energy. Thus there is no fight. No against. No referee.
I never use the word 'mindset' either as I feel that leads to strange ideas too but if I did I would only say there are a set of minds within the framework of budo.
Martial to me implies facing danger or potential death, originally the latter, thus great discipline needed. Also I would add he of a martial disposition would 'come alive' from the viewpoint of one versus the many, ten versus a hundred etc. Progress from there and you get one harmonizing with and bringing harmony to the many. Small steps long journey but only achievable if you know where you are going. With enough skills, no different to any other realm of life, one may reach the condition of artist.
In the context of aikido, why would we only look at "martial" and not equally at "art"?
"The function of fighting techniques is to effectively cause injury or incapacitation to another person so as to end a fight. The purpose of a martial art however can be to improve the individual's capacity when necessary to efficiently and humanely defend themselves by fighting techniques and, when possible, potentially make use of such violent force superfluous. It's the Martial that provides the how, but it's the Art that decides the why. For techniques alone do not hold values, Arts do. It is here where meaning is found for practice to go beyond utility for potential self-defense situations.
You may read the full article " The Challenge of defining a martial art" here: