Re: Just how real is violence? And where does Aikido stands in all of this?
On the initial post, I agree, it seems that, with some judicious use of common sense, it is possible to avoid nearly all of the confrontations which drive violence. However, that is, as I've recently discussed with other martial-artsy folks, sort of the "duel mentality," as contrasted with the "Predator vs. Prey" mentality. The former is a simple one to avoid through the use of one's own behavior modification, but the latter might just jump out and grab you (literally) with no warning.
I tender to you that the best way to survive the latter is to spend long hours in the dojo as uke, getting whomped by friends and fellow students, so that the ukemi is polished to an unconscious sheen, the fall reactions are fluidly flexibly ready and available at need without one having to consciously reach for them.
It might be a very good thing to be sitting minding one's own business, and the next moment find oneself coming up out of a roll with a split on the side of one's scalp -- rather than still being IN said chair with a cracked skull. I think that one's survivability in a real "bad guy" situation, where they don't want to humble you, but to really hurt you, goes up geometrically with an increase in the time one spends on the receiving side of practice.