I am usually not a big fan of debates that center around semantics, however, I see this as very relevant to my own personal training as I shift my focus from learning techniques to using them as a means to develop aiki. The point being that I appreciate the opportunity to discuss some of the different viewpoints here. I think most of us agree that the daito-ryu waza characteristic of aikido dojos around the world is an acceptable "practical" definition of aikido. However, my own aikido training has shifted drastically to where I am now practicing MORE AIKIdo (developing aiki) doing random things like walking, opening doors, riding elevators (when I am alone so as not to appear crazy), driving, etc… than I did my first two years in a dojo practicing waza. This is why I personally think you could be making pancakes and call it aikido training. It is about intent, not the external expression.
Mathew, I am curious whether or not you consider solo exercises to be aikido? Maybe, you consider it analogous to weight training in sports, where the body conditioning is separate from the actual sport? If so, I think we are at an impasse, which is fine with me. My opinion, is that aikido is different than a sport since is not only about doing things/techniques to opponents, but also about what you are doing inside your own body. Aiki in me before aiki between thee and me, to borrow a phrase from he who must not be named. When I've gotten my hands on people who express aiki in their bodies, it seems as though the techniques become very much secondary, mainly because I was toast on contact. Again, this is why I could easily see an MMA person developing an aiki engine and fitting it in with some vicious leg kicks. I'm talking about the kind that don't leave bruises on the point of contact, but go all the way through to the inner thigh. The kind that make your wife say, "and why is this cool?"