Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness
If I play baseball and I want to practice hitting baseballs, I may set up a pitching machine to throw a consistent pitch that I will practice hitting. I may also ask a pitcher to throw pitches that are difficult to hit so I may practice hitting against a variable pitch. Pitching machines are not realistic, yet for the purpose of hitting practice they are consistent and effective solutions. Likewise, throwing to a live batter provides a more realistic scenario in which I will hit. Both are everyday resources for hitters to improve their swing.
I believe the majority of aikido styliszed attacks are intended to provide a consistent, obvious and uniform force on which nage can practice kata. For the purpose of learning kata, I believe these attacks to be effective because the purpose of these attacks is to give nage something with which to practice so they may learn what they are doing.
I think there are many dojos that will use an "applied" version of uke waza as a specialized training that increases the realism of an attack. For these modified exercises, I think many dojos with solid fighting skills can incorporate a realistic attack with effect. These exerceise deal more with expression of aikido, not learning of aikido.
Comparatively, I think most aikido dojos are not prepared or equipped to accomodate realistic attacks with effect. For that to happen, we would need protective gear. To effectively apply realistic attacks would imply a large percentage of success through grappling, striking or submitting. Since our training model is to provide 4 opportunities for nage to successfully apply waza... we would need 4 opportunities to successsfully attack our partner.
So unless we're coming home with with a less-than-perfect success ratio as nage, we're not really focusing on "realistic" attacks. This is fine, we have to learn somehow. I think as long as we recognize "realism" and "effect" are sliding scales with opposite correlation for uke and nage, we can be honest with our assessment of the quality of our uke waza.