Thanks very much for the replies, this is exactly what I was hoping for.
diesel - my question was based mainly on that I've always heard of self-defence referenced as a (possible) part of martial arts, but not the main thrust, while certain systems only claim a self-defence aspect. Apologies if my query was unclear
beanchild - bit uncertain on this one, aikido normally claims it's a defensive martial art, how does this fit with your view of the difference?
REK - course it helped, I always like the idea of defining things myself and finding others feel the same way is consoling. Just kidding, like the general gist of your arguments
Maylandl - loved the site, well argued and presented, thanks.
So, my understanding of the replies is that the concensus is that there is a difference, but the difference is more one of the scope of application and the eventual goals of the practitioner rather than anything inherent within the systems themselves. It's more the ethos of how they're taught and perceived by the practitioners. Or am I still missing something?