my problem isn't with the martial aspect of the art. aikido is a martial arts and it is trained as such. perhaps morehei ueshiba said aikido is first and foremost a martial arts, but he also said many other things such as martial arts is about love or unifying the whole world and so on. that aikido is not a means to defeat or destroy one's oponent but rather a way to embrace the universe.
when i read constant posts about how effective it is against a boxer or a kick or a ground grappler i feel that perhaps this ideal is somehow missed.
but mike you are right, regardless of who trains a martial arts, you are training your spiritual side at the same time (although i hate using those words cos it makes me feel like a 'new age' nut).
but if all you want is a way to beat the common thug on the street, go for it. who am i to say what you can and can't do. but you would probably be better off training an art more geared towards this than aikido.
in the end it doesnt really matter what i say. ive just found some new inspiration for training from watching morehei ueshiba's old video's and reading many martial arts books and i was just hoping to share the inspiration with others. take it or leave it.