Frank, I totally agree. I don't practise to hurt people and would not train in a dojo where people did. I'm just fed up with the underlying critique that seems to abound in the Aikido world. I started martial arts when I was 16 did 2 years Shotokan and Kyukushinkai. then 8 years of Chuen Shu Kwan full contact fighting. Even there we were not really trying to hurt each other, but we sure as hell were trying to hit each other hard. Looking back (I'm now 51) it was agreat experience for a young buck and it definitely teaches you to accept impact and keep going, which is an experience which, IMHO, many Aikideshi are missing. However, in every other way, I wish I had started Aikido then and not when I was 39.
Aikido is a superb MA, it's only shortfall lies in it's practioners, not the art. If these dicussions are about how we can improve our practise, fine, if they are a venting of people's personal doubts why not say so.
There is no such thing as a "real" attack in a dojo, thats an oxymoron. You do not suddenly introduce feints, deception, mob attack, unless it's agreed before hand, in which case it's not real. You do not mercilessly punish uke (or tori) for suki, you try to indicate them with a level of intensity that your partner can safely handle.
O Sensei's teaching is reconciliation of opposing forces, which is impossible if we are personally in conflict with what we are trying to practise.
Let's all drop the macho posturing and practise with love, joy, and serious intent, but we are practising a DO, not preparing for combat. Those of you who really want "real" attacks try a few bars or street corners and try not to get hurt too badly, or anyone else for that matter.
No rudeness intended, Alec Corper