I was attacked by someone with a knife and would support Michaels assessment - I didn't know one was involved initially but moving off centre line saved my life.
Sometimes rough randori with marker pens is useful for understanding, but it is not a good training technique. Real situations CANNOT be represented in the dojo. We practise short, rehersed body responses so when our mind switches off (in a fight) our body can still do these. The training technique in aikido is VERY useful practically and no amount of sparring or other supposed 'realistic' methods would have helped me then.
Aikido should not be used flipantly or to look cool (hey watch this fellas I'm going to disarm this threatening looking bloke). I didn't have any option to avoid my attack (it was very sudden), but I will always owe a debt to Ueshiba and aikido for the simple ability to move when I really had to.