Unrealistic demand of aikido
The thread starter has a good analogy wrt martial arts and self defense. I am writing to put my view across that many practitioner has unrealistic views of the functional aspect of aikido.
When one practices aikido, it is only natural to ask how effective it is against an aggressor. This is because if you are practicing, then you are concern that you are not wasting your time and tuition fees (m,'ship fee).
IMO, to be an effective aikido user, one should have a least sandan grade or 15 years regular practice to be CONSISTENTLY effective. Some may argue that they able and have successfully utilize aikido to fend off aggressor, well my say is you've got lucky, your opponent was unlucky, and probably you out-sized your opponent. In my view, to be effective, one has to be able to be consistently effective.
Look at the practitioner of old, e.g., the Osensei's uchideshi, they were practicing 5-6 days a week, up to 6 hours per day consistently for umpteen years. It was no surprise they were effective fighter. You seriously can't expect to be effective after practicing the art for only 2-3 years. Even when one is a shodan, my opinion he/she is only 50/50 effective.
After 15 years of regular practice (regular means minimum of 2 session per week), and at least having sandan, assuming sandan is a technical measure of one's proficiency, then you are at least effective.
In part 2, I will explain why I think it takes 15 years or sandan to be effective in aikido...