Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego
To address the initial question:
Disclaimer: All these things have been said before, and better, by persons other than myself.
In my life, at some point, the meaning of the phrase "self defense" stopped being "to defend oneself from the world" and became "to defend the world from oneself". Training stopped being preparation to neutralize my enemies, and became a very serious form of misogi. I realized that I did not deserve to have power over other people and I decided that if the universe gave me that power anyway, I would make the conscious decision not to use it.