Re: Ukemi vs. Protecting your attacker
I think knowing how to breakfall well contributes to the chance that you'll have a long, productive aikido career, because sooner or later nage will put you somewhere where that's your best option. This happens even in schools which discourage breakfall-requiring throws. Or you'll make a mistake yourself, with the same consequences. I once hung on for dear life to my bokken during a ken disarm, because I mistakenly thought it was a throw-away and if I let go I'd fall on my sword. I'm glad I had at least a basic idea how to take the fall from that....
A fact I enjoy, though I can't explain it, is that the most gung-ho breakfaller in my school is 61 years old. Clearly it is not impossible to keep doing them. I would like to look like him when I'm 61!