Re: Poll: How important is the notion of "self defense" in your aikido training?
Great points - I would also say that the 'self defence' aspect is NOT what keeps me training.
However I don't reallly learn "nondissension and avoiding conflicts" (Ted's quote) other than from a stratgeic and physical aspect within my aikido; and judging by some the intensity of some arguments on aikiweb I would say this is the case for most people (I don't even believe that conflict avoidance is necessarily a positive step).
Also, although aikido gives an insight into a wide sphere of understanding (in terms of harmony of nature etc), I think aikido needs more of a focus, and we focus on the physical self-defence/combat aspect.
I also believe the mindset should not be one of 'protection against the enemy' but rather that there is no real enemy. To me this is why aikido is conflcit resolution, but it is due to the process of physical self-defence training that the confidence to engage with an agressor without excessive (or even any) force is possible.
I remember talking to a student once about trying not to harm aggressors and they said 'yes, that's because we are [ethically] better than them', but I don't believe this is true, it is because we are just the same as them.