it seems there are two paths in defense against grappling. the only aikido path i see is "avoid the throw/take down/grapple attempt, blend with the attempt, and bring your opponent under control." the other path is to train in ground fighting
I'd have to take issue here, ground-fighting is just (just he laughs wryly after now having been briefly introduced to them) a different set of techniques. I see no reason you cannot apply the principles of aikido within the framework of ground fighting. Bringing your opponent under control is surely the main point of the ground work (certainly of what I've seen) and atemi has long been a big part of aikido - OK , you may want to omit the ground and pound part...
Sorry, with Paul on the dubious nature of "I'll never be taken to ground" - but my main hope is I'm better at stay-up/keep away than they are at take-down.