Not hung up on it at all, just wondering what kind of Aikido you have seen or practiced when those such as yourself have this confidence that an Aikido is 'mostly' helpless against a shoot.
Your aikido may be helpless against a shoot...mine is not!
Seriously though, be careful when generalizing and summing up what has been said here. Most of what has been said is that most people in aikido don't practice much against shoots. In principle, done correctly with alignment, timing, and technique...aikido is and can be successful. IF, you practice it, and IF you develop those particular skill sets.
What you have to be careful of is taking a principle driven methodology and applying it LITERALLY, to a fighting situation. In one example you seem to talk about "going to your knees" as if in swariwaza. Our point is that there are alot of things that go into a shoot, from closing the distance, to counters along the way. Someone that practices this stuff as their main thing has developed a "tool box" of things that work and appropriate responses.
Most aikidoka don't spend time doing these things, and practice very isolated techniques to develop a deep understanding of correct posture, movement, alignment, and principle. Just be careful when trying to transfer that knowledge to a real situtation! That is all that is really being said.
It is not that it doesn't "work". Just maybe not like it is done in the dojo.
I agree about your assessment concerning "street fights". Again, those are not the ones that worry me...it is the ones you don't see coming until it is too late!
One thing I will tell you about self defense and aikido is that "the best laid plans go out the window once contact starts!". We all have a vision in our head of what a fight is and will be. In reality depending on the circumstances, it may or may not go our way.
If you are really concerned about self defense, then you need to do "other things" other than aikido and empty hand.
Something most of us don't spend time on in our so-called "self defense" training is dealing with the overwhelming assault of emotion, adrenaline, shock, and oxygen debt. Randori can approximate some of this...but I think aikido in general is not geared toward training this process.
One reason is that training like this alot can develop bad habits. It should not be the focus of your training.
Another reason is liability. It is difficult to approximate a real life situatoin safely and control it so no-one really gets hurt.
Another resaon is experience of qualified instructors. To keep things safe, you have to have people that are trained properly to control the environment.
Also qualified students. to keep it safe...students need to be trained in some basics to keep themselves from getting hurt. BJJ offers a good base model for developing these close in skills. (BJJ ain't all about ground fighting BTW). Most aikidoka do not have a proper base to begin training this way. There are somethings missing that need to be trained up first prior to going there. Not hard to do...takes about 40 hours of training to develop. AIkidoka generally have a good base to work with though!
Expense. In order to keep it safe, you need to have some pretty sophisticated gear like Blauer suits. Redman is okay...but they are too restrictive I have been told to allow freedom of the wearer to respond in a appropriate way. (you must feel some pain in order to respond correctly).
The Dog Brothers do a decent job in a low tech way...but man, those guys are crazy! It takes a special individual willing to train that way!
Brian, again, it is not that in principle that aikido cannot defend against a shoot...it is just that once you go down that road into "reality", "self defense" etc...you open up into a huge field of "what ifs" and "70%" solutions...and it is a challenge to cross over from a principle/theory driven system into one based on "reality".
"Lessons Learned" from those that have a background in aikido and have tried or are in the processing of assimilating our backgrounds is what we are talking about here. It is not about bashing aikido or saying that it does not work.