I have scanned this thread, read a number of the postings critically and here are some replies from my point of view on a number of things that came along:
I do think it is a relevant question to ask what people like or dislike about aikido. Not for the sake of changing aikido to suit either opinion, but to see aikido reflected in the eyes of others. Reflection at any time is not a bad thing in my opinion.
To me it is important because the longer you practice the more partisan you become towards aikido and the more aiki-logic you seem to accept. With aiki-logic I mean things that are logical to nobody but aikidoka. You see aikidoka move on the mat and it is just silly to everybody but them. It doens't make sense, not only because people do not understand it, but because it is based on an intellectual construction (in analysing action and reaction) that at times is flawed.
I believe a part of the dislike is simply because aikido is different. It's just like the kid in the playground that stands out from the crowd. He is different and gets picked on. So what? It doesn't mean he has less worth or is less than anybody else. On the other hand, it doesn't mean that he is worth more or is better than anybody else. If he stands up in the crowd and sayshe is better (technically and/or philosophically superior) than everybody else because he is different, he will catch some flack, and understandably so. This seems to happen with some aikidoka.
As for thinking about superiority let alone arguing about it, to me within the context of aikido, is completely pointless and useless. As far as I know nothing in or about aikido is about superiority. People seeking or claiming superiority are treading road which will certainly not lead to anything near what they hope for. And the question that pops into mind is why do they need it?
Then a bit off-topic, but it came into the topic,(though it is some time ago) and at the risk of this seeming to be too much of a PR-message: Kicking, or Keri-waza is relevant to Aikido. As some may know I have put in some research into the incorporation of kicks in aikido and that I have written a book about the subject offering a clear technical and theoretical context and a number of Keri-waza techniques. The arguments against kicks are always the same. Every technical and/or philosophical argument not to include kicks has an equally valid (or more valid) opposite argument to include it. Actually IMHO most arguments boil down to: 'We haven't been taught, so we don't do it.' The dislike for Keri-waza by people with no or limited knowledge and/or experience with them actually mirrors the dislike of Aikido by people who have limited knowledge and/or experience with Aikido.
Back to the topic and more recent postings: Often you can hear people say: "Aikido doesn't work." To me it is a strange thing to say: I often retort and ask them, when doesn't it work, where, against what, what is the context of it not working. And in what way does something not work, what is the result you are judging its merits on? It may make more martial sense to shoot an attacker in the head: but does that constitute something that "works?" Tell that to the judge.
More often than not, as in this thread, the thread, we look at UFC. It seems that the UFC arena is the place where universal efficiency is decided nowadays. If you don't make it there, your art is useless and not a real martial art. And BJJ comes ou the winner because it rules in that arena. An arena controlled by more rules actually than known in aikido.
I am reminded of a discussion I had with my cousin who is a Dutch Film maker and who made a docuemntary about Dutch special forces in Afghanistan. We talked about aikido, self defense, and the context of self-defence in Afghanistan. The conclusion was that the application of self-defnense principles used in Aikido would not work in Afghanistan. At best you would get shot, the worst you would have your head caught off. Conversely however, the principles of self-defense effective in Afghanistan would not work in our society. (The principle there is that if somebody looks like he is a threat you should shoot him and kill his family before he does the same to you. Force is what works there). So anyway, our conclusion was that if self-defense is about protecting yourself and those around you against harm in any way, what actually "works" totally and profoundly depends on the context.
The only good thing I can see in a discussion about Aikido's (lack of) effeciency, which always comes back in the Aikido world is that at least most Aikidoka have enough sense to look at their art and what they are doing critically. I just hope that we manage to look at it from a broader perspective than what we need to beat somebody.
To me the only way for Aikido is to move forward. Some people might say all Aikido can ever be was shown in what O Sensei did. I choose to believe that what O sensei did was a starting point for Aikido and that it can grow, technically and philosophically. I think that a certain amount of self-doubt, humility(humbleness?) and just plain knowing you don't know anything is a good thing. Uncertainty leads to growth. Knowing it all (or think you do) leads to stagnation and invites dislike.
PS: please excuse the long posting