I'm just curious; does the skeptics have practical experience where Aikido has personally failed them? Or, are the criticism based on prejudice, or preconception of how combative should operate?
There was that time O' Sensei chased a kid out in the street and out of carelessness, he slipped and fell in a puddle. I guess that's Aikido failing... but if that's the only example skeptics can site than Aikido frankly has a good track record.
I don't care how awesome the founder of a martial art is. It doesn't matter if Helio Gracie was undefeated, or if O'Sensei could dodge bullets and disappear like a mystical ninja.
I have to base my decision on experience, observation, and evidence. My experience in aikido lead me to find myself unable to cope with 1 month judo and bjj students, and generally finding myself unable to find rational reasons why or why not things would work. The only answers I could get from the art were faith based. I am simply not a man of faith.
I could go on and on with reasons, but that really isn't the point. The point is I did what I consider due diligence in attempting my training. What I found was that the training method did not realistically prepare me to perform what I was being taught in any venue outside of a willing participant. I wanted more then that. I wanted a means of unarmed self defense. While I did eventually find some merit to techniques I had been taught in aikido, I still believe that I would never had achieved my desired results had I not started using the training methods I use today.
It is obvious to me that aikido comes from effective forms of combat. I just think the measuring stick was lost somewhere and many people have forgotten that martial arts are about more then just feelings and philosophies. Unfortunately (to me) I see it as an eventuality that left isolated, martial arts all eventually turn into a watered down system of physical activity and morality preaching.