I am a fan of MMA. I follow the sport intensely. For me MMA (not very accurate label-I explain that some other time) is generic catch-all name, like Pro-wrestling. BJJ is more specific component like Greco-Roman wrestling, a sport that gave birth to what is called MMA. So, I liberally use the terms interchangably, as I figure most people have a working back ground knowledge with the sport. For those who are going to freak out over my mentioning of MMA and Pro-wrestling there isn't a comparison. So relax, throw back beer, it's just and example. No worries.
No argument from me on those attitudes. The Japanese (Gov. or Army -say top Japanese) misinterpreted themselves when they attacked Pearl Harbor. I don't think Aikido is on the level of MMA/BJJ (MMA) in those terms. I do think it is a good self-defense for someone like me (if ever needed, and if you train for that seriously), and it is adequate art for self-defense. Aikido was based on field tested martial arts. I think Aikido contains many of the same principles as other martial arts. We can get into that more later.
Over all I feel, yes, some people don't look at themselves and abilities in a realistic way and reflects on the individual, but that shouldn't reflect on Aikido as an art. I see this in other sports and arts as well. I don't think Aikido offers everything to everyone, and is for everyone.
Sorry to be so short, will expand latter.
Ellis, please scratch all that!
It didn't come out right like I wanted. I have to stop posting at the end of the day, when am too much in a hurry.
Basically, am saying I see your point. I understand it and how you can come to the conclusions you have. I wasn't there when these sensei's spoke to you, and I don't know them personally. But I can generally make the speculation that their views, like the rest of us, are individual views that reflect who they are and the position they hold. I know that they take pride in what they do, and sometimes, like all of us that pride can be blinding. But also they are the leaders of the art and people look to them, and if they didn't take pride in their art or think highly of it, well it would be disastrous for their organizations and the art, say the least. Maybe that is why their is an aspect outwardly the focus on fighting. That though is speculation on my part, as I have never had the opportunity to meet them and discuss such things.
I agree that Aikido is a "martial" art. What do we define and to what degree, and part does "martial" play, defaults to the individual personal definition. This is because of O'Sensei not being alive, and leaving behind coded writings. (btw,I think though O'Sensei had the skill to say a fighter, yet he choose a more spiritual path that give him greater joy, happiness, and more fulfilling life.) Example my definition, since I never met O'Sensei or able to decipher his words completely I can't say what his intentions for "martial" are beyond the generalize budo model of his time. In that case, I end up forming my own definition of what martial means to me, that is based on a generalized Japanese budo model. Frankly, this is unfamiliar to me, for obvious reasons. That is my challenge, which is greater then my interest in martial. I have no other training in other Japanese arts, Aikido is my only model.
I could have taken an ancient Japanese martial art, but didn't because it didn't fit my needs. I didn't have a desire or interest in learning ancient weaponry and stuff that pertained strictly to a specific period in Japan, and little practicality today as a self-defense. All of which are valuable and beautiful arts in their own right. Examples, would be things like Naginata, Sai, and Kama. It just not practical to walk around in daily life with a Naginata as a self-defense weapon. Walk that into work one day!
I didn't want to be the best fighter ( I wanted to exact revenge on my foes), I need something that would be effective. I heard the same fighter hype from Aikido that comes with every other martial art I looked into, though Aikido had the spiritual hype too, so from Aikido it wasn't the only the fighter hype. But, Aikido changed my limited and short sighted perspective of revenge, and showed me a different way. Because of that, I defined martial differently that fit my needs. I like to think I have a more expanded view on the subject now than before. That is way Aikido was a good fit for me, and the other arts I looked into where not, i.e. BJJ, or MMA styles of fighting, Karate, and all those things.
I remember when I walked into my first Karate dojo and was told by the sensei that karate isn't going to make you a Bruce Lee, or a Superman where you are invincible and undefeatable. Of course at that time I scoffed at it. But, now I understand what he was saying.
I guess there are those who, like yourself, are attracted to the end of the spectrum that is about fighting so you look to such a criteria and qualities of a system. And there are those who are at the other end who look for the non-combative qualities of Japanese martial art, like spirituality. And then there are those who fall in between, like myself. And when an art or a system doesn't meet our criteria or expectation we move on to something that does fit our needs. I guess that is a modern luxury we can enjoy.
We have choices, we are not force to only one choice of learning to fight on the street. Is that the real archetype of a fighter, not the Kimbo Slices of the world but the Mike Tyson types who didn't make it into boxing and kept fighting on the street. The kind who do nothing else in life, the kind that would rather pound your face just for practice than look at you, type of fighter.
My point is we all define our needs and expectations differently. This leads us to seeking out what will fulfill those needs and expectations which are not the same for everyone. Aikido was not a fit for you. Other martial arts you mastered must have to a point. And now you are seeking more from the CMA. I wonder if this will bring you full circle? Taichi and many other internal arts are taught very much like Aikido. Taichi and these other internal arts are often billed as health exercises, yet the instructors will tell you Taichi is the best fighting system.
And it is my understanding there is a idea in the Chinese Martial Arts where combative engagement isn't the first option. Rather it is best to avoid conflict. How prevalent and wide spread that thought is, I am no expert. But, I heard allot of it when I was searching for a martial art in the Chinese community as well as outside of it. I stress community, not getting it from a Chinese master bushing me off because he didn't want to teach non-Chinese.
Maybe you will come full circle back to Aikido with different eyes at the end of the day? Sometimes that does happen. Not everyone though gets that privilege or capable of getting that gift. I think because of your journey and experience if anyone would get it, it could be you. And if it does happen that you do come full circle I could consider you very fortunate indeed.