Re: Effectiveness -- From a Different Perspective - XX motivations
It seems that you wrote this to get feedback from females specifically, but I think aikido is aikido no matter the gender of the aikidoka.
Intention is of primary importance in aikido. Self defense intentions produce actions meant to defend, but intentions to resolve the conflict without anyone being injured are different.
People practicing aikido for defense make the mistake of being reactive. People practicing aikido to create a space where the idea of attacking can gain no footing will be in advance of the attack.
Connecting to the potential aggressor with the intention that all comes to conclusion without anyone losing gives an aikidoka the ability to move ahead of the attack. Osensei said that the attacker is off balance from the moment the idea of attack enters his or her mind. This allows the aikidoka aligned with the intention of safe resolution to move in connection with the physical manifestation of the attacking mind.
In the video, you see that the woman who was victimized never saw the attack coming. Because her intention was other than connecting with the person threatening her she moved right in with her fighting mind. Her first intention was to counter attack. She draws the attack to her by attacking the attacker. I'm not saying her intention to stop the harassment of the other woman was not justified, but that her way of becoming involved escalated the conflict. It is a good idea if one is going to utilize the principles of aikido effectively to start utilizing them right away. In fact, she was so busy attacking the attacker she never saw the punch start.
In embodying the principles of aikido, one becomes conscious of ma ai, and one will have connection. An authentic, conscious connection makes one aware of the attacker's range of effectiveness which gives us our sense of ma ai, and it also manifests in the harmonious engagement of the attack. Had the woman been aikidoka, been connected to the attacker in a meaningful way, the man drawing back to punch invited irimi. When he moved toward her with the strik, her ma ai would have her maintaining the safe space between them. You can see the imbalance in the attacker at the conclusion of the first punch. Aikidoka's connection would have supplied support to the center of the attacker at the extension of the punch and ikkyo would have been a natural conclusion. Likewise, tenkan could also lead to ikkyo ura, or if his initial punch retracted as it did, it could then lead to kotegaeshi.
Instead, the resistance the victim provided allowed the attack to land effectively and he was even able to re-balance for a second attack.
In more direct answer to your bullet point questions:
1. First it might end with no punch being thrown. As Lyle Sensei pointed out, without knowing the relationship of the individuals it is an intrusion to get involved. It is its own form of attack. That is not to say one can not engage. I unfortunately, have been in situations in which it became necessary to intercede in something that looked on track to become physically violent. To understand one way this engagement can take place without physical force is in Terry Dobson Sensei's "train story." It's often not difficult to draw the attack intention to oneself to get the victim off the hook.
If the attack were to escalate, not because I was introducing resistance, but because the deeper need of the attacker is beyond his or her control, aikido could manifest in a multitude of ways depending on how the attack is issued and the akidoka's consideration of everyone's safety (including that of the attacker). A couple of them I mentioned above but there are no specific techniques that can be relied on unless arising from the combination of attack intention energy and the energy that manifests out of the intention that all concludes without harm or injury. From there one will be able to appreciate the form the aikido took after the resolution. It will never effectively happen as a result of putting a plan for a specific attack unless the attack is perfectly in alignment with the technique.
2. My first 20 years of practice actually did prepare me for real world attacks, although not the way I had anticipated. I feel a lot more prepared now that I have moved away from technique proficiency training and have now practiced for the last 15 years for aikido to manifest spontaneously out of the intention that my attack gain some benefit from our interaction.
3. I believe that my further progress is determined by how well I will, in the moment of truth, be able to transcend my "self", that is the part of me that puts me into defense, in order to come from a place in which my intention allows takemusu aiki to manifest. There is no predictor of this. The moment of truth is always a moment of truth and it depends on whether one can be true in that moment.
4. I do care about this kind of encounter, because it is the seed of further aggression, destruction and pain. When one encounters an attacker or would-be attacker and the outcome is one in which the desire to attack has completely disappeared out of that person, aikido has achieved the purpose I believe it was meant to serve.