Wow... 15 year-old thread resurrected once again. I guess I've been fortunate. 8 years of judo, 17 years of aikido (none since 2011, unfortunately), never had occasion to "test" aikido outside of the dojo.
I guess what we write outlives us more than what we do. Some excellent discussions have only a couple of responses, and this has nearly 2000. The subject is pervasive and the questions are timeless and widespread. It would probably take an even longer thread to discuss why that is and who do we blame for this relatively (compared to other arts) widespread poor opinion.
A junior student pulled some boneheaded very public crap that nearly got our dojo sued, quit our dojo to join a Krav school, became an instructor in a matter of weeks, then engaged in a bunch of brainless social media bashing of his friends and Aikido, and now has recently asked to return to Aikido. For the third-fourth time. Maybe I am a little sensitive/bored/frustrated/angry.
I remember you having no hesitation to "have a discussion about Judo" back in the day Walter.
I owe a great deal to your patience and generosity.