You know, I've been thinking about the whole run/fight thing that's been going on in the forum, and trying to put my own beliefs into words. (Deep breath) Well, here goes...
There appear to be two lines of thinking on this forum with regards to a hostile confrontation. Use your aikido and fight him? Or use the philosophy that Aikido teaches and withdraw? (Some, myself included, have used the word 'run' in this context - unfortunate, perhaps.)
Now, no-one wants to just run away from a potential attacker. For us guys, the very idea is anathema - pride says 'stand your ground!', we can think of a dozen good reasons to fight. Often, these reasons are good: defending a lady, warding of hostile drunks, the bully at school who won't back down. The danger is, of course, that in this day and age a simple punch-up can turn deadly fast - knives are common on the street, and readily used in some places. So, the best thing to do is run, right? I mean, if there's even a chance you can wind up dead or injured, get out of it, right?
Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Run from a schoolyard bully, he'll be waiting tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day. Women, in particular, have this problem - an abused wife CAN'T run (for whatever reason), or she would've been quits with the creep long ago. You can be surrounded on the street, making running away impossible. A woman may be threatened in front of you - and sorry, but I have to be blunt here: to my mind, any man who would stand by when a lady is being threatened is no man at all. (Ooooo, I'm gonna get some response to that!) So, there are very good reasons for both fighting and running. The trouble is, which to choose?
Here's my take on it:
Fighting, whether you are using streetfighting skills, Karate, Jiu-Jitsu, Aikdo or whatever, is a dangerous, chancy business. It is also very frightening to those who are not familiar with it (and to many who are). There is nothing positive about it; only in the intent and resolution. What I believe is, unless one is completely, utterly confident in one's fighting ability,
one should not
attempt to fight. Confident; not over-confident, or falsely confident. In this case, fighting ability includes the skills required to size up your opponent(s) and gauge your success beforehand.
To put it short, if you have to ask 'are my skills good enough', they probably aren't, so withdraw. Say a guy's got a knife out, demanding your wallet. Unless you know
you can disarm him and escape/arrest him, give him your wallet! Same goes for the drunk in the bar. 'Discretion being the better part of valour' should be in everyone's tactical r'epertoire.
This knowledge, this confidence, only comes with time and experience, and lots of both. I'm sure there have been plenty of poor saps out there at my lowly level who have said 'Kewl; I know Aikido now!' and wound up picking bits of themselves out of the barroom wall. I'm equally sure this has happened to Shodans as well. You see, Aikido is not fighting. Neither is Karate, Kung-fu, Tae-Kwan-Do, et cetera, ad nauseam. Martial arts are skills to use when fighting.
There's a difference, as anyone who has battled on the mat and in real-life will tell you. The difference between success and failure is not your skills, but how
you use them.
So I personally think the two questions: 'should I fight/run' and 'does aikido work' are really moot; both rely solely on the individual for an answer.
I can say without ego that what little Aikido I've learned I'd be able to use effectively, because I'm an experienced fighter. My instructor, on the other hand, probably wouldn't - despite her years in Aikido, she's not a fighter - although I'm certain anyone who tried to mug her would be in for a major shock.
I hope, in this rambling, confused message, I've helped one or two people find their own answers to these questions; I hope I recieve plenty of good commentary. This isn't an easy topic to think about or discuss, since much of it involves variables that are different from person to person. I can only hope that should any of us need to make these decisions, that we'll do the right thing at the right time.