I do take aikido (just over 2 years now), and I don't agree with you. It is not limited to ground fighting. Why would it be necessary to use full contact to get out of a situation requiring self-defense? That's the whole point of Aikido - use the opponent's own initiative against himself. The more force he applies, or the faster he goes, the worse off it is for him. In practice, when an opponent tries to attack an aikidoist, he should find himself scratching his head as if, "why am I doing this to myself". If course, if he has a weapon, the aikidoist is free to use as much force as s/he wants (well, even if there isn't a weapon, this can still be done). It is practical for self-defense. But like any martial art - and this is the key - it requires time and practice. Without either, no martial art's techniques are going to be effective - the practitioner has a skill that s/he does not know how to use. This is often one of the reasons taekwondo is bashed so much - people spend 3 years training to get a black belt with the idea that they are now an expert, only to get pounded and trounced when called on to use their skills. What they don't realize is that belt color has no effect on anything, and that they spent only a third of the requisite time to learn techniques that would be effective, had they spent more time. Many never come to realize this. So yes, it is very effective. It's philosophy keeps one out of the court rooms, too. There are actually 3 requisites for learning any martial art: time, practice, and good instruction. If you have good instruction, the rest is up to you.