- ...you have to have special equipment and a lot of space to practice.
- ...you have to teach things in a certain order (generally from easier-to-harder) which means that you have to teach the relatively less street effective stuff first and it can take years to learn a sufficient amount of aikido to be effective in the street.
- ...you either limit your mat years or you have to change how you are doing aiki mid-career. At some age aikidoka need to slow down on the falling and eventually stop altogether for self-protection.
- ...you intimidate the novice and run students off.
- ...you increase the safety issues and incur greater liability. I've heard of judo clubs being told to get rid of climbing ropes because of liability. Well, for Pete's sake, think! Which is more dangerous, climbing up a rope once or twice per class or taking dozens of airfalls per class?
But on the other hand, these big throws are, in large part, the artistic trademark of aikido. Many of the people that you ask will say they got into aikido in the first place because they saw a little old man with a beard pitching young, athletic judo-type guys effortlessly. That the big falls looked like magic. Well, in my opinion, that illusion of effortless magic is actually detrimental to the popularity of aikido in today’s environment of ultra-pragmatic self-defense systems (i.e. kravmaga, CQB, etc…) and full-contact sport systems (BJJ, GJJ, UFC, NHB, etc…). I say get rid of the magic, get rid of the illusion, and concentrate on the real aiki. The aiki that the old guys did – and not necessarily the large-motion aiki that is exhibited so beautifully in demonstrations.
What does that mean we need to do?
Rethink your goals. aikido can be amazingly effective without uke being required to take an airfall. In fact, to do good aikido, tori absolutely must get rid of the idea that his goal is to make uke fall in a certain way. This is a nearly impossible goal to accomplish unless you have a compliant uke. Change your goals to things you have more control over (staying safe, keeping uke extended and offbalance, staying in motion, etc…) and which are less dependent on uke's compliance or skill. Get away from choreography like "tori does X and then uke does Y and so tori throws Z" and work on learning skills that allows tori to say, "I don't care how uke reacts to this. I'll be okay."
Look for the large subsets of aiki that you can do with uke responding by kneeling down or sitting back into a gentle backfall. Emphasize these subsets and all of a sudden you have an extremely viable, practical self-defense system that virtually anyone can learn rapidly (months - not years), comfortably, and in greater safety without the need for large open spaces and matted floors.