Newaza. I'm an Aikido player. I don't need no stinking newaza.
Hmmm .... sounds a little "limiting" to me. I thought the Gracies disproved that idea a long time ago in the original UFC #1.
Certainly. If we assume that your Aikido is "perfect" and that you are able to fend off, re-direct and control any attack/attacker who happens to look your way as they consider you in the same light as a hungry coyote looks at a chicken as being dinner on the claw, then certainly; you don't need no "stinking newaza". But lets consider something for a moment.
I hate coffee tables. I loathe coffee tables of all shapes, sizes, types, configurations and uses. I don't have one in my house and never will. In my opinion all coffee tables in the galaxy should be immediately outlawed, hauled out to the front yard and set on fire as we all stand around the flames cooking a fresh batch of "s-mores" singing Kumbaya in Japanese.
Why, you ask, do I so loathe coffee tables?
Why, thank you for asking. Have you ever been to a party with a crowd of loud, roudy drunks and suddenly found yourself between an idiot and a coffee table? Ever had the idiot push you and you step back into and over the coffee table and you are now looking up (from the floor) at the idiot who has decided that he fails to see the beauty of how you wear your hair? That was back in high school, well before I ever tied my obi or took my first ukemi. It went no further than that and the drunk laughed and went on a search for a pony keg that hadn't floated yet but it did make an impression on me that remains.
Today, because of that happening (I've gone bald since then and no longer have to worry about people not liking my hair-dew) but I studiously try to avoid anything that looks like it could trip me as I dance around the room "Ueshiba Style".
The moral here is simply that even if we do our Aikido perfectly and without error or mishap, then we still can trip all by ourselves over coffee tables, fire hydrants, your wifes' purse or small farm animals. So in a very real sense we NEED some level of newaza ability in order to cope with that "worst case" scenario. By our having that ability we retain confidence in our Aikido and will step bigger and move more dynamically, pulling out all the stops; because we know intuitively that should it all fall apart we can still handle the worst case, on your back with him on top, disaster. The idea here is not to shift into UFC mode, but instead to control him and get back up as soon as possible and practical.
Rolling around on the floor is not the true Aikido players' focus or idea of a good time in the old town tonight (as the song goes) but its' instead a small part of our overall training regimen. As a comparision we could use automobiles as a metaphor. If you only ever drive an automatic and have never used a clutch and a standard transmission then what do you do if the tidal wave is coming and you have to jump in the car in order to escape fast enough to stay ahead of the 40 or 50 mph wave and the only, the ONLY car in the parking lot is a standard? So now, as you run as fast as your little legs will go, the last thing to pass through your mind (other than debris carried in the wave) is the thought, "Why in the hell did I not learn to drive a clutch?"
Aikido could be compared to an automatic transmission with quick-shifters and high-performance overdrive. The standard could be looked at as being newaza. You don't like driving the standard, but sometimes it just may come in really handy.
As Aikido players we have to have a view of the "Real" world that we live and train in. We can't just up and decide that only we know what's real because that becomes "Not-Real". Then when you get whacked due to not being prepared you'll be on the floor saying to yourself, "OMG that's Un-Real" and the guy standing over you will be replying back, "No. That was Really Real".
Go find a mat and someone who knows an little ground work and just lay down once in a while. Who knows. You might like it.
L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho, Aikibudokan, Houston, TX