Your friend is just thick. A very good friend of mine (we've known each other since I was in grade 5, and he in 4, I was just at his wedding, and my brother was his best man) is at that level in Aikido, but he has no illusions about its effectiveness. He does it because he enjoys the body mechanics involved. We both started off learning a traditional style, but from an old school guy from Hong Kong, from back in the day when disciples of different schools would regularly call each other out, and you had to prove that your style worked. So a lot of the techniques we learned were pretty practical, and there was a lot of full contact drilling, against resisting opponents. We went on different paths, mostly due to our temperaments - I did a lot of hard, external styles as well as some BJJ, and he focussed on Aikido. His mastery of Aikido (we both started in high school, and are in our early thirties now) is far superior to my skill in anything, and he is naturally a better athlete than I will ever be, but in a free sparring match, I beat him pretty much every time. He invariably reverts to hard techniques, because Aikido is not really useful against, say, boxing, where you never commit to the punch to full extension the way an aikidoika assumes an attacker will, nor is it really useful in a standing clinch or on the ground. He says (and it seems plausible) that aikido is effectively only if the opponent is attacking without thought of retaliation, and not in a fighting situation. Maybe we can all agree on that? one story that I love is having a talk with a friend of mine who was a black belt in akido- he had been studying for maybe 10 years at that time, including summers in a camp in japan, and maybe 3 times a week, but he had only ever studied akido. he had good stamina, but no real power, and was about 130 pounds. we got into a discussion, that was similar to your discussion with your cousin - he claimed that his training was such that I couldn't make him move back over a certain line. I was just a little shorter than him, but I was a great deal more powerful and heavy - and in a matter of maybe a seond and a half, without having to strike him, I had him pinned against a wall 20 feet behind where he was standing. it was almost as though I had changed his religion - he couldn't comprehend that all of this training hadn't achieved the results he wanted. several months later, we were walking down the street in a gay neighborhood, and a car drove by and called us "fags" - he took offense and ran after the car, catching them at the next light. what the fuck was going through his pointy little head, I have no idea, but when I cought up with them, he was getting the shit kicked out of him by 3 or 4 guys. I had the advantage of coming from behind them, and was able to get him away from there without to much trouble. but it was the same type of thing - he was sure that he would have been able to take on these guys, and maybe if they were all wearing pajamas and barefoot, and followed his rules, he would have shown them a thing of two.