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Last night was my very first Aikido practice and my very first experience with any sort of martial art. I had previously visited the dojo to make sure that this was something I wanted to get into and learn. It was. Everyone at the dojo is very nice and welcoming and sensei seems to be an awesome teacher.
Some background in case you're reading this and wondering if it's something you can do. I'm a 35 year old, most sedentary male weighing in at about 200 pounds. For a couple of months now I've been walking for about an hour 5 nights a week. That's all the excersize I've had in years. I'm not really fat, but I'm certainly not in any great shape. After watching an Aikido class and now participating in one, I can say it's definetely something I can do (with a LOT of practice). Don't be afraid to take that first step.
Fortunately there was another beginning student - it was nice that there was someone else who was almost as clumsy as me. This also alowed Sensei to pair us up and teach us a lot of things.
Primarily we learned footwork. Avoiding attacks by stepping out of the way. While I can see why everything works the way it does, none of it initially felt natural. I was spending too much time trying to remember which foot I was supposed to lead off with and in which direction I should go. Mildly frustrating but gratifying everytime I got it correct. Needless to say, I need a LOT of practice.
We also learned the proper way to fall on our backs. If I had been told, prior to class that I'd be falling on my back, I'd probably have been pretty apprehensive. Again, it's not something that initially felt very natural, but it didn't seem the slightest bit scary there on the mat. It was just something we did. I managed not to hurt myself and I think I even got it right a few times. Also, it was FUN. The whole class was fun. Watching Sensei and the more advanced students was incredible. That's the sort of stuff I want to be able to do, some day, far off in the future. My short term goal, though, is to learn to roll around like everyone but us newbies were doing.
All in all, it was a fantastic experience, and I can't wait to go back again on Sunday. If you're thinking about starting Aikido and are hesitant - do it!