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I started with Aikido at Natsu Matsuri, the Chicago Buddhist Temple's summer festival, in June 2003. I saw an AAA demo led by John Bieszk, a godan with the Aikido Association of America. The demo was fun, the space was a little small, but it was enough to get me to sign up for the intro class at Tenshinkan dojo.
I expected to have Dianne Costanzo to teach my class, as that's what the flyer said. Paul Revenko-Jones taught the class instead, as Costanzo Sensei was teaching summer school. He convinced me that I could learn aikido, and shared the story that he was terrified before every aikido class for his first three months. I find my experience to be much the same.
After finishing the class, and signing up for another month at Tenshinkan, I catch up with Costanzo sensei, who is running a small dojo in the basement of a church in Oak Park, my hometown. My aikido life starts to begin.