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I had just given up playing soccer due to logistics, knee injuries, and of the general lack of growth path for a non-school player in college. Tennis was inconvenient due to the court and partner issue, and going to the gym was alright, but kind of boring. I was looking for something new to do, so I went to my school's activity fair.
I was really intrigued by (western) fencing and the martial arts clubs in general, since I'd always like war-oriented games, considered joining the military, etc. The individual nature of the practice could also fix many of the logistical issues. In addition, most of the "club sports" such as crew demanded a commitment that I couldn't make due to my academic commitments, were team-based (and hence had logistical issues), and/or were seasonal.
Fencing club met only on 1-2 days per week at fixed (inconvenient and/or inaccessible) times, demanded lots of equipment, and seemed to suffer from the growth path issue again. I looked into the judo club, but this was (I think) once a week. Likewise with Tang soo do, and some other martial arts, some of which were actual university classes.
The Aikido club met 4 times per week, for a total of 8 hours of classes, on a wide variety of days, and was a club, not a class. I wouldn't be causing problems if I couldn't make it on a given night. The fees were reasonable, as well, with the "train as often as you want" statement.
In addition, the Aikido people brought mats and were demonstrating techniques at the activities fair. I saw them taking ukemi from technique, and being a natural clutz, I thought it would be really cool to learn to fall like that. I looked like a lot of fun. I figured if nothing else, I would be less clutzy. I liked the fact that they weren't so into punching things, kicking things, and calisthenics.
There were these two 5th kyuish people at the booth who were my age, although I didn't know them at the time. While trying to talk about Aikido to me, they continually spouted apparent contradictions at each other and confused the issue:
--- "This is Steven Seagal's martial art" vs. "But the movies don't portray it accurately"
--- "Aikido teaches you how to deal with empty hand and weaponed attackers" vs. "Aikido take a long period of training to be at all effective"
I got from this that Aikido was complicated.
I went to a first few classes, where they taught a group of beginners together, and so I had a gentle easing in. I was very impressed about the fact that many of the club members were grad-students, professors, and members of the community (aka adults) which showed me that this was something I could do for a long time, as well as that the club had a stable base.
After that, all I did was keep going. They and Aikido did the rest.