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In 1990 I was single, 25 years old, 6'2" and 150 lbs. (yes, I was SKINNY). In October this year I'll be 40, married for 14 years and a father of two. I'm still 6'2", but now I'm 205 lbs. Two months ago I weighed a sedentary 215 lbs. -- see below for details.
IN THE BEGINNING
Before Aikido, I tended to do Aikido-like things.
I'd never been in a fight, partially due to my skill in the art of verbal self-defense. I'd insult the offender in an intelligent, humorous way and walk away while their friends laughed at them trying to figure out what I said.
Whenever I was goofing around with my friends and somebody started getting rough, I'd always find a way to compensate for not being very strong (my upper body strength sucks). Usually I'd use balance / unbalance or leverage / joint-locks to get away.
When I decided to study martial arts (to help me protect my girlfriend if it ever became necessary) I needed to choose a discipline. After reading a stack of books, I narrowed it down to Judo and Aikido. No sparring, no competitions and the defensive focus in Aikido were the deciding factors.
I LOVED IT! I was MADE for Aikido.
Of course I had to teach my body to move differently than before, but it all *clicked*. I understood it. It all made sense. It was difficult, but felt very natural. I caught on quickly.
I trained in 1989 and 1990 at the University of Toledo in Ohio for 3 semesters and passed my first 3 tests to reach 6th kyu. [NOTE: 9th kyu was awarded if you failed your first test, 8th kyu if you passed. I don't know if that's how most dojos do it.]