Howdy from a Chicago Aikikai student.
Hi all. I'm originally from Monmouth, Maine, now living in Chicago, Illinois in the US of A.
I've always had a moderately physical lifestyle, though as a kid it was mostly chopping wood, hiking, etc. Formal training didn't really come into it until high school when I started training in competitive Epee fencing (did that for 9 or 10 years). Started doing some "Stage Combat" as part of my theater program in college then moved to Chicago and eventually met some Aikido folks in the stage combat community who got me interested in Aikido (and led me to becoming a student at Chicago Aikikai).
I have very little experience in the greater world of Aikido. I've been training at Chicago Aikikai for almost 3 years, but it's been on and off due to other commitments. Still haven't tested for 6th kyu yet. I know, lame lame lame.
Aikiweb has been a great source of inspiration for me, as well as making me wrestle personally with some of the hard questions that have been debated here about the nature and purpose of Aikido, the reasons for training, ethics of self-defense, etc etc. I appreciate the work that has been done to make this site live and breathe, and I hope some day I'll have something to contribute from my own experiences.
Thanks to all who keep this site healthy! I'll strive to be a good netizen.