Come on guys, this is getting really woolly!!!!
Kevin, when you do go for a first Aikido class, pick carefully. A lot of people in Aikido don't have any time for the...
rowing exercise, hand shaking exercise, and shaking hands over head and flicking fingers toward earth are for spiritual cleansing
...mumbo jumbo. Aikido is a martial arts and should be practiced as such. O'Sensei was a bone breaker and hospitalised many people. He killed many too. In fact that is supposed to have lead to him emphasising Irimi, as his katana blade became ineffective because of the fat on it from those he had cut down, so he started to thrust in to them instead.
If you want the mumbo jumbo, well there are many schools of Aikido that have forgotten that it is a martial art and seem to be practicing "prayer in movement", but that i snot for me.
I had a disturbing experience at a seminar a little while ago, where I did (Shomen) Irimi Nage on one guy and he got up looking flustered, saying, "What are you going? What are you doing?" I was confused as I thought I did the technique pretty well. "You're not supposed to touch me!" he said, "You're supposed to show your hand in front of my face and I fall down!" ** WHAT? ** So I did the technique even harder the second time!
Like I said, it is a martial art and should be practiced as such. If you don't want that and want to be a fruity, there are many places to go, but a Yoshinkan Dojo will not be one of them.