Another hallo from England
"Dad, Dad, they're starting a parents' class" lead me, a body dyslexic, firstly to Judo at the age of 43, and then eventually to Aikido via a training partner who was also an Aikido Sensei.
I was fortunate in my haphazard choice of Judo club in that it focussed on traditional Judo rather than competition. The Sensei had also studied Karate and Aikido, and instilled respect for other arts and styles of Budo. They did not denigrate competition clubs, but said that there was also room for the traditional approach. The Sensei at the Aikido Dojo where I train have a similarly inclusive view, seeking a style of free practice and looking for echoes and insights from other arts, while also arranging seminars from traditional Aikido instructors from Japan and France.
If you watch a class and feel comfortable with the atmosphere and what is going on, you will probably be happy training there - worked for my son and then me.
At a seminar I was been struck by the way that Yamashima sensei encouraged us to try and sense the direction that Uke "wanted to go" and to lead him or her there, rather than selecting a direction and forcing Uke towards it. (Uke? I did say that I started with Judo.) Last week a club Sensei returning from a protracted holiday Aikido tour said he was increasingly convinced that executing technique in the way that was the softest and kindest to Uke was also the most effective, and we experimented accordingly. These thoughts are the ones that currently interest me, and also how to use verbal techniques to defuse agression in an Aikido way - which so far eludes me.
I started late in life, have little physical talent, am slow to learn, have the memory of a goldfish, and am very lowly graded, but something in Aikido calls to me and I keep coming back to it. As a guest I have come to look first for the Aikiweb forum articles by the Mirror - and will be using the plan for a weapons bag, thanks!