Chris, The first lesson is to learn the difference between budo and bujutsu. If you want to learn "martial skills" then you should seek a bujutsu ryu.
The path of Aikido budo is something much different than mere martial technique.
A few of us had a nice conversation w seki sensei one summer, and he said I think basically the same thing.
We have to define for ourselves, what it is we want. Jutsu or do... Self preservation, or self improvement