Hi. I know you "old hands" must get sick of people like me asking what must seem like the same questions over and over (and I apologize in advance for doing just that). I, for one, am reading the posts and trying to figure it all out.
Some information about me: I do not live in a particularly dangerous city, and I am adept at avoiding fights. Call it diplomacy, call it cowardice, whatever--I still haven't had to attempt to use force to avoid a conflict. Also, I agree with (Nick, was it?)--if you just want to win a fight, gouge an eye or break a limb. Fight is over.
I have always viewed (and been taught to view) martial arts as a means to an end--that is, your first course of action is to run away. If you are unable to run away, then you try to get the other guy to lay down long enough to enable you to get away. Seems like a good idea, and has worked so far. But I am considering a MA because the day may come in which I am unable to get away. I want to be ready.
A friend of mine, who has a black belt (I forget what level--3rd, maybe?) suggested that I look at Aikido. While he is far from "World-class" level, I trust him; he has trained honestly for years, and at least to my mind represents what a trained MA should be. Therefore, I am considering this art.
I also looked at Tai Chi, but it was waaaay to slow for me--both in practice and "advancement"--not the racking up of belts, but rather the actual learning curve. Not my kind of art.
Included below, for your teeth-grinding pleasure, are some more newbie questions:
1. I'm a computer geek and my current physical activity amounts to refilling my coffee cup or grabbing another soda (but I drink Diet Pepsi--that counts for something, doesn't it?). I have tried Tae Kwon Do (as a child) and Shorin-ryu (as an adult), but both involve a great deal more physical activity (especially at the beginning)than I am really willing to deal with. From what I've seen on the board so far, Aikido seems to be a little less stenuous. I realize that to some extent this depends on the dojo, but no one would say that TKD is not physically demanding (if done properly); likewise, it seems that one would be able to make a generalization about Aikido. So--is Aikido (as it appears) a relatively less physically demanding art than most others?
2. I am considering learning Aikido for two reasons: a)self-defense, and b)because this is an art through which I can learn jodo. A few years ago I considered MA's, and weaponry (again, as self-defense), and jodo seemed the most useful. One is unlikely to find a pair of nunchuka lying on the sidwalk, and carrying a sword around is generally frowned upon by law enforcement officials. Locating a four-to-five-five foot stick in a pinch seems relatively easy, however. Is this a reasonable mindset/expectation for beginning study?
3. I am not actively seeking the meditative or spiritual aspects of Aikido, but I am not opposed to them, either. Should this spirituality be the primary reason for studying Aikido, or one of several, or is it a "side-effect"?
4. Is it at all possible to study Aikido alone, i.e. without taking a second mortgage for lessons?
I know there is a bunch of nonsense above these questions (I warned you!), but I am interested in not only answers but general comments. Do you see common newbie mistakes/misperceptions in my ramblings? Are there things that concern you? Do you simply think I'm a lunatic?
Thanks for your time.