Dave de Vos
I started aikido because I wanted to do something interesting and challenging to keep myself fit. A friend suggested aikido and I liked it. My physical fitness has definitely improved from aikido practise.
I had never seen an impressive aikido demonstration when I started. I just had not been interested in martial arts between the ages of 15 and 40. I had never heard from O Sensei or Tissier and I didn't know Seagal was doing aikido. I had done some judo as a child and Japanese jiu-jitsu as a teenager. My first impression of aikido was that it was similar to jiu-jitsu, but while jiu-jitsu looked violent, aikido looked graceful. The dojo atmosphere and the gracefulness drew me, not power.
When I first saw aikido clips of Seagal and Tissier I didn't like them. They looked brutal to me, not like aikido. But in the mean time my opinion has changed. I learned that aikido is practised in many different ways and I've grown to appreciate that. When the opportunity arises I like to train in other lineages and styles. My 9 year old son started yoseikan aikido. Watching those classes is quite interesting, so now I train with the adult group sometimes. It's very diverse and practical. In my perception it is a bit closer to (Japanese) jiu-jitsu, but still it's clearly aikido.
Here on AikiWeb I became interested in internal training. They convinced me that O Sensei had great physical power and that he got it from internal training.
Still, one might ask why I would persue internal power if I'm not that interested in being strong.
I see it like this: being a dad, I sometimes play fight with my son. He's only 9 so I'm much stronger than him. The difference is big enough that I can take care of both our safety and I don't have to hurt him to "win".
As my opponent's strength approaches or surpasses mine, I might have to become more and more violent to have a chance of resolving the situation in a favourable way. Internal training could create a power differential and therefore potentially reduce violence.
Also, they convinced me that aikido techniques may not be very effective when your opponent knows how to fight. Aikido needs to be backed up by the body conditioning and movement resulting from internal training.
And I'm also curious of its effect. It's a long term experiment with my body.
But mostly, power is a means to me, not the goal.
P.S.: I don't see how the calligraphy in Chris's dojo has anything to do with this discussion. You may not care about my perception of you, but to be honest you lost some points there.
All good points.
In my experience people have given similar motivations as yours for starting with Aikido and over time as they became more experienced, saw their motivations change and develop. I do not recall anyone who said that he or she was looking for power.
Just to add to it; internal training is founded just as much on physical training as it is on mental /spiritual training. Both are a part of traditional Aikido - but it is a way, a michi, a do - it is not the goal of Aikido. Physical power alone will bring one to the foot of the mountain, not to the top.