When I started, I was looking for a way to keep fit that had a practical aspect to it. The gym never did it for me - I got bored! I was also looking for something that would give me more self-confidence in my physicality. My history with athletics in general was...acrimonious to say the least. I remember reading up on various arts and their philosophies, and the ideas behind Aikido made a lot more sense to me than the others.
Why I stay is a harder question. Some days I ask myself that, usually when I've had a rough practice. The answer is complicated, but I'll list some of my thoughts.
- I think that sticking with Aikido requires a certain degree of masochism - on some level, you have to enjoy being thrown, pinned, joint locked, yonkyo'd, etc
- I've got enough sunk costs in terms of time and effort that I don't think I'd want to quit now.
- Most of the time, practice feels good - I've got a sedentary day job, so getting up and moving around that much is a nice contrast
- Working to internalize the physical and philisophic lessons of Aikido makes me feel like I'm progressing positively as a human being