My name is Pupeno and I'd like to introduce myself by telling my experience in martial arts and Aikido in particula.
I started learning Taekwon-do when I was 5 years old (really young hu?). As you can imagine, I didn't take it very seriously (as the whole aspects of my life when I was 5 years old). Time went on and eventully I left. For about two years I didn't practice and then, I come back, with renovated forces and interest, I took it very seriously and I did a lot in very little time, in one moment, I was attending 8 classes per week and I think I was about 10 and I was attending adult classes. It was really good. When I was 13 I get to the degree of first dan (black belt) and I have to left the practice because of a very hard secondary school that didn't leave me free time to do it.
Time went on and I tried to go back to Taekwon-do, a couple of times, but I couldn't.
When I was about 16 years old, I decided to try another martial art.
So, someone told me that Aikido was a very violent martial art and I was intrested in it (maybe they confused Aikido with Siplaki-do or something like that). That comment was totally missleading and I was totally missleaded in life.
So, I went to see a class, when I get to there, they were already practicing. I introduce it myself to the sensei, I explained him my experience in martial arts and I asked him to explain me about Aikido and he gave me a nice explanation about the phisics and that stuff, nothing spiritual really, or if he did, I missed it. I watched the people praticing, it seemed kinda artificial, like acting. But well, I had to try it by myself, so, I arranged to assist to a class.
The day come and I went to a class, I went with some friends. Another student started to teach me the etiqute in the Dojo and I was surprised by some things, but I have already started to like it.
By the time we finished the relaxation and stretching, etc exercise I was really starting to like it. My thoughts in that moments were "I was looking my whole life for this, I thought that this kind of martial arts were gone forever, if I new before".
So, the time to be an uke arrived, I was with a nice guy, a brown belt at that moment, but he got to black belt some monthes after that. He noticed that I had some experience in martial arts in no time. I think martial arts, any of them, let a mark in you, in the way you move, something you can confuse and it was indeed simple to me to be more harmonic that my friends (who hadn't practiced any martial art before) but I had some problems like long separation between the legs (in Taekwon-do separation between the legs is always very long) and something that really was bothering me was, that I was used to a lot of strucutre and there was also none. Of course, this issues are not precent for a true begginer. Having practiced another martial art help me in some aspects, but it was worst in some others.
So, I had to make my attak, I did it too weak... again... too weak... again... too weak.... they guy asked me to attak really strong... ok... I'll do it... 30 seconds later decided to never do it that strong again. Remember that I already had some experience so I think I know a bit of what I'm talking about... I feel like hiting empty space, like falling almost by myself, like fooled, and then, he helped me a bit, and I falled it was so... WOW, how did he do it... I mean... I didn't feel he doing something strong, everything was so light, but I was on the floor... and the thing continued and I was REALLY REALLY IMPRESED by the performance on handling uke's energy. I have been told how to manage others energy, other's power, against himself... but what I learnt was nothing compared to this, this was awsome. I start to study sensei demostrations and I got to the conclution. That man is unbeatable, I wouldn't attak him for nothing in the world.
And the class, the enviroment, everyone was so friendly, everyone helping you, teaching you, caring about you, it was really great, I felt so well there.
Do I have to say that by the end of that class, I was totally in love with Aikido and I've decided that it was going to be -MY- martial art.
I plan to pratice other things (I don't plan to go back to Taekwon-do) but Aikido will always be my main and beloved martial art, because it's so... great, so beautifull, so peacefull.
After that I bought a lot of books about Aikido and I learnt a lot from there, I even bought Spirit of Aikido, but I couldn't finish it, I'll read it some day.
Unfortunatly, after some time, I've had an accident in a park and I almost broke my neck and I couldn't go on practicing. It wasn't really bad, my accident, so in a month or two I could go back, but other problems arraised, mainly economical and time, and since then, I couldn't practice again but I'm very looking forward to go back to practicing.
Now that I moved things are a bit hard as everything for me is very expensive here (I moved from Argentina to USA) and everything is very far away (specially dojo, remember, japanese doens't have plurals, right ?
I hope this incentivate other people to go on a practice Aikido, I think everybody should give it a try, I think teaching it in schools could be great too.
I think that was one of my first step toward peacefulness. I was looking for something violent, outside, but that shoked me, make my peaceful self come to outside. Since day, litle by litle I've been choicing peace as the way and studing great masters like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. too.
I hope you enjoyed it.