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I made it to all three classes last week, and it felt good to get that much training in. Our attendance is way up compared to even a few months ago. I may not have mentioned it before, but just about a year ago, in August of 2002, we moved our dojo. We didn't move far, just a few miles, but there were some trade-offs. Our old dojo (which I also helped build) was on the second floor of an old, converted cigar factory. It had plenty of mat space, beautiful wooden floors, and a high ceiling (great for weapons work). But, as nice as it was, the location was awful. The building was located in an alley, and we had only a small sign on the outside of the building to indicate our presence. I say the building was located there because the owner sold it and it was demolished so a parking lot could be built in its place. That was the impetus for us moving to a new location.
The new location is in a much nicer location -- in a small shopping /office plaza right off one of the main streets in York, PA. The trade-offs are that the place is smaller, has lower ceilings (though not too low), and is more expensive to run. It is, however, much more attractive from the outside and as attractive from the inside -- though without those beautiful hardwood floors. My wife, Robin, and I painted a very cool sign that can be seen well from the highway. That, along with some other, fairly easy, promotional activities (three fold flyers left in a mailbox on the door and a sign by the road we use every few months) has led to a lot of new students joining and staying. The trade-offs seems to have been in our favor.
So attendance is up. Each class last week featured eight to ten students. This may not seem like much compared with other dojo, but for us, that is double the normal class size of a year ago. Tuesday's class was good, but unremarkable. Thursday was also good, but I was somewhat disappointed that a number of students decided to show up 15 minutes after the start of the open mat session, and I said as much. The problem is that latecomers only get time to warm up before class starts, and they miss out on the chance to work with their sempai on questions they may have. After I said something, everyone got up and worked on something until class started.
Saturday, Richard and I lead class since our instructor was out of town. We'll be doing the same thing this week too, at least on Thursday and Saturday. Generally, I think things went well, and I enjoy leading class. The new students seemed to enjoy the class as well. Still, it is difficult to teach aikido at times. Richard and I each taught approximately half the class, and we each stuck with stuff that we knew pretty well. Still, I felt like I made some mistakes, and I felt as though I could have shown things better. Time, more training, and more practice teaching will make things go more smoothly.