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drbeat17
04-21-2002, 08:17 PM
Hello everybody. I have been thinking about the above title for about a couple of weeks now. I was searching the forums and have found nothing on it so I thought it would be good to ask. How does one go about teaching for a living? Yes I know that the answere would be something like "Years of training...so on and so on...", but realistically what are the qualifications of most people that own or work for a dojo? When is a good time to open a dojo yourself? Can you make enough money to live? Should we venture to Japan and spend some time away from our home dojos like we were getting a PHD or something? How many people fail at being Martial Arts teachers in general? How do you go about getting students? Is there opportunity to teach at another dojo or college and make a living and if there is how many of those positions are available? After we get to a level in Aikido would training in other arts, such as Jodo, Kenjitsu or Judo, go to help our teaching ability and the appeal of a new school?
Also I have always found that when you start making martial arts a business things get hairy. First you have to find a reasonable $$ value for your students and the, but you have to find money to eat while also furthering of the art too.

I would very much like to hear stories, advise, or anything from current teachers or anybody that has something to say about the above. I wish everyone best of training and hope to hear from you all.

Daniel Beatty
:circle:

Jonathan
04-22-2002, 12:21 AM
Personally, I am strongly opposed to the idea of making money by teaching Aikido. The transmission of the art, I believe, suffers when money becomes a driving force in the dojo. Look at Tae kwon do, for instance. Some dojo, or dojang, or whatever they're called have two or three times the number of ranks to shodan that my aikido dojo does simply because it is a way to generate income. Each rank is, of course, increasingly expensive and often issued with little concern for genuine martial skill.

I think there are also more subtle and detrimental changes that occur to the dynamic between student and teacher when the teacher accepts payment for teaching. Payment often engenders a feeling of entitlement. A student may think, "I paid you so I have the right to question or modify your methods." They may also feel less need to be assiduous about training because they believe that the teacher won't, or shouldn't, care as long as he/she is getting paid.

Just a few thoughts.

PeterR
04-22-2002, 02:21 AM
Need I remind you all of the number of Shihan that make their living off the art.

Besides the obvious implication that they are somehow less pure than dedicated amateurs - where would we be if all we had were the two nights a week for whatever number of years is all we had.

Total dedication takes both time and money.

erikmenzel
04-22-2002, 05:05 AM
Yet as a counterpart, there are also a couple of shihan around that utterly refuse payment because they dont consider payment to be what aikido is about.

Having these shihan come to your dojo is somehow more difficult than getting one of the others because the will only come when they are welcome, treated well and find that there are people that want to learn what they have learned already.

Tim Griffiths
04-22-2002, 07:57 AM
Originally posted by erikknoops
Yet as a counterpart, there are also a couple of shihan around that utterly refuse payment because they dont consider payment to be what aikido is about.

Err, OK, but these are shihan being employed by Hombu dojo, no? So their income comes from aikido anyway - they just don't charge more.

Getting back to the original question - students are paying money to learn aikido anyway - insurance, dojo rental, mat fund etc. Where I train now, about 1/4 of the monthly fee goes to
the instructor. I haven't heard anyone complain about it. All gradings up to shodan are free of charge, and for dan grades all the money goes to aikikai hombu anyway. With about 15 students, that's in the region of $200 a month. Not too much for 4 classes a week. I also get paid for teaching by my company, about $100 a month (before tax). Actually, they *have* to pay me to keep the books in order.:)

If you want to make a living from teaching aikido, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that - certainly there isn't to many Japanese teachers (you could say quite the opposite), you need to do the maths:

What you need to live on and dojo rental etc / No. of possible students = amount you're going to have to suck out of them.

So, if you can find people willing to pay, go ahead. I would say that in my experience there are very few people with enough students to do that, though.

Also, to be honest, sod Japan. Its nice to train there, but don't think you'll learn any secret stuff you can't find in Texas. There are bad teachers in Japan too, maybe even more per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Of course, living in Iwama for 10 years is going to improve your aikido, but a year in Tokyo going 3 times a week to Hombu dojo may not be a big improvement on what you've got at home. (Disclaimer - I'm talking about aikido here.)

I also feel that the best aikido teachers are not judo or karate teachers as well (although they may have grades in those arts). When teaching several arts they often bleed into each other, until one day you find you've invented a 'fighting system', rather than teaching aikido.

More thoughts,

Tim

erikmenzel
04-22-2002, 09:16 AM
Originally posted by Tim Griffiths
Err, OK, but these are shihan being employed by Hombu dojo, no? So their income comes from aikido anyway - they just don't charge more.


No, these are people who trained for several years with O'sensei but are not part of and are not employed by the Aikikai So Hombu dojo in Tokyo!! The ones I know are just retired people nowerdays and dont charge anything even though they could use the money.

They dont charge, they teach, some for the fun and to make sure that what they learned from O'Sensei does not get lost!

justinm
04-22-2002, 10:25 AM
I've no problem people making a living from Aikido. I pay to go to class, and don't know how much goes to rent, new mats, coffee or Sensei. It is a lot less than I pay in time, pain, sweat, blood and emotion. If the students don't get what they want/need, they will leave - paying/not paying the teacher is not going to change that. Similarly, I doubt many (any) aikido teachers do it just for the money and don't see anyone becoming rich from it, so don't see this having any influence on their ethical or moral behaviour as aikido teachers.

Of course, if the fees were $100 a session instead of $5, I might feel differently!

Lyle Bogin
04-22-2002, 10:35 AM
If martial art should have practical application, I see nothing more practical than making a living.

drbeat17
04-22-2002, 01:39 PM
Just to clarify I'm not talking about striking it rich at teaching Aikido. I believe that the art should remain pure, but I'm just wondering how you go about dedicating your life to the art and not starving. I am of the impression that teaching Aikido would be a vocation like being a priest or monk or something along those lines...you never hear of a priest going hungry but in the same fashion priests aren't rich either. I'm happy to hear from you guys though, keep it coming.

Daniel Beatty
:circle:

Stephen Quick
04-22-2002, 02:22 PM
If your questions is strictly in the business realm there is a wealth of information on the web. Type martial+arts+management into your search engine and enjoy the reading.

The school that I train and teach at is trying to do just what you are speaking about. Maintain the integrity of the art and see if we can actually make enough money so at least our sensei can teach full time. Personally I think that would be wonderful. Currently, he is only able to teach a few times per week. Not to say that the rest of us don't have something significant to offer but you can't beat attending the chief instructor's classes.

One of things that we have done to help attract more students is to offer different arts but try and maintain the Aiki spirit. This can only be done by carefully selecting the instructors of the other arts. We offer TKD for adults and children and Tai Chi. Currently though, Aikido is actually the most popular class.

One of the marketing tools that we have been using is to put on demonstrations for various groups (professional women's organizations, church groups). While this has not generated huge waves of enrollment it does help spread the word and philosophy of Aikido.

The biggest problem that has been identified by many of the professional martial arts management consultants is attrition. To put it in there terms more people leave by the back door then come in the front. Therefore, a school must not only work at keeping students interested and motivated but also work on making sure that the flow of new students exceeds the flow of drop outs.

Being a business adds a whole new dimension to the philosophy. My personnel reconsiliation is that I feel we are offering a true benefit to society. If we can make money and maintain the intergrity of the benefit then everyone wins.:)

Erik
04-22-2002, 03:11 PM
<minor rant>
Just for comparison sakes, a typical techie in these parts should be earning at least 50,000/year even in these tighter times and that can happen almost immediately after graduation or at least within 2 or 3 years (how long does it take to learn Aikido?) and that can even happen without a formal education. On the other hand, for an Aikido instructor to earn $50,000 they will probably need to take in somewhere around $75,000 on their gross to cover rent, insurance, additional taxes, advertising and more. And don't forget start-up time where virtually nothing is earned (and much is spent) while they build up a student base which can come and go as they please unlike an instructor who has made at least a moral commitment to stay around.

At a dojo I'm helping out, there are 5 adult students and 6 children, I think. I marvel at the adult's who say things like, "it sure is nice having small classes". Sure is, meanwhile, someone is sinking in $1,000/mo for your privledge to enjoy these small classes. I know they mean well but some perspective is in order.

If a stockbroker can earn $100K/yr to $200K/yr I see nothing wrong with Aikido instructors doing the same. When you consider that Aikido instructors actually provide value it's not even a debate to my mind.
</minor rant>

Back on topic. I don't know how you survive just teaching Aikido. Many successful full-time instructors I know have side business (or teaching Aikido is their side business) based on Aikido in some form. It's brutally hard. Interestingly, the dojo I mentioned is going to do some television advertising. With the advent of cable it can be pretty cheap to get on the tube. Could be my big break into television as I'll either get to bounce some people around or get bounced around. I could be the next Steven Seagal. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Richard Harnack
04-22-2002, 04:05 PM
Originally posted by drbeat17
...I have been thinking about the above title for about a couple of weeks now... How does one go about teaching for a living? ...what are the qualifications of most people that own or work for a dojo? When is a good time to open a dojo yourself? Can you make enough money to live? Should we venture to Japan and spend some time away from our home dojos like we were getting a PHD or something? How many people fail at being Martial Arts teachers in general? How do you go about getting students? Is there opportunity to teach at another dojo or college and make a living and if there is how many of those positions are available? After we get to a level in Aikido would training in other arts, such as Jodo, Kenjitsu or Judo, go to help our teaching ability and the appeal of a new school?

Daniel -
As someone who actually does teach Aikido for his living, I might have some "answers" for you.

1. If you are planning on making your living from Aikido, go right ahead, however, if you have a good paying day job, you may first want to teaqch via a parks & recreation center or a YMCA to get your feet wet and to see if you have what it takes to teach.

2. Your primary qualification to teach beyond whatever rank you may hold is a strong desire to do so regardless of what others tell you. In some organizations you must be a Sandan to start teaching, in others an Ikkyu.

3. You must also either be a good business manager or have someone who can help you here to make certain the bills get paid on time. You'll soon learn that rent and electricity come before your eating.

4. Can you make enough money to live. Cf #'s 1 & 3. Eventually, but don't quit your day job.

5. On going to Japan. I know what I am going to say next will undoubtedly ruffle some feathers, so be it. There are just as many execellent Aikidoka here in the US as there are in Japan. You would do better by focusing on your own training here than worrying about whether to go to Japan. The only reason to go to Japan for Aikido is to visit and to be able to say you have been to Japan. You may find yourself severely disappointed by many of the japanese instructors.

6. How many people "fail"? many more that succeed. In any small business venture the failure rate is roughly 85% in the first year and 95% by the fifth year. So this is not for the faint of heart.

7. As to teaching other arts in your dojo, I don't. We are strictly an Aikido dojo. I am aware of other schools that offer everything from Tai Chi to Kenjutsu. What I hear after a while is how conflicts develop between the various students who feel they should be able to take advantage of everything although they only signed up for one style of training. If you try to be everything to all people, you will most likely wind up being nothing.

8. As to getting students, you will be your own best "advertisement". Understand that the yellow pages are your most reliable, but do not go for the expensive ad first, unless you have several thousand dollars to blow on yellow pages. You should be recruiting your own students or teach at one of the venues mentioned above.

9. Lastly, there is only one reason to teach anything -- it is because you have a love for what you do and you want to share that with others. The rest is hassle and gravy.

PeterR
04-22-2002, 08:01 PM
Originally posted by erikknoops
No, these are people who trained for several years with O'sensei but are not part of and are not employed by the Aikikai So Hombu dojo in Tokyo!! The ones I know are just retired people nowerdays and dont charge anything even though they could use the money.
So are they Aikikai Shihan, and if not where is the Shihan title from. I understand Aikikai has gotten quite picky about the term.

In my organization the Tetsuro Nariyama Shihan is paid by the JAA specifically as World Technical Director and he gets income form teaching at various universities and police departments. The only other Shihan in the organization is not paid by the JAA and I am not sure he gets extra income from running the Waseda Aikido club but definately as a Professor of Budo history. Want to bet one led to the other.

Chris Li
04-23-2002, 04:18 AM
Originally posted by Jonathan
Personally, I am strongly opposed to the idea of making money by teaching Aikido. The transmission of the art, I believe, suffers when money becomes a driving force in the dojo.

Hmm, Sokaku Takeda made his living teaching for money. So did Morihei Ueshiba...

In fact, Sokaku Takeda actively sought out wealthy people - people who would be able to pay him enough to make a profit. Still, he seems to have transmitted things fairly well :) .

Best,

Chris