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anonaiki
03-02-2011, 04:32 PM
I guess this ties in a bit with the tough economic times theme. My work has been incredibly sporadic since the recession hit and I've finally accepted that Aikido is going to have to be cut from my budget. It's my third most expensive monthly bill behind my mortgage and health insurance. I love my dojo and all the folks there and absolutely intend to start up again when finances allow.

My question is - how do I respectfully resign from the dojo? I really don't want to share the information about my finances as the reason. My sensei was already kind enough to let me slide for a month last year. I don't think it's fair to try to stay on if I can't provide the financial support like everyone else does. I'm figuring that I will write a letter to my sensei, but what should I say? I would appreciate any advice.

Hellis
03-02-2011, 04:43 PM
I guess this ties in a bit with the tough economic times theme. My work has been incredibly sporadic since the recession hit and I've finally accepted that Aikido is going to have to be cut from my budget. It's my third most expensive monthly bill behind my mortgage and health insurance. I love my dojo and all the folks there and absolutely intend to start up again when finances allow.

My question is - how do I respectfully resign from the dojo? I really don't want to share the information about my finances as the reason. My sensei was already kind enough to let me slide for a month last year. I don't think it's fair to try to stay on if I can't provide the financial support like everyone else does. I'm figuring that I will write a letter to my sensei, but what should I say? I would appreciate any advice.

Please speak to your teacher. Once you explain he may be able to help ? .. I have seen good students leave without explanation, they say goodnight after practice and disappear, sad..maybe they had your problem where we would have made concessions..

Henry Ellis
http://aikido-controversy.blogspot.com/

Anon
03-02-2011, 05:47 PM
I agree with Henry: Talk with your teacher. If you truly love your dojo and enjoy the training and people, it likely shows and the teacher and students you leave will be affected by your departure.

By all means, see if something can be worked out. Your teacher may be interested in accepting volunteer time (maintenance, assisting in the kids' classes, etc.) from you in lieu of dues until you are financial able to return to paying the fees.

I've always been cash-poor myself, and when I was training daily in a karate school, they let me help out at the desk, work with kids, clean, do computer membership data input, you name it, in exchange for my membership dues. The only fees I paid were for rank tests. I never would have been able to afford the training otherwise.

So, ask!

anonaiki
03-02-2011, 05:56 PM
Thank you for the considerate and quick replies.

Part of my problem is that I can't imagine asking. Most of the dues-paying members already help out with a ton of volunteer work. I don't think I should get any special treatment. And I'm really uncomfortable with talking about my finances.

sakumeikan
03-02-2011, 06:04 PM
Thank you for the considerate and quick replies.

Part of my problem is that I can't imagine asking. Most of the dues-paying members already help out with a ton of volunteer work. I don't think I should get any special treatment. And I'm really uncomfortable with talking about my finances.
In this financial climate people are having a bad time[bankers excluded].
You might consider talking to your teacher and explaining your position.Perhaps a combination of lower fees / doing some tasks might be an option?In any case you never know when your financial situation could change[hopefully for the better].Personally I would much prefer a student to keep in the dojo even if it meant I would lose some revenue.It is not always a question of cash---
Joe.

Janet Rosen
03-02-2011, 06:08 PM
Criminy! Number one, times are hard and anybody who doesn't know it/hasn't been touched by it is living on another planet from the rest of us, so it's not like you've got a character defect. Second, if you feel accepted as part of the dojo community, what's wrong with sharing the fact of economic hardship - nobody's going to be asking you to fill in a form with the details.
Third, if you feel accepted as part of the dojo community, why wouldn't you just talk to the instructor?
I suspect the answers to my second and third questions have to do with embarrassment or other negative feelings you have about your situation - in which case I refer you back to my first point: it likely isn't you, "it's the economy, stupid" to quote somebody :-)

Mark Freeman
03-02-2011, 06:14 PM
These are tough times for most folk.The only way out with any real integrity is to be completely honest with your teacher, explain the truth and see what happens from there. I agree with Henry, it is diffucult for a teacher to lose a student with little or no explanation. Maybe he will have a solution or compromise that can be worked on. Good luck to you and to all who are finding the economics of life tough right now.

regards

Mark

anonaiki
03-02-2011, 06:18 PM
That's pretty close to the truth, Janet. I feel very embarrassed and have a lot of negative feelings about my situation. Perhaps the stress of it has me not thinking straight. I do feel very accepted by the dojo community, but I'm also a little intimidated by my sensei. I have all the respect in the world for him, but I also can't imagine talking to him about my economic issues, even without going into specifics. It's starting to look like I've got some major hang ups I need to deal with, but I don't really know where to start.

I'm also fretting about upcoming seminars and testing fees. It gets hard when my fellow students ask why I haven't signed up for a seminar.

Anon
03-02-2011, 06:23 PM
Yup, it will come down to deciding which is more important to you: your love of your art, the training and the dojo... or keeping your financial situation completely a secret, and suffering as a result. Personally, I'd go with the first option! But I've had plenty of experience of having to swallow my pride. :)

You'll never know unless you talk to your teacher, Maybe he would let you pay dues on a sliding scale. Wouldn't it be a shame if you resigned, and found yourself missing your training and dojo, and suffering... when all along, you could have been happily training.

Go for it. And, good luck.

dps
03-02-2011, 06:40 PM
Instead of paying a monthly fee see if your sensei would accept a payment plan of pay as you practice. Agree upon an hourly rate and pay cash each time you practice. This way you are not increasing your debt, you can practice when you have the money saved up and you will feel better about not paying when others are.

Don't be too sure that others at your dojo are not in a similar situation.

Good Luck

dps

Janet Rosen
03-02-2011, 07:18 PM
I admit, part of why I worry when I read a post like your's is, I work with low income folks. For all the stories one hears about "people who feel entitled" there are overwhelmingly more people who are too embarrassed, feel like they have in some way messed up, or just plain feel isolated in their happenstances.
Living in a small town in a rural area, it's abundantly clear to one and all that we are all in precarious economic straits and the only solution really is to frame it as a community issue, be willing to talk about it, to share some of the bad feelings....
I guess my point in this ramble is, please be willing to look at the issue and talk to your teacher, both because 1. he is truly on many levels just another person 2. He probably doesn't want to lose you but for your sake even more important 3. hopefully you will not have to ask for support or help from others for even more basic needs in the future, but if it comes to that, it's important for you to be able to do it with your dignity and self-respect intact.
best of luck

Hellis
03-02-2011, 07:41 PM
"anonaiki"

A couple of years ago I had a lady student beginner with similar problems that you describe, she was facing eviction from her home, she had lost her job.. I insisted that she just attend class and I would sign her in, no one else would know....she reluctantly accepted this arrangement......some months later she came in with a bundle of money to settle her ``debt ``...Her luck had changed, she had been accepted for a very good job, and she had written an article that was published in a national newspaper magazine...
I am now waiting for my luck to change :-)

Henry Ellis
http://aikido-controversy.blogspot.com/

anonaiki
03-02-2011, 07:51 PM
Janet - what you've written really resonates with me. I used to have a good job, but got laid off. I've cut my expenses to bare bones. I work hard, I just don't get paid very much for what I do. A lot of people in my industry are having a hard time. I realize now that I have trouble looking at this issue as a practical one rather than as an emotional one. This discussion has given me courage to talk with one of the assistant teachers at the dojo that I feel very comfortable with. Maybe after that I will be able to work up the nerve to approach my sensei.

Tony Wagstaffe
03-02-2011, 08:10 PM
Don't .... I would accept students at what ever they could afford according to their circumstances. Most of the dojo fees were covered by me anyway, so if a student was genuinely hard up, it was better to come and practice rather than leave. Good students are hard to come by and it was always those who couldn't afford it were generally the best.... Aikido has kept me relatively poor many a time and I have sacrificed many a holiday to keep the club going when I had it.
Be upfront with your sensei, I'm sure they will be upfront with you or at least I would have thought so....

danj
03-02-2011, 08:24 PM
FWIW I once offered a student the fee concession,' pay only for the classes you don't come to' because keeping a committed
Student is a really important thing.

My suggestion tell senseimwhy u are stopping as a courtesy, how sensei responds is up to serendipity
best,
Dan

Rob Watson
03-02-2011, 10:52 PM
Pride and shame never filled anyones belly. I don't tninkit does much for bolstering the spirit either.

Being able to open up and speak with your sensei about this shows great character. Maybe your sensei thinks this way and maybe they don't. The willingness and ability to place oneself in a vulnerable position is an essential part of aikido training (at least I think so).

Having been unemployed for the last eleven months, and counting, I've been able to still manage but it has not been easy. My sensei knows all about my situation as do many of my dojo mates - dojo as community and all. I also can't imagine bartering services for dues as I, and many members of the dojo, do so many things for the dojo already. If I ever could not pay I know sensei would let it slide and I know this happens for other members as well. I would feel obligated to repay the balance when able.

Should you choose to leave be sure to explain how much you value the instruction you have recieved and that the decision to withdraw have nothing to do with aikido or the dojo or the members. Just leaving out of the blue is not going to cut it. I've done that and it ha sleft a scar that will not heal.

ninjaqutie
03-03-2011, 12:35 AM
I would definitely talk to your teacher. Sometimes something else can be worked out. Some dojo's will allow you to do odd jobs to help as payment. Other dojo's would rather you stay and not pay then leave. Either way, they may be out of your money and if you are an integral part of the dojo, my guess is they will want you to stick around. I have seen this happen in both dojo's I have trained in. The fact of the matter is, when you train with them several times a week for hours on end, they do become close friends and family. Talk in private if you are a bit embarrassed of your situation. That is what I did with my sensei.

Just know you aren't alone with what you are going through. Right now my husband and I are spending $200 a month at the dojo for everything we are doing (I've been paying dues even though I haven't been able to train the past couple months) and we would be much better off if we didn't pay. We have been discussing a scholarship with my sensei. I would look at all of your available options in order to keep something that you enjoy in your life. If you do have to leave though, aikido will be there waiting for you when you are ready to hit the mats again.

Amir Krause
03-03-2011, 05:25 AM
Another point for talking with your teacher:

If your dojo is as tight a community as you described, he may know of someone else who could help you get a better job or open some other opportunity for you, who would not have offered since he believed you were already in a good position.

Good luck
Amir

lbb
03-03-2011, 08:12 AM
There's a story that I read once, of a young woman who was in a market and found a beautiful hand-crafted table. She was just setting up her household and had very little money, and could tell that this table was worth far, far more than she had, but she couldn't stop looking at it. The craftsman who had made the table asked her if she would like to buy it.

"I'd love to, but I can't afford it," she said.

"How much money do you have?" the craftsman said.

The woman told him how much she had -- all the money she owned, every cent.

"That's all your money?" said the craftsman.

"All I have until my next paycheck in three weeks," the woman said.

"Suppose I sold you this table for that money," said the craftsman. "How would you live for the next three weeks? What would you eat?"

"I just paid my rent, so I'm good for the month," the woman said. "As for eating, I have some food at home, and I could sell a few things. I'd get by."

"But you'll go hungry."

"Well, yeah. But I'd be okay."

"I'll sell you the table for that price," said the craftsman.

"But I can't! It's worth far more than that!" the woman said.

"I know," the craftsman said. "I can sell it to a rich person for fifty times that much -- and it will become just another expensive possession in a house full of them, and he won't even notice the cost. But you are willing to give all that you have for this table, to go hungry for it. I know what this table is worth to you. So I will sell it to you, and we will both be richer."

---

The message of the story is not that you should go hungry to pay your aikido fees. I wouldn't sympathize with someone who (for example) kept their expensive smartphone or cable TV but "couldn't afford" to pay aikido fees, but you say you have cut everything you can already, and I have no reason not to believe you. My point is that the value of things like aikido, or a finely crafted table, is perhaps best expressed not in absolute terms -- so and so many dollars -- but in relative terms instead. "All I have" is an immense amount, no matter how small the dollar amount may be. If you have nothing to give but your good will, your desire to train, your commitment to being a good member of the dojo and to paying back in any way you can (and that is a debt we all carry, that we don't discharge with a monthly check), then that's a lot.

Marc Abrams
03-03-2011, 08:44 AM
I am interested in sincere students, not the "paycheck". I have been willing to work out arrangements with students having tough times financially. Speak honestly to your teacher and you might be surprised by the teacher's willingness to help you out. Many of us have been in similar spots in our lives and know what your position feels like. One of my students has yet to pay a cent, but has been a important presence in my dojo. The training has been "mind candy" for him during these difficult times and his presence has more than "made up" for any loss in revenue stream.

Good Luck!

marc abrams

Dazzler
03-03-2011, 09:07 AM
Quite a refreshing thread this...while we cannot agree on IP, Sparring, Ki etc there seems a unanimous view that good students are more valuable than the money they may bring.

Underneath all the discussions maybe there are some common threads running through Aikido after all.

SeiserL
03-03-2011, 10:40 AM
Honestly
Respectfully
Quietly

Until again,
Lynn

ninjaqutie
03-03-2011, 10:44 AM
Underneath all the discussions maybe there are some common threads running through Aikido after all.

::hits invisible like button:: I'm a dork, but I also wanted to say I liked the play on the word thread (since this IS a thread....)

anonaiki
03-03-2011, 11:13 AM
I have to relay my gratitude to everyone for sharing advice. I will talk to the assistant teacher and work on approaching my sensei. I could never leave out of the blue. I want to train and I have such tremendous respect for everyone at the dojo. Even if I have to leave now, I know I will be back some day. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

I don't have cable tv or a smartphone or a car payment. I keep my house cold. I'm even trimming my food budget down to a bare minimum. I'm working on being optimistic that things will improve, but I've had some set backs lately with clients going under. Aikido has been a great outlet during stressful times and I'm constantly impressed by the support and camaraderie at the dojo. My thanks to everyone on the forum for sharing your thoughts.

Larry Cuvin
03-03-2011, 11:17 AM
anonaiki,
You might be surprized of your sensei's response if you talk to him and explain your situation. He might allow you to continue to train and pay in kind or pay when you are able. Good Luck.

itaborai83
03-03-2011, 11:27 AM
Does anyone have some more good stories about promising students or fellow training partners walking away?

regards,
Daniel

Basia Halliop
03-03-2011, 11:38 AM
It would be great if your sensei could help with some special arrangement. But even if he doesn't (e.g., he may not be able to afford non-paying members himself) I think it would be good to let him know that if you do end up having to take some time off Aikido, it's for personal reasons and that you plan to come back as soon as you're able to. I'd hate to have anyone in your dojo think you were unhappy with the training there when you clearly love it.

Shadowfax
03-03-2011, 11:46 AM
I don't have cable tv or a smartphone or a car payment. I keep my house cold. I'm even trimming my food budget down to a bare minimum. I'm working on being optimistic that things will improve, but I've had some set backs lately with clients going under. Aikido has been a great outlet during stressful times and I'm constantly impressed by the support and camaraderie at the dojo. My thanks to everyone on the forum for sharing your thoughts.

I just wanted to say that I know where you are coming form. I have been and in many ways still am in the same situation financially. During the worst of it I recall having to figure out how to feed myself and my critters on only $10 for the week. Somehow I managed it. I didn't have aikido at the time but I had a horse. For my my horse is family, she was/is the only really good thing in my life. Giving her up came to mind a few times but I just could not let that happen.

I spoke to some fellow horse owners about the situation and they did find ways to help me out. No they didn't' pay my bills or give me a free ride at the boarding stable but someone always had an odd job for me to do with training their horses. Somehow I made it through all of that without loosing my girl.

So if you want something badly enough, you will find a way to keep it in your life. You just have to be open to unexpected possibilities.

After two years of aikido training I can hardly imagine my life without the dojo in it. I somehow think that my teachers would not take kindly to my leaving over this sort of issue.

It is really cool seeing the responses from so many aikido teachers who do indeed disagree on many things but not on their feelings about their serious students. This might be one of the most positive things I have seen on aikiweb in a while.

Talk to your teacher and then be open to allowing things to play out how they will. Even if it is not maybe something you would look for. Be willing to accept the gift. :)

Anon
03-03-2011, 04:47 PM
Good gosh, anonaiki, your situation sounds like mine! Trust me, a lot of us are living on a shoe string. I can't train at my beloved dojo right now, for an unrelated reason, but even if I could, I'd be hard strapped to buy the gas for the long drive to and from the dojo even for one class a week. I liked that story Mary M. told about the table, though, and it is one of those "what is it worth to you" situations, isn't it?

It's great news that you're going to talk with someone at your school. Do take that first step. Please let us know how it turns out!

I have to relay my gratitude to everyone for sharing advice. I will talk to the assistant teacher and work on approaching my sensei. I could never leave out of the blue. I want to train and I have such tremendous respect for everyone at the dojo. Even if I have to leave now, I know I will be back some day. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

I don't have cable tv or a smartphone or a car payment. I keep my house cold. I'm even trimming my food budget down to a bare minimum. I'm working on being optimistic that things will improve, but I've had some set backs lately with clients going under. Aikido has been a great outlet during stressful times and I'm constantly impressed by the support and camaraderie at the dojo. My thanks to everyone on the forum for sharing your thoughts.

heathererandolph
03-03-2011, 05:56 PM
I've had students ask for a lower rate when they started. It is not an easy task asking for lower rate, but consider this, I am a dojo head and I think any money is much better than none at all. Also, it is always better to have more students. I really think you'd be helping the dojo if you stayed on. Maybe you can do something for the dojo. Maybe you can offer to put up lots of posters or something you can do to make up for the fact that you're not paying as much. If you bring in some new students, that may even help the dojo more. Who knows, a student you are working with may stay at the dojo because they enjoy working with you. I don't see that leaving does any good. What you do is up to you, but I feel it is important to accept compromise in our outside lives and our Aikido lives as well.

Mary Eastland
03-04-2011, 07:04 AM
Mary M.
Thank you..that is a very useful story.
To the orignal poster..I agree with others about talking to your teacher.There may be circumstances that you are not aware of.
We have a long time student who pays half extra dojo dues every month in case there is someone who needs help.
We would rather have the student than the money. And we feel if students can pay we appreciate it.
Mary

lbb
03-04-2011, 09:21 AM
We have a long time student who pays half extra dojo dues every month in case there is someone who needs help.

This seems like a worthwhile action for any of us who can afford it. Actually it's not just about the money -- if a dojo is run in the spirit of "give what you can", and we're honest about what we can give (in the form of work, goods, cash, help with classes, our spirit and presence on the mat), a lot will come of it.

I've posted pictures of our dojo, most recently the "before" and "after" photos. All that work was done by our senseis and students. Privately, I think of our garden as the "stone soup" garden. The difference between the "stone soup" story and our garden is that rather than being tricked into giving, the people of our dojo understood what they were doing as they contributed compost, seeds, plants, soil, gravel, rocks, money, sweat, blisters and imagination...a bit from here, a bit from there, and the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Done with the right spirit, it'll all work out.

Walter Martindale
03-05-2011, 02:42 AM
I've just gone through something very similar. Lost a job in July, ran out of ready cash, borrowed from family, told sensei I'd have to stop coming because I couldn't pay (reduced for students/unemployed) dues, and was told by the sensei that he'd rather have me training with no dues until I can pay again than to have me not training.

Currently in the middle of moving to a new community to start a new job. When the head's back above water I'll look to joining a dojo in the new community, but not before - it's too painful to go to a dojo and not be able to join/pay.
W

dps
03-05-2011, 03:45 AM
This seems like a worthwhile action for any of us who can afford it. Actually it's not just about the money -- if a dojo is run in the spirit of "give what you can", and we're honest about what we can give (in the form of work, goods, cash, help with classes, our spirit and presence on the mat), a lot will come of it.

I've posted pictures of our dojo, most recently the "before" and "after" photos. All that work was done by our senseis and students. Privately, I think of our garden as the "stone soup" garden. The difference between the "stone soup" story and our garden is that rather than being tricked into giving, the people of our dojo understood what they were doing as they contributed compost, seeds, plants, soil, gravel, rocks, money, sweat, blisters and imagination...a bit from here, a bit from there, and the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Done with the right spirit, it'll all work out.

Who owns the dojo.

Do you realize that by volunteering your time, materials and money to fix up the dojo you are increasing the value of the property. In fact you are making the owner of the dojo wealthier.

That is ok as long as you realize that the owner at some time in the future might want to sell the property.

I had a similar experience at a karate studio.

dps

Dave O'Brien
03-05-2011, 08:16 AM
Quite a refreshing thread this...while we cannot agree on IP, Sparring, Ki etc there seems a unanimous view that good students are more valuable than the money they may bring.

Underneath all the discussions maybe there are some common threads running through Aikido after all.
Like you message Daz !!!! O'B