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Konni
09-09-2000, 06:20 AM
Hi I'm from Germany and here Aikido is not well-known. That means, if you tell somebody:"I'm doing Aikido" he asks :"What's that?"
Maybe someone has got some tips on how change this?
Bye.
Konstantin.

Nick
09-09-2000, 03:03 PM
Don't worry, that happens here too. I just say "a japanese martial art." If they say, "oh, like keroty?" I say "not at all," and leave the rest to them.

Kanpai,

-Nick

Konni
09-10-2000, 06:21 AM
Well I thank you for your moral support Nick, but my wish was another: Maybe some of you who read this know a way to make Aikido better known in order to attract more attention of people who are not involved in martial arts. I mean if you mention Karate or Judo or Kickboxing etc. people just have heard about these, because there were several films or competitions but in the case of Aikido there are no such means (maybe except Steven Seagal films whch happen to be not very informative for non-marital-atists). A public competition also isn't a right option for Aikido. So maybe one of you have an idea of how to "promote" the information that there is such a wonderful thing like Aikido? I thought of a TV-sports-information or something.

Big thanks for your replies
Konstantin

-Even the longest road begins with a first step.-

Nick
09-10-2000, 07:08 AM
Personally, I wouldn't prefer that Aikido becomes mainstream like karate-do, judo, etc. Why exactly? Because, while these arts have flourished, they have also suffered (IE 30 year old 'masters', 8 year old black belts, 5 year contracts, etc). And while publicity may be helpful to bring some good people into the art, it will also bring problems and misconceptions, which, being a somewhat new art, I feel we've been able to avoid.

Ja,

-Nick

Konni
09-10-2000, 03:38 PM
Well, I don't think Aikido would become a "mainstream" martial art. As pointed out in some other threads, Aikido is a very "different" art. And don't forget about the fact that there is no competition in Aikido. If we stick to this there shouldn't be problems about the commertial side of sports. I would just like to be sure that people know that there is something like Aikido and if they like it and feel confirm with its philosophy and ideals, they can go to a dojo and do their first step on the way to a better life.
In my case I don't even know how I heard of Aikido. But somehow I had in mind that there was a fascinating way of self-defence. And then, one day I heard about a "fitness-center" where you could train Aikido. So that was the beginning. If there had been some more information about Aikido I would have started it like three or four years earlier. So my life could have taken a better way than it did (not that I should have reasons to be incontent).
So this is my idea.

Bye Konstantin.

Erik
09-10-2000, 11:18 PM
Could you be more specific? I'm not sure I'll be any help, maybe, but your question is pretty broad. It's pretty hard to run through the hills shouting "Aikido is Great! Aikido is Great!" People will think it's anything but if it produces people like that. It helps to have a reason around which to rally your marketing program.

I do think your question is noble however. Aikidoist's have often been afraid to promote the art because we will become tainted and impure. While I understand the fear, the fact is, we do have something of value and it is worthy of being shared with the world. People have to find out about it somehow. Sometimes, I think we are even more selfish when we don't promote it.

JJF
09-11-2000, 03:56 AM
Hi!

I support Nick's view upon 'spreading' the art. Surely it would be nice to see an increasing number of Aikido-ka's (they are such lovely people :)) but I don't think it's any good to try to promote and 'sell' Aikido. Aikido is perhaps a little like a plant - you should nurish it and give it the best conditions for growth but never try to force it into growing too rapidly. Then it might loose it's strength and die. I guess I'm being a bit melodramatic - sorry! ;).

Anyway - in my experience you cannot 'talk people into' taking up Aikido. Chances are they will just get tired quickly because Aikido really demands an effort which again demands a burning desire to learn and practice. The best thing to do is to tell what Aikido has done for you to everybody who is willing to listen, and thereby sow the seeds for them to want to learn more about it (here I go again with the gardening-metaphor).

All the best to all of you.

Pete
09-11-2000, 04:56 AM
I don't get the impression that Konni wants to make Aikido 'mainstream' or bring it to light for bad reasons. Just that he wants to open peoples eyes to the beauty of it. I think it is a good idea as it was one of the things O'sensei wanted of Aikdo (if I remember correctly!)!!

Also, it would really only attract those type of people who already do partake, beacause, as you say, there is a lot of effort goes in to become proficient in it!! (ie 7 - 10 years on average to gain Shodan!!)

Those people with fewer morals who want to learn to fight in order to survive their favourite Friday/Saturday night activity of bar room brawling would not get drawn to the obvious beauty of the art!! Also, these types of people who are basically ego orientated would not like the 'no competition' facet as they would be unable to glean the adulation of the masses from being able to say 'I won this, I am the best' etc.!!

O'Sensei wanted the 'word' spread (I think it was something he said to his son on his death bed IIRC from the books I have read!) and in todays society of TV, multimedia, etc we have more and more ways of doing so. For example, this very forum is open to all and sundry, with no moral high ground to stand on and say 'you are not the type' and I would guess that 85% of people who visit this site do so because they are trying to learn more about the art!! Who is to say how many of them will go on to begin training and again how many of those will actually stick with it!!!

I hope Kanni finds a way to promote Aikido in a purer sense than Sensei Seagals films do!!

JJF
09-11-2000, 06:39 AM
Let me clarify my above mail a bit.... As i wrote, I am all for attracting as many good Aikido-ka's as possible to Aikido. On the other hand I think it's important to be very careful when you wish to spread information about Aikido. This is the deal: If you want to reach a lot of people and get their attention on a subject it is unavoidable that you leave out a lot of details. Short messages carry better than long ones. (for examples just take a look at the candidates for presidency ;))

If you are not very careful you might risk emphasising aspects that in your eyes make good sense because you understand them in a context of broad understanding of the art. However to the person who has never cared much for Aikido or perhaps any Martial Art it might give a completely wrong impression, thereby scaring off potentially good students and attract people with the wrong attitude.

I am therefore against flashy displays with all sorts of props, stunts and magical mysticism. I am also against promoting Aikido as a marvellous art of selfdefence or as a Martial Art superior to all other MA's because I don't think that is in compliance with the line of thought in Aikido. I am against louring people into trying it out by giving away 'free trial vouchers', promising tremendous weight loss or sneak Aikido in as part of the curriculum of other courses. However: I am all for promoting the art in the fol-lowing ways: Talk to whoever wants to listen (really listen….), be welcoming and helpful to anybody who happens to enter your dojo, make good informative homepages, appear in MA's displays and show exactly what Aikido is - nothing more and nothing less, write good informative pamphlets and distribute them to schools, high schools, universities, dorms, sport and leisure centres etc. In short: Make the information available but promise nothing that is not true and let each new student make the first move.

I think it is essential that the new student takes the first step into Aikido by himself. After all it's a long road (endless ?) and if you feel you've been pushed, manipulated or tricked into taking the first step you might quickly tire out, but if you willingly started down the road out of curiosity and genuine interest, you will be much more open for the things you will find on your path.

This is just my opinion - and it might very well change in the future. If anybody want to discuss this (or correct the errors of my way ;) ) feel free to tare my statements apart in this forum or mail me directly.

Yours

Pete
09-11-2000, 07:46 AM
I agree totally with your clarified post JJF!!

Especially about the "if you feel you've been pushed, manipulated or tricked into taking the first step you might quickly tire out" part!!

A whole lot of people get pushed, cajoled, or generally bullied into things by their peers and end up not enjoying it as much than they would have had they been the ones to make the first step on their own.

And I agree whole heartedly that Aikido should be shown in as true a light as possible so as not to give people the wrong impression!! How we go about doing that is probably the hard part! But I still believe that we should use all the ways at our disposal to shine that 'true light' on the Aikido world.

Konni
09-11-2000, 08:10 AM
Pete wrote:
I don't get the impression that Konni wants to make Aikido 'mainstream' or bring it to light for bad reasons. Just that he wants to open peoples eyes to the beauty of it. I think it is a good idea as it was one of the things O'sensei wanted of Aikdo (if I remember correctly!)!!

Also, it would really only attract those type of people who already do partake, beacause, as you say, there is a lot of effort goes in to become proficient in it!! (ie 7 - 10 years on average to gain Shodan!!)

Those people with fewer morals who want to learn to fight in order to survive their favourite Friday/Saturday night activity of bar room brawling would not get drawn to the obvious beauty of the art!! Also, these types of people who are basically ego orientated would not like the 'no competition' facet as they would be unable to glean the adulation of the masses from being able to say 'I won this, I am the best' etc.!!

O'Sensei wanted the 'word' spread (I think it was something he said to his son on his death bed IIRC from the books I have read!) and in todays society of TV, multimedia, etc we have more and more ways of doing so. For example, this very forum is open to all and sundry, with no moral high ground to stand on and say 'you are not the type' and I would guess that 85% of people who visit this site do so because they are trying to learn more about the art!! Who is to say how many of them will go on to begin training and again how many of those will actually stick with it!!!

I hope Kanni finds a way to promote Aikido in a purer sense than Sensei Seagals films do!!

This is exactly what I wanted to express.

I must apologize that my invalid english caused a misunderstanding among you guys. Of course I didn't want to "sell" Aikido or make it mainstream. I just was looking for a possibility to create a source of information about Aikido for those who are interested, outside the internet and your statement, JJF, already gave me some ideas! Thanks a lot =). Of course I wouldn't create such a source of information without asking my teacher who surely has more experience on this field than I do.

Erik
09-11-2000, 12:41 PM
Wow, excellent discussion from all sides. Let me throw something else out there. I believe that Aikido dojos should present and market their product. Konni, this will be slightly off your original topic but seems appropriate. Examples of what I mean by marketing (some of these are repeats from JJF's post).

1) Quality literature which can be handed out to prospective students.

2) Greeting new students, at the very least with a "Hi, and be glad to talk and answer any questions."

3) Having 1 or 3 or whatever points that every potential student should know about Aikido or your dojo. On this I do disagree a bit with JJF because people don't remember long messages and you've got to take a little bit of a risk here, in my opinion.

4) Qualifying prospective students by asking them questions. Standard questions that everyone gets asked in some form. This would be standard things like, "what other arts are you looking at", "what interests you about Aikido", "how did you learn about it", etc.. But, and it's a big BUT, it can't look like you are grilling someone. You need to have a genuine interest in the answers.

5) Asking new students why they signed up. What drew and kept them in the art these few months and what they'd like to see more of. You don't have to give it to them, but then again, would it hurt?

6) Following up with students who left your school to find out why.

7) Doing honest demos showing your art as you see it. If you see it as breaking flaming ice cubes then show it that way. Also, don't hesitate to put flash in the demo, as long as it's something you do. I wouldn't be studying this art if I didn't see someone do a sword takeaway and an uke catch air. I'm not sure that demos work in the sense of immediate sign up, but I do think they support growth in the art. People need to see it. Thankfully, it appears that O'Sensei believed in this and I can at least watch him on film.

8) Putting the dojo in an accessable location. There seems to be something to be said for walkthrough traffic, but then I've seen dojos in warehouses that did pretty well, too.

9) Offering free first classes to prospective students. Cmon did any of us really have any idea what we were looking at when we started?

10) Having a web presence of some sort. It's almost a requirement these days.

11) Asking a new student if they want to sign up or take that free lesson.

12) Keep your explanations simple, focused on the prospective student and in terms they will understand. This is another danger area as it's easy to cross a line and tell someone what they want to hear (often a bad idea). A student's hot button will be different every single time. We all came to the art for different reasons. A typical dojo can help students with many of these reasons, although not all of them. You need to reassure them that they are making a good decision.

13) If someone asks "how much it costs", answer the damn question. It says far more about your issues than the prospective students when you won't answer this question or get mad about it. New students don't know.

14) Don't implement contracts. They usually aren't contracts, but notes payable which can be factored (ie. sold) and they weigh too heavily in the schools favor, in my opinion. I personally, would walk out of any dojo that wanted me to sign a contract. I wish more people did that. Use automatic withdrawal in place of contracts. It's cheap and easy to implement.

15) Get written up in the local newspaper. Sure it will be a hack job that will miss a few points but it will likely be fairly honest and the publicity doesn't hurt.

16) Invite Stephen Seagal and then get written up in the newspaper. I know of a dojo where this happened and my understanding is that it resulted in a surge of students.

17) Be honest. You want students. Aikido is meant for everyone, but if you don't tell people about it, then no one will show up. I've been there and it sucks being the only student. It sucks even more for the teacher. Selfishly I might have learned more, but I think energy counts and more students help that.

18) Don't advertise in the coupon rags or other low end advertising. My personal experience is that flyers at the local school or bulletin board work better (maybe others will disagree and have had good results).

19) Do use cable if you are feeling bold. Cable is an incredibly cheap medium these days with rates that would stun you. You can put together a cable campaign and ads at rates that would probably surprise you. Then again, as JJF points out, you are putting out a short fast message, so who knows. I admit to not being comfortable in this realm.

20) Pay attention to your fellow students, particularly the beginners. Listening is a critical component of marketing, sales and effective relationships for that matter. Beginners are often more impertinent and will give you that honest feedback which from more senior folks usually sounds like, "great class Sensei" or "nice throw sempai, it was great", if I were a sack of potatoes. Honest feedback is to be treasured as the gift it is, no matter how painful because it is so difficult to get. By the way, this applies to senior students working with junior students as well, maybe more so.

Have I been on my soapbox long enough? I'm someone who complains about verbosity, too. ;)

Please, feel free to pick these apart as I'd love to hear your thoughts. For the record, I don't run a dojo and I'm not a Sensei but I have watched 2 dojos crash and burn, and others struggle with students. I'm not sure any of these situations could have been changed but maybe.

Konni
09-11-2000, 05:35 PM
Erik, thank you for your statement but I think your proposals are going too far. I'm not quite sure I understood all of them correctly, but if your proposals encluded a kind of reward system for those who are better, then I'm striktly against it. It would create an elite of students in each dojo and this goes against the idea of equality in Aikido. We are all partners in our training so that there should be no competition however in which manner.

Of course you can turn the "colour" of the topic to another, but then I would like to put down all of my responsibility as an initiator of this thread, however the consequences of this discussion may turn out.

Maybe I'm still not clear enough:
I actually didn't want to sell anything to anybody.
An example: Just let us imagine that some person, who has no possibility to connect to the web (in Germany there are many of those) decides to start studiing a MA. So this person gets information about dojos of all arts within his reach. At the end of this process he or she will have a kind of checklist with all available dojos.
Now my goal is to achieve that Aikido appears on this checklist.
Let us imagine this person wouldn't go to a dojo to get further information.
In this case i would like this person to have a possibility to get a short information about what Aikido is like.
Of course this information couldn't ever be enough to explain fully the sense of Aikido, but it could help this person make a decision whether Aikido is the right way for him to go.
So it's just about information not marketing.

Hope this time I made it clearer.
Still hoping for useful tips on this topic,
bye Konstantin.

[Edited by Konni on September 11, 2000 at 04:37pm]

Nick
09-11-2000, 05:57 PM
Students seeking teachers during the Sengoku and Tokugawa periods sometimes had to search the country for years for a good teacher... albeit, times have changed, and in this age where messages can be sent across the world instantly, I agree we should show more people the budo, but too much growth leads to corruption and misconception... if people have no interest, nothing you say will sway them (trust me, I've tried it on my friends)- they have to make the first move, whether it be looking in the yellow pages, attending a tournament or seminar, or stopping by a school.

I'm just against running a dojo like a business, because the budo cannot be 'sold'... they can only be taught...

-Nick

Erik
09-11-2000, 06:23 PM
Konni wrote:
Erik, thank you for your statement but I think your proposals are going too far.

No problem. I understood that but I saw an opportunity for something else so I took it. I should probably open up a different thread.

Konni wrote:
I'm not quite sure I understood all of them correctly, but if your proposals encluded a kind of reward system for those who are better, then I'm striktly against it. It would create an elite of students in each dojo and this goes against the idea of equality in Aikido. We are all partners in our training so that there should be no competition however in which manner.


Where did you get this out of what I wrote? I mentioned absolutely nothing about rewarding students, separating students or competition. Nothing at all. What I discussed are basic things that I guarantee most caring dojo owners are doing.

Nick wrote:
Students seeking teachers during the Sengoku and Tokugawa periods sometimes had to search the country for years for a good teacher...

Good for them. I guess Jun should get rid of the dojo search function on Aikiweb? We should probably blow up the local yellow page provider and we'll all find each other by calling up the Psychic Hotline perhaps?

Nick wrote:
albeit, times have changed, and in this age where messages can be sent across the world instantly, I agree we should show more people the budo, but too much growth leads to corruption and misconception...

How exactly does growth lead to corruption and misconception Nick? What is too much growth? Aikido is much stronger as a whole art today in my opinion. It's more available, more information is available, more people know about it, how is it corrupted?

Nick wrote:
if people have no interest, nothing you say will sway them (trust me, I've tried it on my friends)- they have to make the first move, whether it be looking in the yellow pages, attending a tournament or seminar, or stopping by a school.

Nothing I said, said anything about convincing someone to do something. Nothing. But please correct me if I'm wrong on this. Go back and reread my stuff, and ask yourself how many good dojos do these things. With the exceptions of 16, 18 and 19, they do all of them, more than less.

It's funny but the people screaming most loudly about the evils of marketing or good student relations (they are more similar than not by the way) are often those with no financial stake in the matter. I've watched a dojo crash and burn and I saw people lose a lot of money in the process. Guess it was for their spiritual good though--to be in a lot of debt.

[Edited by Erik on September 11, 2000 at 05:26pm]

Nick
09-11-2000, 06:38 PM
how does growth lead to misonception? ask an average person about karate and you'll hear it's a bunch of asian guys with magic powers throwing chinese stars.

Obviously this is a gross exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Perhaps this can explain it better than I:

http://koryu.com/library/dlowry3.html

Hope I'm not breaking any laws by putting that up...

-Nick

Erik
09-11-2000, 10:17 PM
Nick wrote:
how does growth lead to misonception? ask an average person about karate and you'll hear it's a bunch of asian guys with magic powers throwing chinese stars.

Obviously this is a gross exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Perhaps this can explain it better than I:

http://koryu.com/library/dlowry3.html

Hope I'm not breaking any laws by putting that up...

-Nick

Interesting article, let me try a different tact. Human beings do not grow in a static environment. In fact, the easiest way to raise a sickly child is to protect it in a sterile unchanging environment. Did you know that some studies have suggested that getting dirty as a child helps develop the immune system? Protecting the purity of a family by inbreeding will eventually produce dramatic consequences.

We don't do ourselves any favors when we hide from other people or only practice with the people we want in the ways we want. The one thing I admire about Jun is that more than anyone I know he studies and practices with almost anything named Aikido. He will have a stronger Aikido because of it.

I agree that the more widespread Aikido gets, the more misconceptions there will be. So what? People have misconceptions about everything. It's human nature and I can't control that but the more our message gets out there, the more chance we have to get the right message out there. Aikido's strength in the coming years will be in it's ability to adapt and change.

And I do think it's a damn fine dance too, because maybe the best message we can give is to just be damn fine people.

Pete
09-12-2000, 08:16 AM
Nick wrote:[/i][/B]
how does growth lead to misonception? ask an average person about karate and you'll hear it's a bunch of asian guys with magic powers throwing chinese stars.
________________________________[/B]

I don't see that as a misconception, just ignorance from the people who say such things! Also, it is my experience that more peopl know that karate is a japanese martial art rather than as you put it "a bunch of asian guys with magic powers throwing chinese stars."
_________________________________
[/B] Erik wrote :

Interesting article, let me try a different tact. Human beings do not grow in a static environment. In fact, the easiest way to raise a sickly child is to protect it in a sterile unchanging environment. Did you know that some studies have suggested that getting dirty as a child helps develop the immune system? Protecting the purity of a family by inbreeding will eventually produce dramatic consequences.
__________________________________[/B]

I had heard of the 'getting dirty' thing and think that it is true.

As to inbreeding, you only have to look to most Royal families (ours in the UK included) to get the idea!! Why do you think for the last 30 years the establishment worried so much if the Queen Mum became ill? Because centuries of inbreeding radically destabilises the body's immune system!!

[/B]________________________________
Erik also wrote:

We don't do ourselves any favors when we hide from other people or only practice with the people we want in the ways we want. The one thing I admire about Jun is that more than anyone I know he studies and practices with almost anything named Aikido. He will have a stronger Aikido because of it.
_________________________________[/B]

I agree too. All styles and schools of Aikido derived from the 'pure' form that O'sensei passed on. The only reason they became different styes etc. is because of O'sensei's students interpretation of what they were shown.
To get the most out of your Aiki path I feel it is important to learn from other styles as well as your chosen school. Take what works for you from each that you can sample and you will become stronger for it.
[/B]___________________________________
Erik wrote this too:

I agree that the more widespread Aikido gets, the more misconceptions there will be. So what? People have misconceptions about everything.
_________________________________ [/B]

Mainly because of the way different people interpret the same things in completely different ways I guess!!
[/B]__________________________________
and this :

It's human nature and I can't control that but the more our message gets out there, the more chance we have to get the right message out there. Aikido's strength in the coming years will be in it's ability to adapt and change.
________________________________ [/B]

For without adaption and change there can be no progress!!

[/B]_________________________________
And finally this :

And I do think it's a damn fine dance too, because maybe the best message we can give is to just be damn fine people. [/B]
_______________________________ [/B]


Nuff said!!

Nick
09-13-2000, 06:03 PM
Pete-

As I said, that was a gross exaggeration, I realize many people are not that ignorant. I see it as a Japanese martial art just as you do, but I have had many a people tell me that it was 'some chinese fighting thing.'

Also, back in the sengoku period,
a ryu had to keep their techniques secret, as anything revealed could lead to defeat, and therefore, death. In a fight, your average untrained Joe will try to punch you and assume you will try to parry and strike back- imagine the surprise he'll get when he punches, and you seemingly 'disappear.'

Granted once more, this is not the Sengoku, but I feel that some of the principle applies.

I apologize in advance for overstepping my boundaries, as I'm sure I did.

Kanpai,

-Nick

akiy
09-13-2000, 06:11 PM
Nick wrote:
Also, back in the sengoku period,
a ryu had to keep their techniques secret, as anything revealed could lead to defeat, and therefore, death. In a fight, your average untrained Joe will try to punch you and assume you will try to parry and strike back- imagine the surprise he'll get when he punches, and you seemingly 'disappear.'

Granted once more, this is not the Sengoku, but I feel that some of the principle applies.
How?

-- Jun

PS: "Kanpai" = "Cheers" as when you clink glasses in a toast, not "Cheers" as in the British salutation of "Thanks and good bye"... It sounds a bit odd to my Japanese ears using it as such.

Nick
09-13-2000, 06:50 PM
akiy wrote:

How?

-- Jun

PS: "Kanpai" = "Cheers" as when you clink glasses in a toast, not "Cheers" as in the British salutation of "Thanks and good bye"... It sounds a bit odd to my Japanese ears using it as such.

I'm just saying that sometimes people not knowing what you might 'do next', so to speak, can work for your advantage. I'd like to use the (classic) Karate Kid movies, in this example- Mr. Miyagi never does anything that Daniel(-san) expects him to, but that it all works out for the best.

Ack! that's why you shouldn't try to learn a language out of a book... thanks for keeping me on my toes, Jun.

Cheers (NOT kanpai ;)),

-Nick