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08-12-2020, 06:12 PM
Today our Dojo Cho, Ken MacBeth, just notified all members of the Kenshinkan Dojo of Vista, California, that our dojo is closing. Kenshinkan Dojo was a free-standing dojo that had been in place for thirty consecutive years, with classes being conducted five or six days a week. MacBeth Sensei opened the dojo with the support and direction of Toyoda Fumio Shihan, the founder of the Aikido Association of America.
In addition to all the classes over the years, Kenshinkan Dojo was also the host for several large seminars a year, with great teachers from within and outside of the AAA. Frequently teachers of other arts would arrange to use our facility to conduct classes and training. There is a huge difference beyond being just a martial arts "studio" for all of us who have trained there - Kenshinkan Dojo became a home away from home and the brother and sister students there became family members. Many members of AikiWeb have visited us over the years and I think they've enjoyed the facility, the training, and our welcoming friendship.
Sadly, the reason the dojo has had to close has been the terrible virus epidemic that has been destroying our world. We had to physically and temporarily close in early March of this year and with various safety rules developed by our city, our county and our state, we are still unable to open and provide training. As you can imagine, the everyday costs of property leases, insurance, licenses, and services such as water and power have continued and have not been addressed by income. This isn't something that is unique to us, there have been many, many dojo around the world and across the country that have had the same problems.
Even though our physical plant is now closed forever we are not gone and there are two great points of the future:
Kenshinkan Dojo will reopen somewhere, someday when it is safe, and the Kenshinkan Family will remain family members for many years to come, just as we will stay linked and associated with everyone here on AikiWeb. In the meantime, stay safe and keep us in your thoughts as you will be in ours.
I am so truly sorry for you, MacBeth sensei, and all of your fellow dojomates for the loss of your dojo space. As you wrote, I have heard of so many dojo that have had to close or are doing everything they can to hold onto their space.
I remember translating an article written by my aikido teacher years ago. He wrote that a dojo is not just the space where training takes place but the shared spirit, connection, and love for the art of aikido. My wish for your dojo is to feel your grief for the loss, to acknowledge the transition, and to celebrate all of your collective energy for aikido that you've cultivated in all of your practices. I look forward to, one day, hearing about the reopening of the Kenshinkan dojo. Until then, I hope you and everyone else in the Kenshinkan family stay safe and healthy.
Wishing you all well,
08-13-2020, 08:36 AM
Thanks Jun San. I have to agree with your Sensei from years ago. A dojo becomes a world in and of itself, with qualities of life far beyond just martial techniques. That is the case with Kenshinkan and we will remain an extended family. Some day, hopefully soon, we will open the doors and begin training together again.
08-14-2020, 03:21 AM
I am sorry that the dojo has had to close. But this prompts a discussion about the economics of aikido. We can start with the Aikikai. The Aikikai is a public interest foundation under Japanese law and this affords several tax advantages. However, the Aikikai has to run several dojos and operate for profit up to a point, or at least to break even. I assume there is a treasurer, who is well-versed in Japanese public finance.
Now to my own dojo. This is situated in a facility run by Hiroshima Prefecture. All Japanese prefectures run culture centres, which are open to residents of the prefecture. The aikido club is a major part of the culture centre, but practice of all activities where there is full body contact has been banned by the prefecture. However, there is no possibility of any facilities ceasing to operate because of the corona virus. At present in the dojo siblings can practice, and also family members like mother and son. Since shihan are needed to teach, the rules in this case are bent somewhat. The dojo has a treasurer, but since students pay the culture centre directly, the functions are mysterious. Best wishes,
08-14-2020, 02:31 PM
Yes, there are some places that will be OK economically, in fact I know of a couple of dojo in California that are remaining open in parks and recreation facilities rather than individual buildings. And, as you described, they are limited in their training scale. For that matter, we received a copy of some instructions from Hombu Dojo and I understood that Doshu has set new training standards for protection of the facility.
We are going to be fine in the future, with a new facility in some manner, and probably with a lesser number of our students initially. When that will be is a matter of great international debate as of this minute. It would be wonderful if some medical magic was applied in the next week or so and we could all get back on the mat immediately. Frankly, I don't believe a bloody thing from our media here in the US - I rely much more on NHK News coverage.
In any event, I thank you for your kind thoughts and I know that MacBeth Sensei and all of our other members are equally grateful. Please be safe yourself !
08-14-2020, 10:12 PM
Sorry to see that your dojo is closing Michael. No doubt Mary and I would be in a similar situation had we not made the decision to stop renting a build a dojo attached to our house about 15 years ago. It was a scary and costly endeavor but it has enabled us to weather the storm created by this pandemic.
We're not conducting in person classes right now; but we are still teaching students via the Zoom platform. It was kind of awkward at first but we have developed a comfortable rhythm and classes are well attended and quite successful.
Hopefully this pandemic will eventually pass and a vaccine will be developed sooner rather than later. Then we'll all be able to get back to regular training and teaching.
08-16-2020, 06:43 PM
Sorry you've had to close your facility. I will paraphrase what Jun said - the dojo is the people training there, far more than it is the walls, roof, and floor. With determination your dojo will recover but, as you say, in a different physical location.
08-23-2020, 11:23 PM
I rarely check, but over the last month or two, according to my site analytics, I have noticed a massive increase in hits on my www.discovering-aikido.com book website. Obviously, the CoronaV lockdown has given people more reading time. Further, our little club in New Zealand (Northland area) has seen an influx of beginners since lockdown ended. We are in a minor lockdown again (weapons only at present) but we may be out of it next week. Personally, I put on 5kg over our lockdown and am now working on losing it. Once people re-emerge, I think/ I hope we will see a sudden renascence in Aikido.
08-24-2020, 05:15 PM
I'm pretty confident that we will be able to open Kenshinkan Dojo in another site and perhaps in another manner. We simply are just locked out of being able to do anything more than weapons work and most of our students want way more training than that.
There was a recent article on Aikido Journal with Izawa Sensei, the head of the International Aikido Federation. According to him, this virus has really impacted dojo all over the world. Some are already bouncing back, some are still suffering, and some are destroyed.
What we are going through is just sorta taking a breakfall, landing poorly and knocking the wind out. We will get back on the mat and we truly hope everyone here does too. Best wishes to all !
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