View Full Version : University clubs vs "real" dojo
03-19-2003, 12:50 PM
What do you think are some of the advantages and disadvantages of university clubs? Please address some of the following and anything else you can think of:
-using campus facilities means low overhead and therefore training is more affordable. however, the environment isn't as cool as a dojo. my club has partially made up for this by attaining permission to paint some big kanji and a portrait of O-Sensei on the wall. we use the old wrestling room, which, largely due to my meddling, has been re-designated the martial arts room, as it's primarily used by the 7 or so martial arts clubs on campus.
-turnover seems to be a big issue. even the most dedicated students aren't likely to be around more than four years, and that's if they join as freshmen. because of this, and because of the frequent new members, it seems like it is sometimes hard for the senior students to get some good training time in because they're constantly teaching fundamentals to newcomers. i know that teaching is probably the fastest way to learn, and that fundamentals are important, but it's difficult to train intensively with someone who's still learning how to fall. when that's about half the class, it's definitely an issue.
-rank in our club is set up so that a black belt is attainable within four years of dedicated practice. that is so some students can feel like there's a goal and that they're not wasting their time with something that won't go anywhere (of course this is mostly a ploy to lure in silly movie-watchers who think a black belt means mastery, then let them in on that a black belt is just the beginning after they're hooked...) Some people seem to deride this ranking system, suggesting that 4 years is not enough for someone to become a shodan. Others have said it's plently of time if the time is spent well.
If the room is always open, can't the senior students train by themselves sometime if the room is not being used by a class?
If it is an MA specific room and there are only 7 or so clubs using it, it should be free occasionally.
03-19-2003, 01:37 PM
I ran one of these clubs for a few years and found the following pros & cons
- as you said, cheap
- easy access to new beginners (freshers week, "look at the nice shiny weapons etc".)
- generally a good mix of male/female attendees which I think helps a dojo's atmosphere
- often easy to access other uni's facilities for the odd seminar (again on the cheap)
- access to the universities facilities (e.g. minibus etc.)
- hard to maintain a "core" of experienced people as you mentioned
- university admin, specifically with regard to nice shiny weapons
- university admin, paying outside instructors (actually, I just think university admin is a problem)
- disjointed training as the dojo can end up being unavailble for long periods of time (exams, summer shut-down etc.)
A town/university cross-over seems to work quite nicely, but even here there's potential problems. I know of at least one town dojo that used to effectively steal from the university dojo to fund it's own outside seminars, so some care has to be taken when setting this up.
03-19-2003, 02:34 PM
Check out this thread (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=3228) for some rantings about dealing with universities.
Is it possible to work it out with the college to allow non-students to join the clubs? The tai chi instructor I know who teaches at a private university has his classes open to the public. If you could draw students from the community you may be able to develop a core of long term students.
Four years to black belt with dedicated practice? I guess I can't say anything 'cause that's about what it took me ;)
03-19-2003, 02:53 PM
Mark: that's an excellent point, and we've recently started discussing having an "advanced" class once a week. As college students, we're all busy and it's difficult to coordinate schedules, but we're going to try.
Bronson: we do have members who aren't students. For a while, we even had a 14-year-old (who was a black belt in tae kwon do, incidentally, and was looking for something better...). We could stand to step up the outside advertising though. I think I'll get on that very soon.
03-19-2003, 09:32 PM
In our university club we have gone through phases where we don't bring in many new students but with just a little extra advertising the group grows quickly. We also charge very low dues ($10/month for students, $15/month for non students)so it is easier to attract students. It does hurt losing senior students but some stay in the area for their careers. Our philosophy is not to rush people to shodan but get them to where they can do well in other dojos after they leave. Some do get to shodan before graduating too. We do have a better balance of men to women in class than many of the other dojos in the area too. Personally I think that that good outways the bad for me and I would prefer to stay in a similar situation if I move elsewhere.
Kung Fu Liane
03-20-2003, 04:47 AM
2)less travel time (our teacher comes to us)
1)most people can't make 100% commitment, so those who train at every session tend to get dragged behind a little
2)the freshers come in droves, and it takes about 5 weeks to weed out those who aren't really into martial arts
3)some universities (ours especially) don't like martial artists...they think we're crazy in a dangerous way
4)there isn't that feeling of training with brothers and sisters that you get at a real school
5)university holidays are long, so no training for months at a time :(
still, universities must have something going for them, my sensei is very keen to teach students, at both Aston and Warwick
- large hall
- lots of mats
- free hall booking (and free training)
- Students Union provide us with some money for weapons/new mats
- rapid turn over
- students less commited than outsiders
- many students don't have cars and therefore more difficult to get to sports centre
- during the summer many students leave
- weekend sessions and weekend courses are poorly attended (many go home/work)
- alchohol culture in students usually takes precedence over aikido
I must admit I do intend to focus my recruiting on working people outside the university mainly because they are more reliable, committed and more likely to stay around.
03-20-2003, 11:58 AM
I'm on both side of the fence, since I usually train at a college club but go to a private club during the summer. Here's what I think are the more significant pros/cons:
Slighly lower fees in college.
Much less financial/administrative duties.
Easy to get new members.
Easy and free to train in the hall outside class hours.
Can't do everything we want with the hall since it's used by other MA classes (for example, each MA has somewhat different rules on the use of the hall).
Most new members leave after a few weeks.
Doors are closed during summer.
In our case, retaining senior members isn't a problem. In fact, all the seniors actually training there aren't studying at the college (but most started as students). And those that have leaved would have leaved anyway in a private dojo.
Same thing for commitment, I don't find that peoples in the college dojo show less commitment than in the private. Even if they were training at a private dojo, they will not show up more commitment. You have the same amount of time to spend in training, no matter if you train in a college or a private dojo...
As for the ranking, the college dojo doesn't give ranks in an easier or faster way. It's affiliated with the aikikai and thus have the same standard for ranks as any other aikikai dojo.
So, that's the situation for me, but I know things may be different in other organizations...
03-20-2003, 07:52 PM
Is it unusual for university groups to train over the summer and breaks? We don't have class on holidays or the week of Christmas to New Years but otherwise we train year long. We do have smaller classes over the summer but the ones that do show tend to be more committed.
03-21-2003, 08:51 PM
My thoughts, based on Carleton Aikido:
+I /definitely/ like the price. (30-45$ or so for a 10-week term; that's three classes twice a week - beginning, intermediate, advanced - and also an 'open mat' on Saturdays, where the sensei isn't there but people show up to work on stuff.)
+I think that while we have some random people drift in, there's nothing wrong with that...we don't slow down the class for them or anything. Some people drop out when they realize it is not an easy PE credit, but there's a very respectful mood. (One of the things I like about Yoshokai...the discipline may be funny to some, but it does lead to an effecient, vibrant training atmosphere.)
+Actually, we're the only martial art allowed to have physical interaction between people...karate and tae kwon do can't spar here, because of liability. Aikido, since you learn uke's role, /is/ allowed. But the college doesn't really give us problems, is the point.
+No, we don't train over break...because, after all, we're not there. I go to a local dojo instead. (SO much more expensive! Although I understand why.)
+We're an "open" club, I believe, though nobody has showed up so far, save one guy who normally trains in the cities.
+We go by AYANA ranking...you could theoretically make Shodan, but I don't think anyone ever has.
+We're strapped for time, but we train pretty hard. I suppose it's the "young athletic aikidoka" syndrome. ^_-
03-23-2003, 12:06 PM
At MSU, as long as someone is around to teach, we have class. Facilities are available in the summer as well, and I've even heard rumors of airconditioning in the future! That would be amazing.
Our mat fee is $30/semester. Reasonable, eh?
03-23-2003, 02:06 PM
I started my Aikido at a University club(thank you John). One of the things that made it worth my time was that his home dojo was near our college. Members of his home dojo would venture down to train with the college club. When school wasn't in session, we were always more than welcome to train at his home dojo. I think that is key to this argument. I'm assuming whoever is instructing is affiliated with another dojo. Go train there if you can't train because school ins't in session. If it kind of far from your school....hey you are college....take a road trip. Have fun and train hard.
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