View Full Version : How to prevent drop-outs?

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John Boswell
01-16-2004, 01:22 PM
I have heard many stories about people training for short periods and then leaving. I'm sure this is common in any martial art, but I'm curious mostly about aikido of course.

What would you consider to be SOME of the most important issues in keeping high attendence and good growth rate in an aikido dojo? What would you consider to be THE most important factor?

Ya gotta admit, learning ukemi isn't the most exciting thing in the world. However, some dojo's tend to thrive more than others. Why might this be??

Now... looking at the flip side, what might one consider to be The main or A main factor in running students off?

Just looking for other perspectives on this. Thanks!!

01-16-2004, 11:33 PM
IMO people often leave when they realize just how much work and time must be commited to get "good". This doesn't only apply to aikido but that's what we're talking about. I'm the same way with music, I'd love to be able to play but not enough to actually commit the time and effort to learn.


01-17-2004, 03:51 AM
here's what I gather as the reason for high attendace

1.regularly training sempais, and lots of them

2.enough variety in training (hard and relaxed, technical and philosophical)

3.fewer senior jerks

4.more interaction outside the dojo

basically, dojo chemistry / spirit is what's important. And the ingredients are the 4 points above.

Andrew James
01-17-2004, 11:24 AM

I actually dropped out about 4 months ago. I still have a strong interest in Aikido, but apart from the club I attended, there isn't another aikido club for about 1 hours drive from where I live, so I haven't been able to take it up elsewhere.

The reason I dropped out was that I found there was not enough done to help the beginners. When we were required to find a partner I noticed that the senior aikidoka and even other students often avoided training with us beginners because we often make mistakes etc.

I found that newbies were starting to drift away so I mentioned this to the Sensei, who was very understanding, suggesting to him that there be two groupes during the class, one led by himself for the seniors and the other, by a senior student, for the beginners. He said that he didn't think it would be possible, but he did talk to us all during the next lesson saying that it was good to train with beginners as the fact that we 'didn't have a clue' should be seen as a challenge for the more advanced student.

For about a month it seemed to get better with more explanation from both the sensei and the other students, but the novelty soon wore off, and it went back to being like before.

During the time I trained (10 months in total)I did actually learn quite quickly, but I found it frustrating always having to train with other beginners because the other guys found that training with newbies to be boring. Its not easy training with someone who is continually sighing and who takes a pleasure throwing you as hard as possible onto the ground - so I dropped out.

However, the good news is I will be moving shortly to a bigger town where there is an aikido club who does cater for the beginners - so I hope to be on the mat again real soon!!! :)

01-17-2004, 01:09 PM
From what I've seen thus far, a lot of folks seem to drop out due to a change in lifestyle and priorities --- many lead extremely busy lives outside of Aikido, and find themselves caught up with work, raising a family, school, and other commitments that simply take precedence over training.

Conflicting work schedules have played a role, as have whether or not a person's day job is stressful, and/or mentally or physically-exhausting. Some find that at the end of the day, they are just too worn out to come to class (as was the case with one new student in our dojo who recently dropped out, and is continually the case with my husband, who has very sporadic attendance due to the stress and constant travel demands of his job).

I would have to add to what Maresa said and even beg to differ slightly regarding the factors that retain students over the long run. I also believe that the level of support and quality of teaching given by the instructor are just as or even more important, as Andrew alluded to (for example, most of my very first Sensei's new students left because he mumbled a lot and was very inarticulate, which made things more difficult to learn). While I agree that dojo camaraderie certainly helps some people feel more comfortable in a new environment, when it comes to the long-haul it ultimately falls upon an individual's own determination and persistence to keep their interest in training in Aikido going.

This is the kind of individual who, once they find a dojo with a quality instructor, will continue to train for years to come regardless of whether or not they have many Sempais, or whether or not the members socialize outside the dojo. Most of the people I've met who have stuck with Aikido over many years have done so out of their own self-motivation --- they have trained on their own when no dojo was available, taught themselves when they had no Sensei, and have continued to train in spite of chronic injury and health problems --- all out of their own love for the art.

01-17-2004, 02:56 PM
jamie, i couldn't agree with you more. A person's character is the ultimate defining factor.

however, when I answered this post I realized that personal problems from outside of the dojo is too numerous and absolutely an unpredictable factor. i.e: lifestyle, time, religion, tradition, etc. They're more like natural disasters to a good aikidoka. Inavoidable, and unexpected. Even the most die-hard fan of aikido will have trouble training if his/her job brought them to the... say kalahari desert.

The issue john mentioned here is how to maintain a good attendance rate and growth record.

And because there are some dojos with really bad senseis, yet teeming with students I decided to give John's question some more thought than usual. I also only mentioned factors that can be noticed and improved by the dojo. i.e: regular sempais, variety training, less obnoxious sempais and more interactions outside the dojo.

The quality of teaching is a very powerful factor to maintain a student's attendance, but in my experience there are some problems 'inside' the dojo that can cause even the most dedicated person to stop training. The sempais themselves.

When sempai - kohai interactions extends outside the dojo, we can expect to notice a problem before it erupts. A certain person in my dojo once caused many juniors to leave the dojo because of his overbearing attitude.

Finally, I think there are ways to help a person on his/her aikido journey. Such as being there for them.

Jeanne Shepard
01-17-2004, 08:42 PM
You mean there aren't dojos in Outer Mongolia?

I was looking at the phone message list by the phone at the dojo one night, and there was a message from a beginner who called to say he was quiting, "I can't take the tumbling." Ukemi is one of the most daunting tasks in Aikido, and beginners need extra help and encouragement. Some people are very sensitive to the spinning and rolling too, (myself included) and need to be told over and over that it gets better.


01-18-2004, 04:24 AM
How about my little ripple in the pont by asking why we should want to prevent drop outs in the first place?

L. Camejo
01-18-2004, 08:09 AM
Erik has a point to an extent. I have found that a lot of folks who drop out tend to be looking for something that Aikido does not offer them, e.g. wanting to go out and be able to kick (and I mean Kick) someone's butt after a couple of sessions, or wanting to flip, fly and throw "Chi" like in a bad kung fu movie.:)

I have had people who left because they WANTED to injure, hurt and maim their attacker. Those who stayed changed that mindset over time, those who did not want to change left.

It's all good in my book. Personally I think there are particular character types that can stick with the training and it comes from a burning inner desire to understand something about themself through Aikido.

Just my 2 cents.


01-18-2004, 11:24 AM
IMHO, drop out is natural and not necessarily something that should be prevented.

OTHO, I think that drop out rates increase when the expectations of the new student do not match the reality of the school. People think it will be fast and easy, and it isn't. They think they will learn one thing based on the media and are learning something else. Some come for the spitituality and learn to fight. Others come to fight and are confronted with spirituality. Perhaps better education and selection of beginners would make for a better match.

I also agree that the personality of the Sensei and Sempais make for a better welcome, feeling connected and belonging, and continued involvement. Part of this is regular feedback that they are improving and enjoying the actual process/training itself.

01-18-2004, 03:03 PM
Pretty often there are stories along the lines of "I tried one dojo and couldn't stick to it, went to another and now I can't get enough." I think these are the kind of dropouts one might work on preventing, whereas "I tried it and it's not for me" dropouts are a natural process that just needs to happen.

In my limited experience, there seems to be a barrier early on, around the time you have to learn forward rolls and become confident with falling. A lot of people get discouraged here and give up. My dojo is experimenting with having only brief Intro classes and then putting everyone in together, but I think we'll have to watch out that beginners get enough rolling coaching and are not expected to just "pick it up as they go." Some will, but many won't and will quit instead. Some of those people would probably make great aikidoka once they got past the initial hurdle. (We have a rather hard floor, and I can vouch from experience that learning to roll on it was not easy. It took me five months and a lot of bruises.)

There's another barrier somewhat later that I don't know as much about. In my limited experience we have plenty of people testing for 5th kyu and a sharp dropoff above that. Peoples' lives intervene, or they just seem to drift away.

I encountered one (non-aikido) group that made each person who joined promise not to leave without explaining why--either in person or via a note. This would be incredibly useful feedback for a dojo, I think. (The group I'm thinking of didn't always get it to work themselves: several people just vanished. Perhaps they started out thinking "I'm not quitting, just missing a class today" and never really caught the moment that they quit. Eventually it was a month or two later, and they were embarrassed and didn't want to deal with it.)

Mary Kaye

Jeanne Shepard
01-18-2004, 07:12 PM
There's another barrier somewhat later that I don't know as much about. In my limited experience we have plenty of people testing for 5th kyu and a sharp dropoff above that. Peoples' lives intervene, or they just seem to drift away.

Mary Kaye[/QUOTE]
In other words, those of us who find alot of time to do Aikido DONT have lives!:D


01-19-2004, 09:07 AM

I can't stress that enough.

When someone is new they need Attention!

And they need positive reinforcment.

When I was starting out the seniors gave me very much attention. And they never ever told me I was doing wrong. I always felt improtant at my dojo. And I always wondered why.

Now that I am helping teach I know why I felt good. Because we strive to make sure there is absolutly no negative energy given by teaching. When we see something being done incorrectly we focus on what is right.

Example, someone does ikkyo but positions the wrist wrong.

Negative (inccorrect) Solution: Thats wrong, you need to position the wrist higher then the elbow and the eblow higer then the shoulder. If you do it that way it will never work and he will escape.

Postivie Solution: "That was relly good, I love how you take that right away without hesitating, and I love how you enter off that center line. I have just one suggestion that will make it even better. When you finish keep the elbow higher then the shoulder and the wrist higher then the elbow, then you will find the lock more effective."

Also adding a little touch on the shoulder or something of the matter also makes a difference.

And Greeting as many students before class with a smile, as well as thanking them for training with you off the mats makes a big difference.

People want attention, and they want positive attention.

Also I know this is getting long but I experience one episode the other night worth mentioning. I was helping a begining do iriminage, and she was getting frustrated with herself when she was doing good.

She said to me "Oh that was wrong" and she did it a few times. After the thrid time I said.

"At the end stop and reflect on what you just did, this is what we call Zanshin, stay for a few seconds and think of it, and don't think of what you did wrong, but think of what you liked."

She replied "I like that"

And I swear her technique was much more flowing and she seemed much happyer after that."

I hope someone reads this and takes my advice, any comments are appreciated. Thanks.

01-19-2004, 10:52 AM
Hi andrew,

Isn't zanshin = awareness? To be aware? ..?

there are many ways to be encouraging and build a beginner's confidence, what you mentioned is one of it.

Although I agree that we need to pay attention to the juniors, I really don't like to coddle them. Being there for them is one thing, but TOO much attention and praise can cause other future problems. ( inflating their ego, excessive dependancy, etc ). A balanced praise and critic of their performance should do it.

If I were to notice flaws during training I'd prefer to be blunt and say their techniques are weak, or flawed instead of letting them go with the impression that their techniques can work in real life.

Minor discussions after training should be able to fix technical problems.

01-19-2004, 11:17 AM
This is why we seperate our beginer classes from our intermediate and our advanced classes.

Don't get me wrong, we never over inflate their egos.

I am referring to how one must react around someone who is not feeling 100%, thesse ones need the attention. The ones that have the notion that they are doing everything wrong, or they are not welcome. And trust me sometime after I left beginer and went to intermediate class I started to feel this.

I suppose this was becuase of that difference.

Now in our advanced classes I realize how important my influence as a senior student is on other ranks.

As for Zanshin...

I beleive the literal translation of Zanshin is "Moment of Reflection" And when you are refelcting upon your technique you are being aware of what you have done. We have this after all katas, and I try to implement it after all my techniques.

01-19-2004, 11:45 AM
Andrew's way:

I really like the attitude you have of making sure the beginners get the attention and positive reinforcement they need to keep progressing. One thing you may want to consider changing though is your literal translation of zanshin. From the AikiWeb aikido vocabulary list we find that: Zanshin Lit. "remaining mind/heart." Even after an aikido technique has been completed, one should remain in a balanced and aware state. ZANSHIN thus connotes "following through" in a technique, as well as preservation of one's awareness so that one is prepared to respond to additional attacks.

From Jim Breen's Japanese-English Dictionary Server (http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/jwb/wwwjdic?1E) we find zanshin defined as: (n)follow-through.

Maresa's way:
I beleive the literal translation of Zanshin is "Moment of Reflection"
That's not quite right. The literal translation is remaining mind.

:D ;) :D


01-19-2004, 01:15 PM
Thank you very much.

I learn something new everyday.


I always though Heart and Mind was Kokoro

I think maybe the termonology sheets I studied are incorrect and I will question Zanshin to "remaining mind."

Although preservation of one's awareness and follwoing through was also something I included as part of zanshin.

I am by no means an expert, and though I am in the advanced class I consider myself a beginer, for I have along way to go.

One must always keep Shoshin. (Beginers mind)


Cheerio, and thank you very much,

I must get back to work

Nick P.
01-19-2004, 03:28 PM
Maybe it's just me, but even the most positive reinforcement cannot keep some people from leaving. I often ask myself the same question John does.

Maybe it's the club or the people in it; maybe the person isn't "ready" for Aikido, or Aikido is not ready for them. So many variables, and few of them can we actually influence.

Lead by example, follow other's examples, train with commitment and compassion...who would not want to be around that no matter the art?

Suzanne Cooper
01-19-2004, 09:02 PM
Ok, I'm ready to throw this out. I'm throwing things out tonight [back, knees... ;)].

Those of us who fell head over heels in love with aikido, but who haven't been really physically active since the final days of ballet at the unversity (just my example--it could be any activity), need to be gently reminded to pace ourselves, even if we don't want to.

At first, I would go at it with such vim and vigor (I love that phrase!) that I ended up missing several days of work when I woke up the day after class and couldn't move!

Tonight, for example, I got good advice on the exact inspiration and expiration--breathing--that should accompany the particular technique we were working on. What a difference! What a sensei who spotted what I needed! (And it seemed to help my pacing.)

And, I agree that beginners need attention. Don't worry that the attention will somehow keep people involved who really don't have an interest. They will drift away and find something else in spite of the attention.

And, I agree that scornful correction is not good. I'm not a long-timer, but somehow I can't image scorn being tolerated at my dojo.

And we have so many interested people, they have to turn them away from the beginner classes.

01-20-2004, 12:19 PM
Good comments by all. I asked a similar question on Aikido Journal pertaining to motivation. Got some very interesting answers.

I think beginners need to be lead towards some sort of contemplation regarding their personal reasons and thier real purpose for training. Some line of questioning about what they hope to get out of your aikido training would go a long way.

They need to be lead enough to find "their path" within the broader path of aikido. Then they own it and it becomes their process.


01-20-2004, 05:52 PM
Not everyone is a Martial Artist!

If you are - Welcome!

If not - Good Bye!



01-21-2004, 04:42 AM
Not everyone is a Martial Artist!

If you are - Welcome!

If not - Good Bye!
Probably Not everyone is a maniac would be a more appropriate description :D :D :D

01-21-2004, 06:57 AM
A new year brings about all sorts of new faces to the local commercial gyms. FWIW, I doubt the retention rate of a local gym is any better than the retention rate of a local aikido dojo. Granted, more folks join the local gym than the local dojo, but percentage wise, it seems about the same based on my unscientific observations.

Lynn mentioned expectations previously, and that's one thing I feel that other arts tend to do better about than aikido dojo. What I mean is this: If someone were to ask me about the local karate dojos, I could point out the one that focuses on sport tournaments, or the one that has a history of producing great fighters (in the ring or on the street), or the one that is known for teaching all things karate (history), or the one that is known for their excellent character and philosophical development, or, well, you get the picture.....and the catch is, I've never stepped onto a mat for karate, ever.

In contrast, aikido dojo don't tend to separate themselves into little segments like that. The good news is, of course, everyone gets a little bit of everything....on the flip side, people that are only interested in one thing tend to leave.

As Mark noted, not everyone wants to be a martial artist. Of the martial artists, not everyone wants to be an aikidoist. I don't see anything wrong with that.



01-21-2004, 08:54 AM
too bad, i was hoping someday aikido will grow to the point that everyone MUST choose between hard labor or studying aikido.

Drop-outs from the dojo will hunted and gunned down with extreme prejudice, or imprisoned for life (where they spend their remaining days training aikido anyway) :)

ahh... what a vision..

01-21-2004, 03:35 PM
How about setting orientation periods (5 to 8 meetings of 1 hour each should do it) for the new beginners? I mean instead of dividing the dojo into advance and beginner classes, assign a number of capable sempais to guide the new student on the importance of ukemi, stretching and most importantly proper manner in dojo.

I once attend a Hapkido dojo in US and they effectively did this...even carried it further into militaristic disipline...

After 5 meetings the result will show up...the one who truly want to learn aikido and the one who do not.:)



01-21-2004, 05:03 PM
hei, zulki

I forgot you're in USA. Gong xi fat choy!!

how's your aikido?

I've slammed your brother with a koshinage, just like you wanted. :)

01-21-2004, 05:46 PM
Hey Zulki...

When are you coming back to train with us again?

Are you continuing training in US?

Marc Kupper
01-21-2004, 09:12 PM
How about setting orientation periods (5 to 8 meetings of 1 hour each should do it) for the new beginners? I mean instead of dividing the dojo into advance and beginner classes, assign a number of capable sempais to guide the new student on the importance of ukemi, stretching and most importantly proper manner in dojo.This is exactly what we do at our dojo. The beginners' package is four Friday evening classes plus six regular classes. People seem to really like it as they start out with other newbies and when they go to the regular classes there are often familiar faces as the newbies will be there plus the regular dojo members who often help out during the Friday evening sessions. From talking to people who have come from other dojo it seems ours is beginner friendly and people appreciate the emphasis on fundamentals.

I'm not sure if this really helps with short and long retention rates compared to other dojo though. I've been involved with many organizations over the years and it seems people coming and going is the norm. I try to do the best I can for them while they are here and wish them the best if they tell me they are leaving or if I notice that someone has not shown up in a while. At times I have gone into periods of wondering why people leave, surveying them if possible, etc. but then I realize those times I've quit something I often don't have a clear, rational, reason in mind. Whatever that something was has slipped down the priority list.

01-21-2004, 10:30 PM
Hi Maresa sempai, Hi Kamal sempai

Happy Chinese New Year to you guys too.

I am still continue training myself in aikido here with two other people.

I got a friend of mine who studied under Pak Cho as a partner, he is a brown belt (3rd kyu). So I partnered up alot with him.

We practice weekly here in US, the only problem is we don't have mats or tatami...we used the squash courtroom...so everybody learned ukemi the hard way...

Gee...after a while, three of us managed to perform pretty good ukemi here.

I really hope to be able to join you guys again in Medit Dojo, man...I miss being able to practice aikido with you guys.

My aikido ^_^ ? I don't really know...we practiced alot during winter break (almost every morning)since the Hapkido dojo was not being used so we made the best of it...dang they have pretty good tatami down there.

Hmm...you gave him koshinage didn't ya...could you give him Sensei Christian Tissier type of Irimi nage (ura) on which you can kinda see the uke's legs fully up in the air?;) Maresa sempai give him that and Kamal sempai give him another one of that...

Hehehe, he need to appreciate for being able to practice aikido regularly...

BTW can I also put Aiki Inyo Kai as my dojo too? And Sensei Hakim as my main teacher ?The emblem design is very nice although it is kinda spoiled by that big guy's huge picture...hehehe

Keep the good work sempais.

Forever an aikidoka


01-21-2004, 10:50 PM
I'm going to say it - keeping beginners is not something you should be that concerned about. Keeping your regulars is.

Having a good core of regulars will increase your retention rate of beginners which will always show up.

Most people that step into the dojo are searching for something which even they can't define. Some people understand only after a few lessons that the Aikido practiced in your group is not for them, some take longer. You will always loose people - its the nature of the beast.

With that in mind I tailor my class to my regulars which roughly translates into tailoring it for my own views.

I try to integrate beginners as quickly as possible into the class. That means I might pull them aside for a little extra help but generally they do what everyone else does. In fact when beginners do enter the class - its a great opprotunity for everyone to review basics just a little more but just a little.

Those that like the training - like the challenge. I feel no need to spread the word of Aikido. Sure I encourage beginners but Budo is about self training. I would rather make the threshold a little more difficult in the beginning rather than put the time and effort into someone who will probably leave anyway.

01-24-2004, 05:28 AM
Zulk, you're welcome to use aiki inyo kai's name and emblem.

But do you think it's okay with your current teacher/organization? If it is, by all means do so.

Sounds like your aikido dojo is pretty new and not as established as the hapkido. Good luck with your training though.


sometimes beginners stays long enough to become regulars

01-24-2004, 03:19 PM
I always though Heart and Mind was Kokoro

I think maybe the termonology sheets I studied are incorrect and I will question Zanshin to "remaining mind."
Actually, unless I'm mistaken about the characters being used, 'kokoro' and 'shin' are the same character (different readings). And anyway, this kind of Japanese terminology can, IMHO, sometimes get somewhat vague/obscure.

Ian Williams
01-27-2004, 07:07 PM
Take a step back and think.

When was the last time you had to enter a "clique" and become part of an integrated group of people who knew each other well? It's difficult, and it's intimidating.

If you're not made to immediately feel welcome, then it can reinforce the stereotype of a snotty group of self interersted people not willing to open their group up to newcomers.

When I briefly practiced aikido in my earlier days, I was an obvious new face in the dojo, but I would have been lucky if 2 or 3 people introduced themselves.

The sensai himself was friendly, which was nice, but I vividly remember him trying to teach me a technique. He asked me to hold onto him in a certain way, which I obviously got wrong in my hopeless newbiness and he slapped my hand away in what seemed like "arrogant rebuke". This may be fine when you're dealing with someone who *SHOULD* know better, but I was new, and I didn't have the whole aikido attitude happening, and to me it was extremely offensive. It crushed what little spirit I had at that stage.

As for the person above who said you don't need to keep beginners, just regulars - that sounds like a person I would not like to practice with.

A few thoughts from someone in the position of having to try and integrate with a dojo soon, and feeling rather "nervous"

Jeanne Shepard
01-27-2004, 09:28 PM
Great post, Ian,

Its easy to forget what its like to be a beginner AND a newbie.


Paula Lydon
01-28-2004, 04:58 PM
~~I think it comes down to why someone is training. There have been many good points brought up here, but few dojo unfortunatly can cover them all. My dojo has a definate 'in group' where I have never really felt welcome, especially in my beginning years, so if the social connection was quite important to me I'd have left long ago. I'm there for the level of training and hang with myself or the few friends I have made and that's fine...now.

~~A dojo organization needs to try to meet as many of those pivital points as necessary, but will never meet them all. Perhaps the social chemistry is great but the chief instructor is only so-so; maybe lots of classes offered but training is always hard and so turns off most women, etc.

1) Good instructor(s)

2) Solid curiccumlum

3) Consistancy in the program

4) Genuine welcome/interest, not something to simply 'get them in the door'

5) A true sense of community, not just for some but for all

I believe a dojo needs as many of these points possible not only for beginners but to keep the regulars, as Peter pointed out. If too many points are lacking, no matter what kept them going for many years, the regulars will fall by the wayside as well. If enough points are present than the dojo will retain more beginners...and that's where long term regulars come from.

01-29-2004, 02:13 PM
Energy. If the dojo has no energy, I think people will be turned off. The instructors must want to instruct and not hear their own voices. I was recently in a class where the students were actually yawning! The instructors body language seemed to indicate that he did not want to be here.

Instructors as well as the regulars have an obligation to inspire. This is done by simply training with energy and enthusiasm.

John Boswell
01-29-2004, 03:09 PM
I had no idea!!

When I first started this thread, I figured it would drop off after a few days... lasting a week tops. I had no idea how significant this topic was to so many people.

To me, it is VERY important to keep the new people coming around. It was mentioned earlier to keep the regulars and if the new people drop out... eh. Like they never had a chance of sticking around at all? That's not a good mind-set in my opinion.

When I first started Aikido about 2 years ago, I knew just looking at the belts that everyone else (aside from me) had been there for a long time and that I was the new kid... not gonna fit right in, right away. But I persisted and made myself go to class. I came in during off class time to work on things like ukemi and such just to accelerate my learning ability on a task that I knew was bigger than my vision could take in. (BIG Undertatement!) Time went by and soon we all became good friends and look forward to the next class where we get to toss Lan Powers around like a rag doll! (HURRAY! :D )

uh... where was I?

Oh ya! So anyhow, glad to see such good feedback on this. Many viewpoints are being shared here and that is always a good thing to see for those of us wanting to learn all aspects of Aikido and is also beneficial for those who already teach in a dojo.

Keep the comments rolling in! I enjoy coming back and keeping up with a unique and varied thread such as this!

Domo arigato

01-29-2004, 08:53 PM
I, personally, has the goal to retain 100% of all newbies.

Failing that, 20% retainment rate is not bad...

Nick Simpson
01-30-2004, 07:12 AM
I would like to keep all beginners as well but it is just not possible. Because we are a university club, many students join up with the attitude of "its just a uni sports and rec club, Ill come when I feel like it and just mess around for a laugh". So a lot of them dont come back, but to be honest I couldnt care less, they havent got the right attitude to train in aikido, a martial art, a budo.

I would much rather focus on the few beginners who actually come regularly and stick it out through the tough times and have a good attitude, than worry about having everyone who ever walks through that door come permanently. But thats just me.

02-03-2004, 06:27 PM
I think things like beginners courses are great for retaining beginners.

It's a gentle introduction into the whole thing without flooding them with info from day 1, and it can train specific things like basic ukemi & also do a few simple things to give a bit of wow factor & feel like they have achieved something.

The ones who stay have some of the basics and more importantly have others who are in the same boat as them, so they don't feel alone or isolated. They already know some people a little bit, so the dojo's not so daunting.

As they get brought into general circulation, they all help each other mix in with everyone else, & this can be helped a lot by seniors offering to "play" with them for a few minutes after class. Then they're actually people with names & not just these superhuman ogres who breathe fire & snap people in half. ;-)

In no time at all, they feel at home in the dojo & that they can ask people for help, so then they are now "regulars' to help the next bunch of beginners.

Female role models are also useful from what I've seen. Or maybe the break in the testosterone changes the attitude a little.

My first dojo is a bit of a boys club. Great atmosphere, but maybe a little daunting for women: no strong female role models there & lots of boys pounding each other a lot :-). My current dojo has several female role models, & has about 3x the percentage of females of all ages training.