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Jim ashby
03-24-2001, 03:52 AM
I was reading another thread and someone quoted a statistic of 1% of people interested in Martial Arts, and then the dropout rates etc etc. I was wondering what the dropout rates are in other Dojo's. I am lucky in that I train in one of the vey very few permanent Dojo's in the U.K with full-time instruction and yet we still get people dropping out, even when they have got to second or even first Kyu. I'd be interested in any info from you guys around the world.
Have fun.

Mark Cochran
03-24-2001, 11:46 AM
In response to the question about drop out rates. My dojo is a small dojo in Chester NJ. Its so small that most of the people in Chester don't even know it's there. We have rather high drop out rate. This could be because there are several large Aikido dojos in Northern and central NJ. Another reason is that the class lasts just over three hours and many people are just unwilling to give up that much of their free time. However the drop out rate really doesn't bug us all that much because we have a core group of about ten students who train on a regular basis, and this makes up for the lack of interest shown by many of the two day students. My question is do we really suffer from not haveing students in the dojo who lack the discipline or intrest to stay for the journey.

Nick
03-24-2001, 12:29 PM
I read something that went something like out of all the people who start martial arts, half will stop after their first class. Half of that will last two months, half of that will last 2 years, half of those will drop out before shodan, about another third after, and a fourth of the remaining group stay around long enough to show others the Way. Those are the sensei.

As for why... I guess it's just not what they were looking for... if they want it, they'll come back. If not, your dojo is better off without them.

Nick

JJF
04-06-2001, 05:01 AM
Wow - that's very close to 1 percent that becomes a sensei, if my math doesn't fail me. Let's say 100 people start, after first lesson 50 is still around, 25 within 2 months, down to 12 within 2 years, 6 left when shodan is reached, 4 sticks around after shodan and only 1 becomes a sensei. Hmmm not very good odds ;)

I know it's not a scientific fact, but it comes pretty close to my experience.

I think, that what is really the reason is the lack of disciplin. That's what made me quit in the first place (I'm back now - and doing better - guess I must have changed a bit :)) Where I come from it is also a factor, that shodan takes quite a long time. 7 years as a kyu grade is very likely, and very few make shodan in less than six years.

Just my thoughts on the subject.

ian
04-06-2001, 06:54 AM
I think Mark has a good point; you don't want or need everybody training at your dojo. Quality is definately more important than quality. By that I mean that it is far more fulfilling teaching people who are diligent, work hard, and are sincere in their training.

I found that some people join martial arts either because they want to overcome opponents or because they wish to discover a magical technique which will allow them power over others or stop people having power over them. Often when they realise it takes a lot of hard work, and the real obstracle becomes themselves, they loose interest.

I think, particular to aikido, there are also drop outs due to the feeling of complexity or unrealism at the start. Many people are accustomed to arts designed to destroy someone through strikes, and also find the concept of moving your whole body as one unit quite alien.

The final stage of drop out is when someone feels they have gained the 'techniques' of aikido. Sometimes this can just be that a plateau has been reached and it seems that there is nothing else to learn (around the 6-7 year period seems common). This could be a good time to train with other Sensei, though what often happens is that people either try another martial art or leave completely.

Also, in the UK there is an increasing student population (I think its the governments way of keeping the unemployment figures down), as well as job insecurity, and therefore lots of people just leave 'cos they move to get work.

Ian

ian
04-06-2001, 06:56 AM
P.S. I also think ukemis at the start are a major reason for people leaving - people either think they are stupid looking or dangerous. Females will hate me for saying this, but it mostly seems to be women that don't like doing ukemis. Any suggestions to remedy this would be greatly received.

Ian

Sam
04-06-2001, 08:28 AM
I personally think that only a very small minority of people possess the patience to do something like aikido.
Quite a few people come to watch a class before they decide to join in. They sometimes leave before we have even finished the warm up and basics. They haven't even seen any aikido yet.
If somebody cannot even wait a half hour to see aikido, it is not surprising that some people drop out after a few months.
A lot of people have problems with the continual cycle of self-evaluation. First you think you know a bit about aikido. Then as you learn more, you come to know enough to know you know nothing.

andrew
04-06-2001, 09:27 AM
ian wrote:
P.S. I also think ukemis at the start are a major reason for people leaving - people either think they are stupid looking or dangerous. Females will hate me for saying this, but it mostly seems to be women that don't like doing ukemis. Any suggestions to remedy this would be greatly received.

Ian
Absoloutely true- a lot of people do leave because of that.
I see what you're trying to say about some women who take it up, but it's far too complex to sum up in a sentence like that.
andrew

Moomin
04-06-2001, 09:29 AM
I aggree with Ian that ukemi is off-putting. I smashed up both shoulders within a fortnight of starting aikido, and I have a mental block about going over on my left side. (I'm starting to get over it but it will take time). Ukemi appears to my limited insight to be about a third of all aikido; if you can receive it well you can understand the technique from both sides. If I can't receive ukemi, tori can't perform the technique properly and I end up wasting everyone's time.

I've been told that it will come in time, but the way that's working for me is to start off on my knees and go through each "stage". As I overcome one problem I can work on the next piece. For instance, when I started my leading arm would just collapse. Then I had to "look" in the right direction. Now I've got to work on getting lower to the mat. After that it'll probably be which foot to lead off and so on. Also, my sensei has been so helpful in identifying the problems.

In addition, we've had quite a few people start at our dojo just after me. We also have a 5th dan who guests as instructor once a month. His technique is so beyond most people, and quite furious. I think that puts people off aswell (he's not as generous with his teaching as our regular sensei). (But incredible to watch!)

(Long post. Sorry.)

Brian Vickery
04-06-2001, 09:40 AM
Jim ashby wrote:
I was reading another thread and someone quoted a statistic of 1% of people interested in Martial Arts, and then the dropout rates etc etc... I'd be interested in any info from you guys around the world.
Have fun.

In 'Aikido in America' and in 'Mastery' George Leonard Sensei states something
about 2% of the people who actually sign up stick around long enough to make
it to shodan. My experience has shown me that that number is actually high, the
1% figure has actually proven true!

The reasons why people quit is as varied as the reasons why people came to
to dojo in the first place ...but the reason for quitting that I hear most often is that
this stuff just flat-out HURTS!!!

...So, how many of the people chatting in here right now will be members of the
1% Club?!?!

Good Luck!

MikeE
04-06-2001, 10:23 AM
I have a few opinions I'd like to share on drop-outs. Please let me know if you think I am way out of line.

I think the first reason someone will drop out is cultural. We are in a "want it now" quick results society. Aikido doesn't give you that. For many, it may take years before you start getting what I like to call "fleeting flashes of insight". (Those days in the dojo that you just "get" a technique and everything works perfectly) Of course then the next time you train the technique it doesn't work :) On this line, it will also depend on what the person's goals are. Aikido is not overtly conducive to short-term goals. A person may come in with the goal of reaching a black belt. (Will they fail because its too hard, or will they succeed and move on after they attain their goal?) Depends on the person.

This leads to the second reason people drop out; frustration.
Frustration over technique not working. Frustration over the instructor giving the same advice over and over and not being able to absorb it. (The definition of insanity is: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result). Frustration because ukemi hurts at first. Frustration because many techniques are painful. Frustration over things outside the dojo.

This leads to the final drop out reason. There is something more important, or the "I just don't have time" excuse.

The funny thing is I don't think Martial Arts are unique in this respect. I would bet that kids that start tap dance, ballet, or lessons with musical instruments have just as high of a dropout rate.

But, the good thing is that Aikido has an almost Darwinian effect of weeding out the weak (not the best term). So, for the most part, Aikido's senior people should be stocked with fairly high character individuals.

Just my thoughts.

mj
04-06-2001, 12:24 PM
All salient points. And maybe this is another one, delayed gratification is not really part of the western culture. People WANT it NOW, whatever it is, because that is the way we are brought up. So maybe high drop-out rates, from anything that is hard nd takes time, is not a problem in Eastern cultures. I don't know if it is or isn't, I was just thinking. Maybe we, the ones that 'waste' our time learning an 'art' are just weirdos ;) and it's the 'normal' people that drop out...

Erik
04-06-2001, 01:17 PM
Anyone know what the dropout rate is in Japan?

Jim ashby
04-07-2001, 07:10 AM
Thanks guys and gals. When I started in Aikido, there were fourteen in my beginners "group", by the time Shodan came around there was just me. Some did drop out because Aikido does hurt and we do the same thing over and over again, but these guys dropped out early. It's the people who are at second and first kyu that drop out that I find hard to explain. By the time you've got there, there are (or should be ) no surprises, you've taken hard training and a few knocks, you can almost see that hakama beckoning and then you drop out. Just seems very strange to me. Anyway what does everyone else think?
Have fun,

Liz Baron
04-07-2001, 07:25 AM
Forgive an inexperienced view (and a rather long one...)

I took up Aikido very recently, so I'm not really qualified to judge what makes people drop out over the long term - ask me again in ten years!

The search that brought me here was a long one: I'm thirty five this year, and it's taken me until now to learn the beginnings of patience. A vague interest took me to karate in my teens but I lasted no time at all as I had no patience. Work and life have intervened since, as have a few injuries, including one to my back (lifting! just say no...) which can put me down for a week at a time if I'm daft.

I reached a point where I realised that how good my life is could one day be dictated by how my back feels. I have exercises which are meant to help prevent this, but I work long irregular shifts, and I was losing the motivation to do them.

It took me two years to find aikido as a way of answering this problem. Actually I found Aikido in six months - it took the rest of that time to pluck up the courage to make the phone call. Thus far I have no problems. I have no intention of dropping out since I feel like I have found a home in Aikido: it seems to suit me physically and mentally. Obviously there will be techniques that I will have difficulty with, but so far so good.

I feel that drop out rate may be directly related to goal/expectation. I see Aikido as a long term prospect, to improve my balance, posture, timing (and judgement?), thereby reducing a number of problems I may have as I get older. I am not attempting to 'be a black belt by age X.' Other people's goals are different. Incidentally, why is it that non-practitioners only ever seem to ask 'how long will it take...?'

Perhaps because I find this important for my future I may be less inclined to quit, but I suspect that nobody intends to drop out; it just happens.

Jim ashby
04-07-2001, 07:48 AM
Thanks Liz, trust me, starting Aikido is probably the best thing you could have done. The average age of our Dan grades is over forty, unfortunately, their aveage weight is pretty high, probably due to the fact that our Dojo is in the grounds of a pub! If you get the chance, go to the "Big three" course in May, it'll be a stormer and you'll meet some great people. You'll probably end up saying "why didn't I start this years ago?". I know that's a question I ask myself every time I'm on the mat.
Have fun.

aikijames
04-07-2001, 05:01 PM
I think there are many reasons why people drop out. but i think probably the most i have seen at my dojo is that people come and expect to take a couple classes and be unstopable but when they relize how long the hard proccess is they get discouraged.(those kind of people would probaby like a punch kick art such as karate, or kung fu better)i know when i desided to do aikido i made up my mind that i wasn't going to quit no matter what. i wasn't going to let any pain or discouraging feelings i had get in the way of my goal. but as an american i think our culture trys to find fast ways to the payoff of things. also disipline most people arn't used to and have a hard time with. i remember my sensi told me to rollfall while he went to help other students and he left me there for what seemed like and hour or so. and he also did something similar with me with the ongaurd position.
thinking back it doesn't seem that strenuous now but i remember wishing he would come back so i could stop. i think, how many people would have the disipline and respect to let a sensi mold them in this fasion?

anyway these are a couple of my thoughts about this.

James
____________
sorry about my many spelling errors

Nick
04-07-2001, 05:37 PM
Liz Baron wrote:
Forgive an inexperienced view (and a rather long one...)

Perhaps because I find this important for my future I may be less inclined to quit, but I suspect that nobody intends to drop out; it just happens.



No problem, in the grand scheme of things, we're all inexperienced, and usually long winded...

I heard a little saying somewhere along the lines of that last paragraph, that goes something like "We do not rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training."

I'd write more, but dinner's ready, perhaps after--

Nick

ajbarron
09-26-2003, 01:29 PM
After a long discussion (on why people drop out of the dojo and what it costs to keep the building we are in)following our monthly black and brown belt class I volunteered to try to do a follow-up survey (by phone)of people who have dropped out of our dojo after a short time.

We would like to address what those students, particularly those who might have continued if we offered something else or in a different manner, would have kept them involved.

At our meeting we discussed special beginner classes, starting beginner classes only a specific times of the month so a group could progress through the basics together, a buddy system (formal/informal) with a more experienced student, our Sensei making an effort to approach new students on a regular basis, not throwing new students across he room, having a tea after practice( a social bonding activity)with our beginner class as we do now on Wednesdays, and many other suggestions.

Has anyone done a survey before?? I'd rather not reinvent the wheel.........I'd rather steal/borrow one!!!!!!

Thanks in Advance

________________________________________________________________________

My Aikido sucks, but each class I suck to a higher level.

BKimpel
09-26-2003, 02:27 PM
While I have never done a survey I can tell you what has made me, and a number of others move on.

Try having a certain black belt that goes to Japan for 6 months, then when he comes back he acts like a cocky jerk to beginners and intermediates alike – but has a completely different face when sensei or the other black belts are around. And best of you PAY for this fantastic treatment!

There are two critical factors that I have seen in dojo’s that have made me (and people I know) move on:

(1) The dojo-cho (head sensei) does not spend enough time mingling to see these little events happen, and because of this the sensei is perceived to be unapproachable and no one feels comfortable going to their sensei and saying, “bobby’s being mean to me” cause they feel like a child tattling. And in total honesty, as much as people who study Budo are rarely petty – we only have so much time in our lives (with jobs and families) to do “something” and if that something isn’t good/fun/enjoyable/fulfilling, and then on top of it all we are paying for it (its not that cheap either you know), we *sigh* and wander off.

(2) And while some people are extremely dedicated and willing to put forth a life-long effort, others just want to learn something new and enjoy the experience (much like General Arts in University – they want to broaden their experiences, but they don’t intend to make a career out of it).

Now the reason why I personally have moved on has always been related to number (1), since I am extremely dedicated to Aikido and Budo in general, but I have known many beginners that leave because of number (2) – many!

How do you fix number (1)?

It’s almost all perception. If sensei makes a “visible” effort to make contact with his students frequently, he will gain their trust and confidence. Also dojo’s should setup up an explicit way of dealing with issues that protects the student from feeling awkward. It will facilitate better communication and resolve issues before the get started, and serve as a deterrent to the jerks as they will be exposed much more frequently – and then THEY will be the ones feeling awkward.

(2) Is tougher, but it doesn’t mean you need to compromise your art (and start offering Aiki-dance-aerobics and such).

Like you said newbies want to feel like they are progressing, and they want to see more of what Aikido really is.

(a) Try having sensei do a 5-minute demonstration, or randori, or aiki-ken, or ninan-dori (something cool) at the begging of every class – no talking just demonstrating. I guarantee you newcomers will “want” to get into it. The first Aikido class I saw, sensei saw a bunch of us come in and sit on the bench, and “decided” to demonstrate koshi-nage. When he touched the light on the ceiling with ukes’ feet a few times, he had us riveted and he knew it.

The other part is “shake it up a bit”. Some days should be kata (regular technique practice), some days should be randori (grab-only randori allows new comers to feel comfortable in that chaos – they will learn to have fun with it), some days should be single-technique shugyo (total emersion into one technique to really figure it out). People will see progress faster, and keep interested.

Wow, sorry for such a long post, but one last thing about partnering a newbie with a “more” senior student. Although the apprenticeship is the best way to learn any art form, you may be de-motivating your regular students that way cause they will be “forced” to work with someone of lesser ability and feel like their not progressing themselves. I think you should have someone mentor them (buddy-up) for the first month only to get them oriented, and then after that they should just get into the “everybody practices with everybody” mode, which gives everyone a range of exposure.

These are just my opinions, and having practiced in your dojo I KNOW it’s not your sensei’s teaching ability that is lacking – he is one of the best I have come across yet (to date).

Bruce

bob_stra
09-26-2003, 02:54 PM
While I have never done a survey I can tell you what has made me, and a number of others move on.

and no one feels comfortable going to their sensei and saying, “bobby’s being mean to me” cause they feel like a child tattling. And in total honesty, as much as people who study Budo are rarely petty – we only have so much time in our lives (with jobs and families) to do “something” and if that something isn’t good/fun/enjoyable/fulfilling, and then on top of it all we are paying for it (its not that cheap either you know), we *sigh* and wander off.

Bruce
I agree with you 100 billion trillion percent!

IMHO I feel this problem is worse in aikido than in other arts. For example, if a guy hurts you in wrestling, boxing, MMA, judo he had better be damn sure he knows what he's doing, because you can hurt him right back. With ease and almost instantly. In general, getting a beatdown ain't fun, so folks are cordial to each other. Kind of a M.A.D. (mutually assured destructuion) situation.

(and pardon the pun) After a while, everyone just chills out and there's minimal aggro.

In aikido, the guy cracks and pops your wrist, and says that pretend kind of sorry. By the time its your turn, you'd feel petty to do the same to him, so you let it go. But the resentment builds. Sometimes it escalates from there. Eventually, you have to either approach the instructor or avoid that person.

(this, BTW, is from direct observation, as well as some of the saucier posts on here over the past year or so - ie: the "sensei hit me on purpose" one)

I'm not certain I know what the solution is, to be honest. But this seems to be a problem in arts that don't spar much. A kind of "hah ha, I'm a higher grade, I can hurt you" deal.

Oh, and BTW, I'm not saying this is rampant by any means. I see it only minimally anywhere (folks aren't assholes generally). But when I do see it, its mostly in the above scenarios - ie: non sparring arts.

Sorry. Hobby horse. ;-)

BKimpel
09-26-2003, 05:04 PM
I think you hit the nail on the head Bob, with your comment about why you don’t see it in the other martial arts as much as in Aikido. People that study Aikido do so with a desire to be nice to people (albeit while defending themselves), and Aikidoka make easy pray for jerks when they are “actively” trying not to fall to the jerks level.

When I was only a yellow belt in Karate, I was sparring with a brown belt one time and the tension level was building because he was toying with me, sort of showing off. He cranked me real hard in the face and my tooth chipped (and I swallowed the piece - quite a disgusting feeling, he he). Sensei jumped in as he immediately sensed the tension between the two of us was at a “breaking” point and he took me aside. He said, “your spirit is great, but you should try a different block” with a smirk on his face (implying that I should try blocking period). The tension was gone instantly, and both of us got back to business (and I used my arms to block instead of my face).

In Aikido, the tension can go almost unnoticed because of the nature of the art it self.

Unless sensei is right beside you it is difficult for him to notice subtle things like two people crushing each other’s wrists, or if nage is ignoring ukes tapping, etc.

The only remedy for Aikido tension issues is to create a comfortable, open communication system between sensei and his students. Even if sensei IS an approachable guy, he must explicitly reinforce this openness just to combat the natural tendency of the student to avoid conflict (the reason they like Aikido in the first place).

Bruce

Suzanne Cooper
09-26-2003, 08:20 PM
Hmmm! What an interesting thread!

Help this newby, please! Ukemis: the ones getting thrown (pinned, crunched)? Is it a person or an action? [If you laugh at my question, please do so quietly so you won't hurt my feelings. :)]

Yes, Ian, you correctly note that a woman would rather not get thrown, pinned and crunched by someone that she might not know who might be hurting her on purpose!

Me? I think it's testosterone. All you men know, of course, that there is only one cure for testosterone...

pink fingernail polish on the female getting crunched! ;)

PhilJ
09-26-2003, 09:16 PM
I skimmed this thread and find it interesting that everyone is actually agreeing, for the most part. :)

Since I get along so well with MikeE, it's no surprise to me that I agree with him and others.

I rely on the fact that most MA do have some kind of inherent social weeding, and find it also interesting.

Dropout rates don't concern me unless you start to lose your core group, or, can't build one over a few years. There might be a cause of advertising or what/how material is taught, but for the most part, doesn't bug me much -- I still sleep at night. :)

*Phil

sanosuke
09-27-2003, 12:44 AM
I remember of what my teacher said to me when I passed my brown belt grading, "The toughest belt in aikido training is brown belt (3rd-1st kyu), Why? because its the time people will dropout most with various reasons."

Based on my observations, what my teacher said is true. Although some are quitting at the early stages, most peole quit, or at least didn't come regularly, once they reached 3rd to 1st kyu. i don't know why they quit, but it makes me think can it be because the think brown belt is adequate enough to learn aikido, since brown belt (the 3-1st kyu) i considered as 'senior' already? if yes, then i don't know what to say.......

as for me, i'm trying hard to prove to my teacher that his saying is totally wrong.

ajbarron
09-27-2003, 09:45 AM
Yesterday I emailed all the Aikido Dojos in Canada in reference to drop outs. So far everyone who has replied can only give me anecdotal information. I have also contacted a number of Universities and hope to undertake a study this winter to get some solid/scientific statistics on this phenomena.

When I do, I will pass on this information to forum readers.

In reading the comments submitted so far, it only illustrated to me the great number of reasons that people drop out.

One quote from a Canadian Dojo , that did stick in my mind was,

"They really don't drop out, but rather they never really drop in."

If any of you academic types out there have any background in surveying, statistics or research please drop me a line. It’s been a long time since university.

adwelly
09-27-2003, 04:02 PM
I'm curious about this as our dojo is running a short introductory course sponsored by the local college of further education. First night was last week, we had fourteen new students. I wonder how many will last.

I've been practicing for two years now. Of the five or so people that started around the same time as me there's one left, drop outs nearly always happening _after_ a grading. I guess someone gets a new belt and thinks 'now I can leave with some self respect'.

As for me, I've noticed that however bored, or stressed, or even ill, I feel when I enter the dojo I rarely feel anything but content when I leave. It's enough to keep me coming back.

Suzanne Cooper
09-27-2003, 04:47 PM
Funny you say that! It's that feeling of well-being that's got me hooked on aikido.

No matter how sore or worn-out or mentally exhausted, I seem to be better after class than I was when I went in.

indomaresa
10-05-2003, 10:36 AM
I totally agree with bruce, jerk seniors are what causes people to drop out. This thread completely takes words right out of my mouth.

Over the years, I've only been concentrating on two dojos, the one at my university, and the one near my home. This fact is to show that I'm not some super-understanding and ultra-broad-horizoned aikido master. But I think the subject of how to cope and handle various people / situations in a dojo is a long overdue discussion.

I've recently experienced a disturbance at my dojo because of a person who has a "personality" is terrorizing the juniors. What's making it a difficult problem is the fact that he has run rampant for over a year and sensei the other seniors are either; 1.unaware of this problem because the said character always acts saintly in their presence, or 2.passive

As a matter of fact, the only reason I found out about this problem is because I had a falling out with "him", due of his growing disrespect. The problem escalates when many juniors found out that they have a "friend from above" and creates a support group to kick the character from the dojo. After blowing their steams over several discussions, they finally decided to do an "uke embargo" instead - Meaning that they all will avoid practicing with him.

The character DEFINITELY noticed this and starts telling people that I'm inciting the juniors to hate him. ( my evil side really wish that I didn't try to moderate the discussions, my aikido side gave him nikkyo )

To cut a long story short, here's what happens later; Our sensei found out about this matter because "he" reported a conversation and complaint about him that takes place on the internet. The problem ends with a meeting of all the dojo ranks, brown and above. He was made to apologize by the sensei, we accepted it, everybody's ok. NOT!

This episode created an irreparable damage to the dojo dynamics, causing distrust and possible future problems. The apology is long overdue, the juniors aren't satisfied, the character creates a facade, several juniors have already left the dojo, I'm sad. The damage is done.

The problem shouldn't even be allowed to escalate, all seniors should report to the sensei before such things happen. In order to avoid the impression of "backtalking", the report should be done by a senior with witnesses. A trial is not necessary because the sensei will decide. If a junior decides to report, he/she should do it to the senior, to be passed on. But most of all, the seniors themselves must avoid taking sides. ( Very difficult - trust me ).

That's all from me, hope it helps some other troubled aikidoka.

tenguzero
05-31-2006, 01:39 PM
I've found myself on the brink lately. On the one hand, it's like Aikido has, to a degree, become a part of my life -- I've been going a little over a year, and in that time have invested in numerous training weapons, books, videos, and several pairs of gi. I bought the Aikido 3d software. I've expounded in great length on the positives of Aikido -- both to my family and friends. I have friends I can practice with. Aikido was a major catalyst in my going back to the gym, stretching, and keeping more fit.

And yet I haven't gone in a month.

The last time I went was to attend a weekend seminar by Stephen Toyoda Sensei at the very end of April. I had a great time and enjoyed it thoroughly. Right up to that point I had been going two, often three times a week. And then right after the seminar, I did go to one class. And then nothing for the rest of the month. Now, in my defense I had some slight monetary issues that would have left me too short in the bank account for my liking (if I had paid for the month) but that's not really an excuse, because I know my sensei would have let me hold off payment if I needed to. Then I found, as the month continued on, that I added to the money excuse by justifying to myself that I was taking a "break", which could be understood, since I'd been going for a year straight up to that point and I've got some definite joint pains I didn't have before (every dojo has a few strong guys that mean well, but have rough technique which, when combined with their strength, makes for some really tough applications and throws for uke to take.)

So now the month is ending, and I'm faced with the inevitable choice again. Part of me wants to start attending once more (and we also happen to have kyu tests coming up in a week or two), but part of me has come to enjoy the additional free time, the gas I save not having to drive almost half an hour each way to and from class, and less joint pain. The fact that we're getting into Summer doesn't make it any easier, as I don't exactly relish the thought of once again attending class in a stuffy dojo in 85+ degree weather. On top of that, I've gotten more into going to the gym lately, and that combined with Aikido makes for some late nights getting home -- and I HATE eating dinner at 10pm when I still have to get up for work at 7 the next morning. I suppose I could just go with my dojo's $100 per 10 classes option just for the summer (since the heat usually cuts down on many students attendance -- mine included) and save some money going once a week or so to keep from getting rusty.

Decisions decisions. Kind of odd that I've been practicing Aikido for over a year, and I'm only just now, when I'm on the fence about continuing training, signing up here. :confused:

Lyle Bogin
05-31-2006, 02:02 PM
Well, if people didn't quit there'd never be enough mat space :).

Most people stop training because they feel confined or bored, I think. In NYC there are so many martial artsy people, you can spend a couple years at each school and train for a lifetime.

fullerfury
05-31-2006, 02:27 PM
A dojo represents a living embodiment of the art of Aikido. If the dojo is not growing, it is dying. Growth of course can be defined in differing ways. One might justly argue that a dojos growth is not measured by the number of new faces per month or quarter or year, but by the quality of the aikido practiced by it's members, and the improvements made over a period of time. I do however feel that a percentage of new student retention is imporant for the health of the dojo. I also have found it a struggle to find the right balance for this!

I find it disturbing to read so many accounts of students quitting due to another's behaviour on the mat. I have learned to follow a zero tolerance policy when it comes to seniors abusing juniors. If I see this kind of behaviour I now put a stop to it immediately. No one should feel threatened or unsafe when practicing at the dojo.

I also feel that those who are going to quit are going to quit, plain and simple. There are certainly things that can and should be provided at a dojo to help cultivate an environment where new students want to come and stay to practice. But in the end, most people just don't have the fortitude or interest to stay the course over the long haul. Aikido is a life time journey.

Jim ashby
05-31-2006, 02:46 PM
Hey guys, I started this thread over five years ago! Someone has waaaaaaay too much time on their hands!!!
Have fun with it anyway.

DonMagee
05-31-2006, 10:53 PM
I just took an extended break from aikido tonight. After talking with the instructor we both agreed that my heart just isn't in aikido right now. I can't consistently train because I'm extremely focused on my upcoming competitions in bjj/judo/mma. I really feel that I was performing a disservice by only showing up when I could 'find the time' between my judo and bjj/mma training. I don't think it was a matter of lacking the fortitude for the long training, or lack of commitment. I really feel that people can just change. Aikido changed me. It lit a spark inside me that allowed me to examine my path in life and redirect it where I wanted it to go. Its unfortunate that the way was not deeper into aikido, but into arts I had apprehension or even fear of training. Aikido gave me the confidence to get back into the martial arts after my long break. It gave me a path to find what I did and did not like about martial arts training. Studying aikido lead me to see judo as a serious martial art, and though that led me to where I am now. I guess I clung to it because I loved the people and I loved the comradery. I realized recently that my heart wasn't really in aikido, it was in hanging out with those guys.

I guess in the end my beliefs have grown and changed and no longer match that of my teachers. I seek a different kind of teaching that aikido is not setup to provide. Thats not to say I do not find them great martial artists, I believe they are wonderful martial artists and if I ever meet someone looking for aikido instruction, I will point them that way.

I've been told I'm young or impatient, and that in time aikido can provide the kind of training and challenge I seek. I've been told I'm a martial art jumper. Maybe they are right. Maybe someday I will see that I've been moving in the wrong direction and go back to aikido. Hopefully if that happens they will let me come back. Maybe the next big martial art will come out and I will jump on that train. All I know was that for the first time in my life I was in a competition where I had a man standing across from me ready to do his best to bend a limb off or choke me silly, and I wasn't scared, nervous, worried, anxious, I was just there. I was in that moment like walking meditation. And after it was over, I realized that is what I had been searching for. It was that contest that defined what I wanted martial arts to be. I never got that in TKD point sparing, or aikido kata, or krav maga drilling. I never got it in judo randori. It came in a NAGA no-gi submission grappling match. I've decided I need to focus in on my physical conditioning and bjj/mma training and take as many competitions and mma matches and I possibly can while I'm still old enough to. That is why I had to take a 'break' from aikido.

Interesting enough, my aikido instructor knew before I even opened my mouth what I was there for. And he basically told me exactly what I was about to say. Talk about harmony and blending, I felt like he was leading me to the out so I did not have to speak. I had come to tell him I wasn't coming back, and he looked at me and told me it was time for me to leave until I was ready to study aikido again. I guess if anyone should be a mind reader it should be an aikido instructor.

I know I've babbled on for a long time, but I just needed a place to get this out. I feel sad because I feel like I've lost a lot of good friends. At the same time I'm torn because I feel relieved to no longer have to watch the clock when I train to make sure I get done in time to make it to aikido class, and disappointed in myself when I was late or didn't' make it to class. Now I have the time to put serious dedication into my jiujitsu and become a serious competitor. Hopefully my absense will be replaced with someone more dedicated to their art.

So I guess I am an aikido dropout. And the above is my reasons.

Guilty Spark
06-01-2006, 12:30 AM
I guess I clung to it because I loved the people and I loved the camaraderie. I realized recently that my heart wasn't really in aikido, it was in hanging out with those guys.

Same here. I have so much fun in class and a big reason for it is the atmosphere. The more I read about aikido and explore it spiritually the more I believe it isn't simply physical. While you'll be concentrating on a different martial art I bet with a little creativeness you can still apply the 'aikido way' to whatever your doing, including making the atmosphere fun and bringing the camaraderie there.

I wouldn't say you're a drop out. I'd say Aikido brought YOU to where you need to be.

DonMagee
06-01-2006, 10:21 AM
Same here. I have so much fun in class and a big reason for it is the atmosphere. The more I read about aikido and explore it spiritually the more I believe it isn't simply physical. While you'll be concentrating on a different martial art I bet with a little creativeness you can still apply the 'aikido way' to whatever your doing, including making the atmosphere fun and bringing the camaraderie there.

I wouldn't say you're a drop out. I'd say Aikido brought YOU to where you need to be.

I belive you are right. Thank you for putting that into perspective.

Brian Vickery
06-01-2006, 10:45 AM
Hey guys, I started this thread over five years ago! Someone has waaaaaaay too much time on their hands!!!
Have fun with it anyway.

Wow James! ...the last 5 years have just flown by!

Ok, in my dojo, since I posted my initial response about only 1% of the new students making it all the way to shodan, only 2 students have made it to shodan in the last 5 years! All the mudansha who were training at that time have left the dojo, except for me & my teaching partner. We have 1 student ready to test shodan, and two others who are almost there. I can't even count the number of students that have come & gone over the past 5 years! So, that 1% to 2% number is still holding true!

I wonder how many of the people that initially responded to this thread are still practicing aikido today?!?!

Regards!

Brian Vickery
06-01-2006, 11:21 AM
..All the mudansha who were training at that time have left the dojo, except for me & my teaching partner...
Oops! I meant to say YUDANSHA (Black Belt Folks), not mudansha! ...we still have quite a few of them training with us today!

Hanna B
06-01-2006, 12:30 PM
In 2001, it was written on the forums

I am lucky in that I train in one of the vey very few permanent Dojo's in the U.K with full-time instruction and yet we still get people dropping out, even when they have got to second or even first Kyu.

Drop out is a normal thing IMO. People do lots of things for a while - stamp collection, sailing, skiing, jogging, pottery - and then stop. Some of them come back later, others do not. Nothing strange about that.

Another old comment was

I also think ukemis at the start are a major reason for people leaving - people either think they are stupid looking or dangerous. Females will hate me for saying this, but it mostly seems to be women that don't like doing ukemis.

I think this has been discussed more than once, but the way front rolls are taught and used in aikido they need some structure in the front arm. Part of this structure can be replaced by muscle strength, and upper body strenght is the most obvious difference between the sexes besides the genitals. I would like to see statistics on how many beginners have injured their shoulders by slamming it into the mat during their first months of training. My personal belief is women are overrepresented here. I.e., a good set of pedagogics when teaching front rolls are always necessary but even more so with women - that is what I believe.

aikispike
06-07-2006, 03:55 AM
I am planning to do a study for my dojo on why people drop out... if anyone has done this and has advice or questions they used I would love to share ideas.

My idea is that the reasons for pure beginners quitting has to do with ackwardness of the first few classes and the ukemi - more back breakfalls than forward rolling type breakfalls.

I can't imagine that there is any top reason why more experienced students quit - probably as many reasons for that as there are for starting in the first place.

Spike

Dazzler
06-07-2006, 05:14 AM
Hi

My view on beginners dropping out is that the reality of aikido practice does not meet their expectations.

simple as that.

I try to find out why new students have come to practice, we discuss where aikido can meet their needs and how. Often practice is misunderstood but instead of questioning why we are doing the things we do the newbies often slip away.

aikido is portrayed as a martial art...those with no concept of this can assume it is all about fighting.

Clearly a lot of the things practiced are not immediately visible as useful in a fight particularly to those that know nothing of such things so its easy to dismiss aikido as a waste of time.

By taking time out to discuss these things the students can be made aware of how aikido is addressing their needs even though it may not be immediately obvious.

The truth is that Aikido is hard work, you can spend years doing it and still feel that you have only just scratched the surface.

Once new people start to realise the level of committment required to bring aikido into their lives its not surprising that many quit or take up an alternative that appears to give a greater martial return on the time invested.

Its a shame but its also just part of the weeding out process.

Regards

D