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Mike.Ordway
06-15-2005, 08:53 AM
My dojo has a $30 testing fee. Is this normal? I don't really mind paying $30 but my parents are a little peaved... they are paying for my first 3 months of aikido and all that kind of stuff. after that I'm paying and wont mind the testing fee. I was just wondering if it was a common thing.

jimbaker
06-15-2005, 09:35 AM
Hey Mike,

The testing fee is usually set by the parent organization.

The USAF fee is $30 per test for the five kyu ranks. There is also a $30 annual membership fee. Most dojos have you join the USAF when you take your first test, so the 5th kyu test would be $60. After that, the USAF dues are once a year. Your rank is registered with the USAF, you get a certificate and they send you a Yukyusha book for you to keep track of your ranks and seminars attended. You don't even have to buy a new belt.

I might add that all of that money goes to the USAF and not the local dojo.

If the dojo is not affiliated with any organization, then I think $30 is a bit too high. If the teacher is printing his/her own certificates, the actual cost of testing is virtually nil.

Jim Baker
Aikido of Norfolk

Amir Krause
06-15-2005, 10:42 AM
It's a matter of Dojo and organization.

Some charge for tests others don't.


Amir

Mike.Ordway
06-15-2005, 12:59 PM
Alright thanx for the imput guys

Michael Meister
06-16-2005, 03:03 AM
We don't have any fees for testing. There is only an annual fee for the affililiation.

maikerus
06-16-2005, 03:24 AM
We don't have any fees for testing. There is only an annual fee for the affililiation.

Wow...even for dan level grades?

Sonja2012
06-16-2005, 03:33 AM
Same for us: no testing fees at all. But then, we don´t have any professional teachers in our organisation.

JJF
06-16-2005, 04:27 AM
No fee for kyu-grades.
Fee to the federation in Japan for Dan-grades (roughly 10.000 / 20.000 / 30.000 / 40.000 yen for the first four respectively) plus annual fee.

ian
06-16-2005, 06:45 AM
our affiliation is non profit making. Determine whether the sensei is making personal money out of it (which I personally don't agree with unless they are full time instructors, in which case they have to eat!)

However, your only real choices are i. pay the money, ii. don't grade or leave the dojo) or iii. complain about the cost.

Is there any subsidy for people who are juniors/students/unemployed at your dojo? I hope aikido doesn't go the way some karate clubs went for a while - instructors waiting to get to black belt so they could set up their own school and make lots of profit themselves!


You could always ask what the $30 pays for.

Amir Krause
06-16-2005, 08:36 AM
In our Dojo we have no testing fee, but, if a person is interested in a certificate from an organization (Either Korinkai or Dai-Nihon-Butokukai of which we are members), then the person has to pay for it. The certificates are only relevant to Dan degrees (besides the Dan we only test for Kyu 1 normally), and the fee changes according to rank (order of magnitude 100-300$ I think for low Dan grades 1-3).

Amir

Bronson
06-16-2005, 12:16 PM
The fee itself doesn't sound too unreasonable to me. Some other things to look for are: frequency of testing and number of tests.

One of our students was talking to his sister-in-law's boyfriend, this fellow has been promoted five times in five months in the art he studies. He has no previous MA experience. Our student didn't ask how much he was paying for these tests or how many he was expected to go through. In comparison our student has been tested five times in five years (but he did get skipped a rank once). Another lady who used to train with us was dan grade in another art. She told us that her first kyu level test, of which there were ten, was $100 U.S. and they kept going up from there :freaky:

Bronson

Nick P.
06-16-2005, 02:30 PM
Correct me if I am wrong...

Aikikai tests and certificates
5th kyu (after about 1~1.5 yrs of training)
10,000 yen (a little more than 100 CDN, less than 100 US) for "opening of file"
? yen (about 50 CDN) for test+certificate from Hombu Aikikai
4-3-2-1st kyu
each same (about 50 CDN) each.
Total time from beginning to shodan, about 5.5~7 years.

I think that 30$/ test is not out of line, but like mentioned above, depends on "what it gets you and recognized by whom".

Or you could just say "Thanks, I'm fine. I would prefer not to test. I enjoy just training." and see what the response is.

Michael Meister
06-17-2005, 02:45 AM
Wow...even for dan level grades?

As far as I know, yes. I thought about that, when I was on my way to the Dojo yesterday. I probably wouldn't grade, if I had to pay for it. It's just not important enough.

happysod
06-17-2005, 03:26 AM
This and several other similar threads has always got me to thinking, especially about the implied assertion that paying for grading is somehow wrong and needs to be justified.

Now normally, as our grading fees are relatively low, I trot out the time and energy put in by the teachers into actual arranging the test and acting in that uncomfortable seiza hot-seat. But I realised I'm missing an even more important point.

I don't know how it works in other dojos, but I also have to put in a lot of effort prior to the test, taking people through bits they're not getting time after time until they're comfortable, doing mock gradings, boning up on parts of the syllabus I may have not touched on for a while and generally subsuming my practice needs for my students. Dammit, I think I'm going to treble the fees and make them walk on lava to show true commitment, I need more me time on the mat!

mj
06-17-2005, 05:46 AM
In Shodokan UK all gradings are free for kyu and dans.

I can't speak for all of our organisation but at my club all kyu grades are supplied with new belts after grading free of charge, I assume this is the same all over. As are shodans supplied with embroidered black belts.

Dan grades can, of course, send of to Japan to get proper certificates denoting their grades. Around £120 for a sandan, as a rough guide.

Yearly membership is £20/$36. If you are unemployed or a student that fee is halved.

PeterR
06-17-2005, 09:09 AM
Hi Mark;

My students pay no asscociation fees but they do pay grading fees. That is how I support Honbu and oh all those yudansha that take ukemi for the kyu grades get an honorarium as do the examiners.

I totally agree with Ian - I see no reason to justify the fees charged or instructors making a bit of money. I am sure I would do what I do for free but that bit of beer money is a nice touch.

mj
06-17-2005, 12:42 PM
We pay mat fees...£1 per lesson.

Having said that we don't pay for the hall or mats. We recently got 68 new ones from the University, bless them.

All of it goes into the club bank account though to subsidize seminars, trips, nights out and paying travel costs to bring teachers to the club and so on. It pays for a mobile phone for Martin (sensei) for club business too.

Keep in mind that generally students couldn't normally afford large training fees though.

aikidoc
06-17-2005, 01:44 PM
Testing fees can consist of many things: cost of producing a certificate; cost of performing the test; certification of rank; organizational costs; etc. I personally have never been anywhere where there were not fees. Some places ridiculous-one dojo charged more for a 1st kyu test than the aikikai did for a dan test.

Mike.Ordway
06-17-2005, 10:06 PM
This and several other similar threads has always got me to thinking, especially about the implied assertion that paying for grading is somehow wrong and needs to be justified.

Now normally, as our grading fees are relatively low, I trot out the time and energy put in by the teachers into actual arranging the test and acting in that uncomfortable seiza hot-seat. But I realised I'm missing an even more important point.

I don't know how it works in other dojos, but I also have to put in a lot of effort prior to the test, taking people through bits they're not getting time after time until they're comfortable, doing mock gradings, boning up on parts of the syllabus I may have not touched on for a while and generally subsuming my practice needs for my students. Dammit, I think I'm going to treble the fees and make them walk on lava to show true commitment, I need more me time on the mat!

Sorry If i came off as meaning there was something wrong, I dont think there is. I took my test and passed. The thirty dollars went mostly towards our organization(not sure what its called) Thank you all for the feed back. :)

Michael Meister
06-18-2005, 04:01 AM
I don't know how it works in other dojos, but I also have to put in a lot of effort prior to the test, taking people through bits they're not getting time after time until they're comfortable, doing mock gradings, boning up on parts of the syllabus I may have not touched on for a while and generally subsuming my practice needs for my students. Dammit, I think I'm going to treble the fees and make them walk on lava to show true commitment, I need more me time on the mat!


That's what I pay club fees for. And that is perfectly ok. As for certificates and other bureaucracy stuff, I pay the annual affiliation fee, that's ok too.
But just to have someone to write down, that my Aikido has reached a certain level, or that I may use a differentely colored belt, and that's what specific trading fees would be for me, I wouldn't want to pay, or basically, I would had stopped grading after 4th Kyu.
This doesn't mean grading fees are right or wrong, it's just how it is for me.

happysod
06-20-2005, 06:42 AM
That's what I pay club fees for. And that is perfectly ok... Actually Michael, here I have to disagree somewhat. I would take the view that you're actually paying to train in aikido. The work involved in getting a student up to a particular grade is extra (sometimes even superfluous) to this as it normally involves meeting artificial criteria - the grade itself.

Where I would agree with you on gradings is if the teacher forced you to grade - even indirectly by having a bar on "too deadly techniques below this level" nonsense - then yes it is open to claims of mere money making.

Note: I'm not defending the huge expenses some seem to claim for gradings, but a token to cover time spent and the extra bureaucracy involved (not always covered by the annual fees, certainly ours barely covers student insurance, equipment replacement costs and first-aid training for instructors).

Michael Meister
06-20-2005, 07:25 AM
Note: I'm not defending the huge expenses some seem to claim for gradings, but a token to cover time spent and the extra bureaucracy involved (not always covered by the annual fees, certainly ours barely covers student insurance, equipment replacement costs and first-aid training for instructors).

Ok, I have to admit, that I expext those things to be part of annual fees/ club fees, which will even out the extra costs over time.
Anyway, as I said, it's neither right or wrong to have fees for grading.

My point is, I gladly spent money to get better at Aikido, but still I wouldn't pay just to hold a grade (and that's what grading fees are for me). So we probably just disagree, when to pay for what. I hope we both can live with that :-)

happysod
06-20-2005, 07:39 AM
So we probably just disagree, when to pay for what. I hope we both can live with that :-) Absolutely not, I'm going to take the traditional aikido way of harmony and wear you down with incessantly lengthy posts until you agree with me! :p

Mike.Ordway
06-20-2005, 07:56 AM
I agree Ian. Dont be mean about it just keep going untill someone gives in. lol

Steven Tame
06-27-2005, 01:57 PM
Hi well I'm training at the Aikikai headquarters (Hombu dojo) in Japan. I can only tell you about kyu grades cos that is all I've taken so far but basically we have a monthly membership fee which is Y10,500 / 50 pounds / $100? and you can train as much as you like on that. For kyu tests we pay Y1000 / 5 pounds / $10 to take the test and then another Y2000 / 10 pounds / $20 for the certificate if we pass. Seems ok to me but I wouldn't know how it compares to the UK since I've only tested in Hombu

Beard of Chuck Norris
05-17-2006, 11:14 AM
I pay for each lesson, from £2 to £3.50 depending on length of time and location.

Our grading fees start from £12 for yellow and go up by £2 each kyu. I think this fee is totally fine. I think my 6year old nephew is charged more for his "gradings" in taekwondo.

Psufencer
05-17-2006, 12:04 PM
I pay $60 a month to train as often as I want, plus $40 for each test. That seems fair enough to me, compared to other rates I was seeing in the area.

James Kelly
05-17-2006, 01:57 PM
... and oh all those yudansha that take ukemi for the kyu grades get an honorarium as do the examiners.
Really... if I had a dime for each time I took testing ukemi, I'd be a rich man...:) Maybe you could set up a per-roll payment schedule. A dime a roll, $0.25 per break fall could turn into some real money. That way when people congratulate the tester on doing well and he makes the standard joke that he paid the ukes to make him look good, he'd be telling the truth.

Kevin Leavitt
05-17-2006, 02:16 PM
Check out Rocky's post (rant) on fees and money in the "voices of experience thread.

I had a recent discussion with my students over fees and testing when I recently had our senior instructor (BJJ) come in to town to conduct a seminar and test. They were complaining about the cost. (I charge absolutely nothing as I have no cost, and don't feel qualified to charge).

I had a very similar discussion along the lines of Rocky's comments about the true cost of martial training and the sacrifices and money our teachers put into the training, and that they are not millionaires.

Ron Tisdale
05-17-2006, 02:49 PM
Sogaku Takeda used to charge for each technique.

Oh well...it all comes down to how much you want it...and what you're willing to pay.

Best,
Ron

Niadh
05-17-2006, 03:54 PM
I have to repond to Roky's rant here.
Thanks Rocky. Valid and salient points all. Has anyone else thought of what instructors do to instruct? WHile my financial commitment has not been as great as Rocky's, I too hve done some finincial bailing for the club I co-teach. I give up 4 or more hours of my time on the nights I teach (1-1/2hrs) what with driving time and all. On days I teach, because I have another source of income, I leave the house when my children are asleep, and return (after class) when they are asleep.
I do not begrudge my time, I enjoy teaching, and because I teach at a club there are no mat fees. Our testing fees go towards or home dojo, which is a small but growing organization.

I begrude non of the fees I pay, as I understand some of what goes into this. I agree with Rocky that it is very easy to forget or not see the "behind the scenes" stuff that instructors do.

I guess my final response is QYB. But to be more politically correct, think- WOuld you give up all that has been mentioned here and by Rocky and other instructors- out of complete goodness of your heart? It is easy to say yes, but be realistic...

aikidoc
05-17-2006, 05:50 PM
In another response to Rocky's rant. He did not include all of the testing fees, club dues, travel costs, etc. involved in getting him to the point where he can teach. Students must keep in mind that the instructor paid a price as well to train-test fees, dues, seminars, travel, etc., etc. Over the years, I have taught free and only recently charged-fee just about covers the overhead (electricity, water, maintenance, supplies, but not any of the buildout expenses). I even taught at one dojo for free for over 4 years. and when I left it was ugly-I guess the owner didn't like losing the free ride and being able to go home at night. My lesson learned was that most people don't appreciate it at all when you give it to them and they bitch about it when you charge for it. My students have the opportunity to train over 40 hours a month. If they take advantage of it all, it works out they pay $1.36 and hour. Not bad and I challenge anyone to find lessons in anything that cheap. Even if they only practice 4 hours a week it's still $3.75/hour. Not all of my students take advantage of the opportunity but it is there as well as periodic seminars. I do have a small core though that goes out of their way to help-they are great people and made it possible for the dojo to exist as well as continue to provide support in any way they can (some with money, some with work/labor). In my experience they are rare people in this day and age in that they don't want something for nothing

One guy I saw on the web - teaching a grand celestial way- was charging in some areas 2-300/month and people were paying it. Hmm. I must be doing something wrong.

Jerry Miller
05-17-2006, 05:51 PM
Bottom line is that it is a dojo and not a charity. Thanks for the rant Rock.

Charlie
05-17-2006, 07:06 PM
…also responding to Rocky's post…

I have to ask. What value do you put on what you are being taught?

Many go to collages and universities in order to be educated in specialized fields of study. They are taught by professionals that have mostly dedicated their lives to what they are teaching and have become extremely specialized in their respective fields.

What is so different from their process and ours? Why do so many assume that the highly specialized skill sets that are taught in the martial arts are to be provided at such discounted costs?

After all, if one attends a seminar given by an academic pioneer or a financial mogul or even an ex-president [whether he has been impeached or not!?] will undoubtedly be charged a very steep fee in order to participate in the festivities, no matter if it is a plate dinner function or a week long excursion into what ever that person's respective field of expertise may be.

If you charge it and people pay it…is the capitalist way of life. If you have doubts as to the value of what is being taught to you equaling the amount of what is being charged then you have every right to exercise your right to not pay it [just as the person providing the SERVICE has the right to vocalize the value of what they provide].

What is surprising to me is the number of people that are eagerly willing to join organizations and not fully research what they are getting into. If the organizations are unwilling to provide information as to what the fees go towards as well as what is expected of the prospective student then I would be wary as well. However, I can only make an informative decision by doing some very basic research.

Hey, we could always go back to the old way of doing it and charge a fee for EVERY technique taught!

Just my thoughts...

Charlie

Ecosamurai
05-17-2006, 07:18 PM
Sogaku Takeda used to charge for each technique.

Oh well...it all comes down to how much you want it...and what you're willing to pay.

Best,
Ron

Unfortunately thats a persistant myth, think there's an interview with his son on aikiweb which mentions it and also mentions how long O Sensei studied with him, can't seem to find it right now though.

Mike

Ecosamurai
05-17-2006, 07:25 PM
I pay for each lesson, from £2 to £3.50 depending on length of time and location.

Our grading fees start from £12 for yellow and go up by £2 each kyu. I think this fee is totally fine. I think my 6year old nephew is charged more for his "gradings" in taekwondo.

DOH, you really aren't too good with the finances of all this are you mate? I let you collect the fees for one session and you overcharge people and now you can't remember how much you paid for your last grading. Hehe, well at least your Aikido is better than your memory for money.

5th Kyu £10
4th Kyu £14
3rd Kyu £18
Increases by £4 each time and this hasn't changed in 20 years as far as I know.

£2-£3.50 per session depending.

Annual membership £20

And week before last when only two people came to the lesson it cost me about £11.50 for the priviledge of teaching Jo and one other student ;)

Mike Haft

Chris Li
05-17-2006, 07:37 PM
Unfortunately thats a persistant myth, think there's an interview with his son on aikiweb which mentions it and also mentions how long O Sensei studied with him, can't seem to find it right now though.

Mike

This impression may have been left since Takeda taught mostly in brief seminars. In any case, it was certainly extremely expensive to train with him.

Best,

Chris

Ecosamurai
05-17-2006, 09:35 PM
This impression may have been left since Takeda taught mostly in brief seminars. In any case, it was certainly extremely expensive to train with him.

Best,

Chris

Probably true, from all I've read anyway. By the way the interview was on aikido journal not aikiweb as I managed to confuse things earlier. I found the interview anyway, go to aikido journal look in the interviews section, its the interview with tokimune takeda part 2.

Mike

Rocky Izumi
05-17-2006, 10:54 PM
Thanks folks, you make me feel warm and fuzzy all over. Rats, that was the dog and cat rubbing up to me. ;)

Better go and shower this sweat off me and ice my knee -- an hour of suwari-waza shomenuchi ikkyo.

Really, thanks. I'm very gratified to hear of all of you putting in so much into helping others in Aikido no matter what rank you are. It makes me feel that my efforts aren't wasted if any of my students turn out like you guys. Give yourselves a hug from me. Better yet, give yourselves a good kotegaeshi or shihonage into a tobi ukemi at the dojo some time. That's more my thank you style. :D

Better yet, come down to Barbados for a vacation and come visit the dojo to practice. No practice fees for short term visitors and often, free beer and wings or pig tails after practice on Fridays. :cool: We're supposedly Aikikai but willing to practice with you in your style any time.

Rock
The Aiki-penitent

davidafindlay
05-18-2006, 04:59 AM
and oh all those yudansha that take ukemi for the kyu grades get an honorarium as do the examiners.

Whoa! When did that start? As I remember, all I got was saving myself a trip to the chiropractor, as an over-zealous 2kyu applied hanza handachi kote hineri - I felt each one of my vertebrae click down onto the mat (floating front breakfall).

Apparently 2kyu was not sure how to demo goshin no kata, and took the message from one of the sensei to heart. The message was something along the lines of "... eh? Well, its GOSHIN!" :)

Ah, nothing puts a smile on the face of an ukemi-phile like sincere waza... :)

PeterR
05-18-2006, 05:11 AM
They university students all get 1000 Yen in a little brown envelope and for a time so did Omonishi-san and myself. That might have had something to do with travel from Himeji. Eventually we were told that there were too many uke and we no longer take part in that little pleasure. Of course we could have been incompetent and were being let down nicely.

davidafindlay
05-18-2006, 08:52 AM
Of course we could have been incompetent and were being let down nicely.

Surely not.. Bouncy, springy sannensei vs a couple of OBs? ;)

...oh and to keep it strictly on-topic to the thread at large, umm last grading was relatively cheap. Graded outside Japan, so we only are asked to pay the (inernational) association (JAA) fees. In my case that was about AUD250. My previous grade in Japan was about 5man yen (US450?). Some goes to the association, and some goes to the dojo. Arguably a lot of money in anyone's language, but I see it as supporting the organisation - and a professional dojo with professional instructors, and its something asked for relatively infrequently. So that's ok with me.

Regards,
Dave Findlay

Jose Garrido
06-11-2006, 04:13 PM
In our dojo we have testing fees. But the tests are not done on mass. :hypno:
They are individually scheduled and the sensei is only there for your test. :D
At the completion of the test the sensei will go over every single technique that you showed/demonstrated, critique it and make corrections :cool:

DmG
06-12-2006, 06:42 AM
Ok, I have to admit, that I expext those things to be part of annual fees/ club fees, which will even out the extra costs over time.
Anyway, as I said, it's neither right or wrong to have fees for grading.

My point is, I gladly spent money to get better at Aikido, but still I wouldn't pay just to hold a grade (and that's what grading fees are for me). So we probably just disagree, when to pay for what. I hope we both can live with that :-)

In our new dojo, we finally hung our dan certificates (now that we have a place for them). One of my kyu levels came in, saw the certificates, which are from Hombu Dojo, and are hand done...and really quite beautiful. He said "wow, now I see why you pay so much for a dan test. I was thinking it was a waste, but now I see that you get something for it."

Hmmm....the money for a dan test goes to the federations that we belong to. You get a very beautiful certificate, a membership book and card...and of course the rank recorded in the archives. It is not as though you test for a dan grade every week....so who begrudges a few dollars of administration costs? You pay for marriage certificates and other events of importance, so that they are recorded and officiated....so why not dan testings. I don't consider that 'paying for the rank'.

Testing in aikido is one of the most important things (IMO) that you can do...for yourself, for your instructor, for your fellow aikidoka. For yourself because you can measure where you are, and how you perform under pressure. It gives you a goal for improvement.

For your instructor because he/she can see where you are and where you need to improve (and where they may need to improve their instruction). You are a reflection of your teacher.

For your fellow aikidoka, because every single one of them work and help you every day that you are on the mat. Those that are a lesser rank than you want to see you and see someone to aspire to...and those at a higher rank than you want to see you be successful, as they are also your instructors....

Matthew Brosseau
06-14-2006, 12:41 PM
You pay for testing in Calgary too, I think it is quite reasonable, but I mean if you fail, I would think you would feel like you just wasted so and so amount of money.

Bronson
06-14-2006, 03:10 PM
...if you fail, I would think you would feel like you just wasted so and so amount of money.

We return testing fees if the student fails.

Bronson

Rocky Izumi
06-15-2006, 09:15 AM
You pay for testing in Calgary too, I think it is quite reasonable, but I mean if you fail, I would think you would feel like you just wasted so and so amount of money.

So don't fail.

Rock

mriehle
06-15-2006, 05:37 PM
I read Rocky's rant as well. Tried to respond not realizing I weren't eligibable. I thought about applying 'cause I've been doing this here Aikido stuff since 1974, but I haven't been as regular as I maybe shouldda been.

In any case.

Over those years I've invested a lot of my money and my time in getting to where I am with Aikido. I run into people who just won't pay me for their training. I have an official policy at my dojo that if money is the only obstacle to training, I'll work something out. But I find that people who object on financial grounds typically have other issues as well. They're really just looking for an excuse to make them feel better about not training.

Paying for testing is something I'm of mixed mind on. I charge a nominal promotion fee for kyu ranks (currently $15). Originally it was intended to pay for equipment upgrades and such. As it turns out, it pays the rent on our space as often as not. So, I don't feel guilty about the fee.

But...

I regularly see schools charging hundreds of dollars for kyu rank tests, plus $100 or more for monthly tuition. At what point does it become simple greed? That would be my objection.

That being said.

As regularly as I see this, it's always the same schools. Realistically, they are in the minority. And they aren't, IME, Aikido schools.

What I see more often is the "soccer mom" mentality. The expectation is that people will commit to a month or two of training at a "reasonable" cost (reasonable?) but take the kids out as soon as they've invested more than a couple of hundred bucks and are expected to pay a promotion fee or even just get tired of driving to the dojo.

It isn't just money.

Anyone teaching has put a lot of themselves into Aikido. Our personal identity is built around Aikido. Hours on the mat. Hours spent driving (or walking, in my case) to the dojo. Hours spent preparing the space. Hours spent talking to vendors. Hours spent dealing with government bureaucrats.

Okay, I'm starting to echo Rocky's rant. I can't help it. I annoys me when people accuse me of selling out because I charge for training. And, yes, I actually have been so accused.

(stepping off soapbox now)

Rocky Izumi
06-15-2006, 08:07 PM
Michael,

Just talk to Jun about access..

Rock

Walter Martindale
07-03-2006, 02:18 PM
I heard large parts of Rocky's rant(s) in person, over single malt. Observed it in person, when he bought most of the materiel with which to build the Regina Aikido Dojo in 1995-ish, after the U of R renovated us off the wrestling mats. Most of the time I felt I wasn't able to contribute enough sweat equity to the dojo (and I still don't at my current dojo, what with coaching a sport for a living, practicing Aikido for personal growth, and competing in two different types of long-range paper punching). Our dojo in Calgary is growing by leaps and bounds, with more than 100 in the kid's group, usually about 20 in the evening group, and sometimes as many as 8 in the morning group (The morning group is the "advanced" practice - one hour, 3/week, I'm probably the clumsiest at Ikkyu.)
Steve and Robb seem not to accept payment for anything, and pay their own fees to practice at the facilities in which we train. They also travel to many seminars annually, with accompanying costs, and any fees that are paid for our grading go either to register the grade through the CAF or to the presiding shihan. Yudansha rankings however are somewhat more dear, although I don't always understand why, nor why the seem to increase as rapidly as they do.

All that said, Most Aikido sensei appear to be continuing to learn while they are instructing - Rock frequently said that he learns much when teaching beginners, and I try to take that to my job (I'm employed coaching rowing) when I'm working with rowers at all levels - the biggest thought being - if the person doesn't get it, it's not because they don't want to get it, it's because I haven't found the way that they will learn it. Perhaps that concept (sensei learning while instructing) is why most sensei pay their own fees to the organisation instead of charging for instruction?
Walter

Michael Meister
07-07-2006, 05:12 AM
In our new dojo, we finally hung our dan certificates (now that we have a place for them). One of my kyu levels came in, saw the certificates, which are from Hombu Dojo, and are hand done...and really quite beautiful. He said "wow, now I see why you pay so much for a dan test. I was thinking it was a waste, but now I see that you get something for it."

Hmmm....the money for a dan test goes to the federations that we belong to. You get a very beautiful certificate, a membership book and card...and of course the rank recorded in the archives. It is not as though you test for a dan grade every week....so who begrudges a few dollars of administration costs? You pay for marriage certificates and other events of importance, so that they are recorded and officiated....so why not dan testings. I don't consider that 'paying for the rank'.

Testing in aikido is one of the most important things (IMO) that you can do...for yourself, for your instructor, for your fellow aikidoka. For yourself because you can measure where you are, and how you perform under pressure. It gives you a goal for improvement.

For your instructor because he/she can see where you are and where you need to improve (and where they may need to improve their instruction). You are a reflection of your teacher.

For your fellow aikidoka, because every single one of them work and help you every day that you are on the mat. Those that are a lesser rank than you want to see you and see someone to aspire to...and those at a higher rank than you want to see you be successful, as they are also your instructors....

Basically I didn't want to post in this thread, because I already have made my point, and didn't want to repeat it. Different people have different opinions and views, that's the way of life.
Anyway, you answered to my post, so I will answer you. I can understand your point, and I do know, that people become impressed by certificates, I am not. Over time, I met black belts, who just weren't worth the trouble, and kyu grades that really impressed me. Off the mat, it's even been worse. I spent enough time at university and dabbling in politics, to realize that ranks and grades are only I very rough measurement of a persons competence.
As for the administration fee, yes at some point, that has to be paid for, I just prefer that to be included in the annual fee, at least I have to pay anyway. So the argument here is not about if, but when to pay, and therefore I minor detail.
And yes, testing is a way to measure ones perfomance. But as a matter of fact, I don't think my instructor probably didn't see much of my gradings anyway. Our gradings are only done on seminars, and usually he has been busy, grading other kyu grades.
I also agree, that people like to look up to the higher ranks, especially in the beginning. I would even go as far, as to say, if your actual grade is much lower than your ability, it might even intimidate the lesser ranks, and make them fear grading. But as a matter of fact, most of the time I have been practicing Aikido, I would have been hard pressed, to even find a couple of extra Euros to spent on a grading, so honestly, I would probably rather hold a 5th or 4th Kyu instead of 2nd for financial reasons only.
And finally, yes we are, at some point, a reflection of our teacher. But we would be poor students, if we were contented with that. I am different from my teacher, as I am different from anybody else. At some point my Aikido has to account for that, and reach beyond being just a reflection.
As for achieving black belt, yes it is something special, but not for what it cost you, but for what it took you in terms of hard work. Within our organisation shodan tests are only done on major seminars, and it is the recognition that stems from this, that is far more important to me, than a piece of paper.
The biggest change I have seen in the Aikido of new shodans was, that they stopped focussing on the next grading, and started to focus on the small details, that improved their Aikido. The really good ones reached that point at 1st.

But in the end, different people, different point of views. So Rockys point is perfectely ok, it is just not mine. There's enough room in this world for both ways.

Rocky Izumi
07-07-2006, 01:55 PM
Hi Michael,

I am sorry but I guess I wasn't really responding to your point directly so I guess I should do so here.

The grading fees I charge pay for:
1. My travel, hotel, and food bills (they don't even go to cover 1/10th of the cost).
2. The time I take off from work where I am losing US$1000 per day as a consultant (they don't even go to cover 1/500th of the cost).
3. The cost of belts that I hand out for passing the grading (they do cover this cost but it takes up about 1/4 of the fees paid).
4. The cost of certificates that I hand out for passing the grading (they do cover this cost but it takes up about 1/4 of the fees paid).
5. The cost of the administrative fees for recording application for grading, the grading, and results (they do cover this cost but it takes up about 1/4 of the fees paid).
6. The cost of the administrative fees from the association/federation (they do cover this cost but it takes up about 1/2 of the fees paid).
7. The subsidization of my insurance costs for teaching Aikido (one testing fee covers 1/2000th of the cost of my liability insurance).

When you look at the costs involved, they are all used up before payment of my time or my personal expenses. For that reasons, I try and do the testings whenever and wherever I do a seminar and a large part of my travel fees, hotels, and food bills are paid. Most dojos can't afford both the air fare and hotel so I stay at the home of a student or a student's relative. In the end, I think it costs me about US$200 every time I test about 5 students. And I pay it gladly since it is my responsibility to those students. I also try and schedule the seminars during business trips to their locations and my company pays for the air fare and hotel bills. But, then, since I am the major shareholder of the private company, it still comes out of my pocket in company profits.

I tried not charging for tests once and I got people applying for tests who wasted my time and that of their partners and fellow students. The chief instructors of the dojos often didn't take the time to pre-test their students to ensure that they would pass. They left it all up to me. As an aside here, in testing the students, I am as much reviewing the performance of the dojo's chief instructor as I am the ability of the students. The testing fee is as much a deterent to people who just want to test and are not ready as for payment of expenses. At 60 minutes per test and comments/review for two pair, the test fees come out to US$40-80/hour for me. I can't watch more than two pair at a time carefully enough to see if they are able to show me what they really know. I usually only do about 6 tests at any one grading. I can't sit in seiza for more than an hour at a time.

Just thought you might want to know where those testing fees went to and what they paid for. No, they don't cover my costs at US$20 per test. I could charge more, but then the students couldn't afford to pay it. US$20 is Bbds$40, EC$54.50 and JMD$1,280. Those are substantial amounts down here in the Caribbean. They can't afford any more. I know, based on the response that I have gotten on this thread that I am not the only one who is subsidizing the cost of people taking their tests. They may charge more in other locations but, then, their costs are higher too.

You could answer then, that I should be happy that people don't want to take tests. That is not true. Tests for me are demonstrations of whether people have understood what I am trying to show them. The people who are testing should be able to show me that they have understood which principles each technique is supposed to demonstrate. It allows me to understand whether I need to explain more or whether I need to change the way I am teaching or whether I am doing okay. The tests also allow me to evaluate their chief instructor to see if they are teaching correctly and well. Just having the students do the technique so that they can take a person down is insufficient. That is not the purpose of the test, kihon waza, or of training in Aikido. Yes, I have failed people who seemed to be able to do a technique their own way but did not demonstrate an understanding of the principles which they were supposed to be demonstrating with the specific techniques. And, yes, I did explain to them afterwards why I failed them. But, for some reason, a lot of people say yes, they understand but never show that understanding the next time I do their examination.

Hope that makes some sense in why I charge testing fees and where the money goes. And, I hope it provides some understanding of only a couple reasons why I find testing important. There are other reasons but these days, I find that these two reasons are the most important to me.

Rock

Michael Meister
07-08-2006, 12:07 PM
Point taken. As I said, there's no right or wrong, just different ways. Still I personally would not be comfortable with it, an I need not be. It's differently organized within my affiliation, and that's the way that suits me personally better. Each system has its strengths and weaknesses, it up to us to find one, that suits our needs best. You have done that, and I am quite sure, that you are well aware of the strengths and the limits of the way you are doing it. In my eyes, that's what is important in the end.
Tests have their place, in Aikido as well as in life. But again, different people will focus on slightly different aspects. Again, each approach has its strengths and its weaknesses.
There's a saying in life sciences: "you can only find, what you are looking for". Just make sure, you are looking for what you want in Aikido, and accept when others are looking for something different.
So if you can live with me preferring a different way, and probably not becoming a member of your organisation, I for one can perfectly live with the fact. And if we ever meet on one or another mat, I will be happy to practice Aikido with you.
BTW: yes 20 US$ can be a lot of money, even here in Germany. Within the last 10 years 20-30 Euro were about as much, as I could spent per week, including food, clothing and saving money for Aikido seminars. Maybe that explains a bit, why I am not comfortable with grading fees.

Rocky Izumi
07-12-2006, 09:30 AM
Just out of curiousity Michael, how do the costs of the certificates, belts, administration, hombu registration and tester's expenses all get paid in your system? If you have a viable option for us, we would gladly take it. As it is, our system doesn't cover my costs so I would be happy to change the system.

Our system is unique to the Caribbean due to the situation here. But it doesn't have to be this way if there is a better way. I am looking for any viable alternatives.

Rock

Lyle Bogin
07-12-2006, 09:39 AM
SBK's testing fees increase as you go along...starting at around $30. The requested donation for shodan is $150. Most of the fees I see here are pretty cheap relative to more popular martial arts. My friend who practices Tae Kwon Do paid $650 for his nidan from the ITF.

If anything, most folks at our dojo pay more than the requested donation, as we are mutually supporting our relatively small organization.

Michael Meister
07-13-2006, 06:14 AM
Just out of curiousity Michael, how do the costs of the certificates, belts, administration, hombu registration and tester's expenses all get paid in your system? If you have a viable option for us, we would gladly take it. As it is, our system doesn't cover my costs so I would be happy to change the system.

Our system is unique to the Caribbean due to the situation here. But it doesn't have to be this way if there is a better way. I am looking for any viable alternatives.

Rock

I a not really familiar with the inside workings of the organisation. I pay my monthly fees for the club (Thats' been 54 Euro/ 3 months. I'm moving to England, it will be a bit more over there) , and a yearly fee (25-30 Euro) for the organisation. What the fees for the seminars cover, I do not know exactly, but it sure covers flight (England-Germany) and accomodation of Sensai. The cost for seminars are usually from 5-20 Euro per unit (1 1/2- 2 hours), cheaper for students and unemployed, dan-seminars are usually more expensive than general units.
As far as I know, the organisation is fairly independent, I don't think our dan-grades are registered with Hombu. I can see, how that probably makes things cheaper. D.A.N./UKAU is bound to Aikido in the tradition of Master A. Nocquet (Dynamic Aikido Nocquet).
Shodans do get the black belt presented, the kyu grades either buy their belts, borrow them from the club, or the belts get just passed down. Many of the higher dan-grades do have a grading permission, though the entries in the passport need to be verified by John Emerson Sensai, who is technical director of the organisation.
My personal impression is, that the costs (which probably are lower than yours, anyway), are more distributed over the various fees (e.g. with time you're graded less often, but still pay the same yearly fees). There might be other regulations, I am not aware of... but basically, that's how it seems to me how it is working.

Michael Meister
07-13-2006, 07:16 AM
Just out of curiousity Michael, how do the costs of the certificates, belts, administration, hombu registration and tester's expenses all get paid in your system? If you have a viable option for us, we would gladly take it. As it is, our system doesn't cover my costs so I would be happy to change the system.

Our system is unique to the Caribbean due to the situation here. But it doesn't have to be this way if there is a better way. I am looking for any viable alternatives.

Rock

I a not really familiar with the inside workings of the organisation. I pay my monthly fees for the club (Thats' been 54 Euro/ 3 months. I'm moving to England, it will be a bit more over there) , and a yearly fee (25-30 Euro) for the organisation. What the fees for the seminars cover, I do not know exactly, but it sure covers flight (England-Germany) and accomodation of Sensai. The cost for seminars are usually from 5-20 Euro per unit (1 1/2- 2 hours), cheaper for students and unemployed, dan-seminars are usually more expensive than general units.
As far as I know, the organisation is fairly independent, I don't think our dan-grades are registered with Hombu. I can see, how that probably makes things cheaper. D.A.N./UKAU is bound to Aikido in the tradition of Master A. Nocquet (Dynamic Aikido Nocquet).
Shodans do get the black belt presented, the kyu grades either buy their belts, borrow them from the club, or the belts get just passed down. Many of the higher dan-grades do have a grading permission, though the entries in the passport need to be verified by John Emerson Sensai, who is technical director of the organisation.
My personal impression is, that the costs (which probably are lower than yours, anyway), are more distributed over the various fees (e.g. with time you're graded less often, but still pay the same yearly fees). There might be other regulations, I am not aware of... but basically, that's how it seems to me how it is working.

Rocky Izumi
07-17-2006, 08:01 AM
I a not really familiar with the inside workings of the organisation. I pay my monthly fees for the club (Thats' been 54 Euro/ 3 months. I'm moving to England, it will be a bit more over there) , and a yearly fee (25-30 Euro) for the organisation. What the fees for the seminars cover, I do not know exactly, but it sure covers flight (England-Germany) and accomodation of Sensai. The cost for seminars are usually from 5-20 Euro per unit (1 1/2- 2 hours), cheaper for students and unemployed, dan-seminars are usually more expensive than general units.

Thanks Michael. That is very much appreciated. It appears that your monthly fees, annual fees, and seminar fees probably cover the costs I mentioned. Up till this month, our monthly fees were Bbds$30 or Euro $12.14 (US$15). We had to raise the monthly fees to Bbds$50 or Euro $20.23 (US$25) to cover our rent which comes to Euro $161.81 (US$200). If people don't come for a full month, they don't pay their monthly fees so we often only collected about Euro $150 per month. Annual fees are still Eur $20.23 (US$25). Three day/20 hour seminars were Euro $40.45 (US$50) for normal seminars and Euro $80.90 (US$100) for ones with Kawahara Sensei. So we are paying about Euro $4.00 per hour for seminars with Kawahara Sensei and half that for normal seminars. Those seminars with Kawahara Sensei we run at a deficit since his plane fare and hotel cost us about Euro $2500-$3000 and we only gross about Euro $2000 from fees. What extra money we got from our main dojo went to support the start-up dojo in the other countries who do not contribute to the Caribbean Federation. The only fees we collect from the other dojos comes from the testing fees.

It would be difficult and costly from dojos on the other islands to collect fees and transfer money to the Caribbean Federation from their monthly and annual fees due to exchange controls so we operate on a cash only basis so it seems collecting funds from testing fees seems to be the best answer so far. The other dojos can't afford to pay seminar fees to cover instructor expenses so they just buy a plane ticket for the instructor in their own country, then get the instructor to stay at someone's home instead of at a hotel unless I can arrange for my company to subsidise my expenses in teaching a seminar.

I am still looking for some way to improve our financial procedures and fees so I would welcome any advice or suggestion. The only thing I cannot really do is to raise the fees any higher since it is already becoming burdensome for the members. A number of our students spend over a month's salary to attend Aikido Summer Camp in Canada or the US. I really can't ask them to do more than that.

Rock

mriehle
07-17-2006, 11:47 AM
I realized another perspective on this over the weekend. I had a student receive her shodan. Of course I charged her a fee for the shodan, but my teacher provided the certificate (the reasons for this are a bit convoluted and not relevant to my point), so he gets part of the fee.

It seemed obvious to me, until it occured to me to wonder why.

Because he signs the thing. His signature says he vouches for her having earned the shodan. What is his endorsement worth? More than mine.

She pays me for the teaching, the recommendation that she get her shodan, my endorsment, my relationship with my teacher. She pays him for that signature.

And, honestly, it's worth it.

Because by vouching for each of his students he puts his own reputation on the line each time.

Rocky Izumi
07-17-2006, 12:32 PM
Wow, Yeah.

I know that if my students go up to summer camp and they do not perform at the level they should, I'm the one that pays the Shihan on the mats. I'm the one that gets to take Ukemi until I can't stand and take all the really hard ones. That's why I won't pass anyone who doesn't perform way above the level that is just acceptable.

But then, I also pay if I am being too hard in the gradings when subbing for my Shihan at some testing. I have a keep a good balance and know what he wants, I guess.

So in some ways, the students pay for me to take their punishment if they screw up. :crazy:

I remember the trepidation with which I would always get up when Tohei Akira Sensei would ask during some student's testing: "Who your instructor?"

Now, I would have to stand if Kawahara Yukio Sensei asked: "Who tested you for your last rank?" I think that public humiliation would be worse than any pounding I take from him. :disgust:

But money is a poor substitute for honour and reputation.

Rock

BC
07-17-2006, 01:11 PM
I remember the trepidation with which I would always get up when Tohei Akira Sensei would ask during some student's testing: "Who your instructor?"

Yep, that was never a good sign! ;)

mriehle
07-17-2006, 02:03 PM
But money is a poor substitute for honour and reputation.


Which is a perspective that people who are complaining about promotion fees should consider. Looked at it like that, I should be charging several times what I currently do.

I'm not gonna...

mriehle
07-17-2006, 02:05 PM
Oh, and if I should be charging several times what I do, what should my teacher be charging? Or his teacher, etc?

Tony Hudspith
09-05-2006, 04:17 PM
Absolutely not, I'm going to take the traditional aikido way of harmony and wear you down with incessantly lengthy posts until you agree with me! :p

Oh for God's sake Michael agree with him because I hate loooooong drawn out posts that go on for ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever.
Also if you don't I'll use you as uke on Thursday until you agree with Ian!!!
Ian you owe me one mate ;)
Tony