Alternate thread to VOE on new dojos
Hi Mr. Linden;
This is in response to your starting a thread about there being no new start up dojo in the Florida market (for ASU at least).
I just wanted to let you know that start-ups are happening in our area (Michigan), but certainly not on any type of grand scale. I am in the process of starting a club (USAF) within a chiropractic clinic, of a very small scale. Neither insurance, nor the cost of the mats is the major issue in the start up. The biggest obsticle that I see so far will be to have brand new students without many, if any, experienced aikidoka other than the teacher. This is a daunting prospect, and will definately be a challenge. It seems from some of the conversations that I have been having with other folks, that there are a lot of really small scale operations happening in my area at least.
Hope this gives you some idea of the state of aikido in some of the other states.
Just to add, I recently moved to Jacksonville, a city of around 2 million people, and I was/am quite dismayed at the lack of Aikido here. There is one ASU dojo an hour and a half away in Gainesville, but it is a University club and non-students are not allowed in the building except for seminars! In Jax, there are three small clubs, one USAF, one Suenaka, and one Yoshinkai - none of them have more than 3 regular students with more than a couple years experience... bearing in mind that the 'experience' here is mostly garnered from training a couple of times per week with mostly beginners.
I used to live in Madison, WI - population of around 200,000 plus UW students, or one tenth the size of Jax. There were 2 USAF clubs there, one much bigger than any of them here, and one real ASU dojo with 2 5th dans, several other yudansha, and about 70 or 80 students.
I think the problem is largely Florida culture. Namely, where I live, there isn't any. I hear things are different in southern FL, but I can't drive 3 hours plus each way to train or catch shows on a regular basis.
Re: Alternate thread to VOE on new dojos
I started in a very small dojo (4 members) with no aikido experience other than about 3 years jujitsu and 12 months of karate and kung fu. Apart from sensei, there were no yundansha grades and the highest was I think a 5th or 4th Kyu.
We now have 20 to 30 people on the mat on a regular basis and a core contingent of 6 yundanshas. Most of the new memberships comes from word of mouth from existing members to their friends and some demonstrations. We regularly invite other clubs to train with us to build a mutual support network and to enhance the energy in the dojo.
Our dojo emphasises fun, safe and intense training. Its been a long road but a rewarding one for the dojo that I train at.
I just wanted to add my support to your endeavours and my best wishes for your future success. All the best.
Thank you for your encouragement! :) And thank you for sharing your experiences on the growth of the dojo that you train in. I am lucky to have a friend who will be joining me once a week, who is a shodan from the same organization. My home dojo is also only twenty minutes away, and I am hoping that I'll have visits from my fellows there as well to help us get the ball rolling. It is great to know that your group started out with only a handful of people without experience though, and that it has been a sucessful endevour.
Thank you again.
I started a dojo with only myself and a gaggle of raw beginners. The trick is not to run a class as if half the students are advanced. In the beginning introduce one or two new technique per class and work on ukemi and other drills. Don't forget to review techniques you have introduced. I developed a complicated cycle to keep me on track but that's just me.
By the way, run the class for you. You will, no matter what you do loose students and eventually gain. Trying to keep everyone perfectly happy (try a little bit) only leads to everyone being unhappy. Aikido by its very nature attracts people with strong convictions as to what it's all about.
Good luck and keep us informed.
Although we have a small group at LBI, there is always a beginner. So, even though we would rather work on more advanced combinations, the fundamentals are reviewed for most classes. The point of reviewing is not to just engage the interest of the beginner, but to open the eyes of the long term practitioner to the variety of variations that can be adapted to this base.
Hence, Sensei Griffin will stay with one theme, and from it we will build from it until we have the beginner taking some type of ukemi to introduce them to the real fun of Aikido.
Sometimes I miss introducing sticks into practice, but then again, look at how far some of your friends at Aikido have come from that first class of fumbling and falling into a heap? Kind of makes it all worth while when they take ukemi like a champ during seminars.
At least, I love it, when they finally start picking up details to question Aikido's mechanics!
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