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Michael Karmon 11-20-2003 01:47 AM

How much does Aikido cost?
 
This is a spin-off 'Does Rank Really Matter?' thread. The opinions regarding the significance of ranks varied but a new and interesting issue arose. For some of us Aikido is a very expensive habit. Sometimes up to "Rank or Rent"

So, how much does your Aikido cost in terms of work days or percentage of the average local salary?
How much should it cost?
Should ranking cost? How much?
Does it interfer with training?
Would you leave a good dojo due to overpricing?

In our Dojo we have classes 6 days a week, usually two classes a day. You pay 40$/month for an 'all you can train' pass. 40$ are about 2.5% of the average salary in Israel.
A quality Gi costs about 3.5% of the average salary. A Hakama can cost up to 15% of a salary.
Seminars cost 40$-60$ for a full day (2.5%- 3.5% of average salary)
Kyu tests are free of charge but Dan tests (given by flown-in Shihans) can cost up to 650$- more then a third of a salary.

Greg Jennings 11-20-2003 08:52 AM

Tuition: US$0 for 4 classes per week.

Association Fees: $0

Miscellanious Fees: $0

Association Fee: $35 per year for the whole dojo plus our associate dojo in Tupelo; I pay it out of my pocket.

Judogi: We get unbleached, single weave versions in bulk from Kiyota for $27-30 depending on size. I've never had one wear out.

Hakama: I think we got the last ones were like $50. I have a very nice Iwata that my instructor gave me; I think it was on special for $140.

Kyu Tests: $0.

Dan Tests: Whatever the Aikikai charges. $0 markup. It is also tradition that we give hakama and black belt to new yudansha.

Seminars: We just hosted a seminar with Hans Goto Sensei 6th dan, 4 two-hour sessions Friday evening through Sunday morning at $80 including seminar T-shirt. I didn't publish it, but last year, I gave cut-rate prices to high school and college students that are having trouble coming up with the tuition.

So, basically, aikido is really inexpensive here. As I indicated in the other thread, though, people have different opinions about "professional instructors".

Just my opinion, but if someone insists on a really spiffy dojo in a convenient location with lots of class times all taught by (a)highly-experienced, well-prepared instructor(s), they should be prepared to pay accordingly.

I got a charge out of a conversation with a prospective student that, after I explained our situation, asked me if we had private lessons with baby sitting.

TTFN,

fvhale 11-20-2003 09:34 AM

Perhaps I understand your question, but I just can't answer it. Every dollar that I have ever handed over to a dojo or sensei has been, in my heart, a gift. Every dollar I receive as salary, or other income, I also view as a gift. I'm not trying to play word games. I have lived a monastic life for a long time, and trained in martial arts for a long time. What I receive is gift. What I pass to others is gift. I have had good discussions on this topic with other monastic artists. A book that we recommend on this topic is: "The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies" by Marcel Mauss (1872-1950). Original French title "Esasi sur le don." A recent English edition is available in paperback from Amazon, for $11.16.

It is easy enough to tally up dojo fees, equipment costs, testing fees, etc. But then how do you estimate the cost of your practice time outside the dojo? Or your mental practice or reading/study? Or your spiritual practice? How do you count the cost of time spent "outside of class" in the dojo doing things like sweeping and cleaning, or helping sensei with equipment, or changing lightbulbs, or helping with the dojo computer? What about time spent with other aikido folk? What about time spent just pondering the beauty of aikido, the ideas of peace and harmony and nonviolence? The cost of aikido to me is my life, my breath, my time, my energy, sometimes even my wounds. I can't put that into dollars.

Sorry, for me it is all gift!

Peace to you,

Frank

Sharon Seymour 11-20-2003 10:20 AM

I also feel that my Aikido payments are gifts to ensure that anyone who is interested in the art has a place to train.

Our dojo philosophy (and that of many others) is: The instruction is free; you can't buy Aikido lessons. Our instructors are volunteers (for 5 years, when we moved to an independent space, instructors paid dues!). Class fees cover the costs of having a space. We do not turn anyone away for lack of ability to pay the full fee - everyone has the option of naming what they can afford. We make used uniforms available, and should the need arise, I sew my own hakama and would be glad to help another student make one - cost is about $20.

Aikido is priceless. I am honored to be able to support it.

Kevin Masters 11-20-2003 11:24 AM

Monthly Dues: $62

Dogi: $40

Bandaids, ace bandages, Ibuprofin, gas, etc: $20

Learning my favorite Martial art and getting to fly through the air: Priceless!

With apologies to MasterCard and anybody who is tired of that ad campaign and it's subsequent parodies.

:D

fvhale 11-20-2003 12:04 PM

Ryokan (1758-1831), Three Poems on My Begging Bowl

Picking violets

by the roadside

I've forgotten and left

my begging bowl --

that begging bowl of mine

I've forgotten

My begging bowl

But no one would steal it --

How sad for my begging bowl

In my begging bowl

Violets and dandelions

Jumbled together --

I offer them to the

Buddhas of the Three Worlds

---

I bring my violets and dandelions

to the dojo and spread them around.

I hold up one flower;

Sensei and I smile together.

Like others have mentioned, I have never known a Sensei to turn away a student with a good heart and an empty "begging bowl."

Peace,

Frank

Thalib 11-20-2003 12:52 PM

In my dojo there's a system when one becomes a shodan, one stop paying fees. In return, we help our sensei in teaching classes, running the dojo, etc.

When I wasn't a black belt, I was paying like U$3/month (yes, there are no missing zeros). This was to help the dojo to pay for its location and my sensei transportation costs. And we are allowed to go dojo hopping within the foundation where our dojo affiliated to, no extra fees/costs.

Teaching classes is not an obligation but it is an honor, at least for me that is. I may not be able to help the dojo financially, but I gladly contribute anything I can. This is my way of saying thanks to my sensei.

There is a shortage of yudansha here in Indonesia, I sometimes even teach in dojos that is not under my sensei. This is my way of saying thanks to the foundation for bringing Aikido into Indonesia. I also help the foundation in any way I can, especially during special events and kyu gradings.

The knowledge I got could never be measured in cash.

Chris Li 11-20-2003 01:29 PM

Quote:

Frank Hale (fvhale) wrote:
Like others have mentioned, I have never known a Sensei to turn away a student with a good heart and an empty "begging bowl."

Sokaku Takeda.

FWIW, my hunch is that it would also be pretty hard to train at Aikikai hombu without forking over the various fees...

Best,

Chris

kung fu hamster 11-20-2003 01:44 PM

Chris,

you crack me up.

Sincerely,

Linda

:p

Michael Karmon 11-23-2003 02:38 AM

Quote:

Greg Jennings wrote:
Dan Tests: Whatever the Aikikai charges. $0 markup. It is also tradition that we give hakama and black belt to new yudansha.

When one becomes a Yudansha it is traditional he/she does not buy their first Blackbelt and Hakama but are handed down a used one from a senior Yudansha very often as a token of appreciation and friendship

Michael Karmon 11-23-2003 03:18 AM

Quote:

Frank Hale (fvhale) wrote:
I have lived a monastic life for a long time, and trained in martial arts for a long time. ...

It is easy enough to tally up dojo fees, equipment costs, testing fees, etc. But then how do you estimate the cost of your practice time outside the dojo? Or your mental practice or reading/study? Or your spiritual practice? ...

Frank

Frank Sensei, You lead a monastic life and need virtually no money. What happens to some one who wants to devote his life to the arts but does need to make some money?

He starts charging fees that go into his own pocket for his own livelihood but then he is in a dilemma because he has to maintain enough students to keep his bills paid. So he makes compromises and starts giving the cool flashy stuff rather the (sometimes)boring, repetitive hard work that is an integral part of the art. The Sensei will make compromises in who and why he is promoting because he has a financial interest in it. He breaks down the art into "Weapons", "Advanced techniques class", "pre-grading extra's" etc. All for a fee. Sometimes he will bad-mouth other arts or senseis so to keep his students from leaving.

The previous paragraph was written from experience. I have learned from a (non-Aikido) "The arts are my life" Sensei. I was very much taken by the romance of such a life and considered it the only option for me. Today I am older and more cynical and I am very happy my Sensei's are not dependent on the art for their livelihood (no disrespect intended)

fvhale 11-23-2003 05:30 PM

Dear Michael,

I have studied aikido and other martial arts in a variety of settings and with a variety of sensei. Some sensei lead a simple life and have almost no overhead; other sensei have a wife and kids to support, dojo rent to pay, etc. I treat them all the same, with a heart of humble gratitude. It really is not my business to tell them how to run their business, especially if their teaching is how they support their family.

But the original question was "How much does aikido cost?" I said I can't answer. There are similar questions that I can't answer, such as "How much does education cost?" "How much does family life cost?" "How much does living cost?" These questions may be good subjects for economics dissertations, complete with numerical models, but at another level they make as much sense as asking, "How much does the sunrise cost?" or "How much does the moon cost?" Some things just are; some "transactions" in life, like watching a sunset, are beyond the reach of economics.

If a martial artist feels he needs to sell various cool flashy stuff, even things like team clothing or after-school martial arts kindergarten, in order to care for his family, pay his rent or otherwise "keep the lights on" for training his advanced students, I don't see any problem. Even fine painters will paint portaits to pay the rent; fine musicians will play on corners to make some extra money (violin strings are not free). Many artists do commission work to pay the bills, including much of our fine "classical music" of the West and much art in museums. This commerical "compromise" does not diminish their art. Neither does the participation of a fine martial artist in various "retail" activities decrease my respect for them. The mere fact that I cannot afford the beautiful paintings of my artist friends does not in any way diminish my relationship with or my respect for them.

In any case, I'm glad you're happy with your present arrangments. Also, please don't call me Sensei on AikiWeb--I'm not a teacher of martial arts, only a student. But if we met on a Chinese street, you may call me Xian-Sheng; in that context it means nothing more that "Mister."

Peace to you,

Frank

BKimpel 11-23-2003 07:22 PM

I just did some rough calculations on how much it would cost to make it to shodan in three different dojos I have trained in. Using the required hours to test schemes (anywhere from 600-900 hrs), and adding in testing fees (nominal fees really, like $30-$35 per test, shodan is in the hundreds usually), annual Aikikai dues, etc. and it comes out to approx. $5000.00 in 5-6 years.

Now that IS a lot for a hobbie, but it's NOT a lot for an educational course of any kind. You pay much more than that per year of University. I paid $10,000 grand for my cheesy technical diploma (Computer Programming) course, which only lasted 10 months.

Even if sensei had 30 regular students that paid all dues per year, that is only like $27,000 per year (I think that is the poverty level here in Calgary).

I still don't like having rank tied to money, but I think I'll shut up now as far as the amount is concerned. With that kind of income our sensei's still HAVE to have another job!

Paul Sanderson-Cimino 11-23-2003 08:30 PM

We may have discussed this topic before.

I pay $40 for a term (About 2.5 months) here at Carleton. I don't remember how much I pay back home.

There's also a $30 annual fee. (Organizational)

Kyu tests are on an ascending price scale. Not that expensive; my most recent test (5th kyu of 9) was $25.

(Kyu tests are also organizational expenses.)

In terms of the more philosophical assessment, Aikido is definitely an expense. It's something I make room for in my budget. Some of my friends buy lots of anime, or have some other expensive habit. It's a choice in that regard. I think it's money well-spent, to help support the organization and dojo that enable me to study aikido in this way.

And like, I imagine, nearly all dojos (as those which have been mentioned above), we don't turn anyone away for lack of money.

A 'clinic' weekend (like a 'seminar' or what-have-you) can run about $150 if you do everything; typically 4 hour or so intensive clinics and a regular class or two while we're there.

Paul Sanderson-Cimino 11-23-2003 08:46 PM

Oh, this does remind me...hee.

A few weeks ago, at a demonstration and party celebrating Kushida-sensei's 30th year in the United States, there was a lovely commemorative video...rather humorous. At the end, it had another MasterCard parody:

Red Oak Bokken: $15

Dogi: $50

Training with Kushida-Sensei: Priceless

Paul Klembeck 11-24-2003 12:02 AM

If your ukemi is bad, the cost is a wrist, elbow, arm, leg, shoulder or back.

:-)

Paul

Michael Karmon 11-24-2003 01:00 AM

Quote:

Frank Hale (fvhale) wrote:
Dear Michael,

But the original question was "How much does aikido cost?" I said I can't answer. There are similar questions that I can't answer, such as "How much does education cost?" "How much does family life cost?" "How much does living cost?" These questions may be good subjects for economics dissertations, complete with numerical models, but at another level they make as much sense as asking, "How much does the sunrise cost?" or "How much does the moon cost?" Some things just are; some "transactions" in life, like watching a sunset, are beyond the reach of economics.

Frank

The big difference between "Cost" and "Worth". You can not put a price tag on the worth of Aikido.
Quote:

Frank Hale (fvhale) wrote:
If a martial artist feels he needs to sell various cool flashy stuff, even things like team clothing or after-school martial arts kindergarten, in order to care for his family, pay his rent or otherwise "keep the lights on" for training his advanced students, I don't see any problem. Even fine painters will paint portaits to pay the rent; fine musicians will play on corners to make some extra money (violin strings are not free).

Frank

You do have a good point there,Frank.

JJF 11-24-2003 02:40 AM

Hi

I pay around 0,8% of my monthly salary (before taxes) for a month of free practice in the dojo. A decent dogi is about 2 or 3 times that, and a hakama is usually 4 times the fee.

The average seminar would run at around the same as 2 or 3 gi's, depending on the length.

Kyu-gradings are free and I believe the dan-gradings are free as well except for the fee to the Aikikai.

I make a decent living compared to the average person in Denmark, but it's by no means a lot.

From beginner to shodan would be around: 4300 USD, provided it takes around 6 years, 2 do-gis, one hakama (from 3.kyu) and about 150 $ worth of seminars a year. On top of this there is of course the travel and eating expenxes during seminars, and the weapons one might buy (jo, bokken, tanto and iaito) plus the wast number of extra laundrying one have to do ;)

Dario Rosati 11-24-2003 07:58 AM

In Italy Aikido is quite inexpensive, and this increases its value even further.

Annual fee (10 month training, 3 hours/week + insurance): 360

Dogi: 30

Bokken: 10

Medical certificate: 15

Seminar: 10 to 30 for six hours

Kyu and Shodan Rank: same as seminar AFAIK + shodan fee (exams are done during "extended" seminars)

...and considering that my last video-card has a 480 price fee, I think it is extremely well spent money even if you don't care to take shodan or kyus, simply for the fun of it (friendship + training + physical health + general improvement + new knowledge of many related things and more and more).

There are many people here, indeed, who train only for the fun... 5-10 years trainees with near-shodan skills who stopped at 5 kyu simply because they don't care about ranking.... they openly say their life is elsewhere; Aikido is fun, training, and friendship... nothing more to them.

I wonder if this happens in other dojos, too.

Bye!

bluwing27 11-24-2003 11:58 AM

OK..here is a British Perspective...

Mothly fee - 20

We have about 25 clubs in the region so there is always at least 1 class a day on somewhere. For the monthly fee you can train at any club any time you like as often as you want (apart from wednesdays when you have to be shodan or above). It works out that you could theoretically train 8 times a week if youre REALLY dedicated! :confused:

Oh...and if you introduce a friend you get a months training free, bring 2 and you get 3 months free. Oh...and if you teach you dont pay at all :D

No annual fee.

Gradings - free, but you have to attend the seminar before the gradings take place which is 5 and lasts about 2.5 - 3 hours.

Dogi - about 25-30 but can be as much as 100 depending on what type you want.

Hakama - as cheap as 25 or as expensive as you like. I get mine from bujin.

Ummmm and thats about it apart from weekend courses which are about 30 each.

Oh and i think the national average wage is currently somewhere between 15 and 18 thousand pounds per year. Sorry havent got time to do the math percentage :D

Stay safe,

Chris


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