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Anat Amitay 09-22-2004 02:47 AM

prices
 
Hello everybody,
I hope what I write will not sound offensive, but I really want to know what other people think and what happens in their home country.
We have quite alot of senseis visiting my country for seminars and I think it's great, since students can open up to all kinds of styles and see how very high ranking senseis work.
The problem is that some seminars of this kind are very very expensive, and it cuts down on the people who can actually come to the seminar (except for coming and watching from the side- but you all know that's not the same).
I thought that if some prices were lower, and more people came to the seminar, the total funding will be higher.
I know some of these senseis live off teaching and that's great, but don't they want to reach out to as many people as possible?
I talkied with some people in my dojo and some friends that train in other dojos and some think the same. Some of us are students (highschool or university) and don't have very much spare money. Also the economic situation is not that great, so I feel that even though there is the option of senseis coming here, some are quite literally "out of reach" (so close and yet so far?).
I'm not talking about going to all seminars as the cause of too much money need, but even one seminar that each class or day are very expensive.
just want to know what others think of this.
thanks in advace and enjoy training.

happysod 09-22-2004 05:14 AM

Re: prices
 
Many seminars are run on a business footing and are intended to keep the teacher in a reasonable lifestyle, so I can't see someone giving up what is in effect part of their salary in order to provide someone else with a cheap invite. Some people are in ma for their own edification, others are trying to make a living at it, hence the differing costs - which I agree can sometimes be inflated, but I've never been impressed by the argument that everyone should teach solely for the "love of the art". I like to have a sprinkling of true professionals available as well as the gifted hobbyist.

Couldn't your dojo instead set up some sort of joint fund so that everyone contributes so much a week/month and you have a rotating list of people who attend the more expensive seminars. The only people who would potentially lose out are those who drop out of training, so no real loss methinks?

George S. Ledyard 09-22-2004 11:02 AM

Re: prices
 
The average dues amount for martial arts training in the US is around $100 / month (could be a bit more as this is an older number). That would cover training twice a week. Aikido dojos tend to be on the lower end of the average because there are so few professional instructors and the dues tends to cover more frequent training if the student wishes.

The going rate for a weekend seminar with a shihan level instructor is in most places, around the same as one month's dues. The guest instructor would typically be paid between $1000 and $2000 for the weekend depending on who they were plus expenses which would include airfare, food, a nice gift, some recreation during the seminar off times, and possibly hotel (once again depending).

Most instructors rely on the seminars they host to provide them with at least enough money to cover he seminars they attend. For non-professional instructors this is the usual minimum expectation. In my own case, the amount I spend on my own training exceeds what I pull in from hosting guest instructors.

There are a few folks, those with independent means, who only need their events to break even. But for folks like myself, the income from holding a seminar is an important part of the overall budget. I usually depend on the events I hold (guest instructors and those I teach myself) to cover things like my Quarterly Taxes from the state and the Feds.

I realize that often there are folks out there who perceive themselves to be financially in need. They quite naturally think that their training should be made more accessible from a financial point of view. Often it is... There are dojos around with scholarship programs, student membership rates etc. But I would point out that, especially in the case of the teachers who are trying to make a go of it as professional instructors, they are often right there beside you in the low income brackets. Even the teachers who are at the very top level and are making a decent living, if you look at what they have to do to get there (ie. travel pratically every single weekend all over the country and even the world) you will realize that compared to what they would make doing any normal job they make far less and if you compute what they make on an hourly basis it's minimum wage levels.

So I would say, don't be too quick to say that folks should be providing more financial incentive for lesser means students to train. In most cases people are darn lucky to have so many dojos available to train at period. Dojos are a labor of love, not something that making anyone rich.

Larry Feldman 09-22-2004 11:14 AM

Re: prices
 
George is right, no one is gettting rich in this 'business'.

Explain your financial constraints, and student status to whomever is sponsoring the seminar, and pehaps they will 'work with you' on the price.

I always have.

Dario Rosati 09-22-2004 07:28 PM

Re: prices
 
Quote:

Anat Eliraz (Amitay) wrote:
just want to know what others think of this.

For what I've seen in my first year of aikido, aikido seminars and standard aikido practice here in Italy are relatively cheap, cheaper to what sensei Ledyard posted about the US.

Prices for seminars goes from as low as 10-20 euros/day to 90-130 euros/day, depending on who attends and how many attend as sensei(s), where is the seminar, how big is the place accomodating the seminar, how many practitioners are expected to show up, and many other things.
Only seminars by shihans (any style) can be rated as "expensive", but you can easily figure why.
Regular training may vary from 250 to 600/year (sept to june).

Some seminars are a real bargain even compared to regular training prices, if you consider the total hours/days of traing and the "concentration" of training in a seminar, in which you learn more and faster than in regular practice, IMHO.
For example, this summer I've attended an excellent 5 days (20 hours) seminar of a renowned V Dan sensei for 90, and a three days (18 hours) mixed MA seminar of two senseis (IV Dan Aikido one, V Dan KSR the other), for only 100, food and sleep (in a wonderful Zen monastery) included.

I think you should be more specific and provide some examples, because the variables involved in deciding a seminar price are quite a lot... not counting that "expensive" is a very relative concept based on personal incomes :)

Probably, "best bang for the buck" is aiming for local skilled senseis, or simply choosing wisely what you're looking for in a seminar... In my situation, as an aikido starter I don't feel (for now) the urge to spend 130/day in a seminar held by a VII+ dan, for a "diminishing returns" reason.... I'd rather pick 3 seminars by lower ranked masters.
I'll bet for skilled practitioners is the opposite, but the total spending should remain constant.

Bye!

George S. Ledyard 09-23-2004 07:47 AM

Re: prices
 
Quote:

Dario Rosati wrote:
In my situation, as an aikido starter I don't feel (for now) the urge to spend 130/day in a seminar held by a VII+ dan, for a "diminishing returns" reason.... I'd rather pick 3 seminars by lower ranked masters.
I'll bet for skilled practitioners is the opposite, but the total spending should remain constant.

Bye!

This is a good point. As one who is just beginning to to teach seminars around the US and Canada, I can say that this is one of the positive aspects of the highest ranked teachers charging more... Saotome Sensei raised his fees quite consciosly in order to push a bit of the demand to his senior students. Now, there are a good number of the Sixth Dans who are teaching around and the variety of experience is wonderful. Some fabulous seminars are being taught by these folks who are just "arriving" at the top levels so to speak.

When you attend a seminar by one of the "junior" seniors you get someone who is still excited about travelling and teaching, one who is just estblishing his reputation and will therefore be quite eager to do a really good job. As I mentioned in another thread, I have seen some seminars taught by very senior folks who appeared to just be going through the motions, very burnt out.

billybob 09-23-2004 08:25 AM

Re: prices
 
Ledyard-Sensei said:
Quote:

Even the teachers who are at the very top level and are making a decent living, if you look at what they have to do to get there (ie. travel pratically every single weekend all over the country and even the world) you will realize that compared to what they would make doing any normal job they make far less and if you compute what they make on an hourly basis it's minimum wage levels.
sounds very much like being an officer in the military. high risk/low pay, for god and country.

i work. the dues i pay will send my clubmembers who are university students on the 'aiki cruise'.
i don't mind.

billybob

kocakb 09-23-2004 09:55 AM

Re: prices
 
the seminars are organized by our federation, therefore they are free for participations...If the instructor comes from abroad than we are paying. My university organized a seminar and some people came from Japan and the costs were around 20-30 $ as I remember. I know only one person, who is earning his life by aikido (trains professional guards)...

Anat Amitay 09-23-2004 02:14 PM

Re: prices
 
Hi All,
Thank you all for your replies.
I understand that many senseis that live off Aikido actually do not earn very much compered with what they give (hours, weekends, away from home...).
I just thought that in some cases, when a seminar is intended to collect a certain amount of money, it would more easily be reached by lowering prices and getting more people to come than higher prices with less people.
Some seminars are for (example) only black belts, and that's fine- so they can get some close teachings without newbys. But since the highest ranking sensei here is 5th Dan, visiting sensei's are a sorce of new learning. Of course I can decide who I'd go train with and plan my year with what I can spend accordingly, but I can't lie that I would always be happy to attend as many seminars as I could, to learn more.
About having a group cashier- it's more of a problem. Aikido is still "young" here and groups can change and vary alot over the year. There is usually the basic group who are permanent trainers, and the others which some stay and some leave. So it's hard to supply for others because there are quite alot who also 'get by' (on their salary).
About a seminar being expensive or not- one should not only mention a price- it's greatly affected by the average income in that country (so a seminar may seem cheap but is average for the income of most people there).
I agree with all the different things you wrote in your comments, but as I said, I wanted to know what others thought of this subject. I don't want any sensei to become "cheap" in training and price, I just wonder if quantity will bring down the quality.
Good training,
Anat

billybob 09-24-2004 01:35 PM

Re: prices
 
Anat,

I hesitated on giving business 101 advice, not being as educated as some others. but i think you can use some basic business guidelines. i believe senseis should be compensated as well as possible, even if they are volunteers they deserve gifts from us.

think of a seminar as a business:
if you sell out - you charged too little.
if you don't have a good turnout - you charged too much OR you didn't advertise.
identify your market, and use past performance to determine how you should
set prices for the future. keep records. use free software online to analyze your data.

if i tell you what you already know i apologize. and i in no way suggest that aikido training be watered down to make it appeal to the masses. judo was more fun before that kind of mistake was made.

billybob


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