Re: Starting Up a Dojo
Shaun and Lynn make some excellent points.
On the personal side I think the advice I got from my teacher has served me well - it was: "No matter what you may feel when you think your students aren't getting it, don't give up - keep trying harder."
Aside from teaching, I have stretched this advice to include a constant working toward the dojo's growth and security - as any business person would do for their own business. I often think of those famous business stories (e.g. How many times Colonel Sanders was turned down before someone tried his fried chicken recipe - something like in the thousands of times) that centered around tireless and unceasing effort whenever I think I'm gliding and/or not moving forward with things.
Another thing from my experience that one might at one time or another find useful is this: We had one reversal in our program - it came about one year into our formation as a dojo (from a club). I found that we did too much catering to the "needs" of the newbies and as a result we actually hindered their growth since less was being asked of them (by themselves) in order to train and progress in the art. Perhaps feeling a little guilty, and maybe even a little unsure at that early stage, for example, I was concerned over new folks getting hurt in our style of Aikido practice. As a result we were way too pampering early on - thinking as ukemi skills, etc., would advance, we would kick it up a notch, and so on and so on, until we reached the level that we like to train at.
What was happening however was that folks were getting a misrepresentation of our dojo. This made two things happen: folks that wanted to be members could not really relate to the dojo properly since we were presenting something that we eventually wanted not to do; and folks that quit during that stage couldn't represent our dojo accurately to other potential members. As a result, one day I decided that I would find other ways of addressing the needs of new folks - ways more in synch with our style of training; and I decided that anyone that would quit early on would pass on the word that our dojo was extremely "intense" "serious" "hardcore" "rough" etc. - this in turn lent itself to folks more attune to our style of training seeking our dojo out (meaning, we were able to select members from a group of people that were already seeking something we were trying to be).
In short, find your dojo in your heart and then use your creativity and imagination, your mind and your body, to make sure you manifest it - let everything else fall in place from there (even if that means you have to reverse things, delay things, and/or reject things).
Last edited by senshincenter : 05-09-2005 at 11:18 PM.