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Old 05-10-2005, 04:42 PM   #19
Charlie Huff
Dojo: Charlotte Aikikai
Location: Charlotte, NC
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 15
Re: Starting Up a Dojo

I went out on a limb and started a school about 4 years ago, which is still operating. I can't claim any particular wisdom on this matter, but here are a few points that I think have worked for us:

(1) Try to start out in a church, YMCA, community center, or some place like that. We started out in a church building with nominal rent. This has let us concentrate on developing the school without worrying about how to pay the bills each month.

(2) Be prepared for slow growth. There were nights when I'd unlock the doors and nobody would show up. Now, there's a core of about 15 people that I can count on. Be patient.

A good dojo is a community of people who find they have something in common and it takes time for all those crazy, wonderful people to find each other. A handful of dedicated people will start recruiting their friends and eventually gravity or magnetism or mutual craziness or some such force starts to take over.

(3) Don't get obsessed with recruiting new students. Our best recruiting tools have been: (a) our website, (b) a 40-word ad that we run every week in a local paper, and (c) word of mouth.

At one time, we had flyers out all over the city. The only person ever responded to one of those was a friend of who saw my name on the flyer and decided to see what the hell I was up to. I'm happy to do a demo for anyone who asks, but I've never seen anyone join the school because of a demo.

(4) Keep it fun. We train hard but still find plenty of reasons to laugh at each other. As Pogo said: "Don't take life serious - it ain't permanent nohow."

That's my 2 cents. Hope this helps somebody.

Last edited by Charlie Huff : 05-10-2005 at 04:45 PM.

We have met the enemy and he is us.
-- Pogo
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