Shouri (Steve) wrote:
I agree that it is hard to say that someone should not make a living at teaching Aikido if they can. Why shouldn't you make a living doing something that you love?
However, I did select "No" to the poll. The reason is the same reason that sensei gave me as to why he does not like to go behind the business counter at the dojo. The dojo's sensei should not handle the money. It takes away from the spirit of the dojo.
In my opinion, if someone makes a living doing something else, but teaches Aikido just for the love of teaching it, then that is a better situation. The dojo is then a place where you learn the spirit of Aikido, and not the business of Aikido.
So, I believe that a dojo should make enough money to pay for itself, but not much more. Certainly not enough to support one or more sensei.
Of course, my perfect scenario would be a dojo-temple that is completely self-sufficient (like a Shaolin Temple) where all of the students are uchi deshi and they learn more than just Aikido (like horticulture, architecture, medicine, the sciences, etc). But, this wonderful concept has long since lost its viability in today's world.
This posting points out precisely why there need to be people who support themselves through their dojos in the West. You stated that the ideal was the Shaolin monsatery type of environment. Well guess what? That certainly was a professional arrangement. The monastery was supported by tax exemption and donations from the rich and famous (plus what the poor folks could kick in). That type of arrangement doesn't exist here in the West.
For a teacher to devote himself to training more than what is allowed when you have to have a different primary means of support you need to combine your living with your practice. All of the Japanese Senseis that trained as uchi-deshi under O-sensei were given just this kind of training. They attended classes and were supported by the hombu dojo. In return they did all the work on the dojo, took care of O-Sensei and instructed at the various sartellite clubs that had asked for Hombu to send them an instructor. Those guys would have been on the mat 6 - 8 hours day either training or teaching. That's why they are so good. Unless you want to accept that only Japnese people can attain that high level you have to accept that here in the West the model for supportin the Sensei is different. People always act like you aren't being spiritual enough if you aren't starving. (Usually they happen to have decent jobs but like the idea of the teacher being broke as some sort of insurance that they aren't getting ripped off in a commercial sense.) Aikido folks especially seem to take pride in having their dojos not be run very well from a business standpoint. Well I can tell you that if you look at the most successful Aikido dojos around the amount of money being made for the time being put in is nothing compared to jsut about any other occupation you could pick. So unless the ASU decides to support my family and my students feel that they should make substantial donations to my well being on a regular basis I think that the dojo will continue to be the foundation of my ability to devote myself to my training more than I ever could before when I had a demanding job that sucked my ebergy away from my practice. I know that my students would get only a fraction of the exposure to new ideas and techniques if I weren't able to put the time in that I do.
Just remember that even illustrious teachers like Takeda Sensei charged directly for the teachings they gave.