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Old 11-23-2005, 05:32 PM   #6
George S. Ledyard
George S. Ledyard's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Succession Planning

Hi Rocky,
I have expereinced inheriting a dojo from someone else msyelf. Mary Heiny Sensei asked me to take over the Seattle School of Aikido when she left to go to Canada after ten years in Seattle running the school she had founded.

My feeling about this is: if there isn't someone senior enough to run the place. tell everybody to find a new place to train with someone qualified. If there is a person who is ready to start teaching, then give them the dojo, publicly, in front of the students with some sort of investiture ceremony to make it feel official to the other students. If there are several contenders, pick one and tell the others to go start their own places.

I inherited a dojo with many seniors who weren't my students and weren't going to be. This was an impossible situation to attempt to be a leader. After three years I left to start my own place and the student who wanted to train with me went with me. Every one of Mary Sensei's students took a turn and then arrived at the same conclusion. Every one of them left and started her own place. This process took a huge amount of emotional investment, relationships went through very tough times, people quit, etc.

If the dojo had been given completely to any one of us and the others given the instruction to go forth and multiply the school would still be vital today. Instead, the school that turned out half of the teachers in the Seattle area now has virtually no one training with of any great consequence. It is a club run by committee and there is very little happening there. This too bad because it is an historic dojo. There are six dojos run by instructors who trained at that school at some point.

There are other instances of this type of thing I have seen and things wnet much the same way. Make the succession clear, tell the other folks to put up or shut up and then walk away knowing that even if many people leave, the school will probably survive and there will be some real direction provided by a leader not lowest common denominator Aikido run by committee.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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