Charles Hill wrote:
I instituted a 10 time, twice a week introductory course for 3000 yen (a little less money than two tickets to a movie.) I make it clear that while I hope that everyone will continue to practice with us forever, I understand that not everyone will and that I will teach things that can really enrich one`s life even if they never do Aikido again.
When I explained my idea for the course to the local shihan, he wasn`t pleased,but made the comment that when the idea failed, the failure would be good for me. Someone asked me why I wanted to do the intro course and I answered that I wanted to make it easy to quit Aikido without the person feeling like they failed. The silence afterward was deafening so I didn`t go on to explain that I sure don`t want to practice with people who didn`t want to be there 100%.
It has become clear that through advertising problems and such that a beginners` course is not feasible, so I am now looking for ways for students to be able to start at any time while still retaining the feeling described above. Any ideas?
Well Charles, I think you can figure out my position on this. You got the right idea - one should have a dojo or should at least try to have a dojo with folks that want to train 100%. We don't like to kick folks out, or drive them away, but we try to train at a level where if one does not have a 100% desire to be there, the training will most likely backfire on them (e.g. injure them, make them bitter, make them more filled with fear, pride, and ignorance, etc.). For folks that can't must up the 100% desire, we either extend the trial period for them as they might require or request, or we ask them to try again later when they are more sure, or if they have prior training we extend "guest status" to them (where they basically can join in on any class with no commitment to the dojo). We do this because it is not doing anyone any good to expect 50% folks to train in a 100% environment.
A lot of folks are just fine with being surrounded by 50% desire-filled folks on the mat but such a mat will never be as fruitful as anyone would desire. Go figure. For them, it is absurd to try and make Aikido easy to quit - but I get your point just fine. I wonder how dismissive your higher-ups would have been if you just said the inverse, "Hey, aren't we limiting ourselves by surrounding ourselves with more folks that don't really want to be here - that don't really want to do the work - than do really want to be here - that really do want to do the work?"
In short, self-reliance and the institution will never mix, never get along. Self-reliance is the antithesis to the institution. History has proven this time and time again. The only way that I can see a delegate of the institution going for these kinds of ideas is if he/she is a rebel at heart and has some part of their heart that wonders every now and then how they ever got where they are now from where they used to be.