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Old 03-31-2006, 02:44 PM   #42
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Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,471
Re: Beginners Retention Rates

Hi Camilla,

I certainly wouldn't want to say that our dojo is for everyone -- it's just that I would say that everyone that comes to our dojo has a fighting chance at cultivating commitment. So, I can't ask, "What do you mean you couldn't fit in at our place?" This becomes an especially silly question when one has already decided that they can't fit before they try it. So there is not really much that I see I can respond to or with in regards to your reply. I can only respect it as your opinion.

I can point out some things, to make some things clearer. For example, your resistance to notifying the dojo of your absences… This is not a matter of making excuses, since excuses are not given. Reasons do not need to be offered, and if they are, any and all are accepted equally. This is a protocol of courtesy, by which one marks his/her relationship with the dojo. It is no different than when you make plans to meet a friend for lunch and then when you can't make it, offer the courtesy of calling them, etc., to let them know you won't be there. When we do this with our friends, we do not feel pressured, or strained -- such actions are a natural extension of the respect we hold for each other and for the relationship as a whole -- also from the intimacy that exists between us. Or, if we do feel pressured or strained to offer such courtesy, and this is the point of the protocol, we should probably reflect on the relationship and the nature of our own person within it.

Probably, if such courtesy is more burdensome than representative of mutual respect and/or intimacy, one can use said protocol to look into how or why they hold such resistance -- one can use said protocol to see why they might need the dojo to be a place where no such intimacy is required or expected, etc. For a spiritual tradition, as is Budo and Aikido, issues of intimacy and mutual respect are important elements. So too then is our resistance toward such things. Because the protocol accepts any and all reasons for missing class, and because no reasons need ever be offered, one learns that this protocol is not about "reporting to big brother" but is about reflecting upon virtues like mutual-respect and intimacy and the vital place they must hold in our training -- because they are very much a part of practicing commitment to the dojo community and to the sensei/deshi dynamic, etc.

Behind all of this talk of commitment is an understanding that true commitment is about integration. It is not about the sacrificing of one's "life" for the sake of Aikido. This would be a very spiritually immature state of commitment -- something I would call more convenience than commitment. For example, commitment is not about choosing to train over choosing to be with one's children. Commitment is about integrating parenthood and training. Just as commitment must be cultivated, integration is also something that must be learned -- like commitment, it is a skill of sorts. So the question is not going to be, "Do I choose to train or do I choose to be with my child?" The question is supposed to be, "How do I integrate training and parenthood?" and this latter question is really one of "How do I develop my skill at integration -- how do I gain a true commitment to my practice?"

This is what the Intended Training Schedule Protocol is about. It is about developing one's skill at integration. At first, it starts out at a very mundane level -- that of hours. However, soon, one learns very quickly that it is hardly a matter of finding hours. Anyone can find hours to train -- that is how most folks train -- they find hours. Rather, this protocol is about making hours to train. In the making of hours to train, one will either start integrating "life" and training or one will be resistant to the idea of making hours. Either way, the protocol functions as designed because the whole point of it is to move beyond the mundane-ness of time allowances. To make hours to train and to be resistant to making hours to train are going to allow one to see how well they are at integration and thus at commitment -- this will take place from a spiritual level, to an emotional level, to an intellectual level, to a physical level. The point here is not to make classes at all cost, the point here is to simply move away from a practice of convenience. So, I have deshi that run their own companies, for example, and they have to miss classes during crunch times, etc., sometimes for two or more months at a time. This is no big deal. Through such times, they are working to make time to train. After such crunch times, they continue to make time to train. In the end, they train when they train, but this is not the same "train when you train" when one's practice is grounded in convenience. There is a difference, and it takes place at a deeper level of self. To support this deeper level of self, a dojo cannot be on par with a fitness club, where one shows up when and however they would like -- sneaking in and sneaking out. As you can see, the flexibility is there; only it takes place at a more authentic level of experience -- one far different from that of convenience.

I cannot speak for you Camilla (so I am not doing so here), but in my experience, in what I have ran into in our dojo, when we've come into contact with folks that are resistant to the courtesy protocol, we are dealing with folks that have deep-seated intimacy issues and/or tendencies to feel inadequate (particularly toward authority figures). When one is wishing to train in Aikido -- these things have to be reconciled. When we have folks that are resistant toward the intended training protocol, we are usually looking at folks that function primarily via convenience -- they feel safe (for habitual reasons) only if they are floating, being manipulated by pressures external to them. These protocols, for example, because in the former they present an alternate type of authority figure (i.e. a universally accepting one) and because in the latter they allow one the freedom to safely make mistakes and the constant adaptations that are necessary to practice self-responsibility, are chances for folks to transform themselves. They are technologies of the self. Resistance then is going to be part of the process, not external. Thus, I would say, someone like you would fit right in at our dojo -- because your resistance is the practice, not the halting of it.

I came across this quote by David Lynch the other day -- seems relevant to any discussion on commitment and integration -- so I offer it here for everyone to comment upon:

""People tend to dislike anything that is not black and white and yet self-study is by its nature obscure and even hidden from first sight. Brought up in the marketing mentality, many potential students want to know precisely what they can get out of aikido, without giving much thought to the effort they would require themselves to even scratch the surface."

Thanks so much for the post,

Last edited by senshincenter : 03-31-2006 at 02:49 PM.

David M. Valadez
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