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Old 02-06-2008, 09:36 AM   #13
Dojo: TNBBC (Icho Ryu Aiki Budo), Shinto Ryu IaiBattojutsu
Location: Seattle, WA
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 927
Re: Business and Budo

Hey George, good post.

George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I have either trained with or actually hosted some of the folks on that list. I don't recall any of the seminars being free. Certainly the teachers I hosted were not; not by a long shot.
It was a carefully chosen list! To be clear, I'm not remotely implying that it's not ethical to be paid for teaching budo. But there is a big difference between making some money, and making ALL of your money by teaching budo. I know a number of teachers (not just Aikido) in Seattle that teach less than 20 hours a week and expect that to cover their expenses. I make pretty good money as an IT Admin, but if I worked 15 hours a week, I'd still be broke. My first Sensei, we'll call him Donnie, was a "professional". He'd gone through an uchi-deshi program and was licensed to teach. It was his primary or sole source of income while I trained with him. He constantly bemoaned the fact that his students drove better cars/wore nicer clothes etc. than he did. He outright said that we should consider if we felt we should do something about that. The dude taught/worked for a grand total of 14 hours a week. At the time, I was a college student and almost a third of my *total* monthly income went to training in Aikido. So here I am, going to school full time, working 25 hours a week and doing 14 hours of aikido training a week, and he's trying to guilt trip me that he can't buy a new Buick because his students don't appreciate him enough. Freakin' wah...

George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
If you look at the folks you mentioned, a good portion of them are Japanese. Effectively that meant that someone else took care of the home front. They could do the job thing and train daily and their spouses would handle everything domestic. None of them were divorced due to lack of attention to the spousal unit that I know of but I would bet that I couldn't have duplicated their work / training schedules and remained married - oops! I didn't remain married anyway...
Kinda posted my response for me there! While I certainly recognize what you're saying and do recognize the cultural differences, I'll just say that it's been my experience that the difference between us/them isn't as great as a lot of us think. I work in the Financial industry, and there are plenty of guys here who work the same kind of hours (with the same amount of post-work binge drinking) that we all hear about the Japanese sallarymen.

George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
In the Aikido world, the Aikikai trains its own professional instructors at the Hombu dojo. They are supported in this and then sent wherever the Hombu folks wish to send them around the world.
And yet, when *I* look at the folks I actually want to train with, who I feel I'll get real value from, it's not those guys. It's the guys in gyms and basements.

George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Every high level teacher in Aikido with whom I am familiar spent some substantial period of his or her life training 6 or 7 days a week, often multiple classes a day.
Not that I was able to match the kind of hours that the uchi-deshi did, but I was able to (baring injury) train 6-7 days a week for the better part of a decade. I would wager you did too. Like you said, it's possible, it just requires sacrifice. But then, going to live at a dojo with a bunch of stinky guys is kind of a sacrifice too. Those guys are definitely getting off of the standard employment model even in Japan.

George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
While it is true that the part time, amateur (in the positive meaning this term used to have) has been responsible for most of the growth of our art and these folks deserve to be recognized for their devotion to the art, it is also true, as is so often pointed out on these forums, that there are far to many unqualified folks out there teaching. If someone has a job to support them, almost anyone can open a dojo and find some students. After all, even Mark Tennenhouse had students... I am sure he wasn't doing that in a self supporting fashion...
Absolutely. Again, I'm not saying that there's something intrinsically better about an 'amateur' instructor. I will point out however that there are some advantages to *not* needing to support yourself from teaching (and this begins to graze the transmission and inheritance theme). The biggest advantage that I have seen, is the ability to really regulate what your student population looks like. In my iai school, we can keep the training as watching-paint-dry boring as it's always been without any temptation to spice it up to draw in more people. Those who come and stay are drawn to the art for what it is. It does not need to change to be more approachable. At Neil's we don't let just anybody train with us. Further we've actually kicked out a couple people just in the time I've been there. One had an attitude problem, the other was a nice guy but just wasn't a good fit for what we were doing. He paid his dues on time, bought drinks at the bar. He was a good guy. But, since he wasn't a fit with the feel of the place, he was asked to stop coming. You can't really do that at a commercial dojo. The temptation is always there to adjust things to draw or keep more people on the mats and paying dues. Now whether or not you act on that temptation is another story, but it's there.

I also realize that it's pretty easy to be an expert at running a dojo from this here arm chair of mine. Everyone's perspective changes when they actually step up and try to do it themselves. I'm quite happy with my student status these days.

Chris Moses
TNBBC, "Putting the ME in MEdiocre!"
Budo Tanren at Seattle School of Aikido
Shinto Ryu Iai-Battojutsu
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