View Single Post
Old 02-06-2008, 05:10 PM   #22
G DiPierro
Location: Ohio
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 365
Re: Business and Budo

George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
My point in saying what I have is to point out that there is nothing inherently wrong with teachers who do manage to make money. My Aikido is not compromised by the fact that I make my living doing this.
Thanks for the detailed reply. I think you raise a lot of interesting points. The reason I think there is a conflict between serious martial arts and making money is that there is such a limited market for the best quality training. This is due to the fact that such training is very challenging, often physically but more often psychologically and emotionally. And while this training can be very personally valuable, it tends to produce little or nothing in the way of tangible results that are validated in our current social paradigm.

Far more people are going to be interested in the type of training that is easy to do, clearly structured, and offers frequent socially-valued rewards in the form of ranking, which makes people feel like they are making progress even if they are not. It seems very clear to me that the farther one goes in the direction of giving large numbers of people a feel-good but watered-down experience, with lots of encouragement and pats-on-the-back about how much progress they are making, the more money you can make. The farther you go in the direction of unadorned, serious training in the deeper and more challenging aspects of the art, where progress comes slowly and with little fanfare, the less money you will make.

George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Most of the professionals I know get the majority of their income from teaching seminars. It requires a grinding work schedule; many travel 2/3 of the weekends every year. But that's the income that takes you over the top as a pro. Some have video businesses. Valdimir Vasiliev makes most of his money from videos...

But with seminars and videos, you pretty much have to deliver the goods. People will go to a seminar once, buy a video once, but if they don't feel like they got value, they won't do it again. If you want to be successful, you have to deliver value.
Many people have questioned how much can really be learned or taught in a seminar or video environment anyway. The way most aikido seminars work, the instructor stands up at the front of the room, shows some techniques on his favorite uke, and then everybody finds another student to work with. Most people get little verbal feedback from the instructor and often no physical feedback at all. Even with the exceptions to this, like Endo, who walks around and at least gives everybody who paid their fee a chance to feel his technique, most people will usually only get to work with him for a maybe a minute or so at most out of a several hour seminar. It's like martial arts tourism -- you can see the sights and learn a little bit about another culture, but it's not the same as actually living there.

As you point out, the people who make the most money off seminars do so not because they are the best teachers, but because their political position guarantees them a repeat customer base. I don't know what you teach in your seminars, but I suspect that you benefit from this also since I can't beleive that you would get nearly the same amount of invitations as you do now were it not for your ranking within your organization. What percentage of your seminar invitations come from dojos outside of your organization? The difference between you and the guys a rung or two higher up the ladder is that you have more other people within your organization at the same level as you with whom you are competing, and so you have be at least as good as them to be invited back. The guys higher up just have less competition (and that's by design, of course).

George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Compared to what I would be doing if I were working at a job like the one I had back in the 80's I can put in twice the time on the mat, read three times the number of books, write far more, and attend far more seminars and camps than I could have if I weren't doing Aikido full time. I would be a fraction as good as I am if I hadn't gone full time back in 1986. It wouldn't even be close.
But did you make as much money during that time as you would have if you had stayed at your other job? And if you had wanted to make more money teaching aikido during that time, would you have had to sacrifice the quality of your instruction or training during that time? I'm guessing to these questions are no and yes, respectively, which is why I say that there is an inherent conflict between making money and high-quality martial arts training. I'm not saying that there should be, just that given the current market forces, there is.
  Reply With Quote