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Old 05-07-2002, 10:58 PM   #10
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Cost of Training

Originally posted by akiy
My personal observation is that seminars given by "experts" in other fields with, say, 40 years of experience in their field will mandate a much higher fee than that seen by pretty much any aikido seminar I've attended. If you take a look at the lecture fees that some professors from the academic realm charge, spending $100 for a weekend seminar with someone who studied with the founder is hardly anything compared.

In addition, I very much try to support as many seminars as I can. Of course, I want to learn from the teacher him/herself, but I also want to give support to these dojo who go through the trouble of inviting the teacher and putting on the entire seminar. If anything, it's a good way to help strengthen the aikido community, especially if it's a local seminar.

Just my thoughts,

-- Jun
Boy, if you think Aikido seminars are expensive try just about anything else. My wife has done Yoga. Yoga training is far, and I do mean far, more expensive than Aikido. Just check out your local New Age paper and see what seminars go for. My favorite was a Shamanic Drumming weekend seminar for $300.

People often seem to think that people running dojos should make things affordable for them. Aside from the seminars in which I host one of the "BIG" Japanese Senseis, I will barely break even. Some seminars in the past I had to subsidize out of my own pocket. Since I am a professional instructor I don't have the kind of income that would allow me to subsidize other people's training.

Dojos in which seminars cost $40 or $50 ofetn can not bring in enough money to host what might be said to be first tier instructors. Usually, the cost of a weekend seminar is around one month's dues. Dojos in urban areas which are more expensive have higher dues and the cost of hosting seminars is generally higher. Dojos in less expensive areas usually have smaller dues and smaller seminar fees.

In my own case I had gotten to the point at which I was about to have to stop inviting any instructors except the most famous Shihan. I was unwilling to do this because I feel that a dojo such as mine should serve as a resource to support lesser known Aikido teachers, especially the up and coming American instructors who don't have the "Japanese Instructor Mystique".

Since there was no way I could compel even my own students to attend seminars I decided that I could and would compel them to at least support the events we sponser even if they didn't train. I raised the dues by $10 for everybody. Each month I put this aside in a seminar account. We hold three major weekend seminars each year. Now I can invite any teacher I please and I know I can at least cover the expenses even if no one from outside attends. If outside folks do come, great, the dojo can bank some money. But if you are a member, you support the events whether you attend or not. It has worked really well. The students have said that since they are "paying as they go" so to speak, when the events actually happen they actually feel free.

So I can support instructors by giving them exposure, my students get the benefit of training with these talented but less well known teachers, and the teachers themselves can make a bit of money to help pay for their own training. Which brings us to another aspect of this issue... The vast majority of the instructors I know who make money teaching seminars spend more on their own training than they pull in on their teaching. This year I will have gone to Florida to train with Saotome Sensei, to Las Vegas for the Expo, to Colorado for Summer Camp and Montana to see Saotome sensei again. There will be a smattering of other local training I will do, usually not in Aikido proper. By the end of the year I will have spent far more on my own training than I will make in the seminars I teach. But if I weren't teaching any or were to be paid less for the teaching I do than is currently customary, I wouldn't be able to train as much. My training would suffer and my ability to give my students the best would suffer.

Folks often think that because something is expensive for them, that someone else is getting rich. That somehow it is the obligation for people to make that training affordable for them. It just doesn't work that way. I have missed a lot of training over the years because I didn't have enough money to cover it all. That's part of being a student, part of being a person just starting out in a career. Hopefully you get to the point that you can afford to do more. That benefits you and it benefits the Aikido community. After all it is your participation that makes it possible for a dojo to invite me to do a seminar. The money I make makes it possible for me to attend someone else's seminars. It goes round and round. The one thing I can guarentee you is that no one is getting rich doing Aikido. The people who make any money at all work really hard too do so and the majority are lucky to cover the expenses and have some money for their own training.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 05-07-2002 at 11:02 PM.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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