All this talk about a surge in interest in aikido resultant from Steven Seagal's new TV show, "Lawman," and/or the fantasy of a future reality show pairing up a Jefferson County deputy sheriff w/ a bounty hunter ...
Hmmm ... Begs the questions:
1) "Do we need a TV show or movie actor to spur interest in aikido?"
2) "What (if anything) do dojo members do to advertise or recruit new students?"
3) "Have others experimented w/ new media (facebook, twitter, etc) to attract the next generation aikidoka?"
... Of course word of mouth advertising and a personal invite to visit one's home dojo is best. Just interested in hearing other opinions.
I believe that this situation is a little bit different--also my post is NOT totally in response to the above post, just primarily the first paragraph. First, Seagal sensei seems to be a bit more than just a television or movie actor. When he came on the scene back in the 80's (Merv Griffin Show and then Above the Law) he was already a 6th Dan in Aikido. Unlike say, David Carridean or Adrian Paul who found the martial arts AFTER being in show business.
Second, I would surmise that his movies have probably driven in far more students than all the camps, seminars, DVDs, books, etc combined from other Shihan that tend to speak to the choir anyway. At least I have not witnessed any recuting booths with lines to sign people up who watched seminars from the sidelines.
Third, I, along with several others, that I personally know got into Aikido because of Seagal sensei. Am I a Kool Aid drinker or blind follower, NO. Furhter, they nor I certainly don't feel that we are some socially inept, educationally challenged individuals--which often seems implied one has to be to have any substuntial respect for the man. I don't watch Bounty Hunter shows or other televison drec and I do have a fair amount of education. When that is implied, it can convey a smugness that does not do the ideals of Aikido justice. This seems to creep in anytime Seagal sensei is brought up.
However, I do feel that he does good AIkido, has done a lot to expose an--up until when he arrived on the scene--obsure art, he most definately has character flaws as do other Shihan which would undoublty show through if the spot light was blazing on them like it does him, and he has demonstrated that AIkido can actually be effective for self-defence.
I had originally come from a kickboxing background and I had heard it said in martial art circles that Aikido lacked self-defence legitimacy, that it was largely good for wrist grabs and self-rightous dogma. I believe that Seagal sensei helped to change some of that as far a perception goes.
Fourth, I feel that all avenues should be explored as far as exposure to grow Aikido. For most of us who don't have Seagal sensei's platform, the grassroots approach can't hurt as well as organizations such a AIKI Extentions. As far as Facebook, Twitter,etc they are certainly avenues that could help as well.
Finally, I guess at the end of the day we should be careful to throw the baby out with the bathwater--he deserves some credit and respect for expanding exposure of Aikido as an ambassador wanted or unwanted. This television show could be a positive for our art or quicly forgotten not unlike some of his movies