Re: Student Intake Questionnaire
I finally took a look at the posted questionnaire. I don't think that the real purpose of most of the "questions" is to get information from the student; instead, they seem to be either statements of dojo policy and the expectations that will be placed on students, or attempts to inform and caution the would-be student about the level of commitment required. I don't see anything in it that is intrusive (read the wording carefully on the physical/mental conditions question, for example). Offensive? Well, that's somewhat in the eye of the beholder. I don't think offensiveness is the real problem of this document; instead, I think that this is a document that is trying to do too many things at once, as follows.
- Clarify dojo policy as regards attendance, payment of fees, participation in dojo chores, participation in external service activities, etc. This is important stuff to be communicated, if you have such policies (not every dojo does), but I am not sure that a written document is the best way to communicate them (and I am quite sure that a "questionnaire" full of questions that really aren't questions is not).
- Get information from the student. This is the smallest, least important function of this questionnaire, and ironically, really the only function that requires asking questions. It seems that this function could be handled just fine with a simple registration form.
- Explain the effort and level of commitment that is required to train. Unfortunately, there isn't any way you can paint the full picture for someone who has never trained before. For example, you can explain that to learn and improve, it will require, on average, x number of days a week on an ongoing basis, but I think that can cut both ways. On the one hand, if someone has non-negotiable commitments that will preclude their training for that amount of time, you'd certainly think it best that they know that up front. On the other hand, even if they don't have such commitments, their evenings are most likely taken up with something that they enjoy. Forcing them to choose between aikido and American Idol, indefinitely, seems more likely to cause people to choose a current pleasure that they know over an activity that they have never experienced and whose enjoyment grows over time. It's only as people train that they learn what aikido is worth to them, and what they're willing to do to keep training (sometimes including finding creative ways to re-negotiate some of those non-negotiable schedule conflicts).
I do think it's wise to ask people to watch a class before joining, for several reasons (so that they know what actually happens in a class and get any silly movie ideas out of their heads, at the very least), but that's about it. The only truly informed decision that a not-yet-beginner can make is whether they're willing to step onto the mat for the first time.