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Old 01-31-2014, 01:12 AM   #17
Eva Antonia
Dojo: CERIA
Location: Brussels
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 209
Belgium
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Re: Aikido Dojo Recruitment...????

Hello,

here in Belgium I think the situation is not comparable; we have a dojo around every corner (four in a 10 minutes biking distance for me, the nearest one being the one where I train), lots of high graded teachers and five or six shihans, several high class seminars every week-end, so our limiting factor is not the lack of interest but the fact that Belgium only has 10 million inhabitants, 1/1000 th of which doing aikido. AND we are subsidised, and most teachers are teaching completely pro bono. So everything's happy go lucky here.

But when comparing to Turkey, the situation is different. Universities subsidise sports on the campus, but for the non-student population there is near to nothing. Teachers are often professionals having to make a living off it, and dojo space is extremely expensive. So for a Turkish teacher it is quite a challenge.

The dojo where I go during the summer vacations is very successful in these difficult circumstances. When I went there first, the teacher was 2nd dan, and they tought in the sports facility of Istanbul Technical University. Now he is 4th dan, has his own very large and well equipped dojo, and he has maybe one thousand registered pupils, 200 - 300 of which being active and regular.

But the guy really invests 16 hours of his day, 7 days a week to get there. His first classes are at 06.30 in the morning; I went there some time out of sheer masochism - and there are always people liking to be thrown around for an hour before going to work. Last classes are at 21.30, and in between there are lots of other classes. He went to learn kendo and jodo in order to provide better weapons training, he regularly goes to Japan for his own training, and he also does a lot for marketing.

There is a very active Internet site (www.aikimode.com, if you want to look there for inspiration, even if it is in Turkish), with lots of videos and teaching material available, the dojo has a facebook group with regularly updated content, a twitter account and whatever else social media may require. Obviously, there are also dojo meals, special events etc., and since the business is growing so big, he started having technical assistants and a secretary.

And it is also a question of personality. As a student, you see that the teacher really likes his work, and also that he likes his students. Over the time, a sort of friendship relationship develops between teacher and students, and the atmosphere is quite relaxed and friendly, with the level of aikido still being very good.

I still prefer our Belgian non profit approach, even if we have less classes and shabbier dojos, but I think in a non-welfare state the aikimode dojo is the most successful and attractive one I have seen.

Best regards,

Eva
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