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Old 05-19-2004, 09:35 AM   #19
MaryKaye
Dojo: Seattle Ki Society
Location: Seattle
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 522
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Re: Ask not, what your dojo can do for you..

I have trouble relating to "the dojo is a place" after helping move ours. Old place, new place, but same group of people. It's the group of people to whom I feel an obligation, but "dojo" is our everyday word for that.

We have one of the arrangements where no one gets paid: the dues go to pay rent and expenses. Almost everyone above beginner rank does something to help out, whether it's cleaning up at night, showing up to help move the dojo (that was a big time investment), subbing in for classes when the instructor can't make it, coaching kohei, printing t-shirts, whatever. I'm really comfortable with this arrangement; I don't feel as though I'm being cheated by both paying dues and doing volunteer work, since I see everyone else doing so as well, and since it contributes to keeping this wonderful group afloat.

I've also found that I learn from working as well as from training. If I ever have to build a raised tatami floor, I now know something about how to do it. I learned that you use a power drill by moving from one point same as you do a pin. I learned some hard lessons about a volunteer-based organization's need for consistent communication and publicity (we lost more people duirng the move than we should have). It's all bound to come in handy sooner or later--not necessarily in aikido, though it might, but I've been involved with other volunteer groups in the past and doubtless will again.

My experience in those other volunteer groups, incidentally, was that people who pitched in and did work got a lot more out of the experience than people who dashed out as soon as the event was over. They tended to stay with the organization longer, too.

Mary Kaye
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