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Old 06-04-2004, 01:11 PM   #8
Fred Little
Dojo: NJIT Budokai
Location: State Line NJ/NY
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 632
Re: Questions on Starting a New Dojo

Paul --

Without knowing anything in the way of specifics about your situation that might condition my remarks -- and there may well be something -- based on my experience, I would counsel you to think very, very carefully about what you are considering and the long-term costs and benefits.

In brief, if there are already a number of dojo in your town, what do you have to offer as a new addition to the scene? And just as importantly, is your current income high enough that an annual loss for the first five to ten years of operation is no problem?

As a community college instructor, you would be running a beginners' feeder program for other dojo in the area and the few serious students you develop are likely to shift to a dojo with more regular practice with more senior practitioners on the mat than are found in the cc class. That doesn't seem to address the nub of your current disagreement. You will get less, not more, "advanced practice."

If you set up regular classes in another space, who will cover classes when you are sick, or have a deadline project, or have to go out of town on business? Will you have enough depth of teaching staff to run classes six days a week? If so, is that a result of taking a number of people with you when you leave your current dojo?

I could go on and on. The long and the short of it is this: If I were in a situation where I was dissatisfied with my dojo for any reason, I would make multiple visits to every alternative in the area. Whether you are looking for another dojo to join, or you are thinking of opening your own place, it's critical that you are fully aware of the local situation, and if you make a move, it's critical that you be able to simply and honestly answer questions about why you made the move you did.

And at some point while visiting, you might as well speak openly but discreetly with the other instructors in the area about your circumstances and the alternatives you're considering. Aside from not leaving them feeling like you may have visited under false pretenses, one or more of them may give you exactly the kind of information you've asked for here, and more.

My general bottom line is that unless you have a burning need to train in a particular way that won't be satisfied by anything other than opening your own place, you are far better off strengthening an existing dojo than attempting to stand alone.

But that's just my two cents.

Hope this helps,

Fred Little
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