Re: Poll: How important is running an aikido dojo as a business?
Instructors have to eat, rent and utilities have to be paid, building and mats have to be maintained, weapons and other training aids have to be purchased. While we've all seen the movies of the wise old Sensei imparting his wisdom onto the young student for free, we live in a harsher reality. Your full-time instructors need to be paid, and reasonably well. Salary-men Sensei's (people who have jobs other than teaching Aikido), while not necessarily inferior instructors(I am one myself), have to divide their attention between what they need to do to earn a living and teaching. Things are even more complex, if your instructor is married and trying to support a child. Aikido instructors are not clergy; O Sensei did not mandate a vow of poverty or near-poverty for Aikido instructors. In the US, I would imagine that it is difficult to support a family and raise children on what the Sensei makes from one single dojo. That is why you have larger organizations that provide a business structure to help the Sensei survive.
Having trained in Asia for the past seven years, I've seen various organizations thrive and succeed, and others struggle and fail. The formula that seems to work well is to entertain those members that are not too serious about the Aikido as well as feed the dedicated true-believers. The "not too serious" folks provide sufficient funds while your true-believers keep the faith. And, sometimes one or two of your "not too serious" folks may transition to be one of your true-believers.
As far as profit requiring an overriding self-interest I think your being a little short-sighted. By turning a profit the Dojo as a whole can seek to renovate, grow and expand providing a greater opportunity for others to experience the intrinsic value of Aikido. Spirituality and business mix on a daily basis, just look at any organized religion. What you're worried about is the Sensei running the dojo solely to make him rich. Not many successful Aikido instructors that believe they can get rich teaching Aikido, but they can do fairly well. This is provided they have a clear "business" plan. The dojos that I've seen that are successful are run very much like a business with weekly/monthly meetings to ensure the dojo is progressing and moving in the desired direction. Sound business practices are not intrinsically evil, only when they serve the greed of one person do they become subject to scrutiny. Keep the faith, but eat well……
Last edited by Joe Bowen : 11-01-2004 at 06:55 PM.