Thread: Economy
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:31 AM   #7
R.A. Robertson
Dojo: Still Point Aikido Center
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 345
Re: Economy

Hi Graham,

For nearly the last 20 years, I've done aikido professionally. I've had my own dojo while often teaching as a volunteer elsewhere. I've taught after-school programs in elementary schools, I've done seminars around the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Israel. I'm a [ahem] famous columnist on AikiWeb. Yet last year, I chose to close my dojo and release my students. The money just wasn't there, and it would be facile for me to blame the current economy.

The integrity of which you speak is crucial. Hence my distinction between commercial dojo and professional ones, but even if living wages are not involved, the amateur must confront many of the same ethical challenges.

I never took money for tests and promotions, despite urgings form senior instructors. I never turned away those who could not pay.

I don't mind living the rest of my life as aikido amateur, since the word itself means "lover." In that regard, we should all be amateurs. At the same time, it's this deep and passionate love that calls me to do it full time, if it were but possible within my context.

I would happily spend the remainder of my years with devoted students who share the love and understand the potent medicine of aikido for an ailing world. I think much of the world is waking up to its hurt, so now we just have to find a way to share why aikido is relevant. But some of my happiest times have been when I've been able to travel and share the wonderful things that I've received from my teachers, and the occasional insights at which I've arrived on my own.

It's this last point that's crucial to the present discussion. I know without a doubt that much of what I've discovered about aikido I could not have been taught, and would never have found on my own if I had not been able to pursue it as a full time occupation. Aikido is not a fixed and finished product. We need researchers and developers, and we can all benefit from the scrupulous efforts of dedicated professionals. It's the professional (the one who "professes") who has the privilege and the obligation to go farther, see more, think deeper, practice longer, and share the treasures than can most of the rest of us who follow other livelihoods.


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