Re: Beginners Retention Rates
Our take is simple: Retention is based on a dojo's capacity for cultivating the virtues of commitment and discipline in the deshi.
If a dojo doesn't take on this role, and few do, then you are like the fox that waits by the tree for the rabbit (his dinner) to run into it and knock itself out. In other words, dojo that don't take on this role, are left waiting for that person that comes in "as is" and "ready made" for a life of Budo training. That person is hardly going to show up - they are very rare - especially if your understanding of Budo is about the whole enchilada. Thus, if he/she does, it probably is only because of huge allowances that you've made in regards to "Budo" (e.g. no forward rolling). Better to start with the premise that the newbie is totally lost, totally incapable, like a newborn, and thus in need of not only training but of the character traits that support training.
For the long lasting of us, we know what helped us to cultivate the virtues of commitment and discipline, some of those ideas were mentioned already, but we often have a very hard time in understanding how we make those things an actual structure of the dojo culture and its pedagogy. However, this is precisely what folks have to figure out if they are truly interested in having folks stay and stay in the right way and for the right reasons. Once you do, retention issues are left for those folks that die, or move (hoping and trying to move back) and for the occassional square peg that shows up about four times a year (or less).
If you leave newborns to fend for themselves, they die - law of nature.