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Old 03-07-2005, 03:17 PM   #28
Dojo: The Toyoda Center
Location: Michigan
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 7
Re: Two Dojos in One ( Ronco (tm))

I just happened to be perusing old topics and found this one so I thought I would revive it, if for no other reason than to give an update 4 years later

We were the "group" that Tim and Ed were speaking of and we are now the Toyoda Center/Yushinkan dojo in Grand Rapids, Michigan. At the time Tim started the thread we had been training together as two-dojos merged for almost a year (maybe slightly less). Although there was some friction, it was not necessarily as bad as was posted. It is true that we had group discussions about the name issue because prior to our "merger" we had two distinct names (given by Toyoda Sensei), identities, and, of course, students that naturally felt strongly about keeping the essence of what they had contributed too. Understandable, right?

Anyways, the dojo-cho of Tim's dojo and I discussed this merger over several months prior to doing it as he was very concerned about the very things that were written in the thread; mainly that we were not going to "steal" his students by leaving in the future. A very valid concern that I acknowledged with a No Compete Agreement. In addition, all of the merging students joined the new dojo as members, paying full membership dues to the facility.

By the way, the reason this all came about is because, as Tim said, we were part of the same organization and had the same teacher (Toyoda Sensei). Our group had lost its training facility as a result of new ownership of the huge health club we were training in. As we began our search for a new training space we realized how silly it was that two good groups of sincere students were separate. I was far too busy to be running a dojo and simply wanted to keep training so I approached their dojo-cho and the process began.

From our standpoint, things were going well as we were all getting along and enjoying the combined training. For once, the students of that dojo were being exposed to the world of seminars and traveling to see all kinds of Aikido. In fact, what Tim failed to mention is that it was us who encouraged both he and another very good Shodan to continue teaching and, in fact, many of the "new" students really enjoyed their instruction, And why wouldn't they, they are both good Aikidoka and teachers.

Ironically, it was shortly after Toyoda Sensei's death on July 4th, 2001 that I received a letter in the mail from the dojo-cho stating "Your services are no longer needed, please turn in your door keys by mail" simply followed by a signature. No warning, no meetings, no discussions, no phone calls, no emails, no professional courtesy. I had buried the hatchet, relinquished my dojo memberhip to theirs, helped to build it up significantly both in quality and numbers and was effectively removed from the equation. (it is no coincidence that Tim's thread is dated around the time of Sensei's death)

If it werent for the phone call I received about an hour later I probably would not be teaching today. One of my original students called me and said meet me at the restaurant to discuss this event. When I arrived at the restaurant I was lead to a private meeting room where a group of +/- 35 students were seated. They were an even mix of my original students, students that joined after the merger and many students of the other dojo-cho. They were not there on my prompting as I had not told anyone about the "firing" so i could only assume they heard at the dojo. Upon hearing about the event they all walked into the dojo office, layed their keys on the desk and canceled their memberships. Not sure if thats what the dojo-cho expected but thats what happend. Funny how your worst fears come true...

Fast forward to today, we both have very nice dojo, great students that occasionally train together at seminars (including Tim, who began supporting us at our seminars about 6 months after this original post) and we both continue to simply do Aikido as we know it. We are about 3-4 miles apart and co-exist just fine, as I don't think either of us really believe in competition since there is enough to go around.

If you were to see the Toyoda Center today, which is by far one of the most beautiful training facilities in the world with full live-in facilities, classroom, Zendo, kitchen, laundry, and 1800sf +\- tatami area for training, you too would have to conclude that things happen for a reason and we would be silly for holding any animosity toward the leadership of the other dojo, for if it were not for their decision to split, we would not be where we are today.
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