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Old 01-31-2006, 01:18 PM   #1
Tomlad
Dojo: Tanworth in Arden
Location: Warwickshire
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 20
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Attracting new students.

Hi,

I don't teach a class but help my Sensei in the running of the club.

We have tried advertising in local papers, holding open day demonstrations, using mailers (door-to-door) and posters to attract new students. We are also considering if we can help the local Victim Support Agency.

I wonder if any of you would be kind enough to advise on ways that you have found best to attract and keep new students? Any help would be gratefully accepted.

Heath Thompson
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Old 01-31-2006, 01:32 PM   #2
roosvelt
Location: Ontario
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 177
Canada
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Re: Attracting new students.

Quote:
Heath Thompson wrote:
Hi,

I don't teach a class but help my Sensei in the running of the club.

We have tried advertising in local papers, holding open day demonstrations, using mailers (door-to-door) and posters to attract new students. We are also considering if we can help the local Victim Support Agency.

I wonder if any of you would be kind enough to advise on ways that you have found best to attract and keep new students? Any help would be gratefully accepted.

Heath Thompson
In our dojo, the methods in term of effetivenese.

1. Words of mouth. Yes, it's simple and fee.

2. Demo in a shopping mall.

3. Posters in Asia restaurants.

4. Joint classes with local college

5. new papers.
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Old 01-31-2006, 01:33 PM   #3
MaryKaye
Dojo: Seattle Ki Society
Location: Seattle
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 522
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Re: Attracting new students.

We offer beginners' classes through a local university's Experimental College program. They take most of the dues from this, but in return we are advertised in their catalog, they handle registration and so forth. Most students who come in this way don't stay, but a few do. It's the best technique we have yet found (other than word of mouth, and what can you do to improve that?)

I have no clue why people stay or don't stay. We tried asking them to fill out questionnaires after the beginners' class saying what they liked or didn't like, but it was of no apparent use--people would say everything was great, but never come back.

The other thing I've observed is that if the dojo has problems internally, new students somehow sense this and are turned off. So if you can't recruit, check to see if you have personality conflicts or other issues going on which you could usefully address. During the period where we had a leadership vacuum we had trouble recruiting; when things settled down it got easier again. I don't know how the newcomers know, but apparently they pick it up by osmosis.

Mary Kaye
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Old 01-31-2006, 01:42 PM   #4
DanielR
Location: New York
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 157
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Re: Attracting new students.

Here's a related thread: finding more students
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Old 02-01-2006, 12:47 PM   #5
Tomlad
Dojo: Tanworth in Arden
Location: Warwickshire
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 20
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Re: Attracting new students.

Thanks for the link and advice. It's hard to say whether there is a problem at the dojo. We have just had a lot of bad luck I think this year with regular students leaving because of injuries or stress at work but perhaps they are not the real reasons?

We do seem to have a class with fairly high level students so that may in itself be a problem. Also it is mainly blokes so could put women off. I'll give it some thought. Like your ideas by the way - some good ones there.

Thomo
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Old 02-01-2006, 12:55 PM   #6
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
Location: Houston
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 608
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Re: Attracting new students.

1) The little signs by the road in the area where the dojo is. 2) The yellow pages 3) Dojo Finders on the Internet. We have met a lot of people this year via these means. Once they are there, it takes the skill of a good teacher to show something others would want to be a part of.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 02-01-2006, 03:19 PM   #7
giriasis
Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 819
United_States
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Re: Attracting new students.

I help with registration of new members of our dojo. At least in our area a good website is key. I think about half of people come in from a search on the internet. The rest are word of mouth and walk-ins in response to dojo signage.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 02-01-2006, 04:34 PM   #8
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
Location: Wisconsin
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,211
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Re: Attracting new students.

People are looking for aikido. people are looking for a place to train and learn. Just believe in that. I guess the rest is karma.
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Old 02-02-2006, 01:18 AM   #9
Sonja2012
 
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Dojo: Aikido Verein Esslingen
Location: Stuttgart
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Germany
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Re: Attracting new students.

Quote:
At least in our area a good website is key
Same is true for us. Until about 9 months ago our website wasnīt very good, hadnīt been updated for donkeys years and simply looked like nobody cared about it much. I wonder if people who looked at it got the same impression of our dojo.

Then the webmaster changed and we have a really nice website now with lots of articles, pictures, a nice clip of sensei demonstrating his aikido and a beginnerīs corner. It just looks like somebody puts a lot of effort into it and I guess this leaves a very different impression - we have had quite a few people over the last six months who found us through the www and came to train with us. They all said that they like the website and that was why they came.
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Old 02-02-2006, 01:26 AM   #10
Kung Fu Liane
Location: Jersey
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 64
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Re: Attracting new students.

The most effective way that I have ever seen for attracting new students is to simply leave the doors to the dojo open; you'd be surprised how many people stick their head around the door and ask if they can come in and watch a session...I see a lot of those people get onto the mat a week later. Of course this method is only going to work if your dojo is in a fairly public area, and you will have to deal with the minor interuptions caused by people coming in and out of the dojo.

Demonstrations at local fetes, etc, can also work well.

Aikido: a martial art which allows you to defeat your enemy without hurting him, unless of course he doesn't know how to breakfall in which case he will shatter every bone in his body when he lands. Also known as Origami with people
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Old 02-02-2006, 10:48 AM   #11
giriasis
Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 819
United_States
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Re: Attracting new students.

Oh, along with the interenet, I would include posting your dojo listing here on the AikiWeb dojo search engine. (Aikido Journal, too, but we get more inquiries from here.) Many of our new students find our dojo through that, myself included. So register here and keep it up to date.

To find this out, make sure on your registration forms you ask how they heard about the dojo.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 02-02-2006, 12:24 PM   #12
Bronson
 
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Dojo: Seiwa Dojo and Southside Dojo
Location: Battle Creek & Kalamazoo, MI
Join Date: Feb 2002
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Re: Attracting new students.

The vast majority of our new students come form the internet and word of mouth. I've recently started thinking about some other ideas like radio commercials and those ads for local businesses you see before movies (a local Hapkido school has one and it's really quite nice).

Back when I was doing Tai Chi we had great success with getting the local tv stations and newspapers to come do a story on us.

We have never gotten a new student from a demo and the Yellow Pages ad hasn't generated any inquiries for a long time now (I think Sensei cancelled it this year).

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 02-05-2006, 04:56 AM   #13
Dave603
Dojo: Aikido Of Cincinnati
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 17
United_States
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Re: Attracting new students.

On the subject of keeping new students, we have recently started a program where new students are paired up with a senior student who serves to mentor the junior through his/her first few months. We have a form with new student registration paperwork which they complete when they sign up. We then look for a senior with a similar training schedule to pair them up with. The primary goal is to help the new student become domfortable in the dojo and to feel like they belong, as well as to help guide them through the typical beginner struggles. It's too new to know if it has made much difference in retention, but early comments indicate it has been well received.
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Old 02-05-2006, 04:04 PM   #14
Jeanne Shepard
 
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Dojo: Puget Sound Aikikai
Location: Seattle
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 351
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Re: Attracting new students.

Our dojo no longer pays to have a larger ad in the yellow pagees because noone was using it to select us.
I think we've gotten most thru word of mouth and walkbys. Fortunately for us, we are on a busline and very visible.

Jeanne
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Old 02-06-2006, 04:18 AM   #15
ian
 
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Dojo: University of Ulster, Coleriane
Location: Northern Ireland
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 1,654
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Re: Attracting new students.

We do promotion at the uni' where we hold the classes. I find advertising, even if it brings people in, they are often the type of people who don't stay.

I've given up trying to have a larger class, but instead think more about transferring aikido to the students that are there. In fact I think an ideal class size is between 4 and 8. I think it's better to teach one person well (and all you know), than 30 people just the superficial techniques; maybe cynical, but I get more pleasure from people understanding the real essence of aikido, than just learning how to twist someones arm alot.

Student retention is probably more important, and I think the biggest problem we have is holidays; people forget just how much they enjoy it - making the initial effort is the difficult thing for most people.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 02-07-2006, 06:06 AM   #16
batemanb
 
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Dojo: Seibukan Aikido UK
Location: body in UK, heart still in Japan
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 1,029
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Re: Attracting new students.

Most of our new applicants find us via the web. A few walk-ins, but not that many. Getting them in doesn't seem to be a problem, keeping them is the tricky part. I agree wholeheartedly with Jorge

Quote:
Jorge Garcia wrote:
1Once they are there, it takes the skill of a good teacher to show something others would want to be a part of.
rgds
Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 02-07-2006, 09:17 AM   #17
Amelia Smith
 
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Dojo: Martha's Vineyard Aikido Club
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 154
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Re: Attracting new students.

Unfortunately, our dojo is at the end of a long dirt road. Sometimes people bicycle past and stop to look in, but that's rare. We get almost all of our students through word of mouth. One of these days, we'll put up a website.

2 Rivers Aikikai, in Portland Oregon, had a mentorship program when I was there. I don't know how well it worked because I wasn't there long-term, but I thought it was nice. It's also good for the mentor, because you get a sense of contributing something and being able to pass on some of your knowledge/enthusiasm in these long middle years in between being a beginner and taking on formal teaching responsibilities.
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Old 02-08-2006, 02:44 AM   #18
Tomlad
Dojo: Tanworth in Arden
Location: Warwickshire
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 20
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Re: Attracting new students.

Thanks everyone for your great ideas. I particularly like the idea of mentoring!

Our dojo is in a lovely spot, situated in a country village. Consequently, we don't get a lot of passing interest but the hall itself is fairly busy with a tennis club, amateur dramatics and aerobics class. The dojo is beautiful though and has a great feeling of energy and peace.

We can cope with about a dozen students in the class without it restricting our aikido. The club is about four years old and we moved two years ago to our current position because our previous Village Hall kept messing us around with the times of the classes. There are whispers of us looking to move again to a sports centre about 20 minutes drive away - where we hope to attract more passing trade. I must admit that I think we should maintain our roots in one place for as long as possible, then we can benefit more from 'word-of-mouth'.

We are covering our costs okay and I think by using a few of your ideas we should manage to attract a few more students this year.

Fingers crossed!

Tomlad
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Old 02-26-2006, 07:37 AM   #19
merlynn
 
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Dojo: lone pine ryu school of aiki kyusho jujutsu ,woking & guildford
Location: kingston upon hull
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 188
United Kingdom
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Re: Attracting new students.

in the dojo i train at (lone pine ryu) our sensei offers the first class for free and from what i have seen we have had more people come in to check out the class then the other dojo i train at (mushinkan dojo) i dont know if this would be the rightway for you to go but i hope it helps

some things are so dear and so precious you have to let them go
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Old 04-13-2006, 01:56 PM   #20
fatebass21
Dojo: Tenshinkai Aikikai
Location: California
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 30
United_States
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Talking Re: Attracting new students.

I think that word of mouth is the best way to attract people to the art. What attracted me to Aikido was not seeing it in pictures, on fliers, or even a demo. The thing that was most interesting to me was the fact that a friend of mine had studied for a few years, and whenever he talked about it he was so passionate about the topic. In my opinion this is the best way to attract new students. Also, having potiential students watch an entire class at the actual school beacuse demo's in different locations in my opinion dont show the full scope of what it is like to study at the school.
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Old 04-13-2006, 02:32 PM   #21
senshincenter
 
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Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,422
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Re: Attracting new students.

Have a well-thought out, well-developed program. This is the best thing for both attraction and retention - in my opinion.

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
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Old 04-14-2006, 02:46 AM   #22
Anne Fournier
Dojo: Paris
Location: Paris
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 15
France
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Re: Attracting new students.

[quote=Bryan Bateman]Most of our new applicants find us via the web. A few walk-ins, but not that many. Getting them in doesn't seem to be a problem, keeping them is the tricky part. I agree wholeheartedly with Jorge



Well, as a beginner, I would say I completely agree too. I began last year in a dojo that I really like and I discovered that I am very interested in aikido and enjoy practicing it. I recently had to travel for professional reasons and I went into another dojo. And I can assure you that if this had been my first dojo, I wouldn't have sticked one week to aikido . The instructor once spent the last ten minutes of the class explaining to everybody how I technically suck and plus, he said I am "abusing other people's bodies ". I think this is a highly questionable pedagogical practice (the ironical part is of course that I was the only beginner of the class, the only female and that i had practiced only with sempai who never complained about me being violent). Maybe I am just touchy, and I should just swallow back the humiliation, but honestly I find it unnecessary to teach anything this way, especially to a beginner who is not aware of one's mistakes. Anyway, i don't want to change the thread -- my point is that when you begin, you need the teacher to be supportive and know how to correct students without being overtly humiliating. I was very lucky I didn't go first to this dojo, otherwise I would not have discovered how great aikido is.
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Old 04-21-2006, 03:05 PM   #23
Lucy Smith
Dojo: Samurai Dojo
Location: Montevideo
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 138
Uruguay
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Re: Attracting new students.

A little tip on public demonstrations: do them great. I know it sounds a little supid, but we as aikidokas are used to just love watching details and can be hipnotized on the slightest hand move, which regular people will probably not understand or find interesting. You need to show people flying and doing great breakfalls, the instructor defending himself against 20 people with different attacks and techniques; but being careful of not showing painful stuff that can scare people off.
In the demo you might as well put different rank students, specially if they wear colored belts, and showing that even yellow and orange belts have a good level.
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