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Old 04-22-2007, 09:03 PM   #76
senshincenter
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

I would say, generally, martial arts training, in the States at least, is a middle class (on up) kind of thing. So there is something to martial arts in general being for the more wealthy than for the less wealthy.

However, at our dojo, if someone can't contribute dues to the dojo, they are still encouraged to train. In other words, one never has to have funds to train - this is something we always say. Besides, lack of funds is never the hard part about staying on with one's commitment. So we don't make a big deal out of that. We are more into stressing daily training over anything else.

Additionally, we will offer folks a gi to borrow if they cannot afford one or we'll even all pitch in to purchase one for them. If someone does want to purchase a gi, or any equipment for that matter, we look not to make a profit on such things, such that we simply pass along the wholesale discount to our members. We do all of this to make training more accessible for the materially-minded - since, as I said above, this is the least of folks' troubles when it comes to commitment.

As you can see, we are not set to get rich by Aikido, or even to make a living at it - this though our dojo continues to grow and grow, and we train seven days a week with multiple hours per day for training. (i.e. We are not a small club.) I'm not saying this is the only way to be, or that this is the best way to be, but for me there is a strong connection between sharing our art, working for the community, and self-sacrifice. As it turns out, because we live in a material culture, self-sacrifice very often means a willingness for poverty. I'm not saying one has to be poor to teach Aikido, but for me, it is important that one need not be rich (or well off, or make money, etc.) to teach Aikido. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying one shouldn't make money or that one cannot make money via teaching Aikido. I'm saying, for me, I cannot pursue what I am interested in if teaching in any way requires me to make money.

If a student comes to me and says, or better yet shows, that they are ready to train, but that they have no funds to contribute to the dojo's welfare, I, in my practice, could never turn them away. Moreover, I couldn't draw a line because two such students came my way, or ten, or twenty, or all of them. In other words, it is not in my practice to say, "I cannot afford to teach you," to anyone, no matter how many. Sacrifice is key to my understanding of the art, and one of the things I sacrifice in the face of my own teaching practice is my material welfare. I try to look elsewhere for that, as I try and let the sense of self-sacrifice grow in our members - which in turns allows ample support to come to the dojo's welfare if and/or whenever needed.

That said, how about these seminar prices? Aren't those getting a little high? Some of them are costing what a full month's membership responsibility might be - especially if you have two seminars a month to attend.

dmv

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 04-23-2007, 10:41 AM   #77
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Quote:
Ricky Wood wrote: View Post
I teach foster children free. Everyone else pays a $5 mat fee. I don't have a "dues" structure because I do not offer rank at my dojo. I have never had a problem paying for good aikido instruction.
Thank you to Rick for his hard work and his well founded faith in generosity!

My teachers say "you have to give it away to keep it." to me this means the techniques and the opportunity. So while I have a dojo where I charge fees, I am also aggressively involved in outreach programs. Kind of Robin Hood syle. The money from the dojo goes back into the dojo or into a program for the outer community .By doing this my school regenerates the circle of learning in all directions.I consider the art the greatest gift I have recieved since the gift of my life from my parents. In appropriate appreciation I also give it away to those who have not been 'gifted' yet. The students in these programs 'pay their dues' in many ways. My hope is they become good help along the way.
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Old 04-23-2007, 10:53 AM   #78
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

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Michael Riehle wrote: View Post
Now this is something that I think is worth considering.

At least for me, when I start to worry about dojo finances my teaching suffers. Significantly. So having someone else (my wife) manage that aspect of running the dojo is very important. This may just be a matter of not trying to do too many things at once, but I know that some other teachers have had a similar experience.
Indeed.
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Old 04-23-2007, 11:08 AM   #79
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

This is a discussion that reaches far beyond the door of the dojo. If you are at the dojo you have been exposed. You have benefited from a product of privelige. One element of wealth is exposure. Exposure is privelige. This aikido conversation is a privelige. If you have never been exposed to aikido, like if you live in a very poor neighborhood (how many schools out there are canvasing poor neighborhoods for students?) you don't even have the opportunity to engage in a dojo price discussion. You don't even know the art exists. You probably haven't read the books, you probably don't have a friend who took a class in college, and many other things that get lost in the wash. I realize this is a generalization, so please forgive that for the sake of discussion at the moment.
The art is a privelige. The point is I offer the art wherever I can for the sake of the art and in the principle of gratitude. "You have to give it away to keep it." Maybe this means providing classes outside of our dojo for some underpriveliged group. Maybe this means evaluating the privelige we have currently. For everyone this could be different. I believe it is worth considering. I believe we are good and generous people on a whole (martial artists)and I believe us to be creative in breaking down barriers socially and personally.
Gambatte!
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Old 04-23-2007, 11:29 AM   #80
Fred Little
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

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David Valadez wrote: View Post
That said, how about these seminar prices? Aren't those getting a little high? Some of them are costing what a full month's membership responsibility might be - especially if you have two seminars a month to attend.

dmv
David,

Price and value are two different things.

My recent experience, across multiple organizations, is that Shihan seminar are too overcrowded to offer good value, and I would happily pay twice the fee if the the organizers were willing to place meaningful restrictions on the number of attendees.

FL
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Old 04-23-2007, 12:30 PM   #81
jonreading
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

You get what you pay for...

There is a trend towards viewing aikido as a free commodity. What some aikido? Hit up the local dojo and they have hand-outs three days a week. The secure dojo environment is giving way to a revolving door for aiki-junkies who scoff at dojo charity.

Like anything, good aikido instruction and a nice dojo are the fruits of money and effort. When students contribute money and effort to making the dojo a better place, their charity allows the dojo to assist those students who have less than others.

We pay dues in charity to help those who support our training. The greater the charity we contribute, the greater the opportunity to expand our training.

Last edited by jonreading : 04-23-2007 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 04-23-2007, 03:46 PM   #82
Larry Feldman
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

As to your Shin Budo Kai affiliation, Marc Abrams or Lyle post here regularly, and should be able to confirm any affiliation.

As of a year ago there was in fact no one affiliated in Indiana, but people do move.

If you wish, you can send me a message and I will be happy to provide you with a few phone numbers of SBK people.
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Old 04-23-2007, 04:19 PM   #83
Marc Abrams
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

JUST FOR THE RECORD

There is no affiliate dojo of Shin-Budo Kai in Indiana. I would greatly appreciate it if someone could provide me with that person's contact information so that we can set our legal bulldog loose to stop this person from making these allegations.

Marc Abrams
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Old 04-23-2007, 04:51 PM   #84
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Quote:
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David,

Price and value are two different things.

My recent experience, across multiple organizations, is that Shihan seminar are too overcrowded to offer good value, and I would happily pay twice the fee if the the organizers were willing to place meaningful restrictions on the number of attendees.

FL
Good points. But...

Are these over-crowded seminars worth the price then? Or, do we consider them "half-off," since we'd pay twice as much for half the folks training - for example.

Here's where I'm coming from, I've known dojo, and I've trained at dojo, where $25 gi were marked up between $50 and $100, where dues were already over $100/mo., where weapons training, ki training, or Iaido training cost "exta," and where members were HIGHLY ENCOURAGED to attend any and every seminar the dojo was hosting. Often, this could mean two seminars a month - with each seminar going from $60-$100 plus the chipping in for food and gifts and/or any other accommodations any seminar-giver might "require."

Under this sort of system, training for any given month might come up to be over $300 per month! At this point, for me, the price and value distinction seems beyond relevance. One should very well ask, "Is Aikido only for the wealthy?" This is how I was reading the original post.

While we may understand the cost of running a dojo, and while we may stand up for a fair wage for professional Aikido teachers, at some point, the cost of training does seem to raise questions over the validity of Aikido's spiritual leanings. It's the ol' "cannot serve two masters" - too much materiality always takes away from one's spirituality. At some point, we have to question what we are valuing - what is truly being valued.

Another way of looking at this: How high would we pay to train with Osensei? $100 for a one hour private? $200? $500? Is there a point when the price asked starts to make you think this old man is more attached to money than to anything else - where you start to doubt the validity of his spirituality because there appears to be no distance at all from the material world in his day-to-day practice of teaching?

As I said, semianrs I've been exposed to run about $60-$100, if some shihan started asking for twice that much to train less folks, I think, at this point in my life, I'd have to feel like I've moved a bit beyond that - like I couldn't justify training in a spiritual tradition under someone that NEEDED so much money. I think at such a point, we are talking about something entirely different from what George was discussing.

dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 04-23-2007, 09:09 PM   #85
DonMagee
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
JUST FOR THE RECORD
There is no affiliate dojo of Shin-Budo Kai in Indiana. I would greatly appreciate it if someone could provide me with that person's contact information so that we can set our legal bulldog loose to stop this person from making these allegations.

Marc Abrams
The place I mentioned is called "The Dojo - Indiana Shin Budo Kai"
815 N Main St, Mishawaka, IN
(574) 257-0050

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=e...855469&iwloc=A

I attempted once again to contact them today to ask for lineage but the number was "Down for testing"

However, I drive by the place one a week. I can verify it is very much in business. I will attempt to get a new flyer from there as soon as I am able. Perhaps his contact info has changed.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 04-23-2007, 11:45 PM   #86
Jess McDonald
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

money is insignificant to the power of the dark side of the force
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Old 04-29-2007, 11:27 AM   #87
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

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money is insignificant to the power of the dark side of the force
money is insignificant to any side of the force.
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Old 04-29-2007, 11:39 AM   #88
senshincenter
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

And yet the force alone cannot build a death star or huge temples on planets in the center of the universe. and sometimes there's nothing like a good blaster - and you got to buy those too. and sometimes the smugglers you hire want to get paid. seems money counts even a long time ago in a galaxy far away from this one. go figure.

David M. Valadez
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Old 04-29-2007, 11:45 AM   #89
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
The idea that you shouldn't have to pay for something spiritual... where does that come from? In the oldest forms of archaic religion it was the case that the student paid something to the teacher. There had to be an exchange to cement the relationship. It wasn't always money, but there was payment. this goes back before any of the modern religions were even founded.

This idea that money is somehow bad or that as a professional I am somehow more "commercial" is BS. I have put it all on the line. I gave up a good career to do what I do and make a fraction of what i could have made. I am 55 years old, at this point in my life, I can't turn around and go back and change my mind. It's a done deal. There's no way at this age I can change careers and start over.

I have a beautiful dojo that the students have invested in heavily over the years but I am the one on that lease, not them. Any student can walk away at any instant and I am the one still paying the rent.

I HAVE to deliver the goods. The guy who teaches at the local community center and has a job to support himself can be great or he or she can be mediocre, there's not much at stake. He can walk away without too much at risk. It's all at risk for me. If I can't deliver top notch training, if I can't inspire my students, I lose everything; I end up working at Starbucks.

I teach around the country. The income I make is crucial to my financial survival. That means I have to deliver! When I finish a seminar on Sunday night I need to have the folks who attended already wondering when I'll be back. People don't train with me because i am the head of anything... I can't pull into town and show the same old techniques I do at every seminar and then stand around and watch the clock while people train (like some Shihan I've seen). I have to give value for the time and effort people have put into attending the seminar. If i don't get invited back to almost every place that invites me I don't survive.

When you find a professional Aikido teacher you are looking at someone who has to be good at what they do. I am not saying that folks who aren't professional can't be as good or as inspiring. But they don't have to be. There are hundreds and hundreds of folks out there who have set themselves up as teachers of this art. How many of them could survive if they had to rely on that for their living? A small fraction.

I think folks should have a lot more respect for the professional Aikido teacher. He or she has put a lot more on the line than the folks who have a nice solid backup profession and for whom failure has little consequence. It sure as hell is the very worst martial art to have chosen to teach if it was about the money.
Yay, George (sensei ),

Like you, I put it ALL on the line to have an operating functioning dojo that serves the public in many ways. Last year I almost lost my car and my living situation because of the duel demands of the dojos' financial obligations and my personal financial needs. So when I almost lost it all, no one (well maybe one person) called me a hero. So I'm not too interested in the phrase sell-out. I sold out of my laundry soap, I sold out of my gasoline bill to make it to the dojo. etc...(and this isn't just financial irresponsibility, this is about the real costs to teach).

And,like you , I also make my living professionaly teaching Aikido. And like you I also have to keep my chops up to maintain my professionalism or someone else will do it. Maybe someone with less service ethic, less civic responsibility and less gratitude for the opportunity. Or maybe someone who has honed their skills more than I have. Either way, the competition of the professional and financial markets call upon me to hone and refine my skills to a level that is beyond the auspices of casual or everyday practice. I've got to live it 24/7 and I'm under deep scrutiny as I do.
True, responsible professionalism is a beautiful gift to our society and the model our society has to offer to us to be our best.
Rate people not on wether they sell something, but on the quality of what they are selling. If you don't want to buy it, don't.

As for spirituality being what we might be buying or selling:
If it were that easy to be spiritual, to simply buy or sell it, what would we be doing here in the first place?
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Old 04-29-2007, 02:28 PM   #90
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Quote:
Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
As for spirituality being what we might be buying or selling:
If it were that easy to be spiritual, to simply buy or sell it, what would we be doing here in the first place?
REAL spirituality isn't a very good product, it requires too much investment on the part of the "consumer". Commercial martial arts, the folks who make serious money, are selling illusion... the illusion of invincibility, the illusion of training in some "ultimate" style, the illusion of competence that really isn't there...

There isn't one Aikido teacher I know who makes from his Aikido anywhere near what he could have made doing something else. I am including the folks who have managed to be highly successful at it, too. It is a commitment and a sacrifice on that level, period. On the other hand, the pure joy of doing something that one really believes in for ones living as opposed to spending ones life doing some occupation that one simply tolerates in order to pay the bills, well, in the words of that credit card commercial... "PRICELESS". In that sense we are very rich indeed.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 04-30-2007, 12:54 PM   #91
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
REAL spirituality isn't a very good product, it requires too much investment on the part of the "consumer". Commercial martial arts, the folks who make serious money, are selling illusion... the illusion of invincibility, the illusion of training in some "ultimate" style, the illusion of competence that really isn't there...

There isn't one Aikido teacher I know who makes from his Aikido anywhere near what he could have made doing something else. I am including the folks who have managed to be highly successful at it, too. It is a commitment and a sacrifice on that level, period. On the other hand, the pure joy of doing something that one really believes in for ones living as opposed to spending ones life doing some occupation that one simply tolerates in order to pay the bills, well, in the words of that credit card commercial... "PRICELESS". In that sense we are very rich indeed.
My dad found spirituality in a $2.00 hammer, so go figure.

For my part, it was free. Not that I don't work. I just don't work for spirtuality. I work for works sake, I train for trainings sake, I teach for teachings sake, and I write for writings sake. Somewhere along the line I got 'rich' too. And as my teachers say, 'you got to give it away to keep it'. By that I take it to mean don't be stingy, don't be greedy, don't be protective; be generous and generate. The art, your spirit, and your trade must be shared. And, $ is how we sustain our right livelihoods; a noble endeavour on all accounts.
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Old 04-30-2007, 03:10 PM   #92
Khalid Williams
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

I have to say I was totally amazed by the title of this thread. I train in Morocco, which is a developing country, so I guess it's not the same as most of you guys, but Aikido here is definitely not an upper-class thing. Our dojo is in the ancient city, so there's no heating or any of those kinds of comforts, but there's mats, and there's traning partners... what more do you need? We pay around $8 a month fees (which is still a lot for some of the really poor people who train), and a set of weapons is $15.

Virtually everyone who trains lives in the old city too, and they are pretty poor, VERY poor by western standards, but many of them train in two dojos, or train two different arts and so are in the dojo basically every day. Reading this thread and seeing that people in the US are paying literally hundreds of dollars a month in fees is absolutely shocking to me. I know the economies of the countries are different... but they're not THAT different. Don't the Sensei over there have jobs? Are they making a living teaching Aikido? Or are you all training in super dojos with huge overheads?

It doesn't really seem to be in the spirit of the art to me.

Last edited by Khalid Williams : 04-30-2007 at 03:11 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 05-01-2007, 12:50 PM   #93
giriasis
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
David,

Price and value are two different things.

My recent experience, across multiple organizations, is that Shihan seminar are too overcrowded to offer good value, and I would happily pay twice the fee if the the organizers were willing to place meaningful restrictions on the number of attendees.

FL
My experience, at least in the USAF, is that the Shihan are invited to demonstrate at smaller seminars whereby you can receive the meaniful attention you desire. The difference is between over 250-300 attendees to 60-100. If you make an effort to attend on the lesser attended days like a Friday night or Sunday morning classes you will get noticed more as well.

I just travelled to Chicago this past weekend where Yamada, Sugano and Bernath Sensei taught. All three made a diligent effort to watch everyone training and make corrections where necessary. It is definently worth the effort to travel to the smaller seminars.

In my opinion, my $95 per month is not enough to cover what I learn from my sensei. And it is lower than the typical rate for comparable martial arts schools in our area (i.e. classes at least 2-3 times a day 7 days a week). I think $45-$65 is the running rate for dojos that only offer classes two to three times a week.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 05-01-2007, 04:01 PM   #94
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Khalid

Quote:
Khalid Williams wrote: View Post
I know the economies of the countries are different... but they're not THAT different.
I have lived in the Middle East, so I'm aware of the discrepancies. Things really are that different.

If I were not cautious I could easily spent $10-15 just for a light lunch meal here. More for dinner, and that's without eating at an expensive restaurant. Mat fees when visiting dojo for a single day are often in the range of $5-$15 and not considered a lot of money.

Tarik

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Old 05-03-2007, 04:34 PM   #95
heathererandolph
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Even in a free class their are costs that someone is paying. There is rent, the cost of mats, electricity, not to mention marketing, the cost of training, or even teachers not being able to work as many hours in a "real job." I don't think Aikido instruction should be under valued.
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Old 05-04-2007, 06:49 AM   #96
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

My employer charges the customers a $60-75$/hour shop rate for the skilled labor in our shop. I believe the most experienced technician we have working on the floor has around 10-15 years of experience.

By comparison my sensei has over 30 years of aikido experience and charges $40/month.

According to the 2005 numbers at the www.michigan.gov website a recreation/fitness teacher in Michigan in the post-secondary setting makes on average $47,370/year ($22.77/hour) while nationally they make an average of $48,960/year ($23.54/hour).

I found that a little interesting... of course I've been up for almost 24 hours

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 05-04-2007, 11:18 AM   #97
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Quote:
Heather Randolph wrote: View Post
Even in a free class their are costs that someone is paying. There is rent, the cost of mats, electricity, not to mention marketing, the cost of training, or even teachers not being able to work as many hours in a "real job." I don't think Aikido instruction should be under valued.
YES>
In cultures where ancient traditions still exist ( for example some traditional buddhism) teachers and aesetics (sp.?) are acknowledged and provided for by rituals of society. Dana,or generosity, is taught to children and they are guided to feed monks who come to their doors and the general population provides food and goods for the monostaries where they reside. We do not live in such a society. Elders are not cared for or respected, particularly ( in a society of youth worship) and there is not adequate health care. This is an element of our society. The country and culture really weigh in to the discussion.

I wonder How are people are insuring that their teachers will be cared for after the prime of their generosity has expired? How are people supporting the furtherance of our traditions so as to remove the burden from such a select few who we hold so responsible? How are we helping to perpetuate a dignified art?

thanks
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Old 05-05-2007, 12:33 PM   #98
Tony Wagstaffe
Location: Winchester
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

If one is running a professional dojo as seems is encountered a lot in the U.S.A. I suppose it would be quite expensive! In relation to most dojo's in the U.K. where most dojo's are run on an amatuer basis.
In the U.K. most sensei normally have another occupation and teach in their spare time. Dojo fees reflect hire charges and mat upkeep fees, unless the hire centre provides matting within the cost of hire.
The more students there are the cheaper it gets.... possibly working out at about 2:50 - 3:50 per training session on average. I've heard up to 6:00 in some dojo's! That may reflect that they have small numbers or the sensei is getting some recompense on the side as it is usually the sensei that more often than not subsidises the dojo and wants to keep practising and is ill prepared to finance it totally!!
Tony
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Old 05-05-2007, 03:56 PM   #99
jennifer paige smith
 
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Dojo: Confluence Aiki-Dojo / Santa Cruz Sword Club
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
If one is running a professional dojo as seems is encountered a lot in the U.S.A. I suppose it would be quite expensive! In relation to most dojo's in the U.K. where most dojo's are run on an amatuer basis.
In the U.K. most sensei normally have another occupation and teach in their spare time. Dojo fees reflect hire charges and mat upkeep fees, unless the hire centre provides matting within the cost of hire.
The more students there are the cheaper it gets.... possibly working out at about 2:50 - 3:50 per training session on average. I've heard up to 6:00 in some dojo's! That may reflect that they have small numbers or the sensei is getting some recompense on the side as it is usually the sensei that more often than not subsidises the dojo and wants to keep practising and is ill prepared to finance it totally!!
Tony
Seems fair enough to me .
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Old 05-09-2007, 10:28 PM   #100
Matthew White
Location: OKC, OK
Join Date: Sep 2005
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

to address the initial question, Is Aikido only for the Wealthy... a lot of that depends on what you term wealthy.
Income in Oklahoma is pretty low. Thankfully, my dojo is dirt cheap, else I couldn't afford it.
I watch these house hunter shows on HGTV and they show houses smaller than mine in CA for 5-8 times the price. I gag. But people doing my job out in CA are making a butt-load more than I do.

Likewise, I know some people around here who consider themselves "average" who could easily afford $300/month on a "hobby". It depends on which side of the tracks you're looking from.

$50 here might be $100 there and $20 at the other place. It all depends.
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