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Old 08-07-2010, 07:51 AM   #1
Brian Gillaspie
 
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Getting people to try Aikido

I've been involed in Aikido for several years now and have never been too successful at getting people (friends, coworkers, relatives, strangers) to give Aikido a try. Other students in my dojo have the same problem.

What do you think are the best methods to get people into the dojo and try out a class?
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Old 08-07-2010, 10:31 AM   #2
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Dojo: Atibon Aikido, Port Au Prince, Haiti
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Well, it's just that not everybody likes martial arts, the same way not everybody likes apples or onions. You have to respect that.
Besides encouraging people to come watch a class or even offer a free trial class, there isn' t much that you can do.
I am the first woman ever in my family to enjoy martial arts, and they all think I'm a little looney.
I know that a lot of people have trouble figuring out the fun of having someone inflict even the slightest pain on them. I also know that a lot of women do not like being told to trim their finger and toe nails short.
Just respect other people's tastes. They might no know what they are missing, but you and I might also be missing a lot of fun from other activities that we do not care to try. For example, I am trying to figure out the fun in golf, and I just do not get it.
I may not know what I am missing.
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Old 08-07-2010, 11:55 AM   #3
David Yap
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Quote:
Brian Gillaspie wrote: View Post
I've been involed in Aikido for several years now and have never been too successful at getting people (friends, coworkers, relatives, strangers) to give Aikido a try. Other students in my dojo have the same problem.

What do you think are the best methods to get people into the dojo and try out a class?
Why? To get more people to share your grief?
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Old 08-07-2010, 01:43 PM   #4
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Quote:
Brian Gillaspie wrote: View Post
I've been involed in Aikido for several years now and have never been too successful at getting people (friends, coworkers, relatives, strangers) to give Aikido a try. Other students in my dojo have the same problem.

What do you think are the best methods to get people into the dojo and try out a class?
I've always had the view that if something is useful and available, "why wouldn't you incorporate it?" So, I've experienced this too when I was quick to suggest the idea that people might want to, "learn a little Budo." The best method I've found, however, is to not try. I believe most folks aren't very interested in learning a martial art, let alone being convinced or otherwise compelled to learn one. The best thing I could recommend would be to simply express your enjoyment of it where the situation naturally presents itself and hope others take note.
I know in the past I've sensed when a friend was trying to get me interested in something and that usually just made the effort feel contrived...Of course that's just me and mine, but I think it's a good rule of thumb to consider whenever I feel like I have something of value I want others to have too.
Take care,
Matt

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 08-07-2010, 02:27 PM   #5
fisher6000
Dojo: NY Aikikai
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Why do you want to get people to try? Honestly, I think it's a weird thing to try to convince people to do.

My husband is very supportive of me, watches tests and thinks the concepts behind aikido are fascinating, but he's got zero desire to train. His motivations are totally reasonable. He thinks it's fun to watch and obviously good for me, but also kind of overly intimate, painful, frightening, a little disgusting and weird. He thinks I am insane to spend my summers in a smelly, unairconditioned room with way too many clothes on doing vigorous exercise. He thinks it's gross when I come home smelling like someone else's sweat. He is not interested in loaning a training partner his body, and doesn't want to take responsibility for someone else's body. He thinks dojo politics are nutters. Conflict doesn't interest him. Nikkyo is painful. He would rather ride his bike.

I can't help but imagine that most people look at aikido and see what my husband sees: a fascinating but frightening hour of highly ritualized armtwisting in a fraught social landscape.

I think it makes more sense to admit that, while aikido is obviously this intense and wonderfully enlightening thing for some people, the majority point of view is pretty accurate.
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Old 08-07-2010, 03:09 PM   #6
Brian Gillaspie
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

I completely agree that Aikido is not for everyone and I am not trying to recruit every person I see into the dojo. I just know that Aikido has been good for me and would like to share it with other people I know but I don't push it on them. I have had people constantly push me into doing things and I know I find it annoying.....and it usually doesn't work.

I guess I also could have changed my initial post to something more like "how do you get people to come through the door of your dojo so you can build up and maintain a student base". I am in the process of getting classes started at a local YMCA and I am having a hard time getting people to sign up even when we are offering two free weeks of classes.
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Old 08-07-2010, 04:13 PM   #7
fisher6000
Dojo: NY Aikikai
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Oh, I see. That is a different question.

I think that if I were marketing an aikido club, I would focus on the "Aikido in Everyday Life" and "anti-bullying" angles.

I got into aikido because I wanted to handle conflict better, and I think this is a more or less universal aspiration. I signed up for a class at the rec center where I was going to grad school and was immediately entranced because the sensei was pretty good at talking about the Terry Dobson angle, thinking about how these concepts on the mat relate to concepts in the office or your marriage or whatever.

A lot of my friends with young children really want their kids to do aikido when they're old enough because they are worried about bullying.

These two ideas feel really related to me, and so I would organize around getting the idea out there that aikido is a healthy way to organize your thoughts about conflict, so that you can be more loving, sidestep bullies, etc. Blogs and social networking tools make this easier than ever--you can become an expert on these ideas by just writing about them regularly and having an honest, thoughtful opinion.
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Old 08-07-2010, 08:51 PM   #8
scarey
Dojo: Shinkikan
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Quote:
Brian Gillaspie wrote: View Post
I've been involed in Aikido for several years now and have never been too successful at getting people (friends, coworkers, relatives, strangers) to give Aikido a try. Other students in my dojo have the same problem.

What do you think are the best methods to get people into the dojo and try out a class?
By nature, humans are simply social, which is why you aren't doing Aikido by yourself. That there *are* other people who want to do this is already a benefit that establishes social proof.

So you have to think about how to get them to want to twist their wrist, bend their back and walk on their knees. Inviting them to try that for a free class is probably a much more difficult approach then telling them that a few friends from the dojo are going to a pub and that he or she should go. This does the following:
1. invites them to join a social circle which is a much better entrance
2. lets them see that people are able to walk out of class in tact!
3. Gives them a chance to experience what your dojo's culture is like prior to having their elbow put behind their head.
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Old 08-08-2010, 01:38 AM   #9
Buck
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

I was in a YMCA class and it failed. Traditional am told, meaning 20 or more years back a YMCA was ideal. Now it seems not so. Those who seek out a YMCA, are specifically geared exercise minded. They are joining the "Y" because they need weight loss, or something along those lines. They seem not interested in Aikido. UNLESS.....you are teaching mostly to kids. Even then Aikido isn't like Karate or TDK that seems to appeal to the parents.

Meaning if the "Y" doesn't take off then this could be the reason.

We found more success after the "Y" when we where in a neutral location. The Ye Ol' Strip Mall. The traffic there was less specialized. All sorts of people pay visit to the mall and we got more interest. What really helped too was the Sensei letting people know we existed there, and the decor of the dojo, and its space. It wasn't in a gym any longer. It didn't seem like you where in a gym. The atmosphere felt like a dojo. It was clean and not noisy, it was organized and not make shift. Call it ambiance, but that really helped.

In a nut shell, atmosphere is important, and location where there is exposure to general, generic high traffic.. That is my 2 cents.
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Old 08-08-2010, 06:55 AM   #10
Shadowfax
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Don't forget we live in the age of the internet. Having a website is pretty much a must for any small business venture. I found my dojo by doing web searches for aikido in my area and emailing back and forth with the sensei. A lot of the people who come in to watch class have said the same. In the last yeah I only recall one call (of the ones I have heard about) that found us in the phone book, the rest were either word of mouth from existing students or results of web searches.

As a student I talk a lot about my classes to my friends and co-workers. They see what it has done for me and that does interest them. I have invited them to just come watch me play or watch a test and join us for the after test pizza or to the dojo picnics just to socialize and watch. But out of all of the ones I have gotten to come only one actually tried a class or two and even he didn't last long.

Getting a dojo established is something, I would think, takes quite a long time.
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Old 08-08-2010, 07:01 AM   #11
dps
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
... and location where there is exposure to general, generic high traffic..
Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
The best method I've found, however, is to not try.
Just show what you do to a large number of people and let them come forward on their own.

David
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Old 08-08-2010, 08:12 AM   #12
SeiserL
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Mindfully model that its fun and beneficial.

Aikido is not for everyone. (Actualy, its a pretty small niche.)

"Let" them, don't "get" them. Isn't that Aikido?

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:51 AM   #13
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

What made you interested in aikido and why did you start training?

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 08-08-2010, 03:52 PM   #14
Shannon Frye
Dojo: Aikido Fellowship of VA / Chesapeake Va
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Martial arts aren't for everyone. Among those who DO martial arts, Aikido represents an even smaller group.
And for some, it's about being at a place in your life where you can accept what Aikido can teach you. When I started, I was ready for the physical that the art offered, but wasn't able to transcend the lessons 'off the mat'. Still working on that.

"In the end there can be only one"

www.AikidoFellowship.com
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Old 08-08-2010, 06:11 PM   #15
danj
Dojo: Brisbane Aikido Republic
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Good work on opening a dojo, its a fantastic thing to do and really rewarding in serindipitous ways. A common maxim i heard is 'its hard to open a dojo, but even harder to keep it running'

I think there is a lot that can be earned from the McDojo's out there. You can have the best teachers, facilities, students in the dojo but if no-one knoews about it its not going to attract new students. I read and enjoyed Gradens 'Black Belt Management' book on opening and running a martial arts school which has tons of ideas. It was a good book in helping me decide what I did and didn't want to do in order to run a successful dojo, some of the ideas I implemented some i didn't, (some ideas made me cringe actually).

One of the big keys to success was getting the word out there and we tried many things. In talking to friends that ran dojo in other places I noticed what worked depended quite a bit on local culture/demographic. For us a good website that ranked well on search engines on popular topics related to aikido, then getting those people to turn up to the dojo, getting those that turn up to try a class and getting those that tried a class to stay...etc etc.. was what worked.

I tracked the retention over 10 years (god help me I'm a scientist couldn't help myself) and found several places where we tended to lose students and adjusted activities in the dojo to help tweak those a little.

Some time ago I presented a summary of the basic findings at a national seminar as a workshop on runnning a dojo. Together with our actual statistics kyu by kyu. we found that around 1 in 500 students gets a black belt, which was quite sobering - its a lot of work do develop a new instructor and they often aren't around all that long neither

You might find ot of some intrest to read
Growing a Martial Arts dojo in Brisbane

I also plotted a projection chart of final student numbers based on the number of walkins a month, its not rocket science and lots of reasons why it may not work in all dojo but we found it useful.

happy to talk more if its interesting/ helpful

best,
dan

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Old 08-09-2010, 12:47 PM   #16
bulevardi
Dojo: Tobu Chiku Aikikai
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

For some reason I notice lots of times that people from an Aikido dojo always have to ask people around them to come to their dojo... They have to lure them to the dojo to get them interested.

While other dojo's like of taekwondo, karate, ... get members just by existing, without having to ask everyone to get interested. Those people were already interested to come to the dojo.

That's because of some reasons:
- aikido is not that known yet
- other martial arts are more impressive to watch and practice
- both reasons go hand in hand.

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Old 08-09-2010, 01:14 PM   #17
Shadowfax
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Quote:
They have to lure them to the dojo to get them interested.
Not always.... I got interested because a horse trainer said it could improve my riding and a Karate instructor friend of mine said it would improve my life. Both were correct. But you are right about one thing. The only way you truly understand how amazing and powerful aikido is is to feel it. Because to watch it simply does not convey all that is going on.

My interest was perked by knowing what it could potentially do for me. Feeling it simply created the addiction.
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Old 08-09-2010, 03:39 PM   #18
sarahfiechtner
Dojo: Aikido of Modesto
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

I got into Aikido this year by going to a self-defense class that used Aikido as its base. As I started learning more about the philosophy behind Aikido and its unique approach to resolving confrontations, I got hooked. I started going to a regular dojo and am now training several days a week.
Because the class was marketed to a group of people who wanted to defend themselves rather than attack people, Aikido was a perfect fit vs. a more defensive martial art.
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Old 08-10-2010, 12:33 PM   #19
Karo
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Quote:
Deborah Fisher wrote: View Post
a fascinating but frightening hour of highly ritualized armtwisting in a fraught social landscape.
That's the best description of aikido I've heard in a long time Mind if I quote you, Deborah?

Karo
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Old 08-10-2010, 02:42 PM   #20
Philip Hornback
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

I think that you have to have a website and it should include some clips of the students, a demo in other words. When I started my dojo was in a small strip mall that did not get a lot of people coming by. We relocated to another strip mall and had more people come by to see what we were doing, but they did not join or did not stay very long. Our student base dropped so low that we had to move once again to my instructor's house. In the last two years we have had a lot of people call and say that they'll come by but never do. I think they get turned off after hearing that the dojo is in someone's house. On the good side we had two students join last year and they are still here and we had two more join a few months ago, so maybe we sill be able to get into a new place soon and have more people join us. My instructor tells storys about how when he started there were alot of students in the dojo. He also said that the would do demos at various locations. That helps get the word out. It also lets people see what aikido is and may be get them interested.
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Old 08-10-2010, 02:58 PM   #21
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Do your practice and people that have an inclination to look into it will approach you if what you're doing seems interesting. Have a decent presence on the web and an available phone # for information, etc. The best way to spread the word is how people notice you and the people that train with you.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 08-10-2010, 04:32 PM   #22
Buck
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Quote:
Sarah Fiechtner wrote: View Post
I got into Aikido this year by going to a self-defense class that used Aikido as its base. As I started learning more about the philosophy behind Aikido and its unique approach to resolving confrontations, I got hooked. I started going to a regular dojo and am now training several days a week.
Because the class was marketed to a group of people who wanted to defend themselves rather than attack people, Aikido was a perfect fit vs. a more defensive martial art.
The secret is reviled! In my experience this really is the key. I don't think anything works better than this model.
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:19 AM   #23
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

I trained in karate for years, and watched Steven Seagal movies, and never heard of aikido. I quit karate for a couple years, came back, and my karate school was also doing aikido and they were like "come at 5 instead of 7, we're doing aikido now as well" and I was like "ok." I don't know if I was just ignorant...and granted this was when the internet was in its fledgling state...I needed to be slapped in the face with the knowledge of aikido's existence to find out about it...and now its my primary style I train in.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 08-14-2010, 10:37 PM   #24
rachford
Dojo: NRL & Capital Aikikai
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

I first heard about aikido reading a paper while going to grad school at the U. or Chicago and decided then that that was something I wanted to try. However the Chicago dojo was too far across town and I had no time. Years later someone started an aikido class at the Rec Club on the military base where I work in Washington, DC but I was involved in karate and tai chi at the time. My doctor had been nagging me to drop karate because it was destroying my joints. So I started aikido while gradually tapering off the karate. That was 23 years ago. Still doing aikido and loving it. I find that if you can get a science PhD interested in trying it they are likely to persist, They are drawn to difficult puzzles and are fanatically persistent. At Capitol Aikikai many of the high ranking black belts are science PhDs including Takeguchi Shihan.
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Old 08-15-2010, 10:03 AM   #25
mickeygelum
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Quote:
Martial arts aren't for everyone. Among those who DO martial arts, Aikido represents an even smaller group.
Quote:
Aikido is not for everyone. (Actualy, its a pretty small niche.)
I concur with both of these statements.

One step further, most of those whose perception what they moniker as Aikido, is solely their observation. The adamant profession of Aikido as an end-all and spiritual uplifting to the highest cherubim, is just as detrimental.

" ...It is away of life..",
" ...Oh, We do not hurt anyone ",
" ...when we fall, we help each other by not resisting. '' ,
" ...there should be no pain involved. '
"....it is ukes obligation to keep a connection. ",
" ...this technique takes 20 years to learn. "

To an experienced or accomplished martial artist, pugilist or average individual with competitive athletic history..that sounds so lame. Then why do you call it a martial art.

In my opinion, that is why most , after attending some dojos, think Aikido is for pussies.

Train well,
Train hard,
Train honestly,

Mickey

Last edited by mickeygelum : 08-15-2010 at 10:06 AM. Reason: mispelled "pussies"
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