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Old 03-16-2009, 03:58 AM   #1
David Magliano
Dojo: David Magliano
Location: OH
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 4
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Garage Dojo

Please forgive me if this subject has been discussed in the past. After several attempts to start a dojo through community centers, churches, etc., I decided to start teaching aikido and jujutsu from my home. My understanding wife allowed me to turn our two car garage into a studio. We've been blessed with generous donations that allowed for paneling, spot lights, even some old wrestling mats.

I have eight dedicated students and I teach for donations due to the legal stuff and because I have no rent or associated costs other than equipment.

I have not advertised other than facebook because I want to be very choosy about who trains here. However, I would like to have a few more students. I'd like to know if any of you have similar experiences and how you got past the stigma (if any) of teaching from your home. I appreciate any advice or comments. Thanks.
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Old 03-16-2009, 07:12 AM   #2
gregstec
Dojo: Aiki Kurabu
Location: Elizabethtown, PA
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,110
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Re: Garage Dojo

We are a small Aiki study group that trains in a garage as well. However, as a private club, we do not pay anything for training other than the annual membership to the DaitoRyu Aikijujutsu Roppokai organization and the occasional seminar costs to host our Roppokai sensei.

Since we are private, we do not advertise and rely mostly on word of mouth referrals from club members as well as having our group listed on aikido journal site and here at AikiWeb. Also, I recommend that you have all members sign a liability release statement to legally protect you from your martial activities, etc.

Greg Steckel
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Old 03-16-2009, 07:30 AM   #3
Rodger
Dojo: Seibukan
Location: Columbus, OH
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 7
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Re: Garage Dojo

Quote:
Please forgive me if this subject has been discussed in the past. After several attempts to start a dojo through community centers, churches, etc., I decided to start teaching aikido and jujutsu from my home. My understanding wife allowed me to turn our two car garage into a studio. We've been blessed with generous donations that allowed for paneling, spot lights, even some old wrestling mats.

I have eight dedicated students and I teach for donations due to the legal stuff and because I have no rent or associated costs other than equipment.

I have not advertised other than facebook because I want to be very choosy about who trains here. However, I would like to have a few more students. I'd like to know if any of you have similar experiences and how you got past the stigma (if any) of teaching from your home. I appreciate any advice or comments. Thanks.
I would look into adding additional insurance coverage such as general liability. Anyone who trips, walks into a wall or any none martial injury would fall under you home policy. But your insurance company finds out that you are offering instruction at your home they more than likely will not pay a claim. They may even cancel your policy.
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Old 03-16-2009, 08:32 AM   #4
Nick P.
 
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Dojo: Sukagawa Aikido Club of Montreal
Location: Montreal
Join Date: Aug 2000
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Re: Garage Dojo

To get past the stigma, why not post exactly what you mentioned (previous attempts elsewhere) as the main reason for teaching from home on your facebook page, and consider creating a pamphlet (Word, though I rather dislike it, has a great little tri-fold pamphlet format) that states the same. Mentioning on both that you are selective when accepting students would not be bad either.

Perhaps above all, mention that you are a current student of another teacher, as this would, in my opinion, show you are not "some dude in a garage, showing, like, stuff, y'know."

Good luck.

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Old 03-16-2009, 08:41 AM   #5
heathererandolph
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Dojo: Kokikai Aikido Boston
Location: Boston
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Re: Garage Dojo

Did you check into zoning? There might be certain requirements for your area if you are running a business, even a limit on students you can have at one time. Definitely insurance. Unless it's covered by your homeowners insurance. I don't think people would be turned off by the fact that it's in a home, necessarily. If they live nearby they will not have far to go to get to it. Wherever you are people may not like the location for a number of reasons. Some people might like it, in fact. There's free parking! A website is definitely the best for marketing.
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Old 03-16-2009, 10:02 AM   #6
gdandscompserv
 
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Re: Garage Dojo

Quote:
Rodger Pyle wrote: View Post
I would look into adding additional insurance coverage such as general liability. Anyone who trips, walks into a wall or any none martial injury would fall under you home policy. But your insurance company finds out that you are offering instruction at your home they more than likely will not pay a claim. They may even cancel your policy.
DITTO!
Be VERY careful here.
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Old 03-16-2009, 12:41 PM   #7
Garth Jones
Dojo: Allegheny Aikido
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 143
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Re: Garage Dojo

A number of years ago I trained with a small group in the Bay Area in a long ONE car garage. When ATM started running the 'Jord's Storage Locker Aikido' series I thought it might be for real - well, until they got to the gaijin hakama and other silly stuff.

Insurance - take the advice and look into it. Our dojo insurance costs us about $500/year, which isn't much when spread out over everybody's dues.

Zoning - might be a problem, or not. It may make a huge difference what you call the dojo - a school that charges money for instruction is definitely a business but a private martial arts club that does not demand money is an entirely different animal (and, by what you said, an accurate description of what you are doing).

Do you have plenty of parking? As long as your classes don't annoy your neighbors you ought to be all right.

Cheers,
Garth
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Old 03-16-2009, 04:35 PM   #8
David Magliano
Dojo: David Magliano
Location: OH
Join Date: Mar 2009
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Re: Garage Dojo

Thank you for all the replies. I should have mentioned that I spoke at length to my insurance company and our family lawyer before I opened my home. Thanks to all...I really appreciate the input.
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Old 06-27-2009, 09:08 AM   #9
Dan Woodward
Location: Scott AFB IL
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2
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Re: Garage Dojo

Sensei

I was in your class at Robins and trained extensively in the mornings with you too...Dan Woodward. I was searching for a Dojo near Scott AFB where my wife (Maggie) is assigned (I am retired) and came upon your blog on AikiWeb. I have not consistently trained since leaving Robins, but believe I have found a good Dojo near Scott and hope to start again.

I owe you a lot and wanted to try to make contact. Please let me know if you come up on the net again. It appears you are in Cincinnati??

Dan Woodward
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Old 08-24-2010, 04:37 PM   #10
Dave Gallagher
Dojo: Shobukan Dojo, St.Louis
Location: St.Louis
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 106
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Re: Garage Dojo

THe best dojo I have trained in was a converted garage. The inside had a beautiful makeover. Wooden floors, excellent mats. One of the members was a fantastic carpenter and he made it look as if you were in Japan. The Japanese landscaping of the surounding yard was all japanese.
That is only the cosmetic part of it. Dave Lowry was teaching and the club was very private with only very serious students admitted.
Though its long gone, it remains the best dojo for me.
It's only a garage if you call it a garage. It is a dojo and should be called just that.
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Old 08-24-2010, 10:29 PM   #11
ninjaqutie
 
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Dojo: Searching for a new home
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Re: Garage Dojo

Well put Dave! That is neat how you got to train with Dave Lowry as well.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 09-01-2010, 09:35 AM   #12
Erik Calderon
 
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Dojo: Erik Calderon's Martial Arts Program
Location: Houston, TX
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Re: Garage Dojo

I think word of mouth is best for getting more students, I used to do a bring a friend to class night and it worked out really great.

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Old 09-01-2010, 09:59 AM   #13
ninjaqutie
 
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Re: Garage Dojo

Quote:
Erik Calderon wrote: View Post
I think word of mouth is best for getting more students, I used to do a bring a friend to class night and it worked out really great.
My old dojo (also out of a garage btw!) depended on word of mouth. She never advertised. Eventually though (in my experience), word of mouth tends to run out. I think some other form of advertisement in addition to word of mouth is best.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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