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Old 01-24-2012, 08:42 PM   #1
Krystal Locke
Location: Phoenix, Oregon
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Three dojo management questions...

My dojo is becoming very extremely top heavy, a lot. This brings up three questions for me.

1. How to get new students in the door. Age old problem, I know. Economy, I know. What works for your school?

2. How to effectively transition adult students from playing with the shiny new aikido toy to practicing aikido for the long haul. Especially when it becomes very obvious to the newbs that they are sorely outranked by everybody else in the school. We have one underbelt student below second kyu. If a new person walks in, they are the only person on the mat not in a hakama. That's gotta be intimidating.

3. How to transition kids from the very full and successful kids class into the adult class, in which they are no longer the big kid on the mat, and after which we do not play samurai tag. I personally find training with the kids who have moved into the adult class frustrating. How can I make their transition smoother and more productive?

Can I get some success stories and some perspective?
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Old 01-24-2012, 09:24 PM   #2
NekVTAikido
Location: Wolcott Vermont
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Well, perspective.... Any beginners who do stay are very lucky to be in a top-heavy place and can have the opportunity to learn quickly. When I started training at Boulder Aikikai, it wasn't as extreme as what you describe, but the fact that experienced students outnumbered beginners in the beginner classes made it easy to learn.
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Old 01-25-2012, 12:14 AM   #3
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
Location: Oceanside, California
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

At least for Question Two, capitalize on your topheaviness. Use that as a positive to explain what a great advantage it is for a new student to be training with seniors; the beginner has his own personal coach for every technique. That assumes that your senior students actually behave in that manner of course.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 01-25-2012, 07:14 AM   #4
Dazzler
Dojo: Templegate Dojo, bristol & Bristol North Aikido Dojo
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Hi Krystal

Well -- I can't speak with any knowledge of Phoenix Oregon…although I read ‘the Oregon trail' as a kid, I can only speak from the perspective of running dojos in an English city where things are all close together -- the houses, the people and competing martial arts dojos -- both in Aikido and no Aikido.

We experience constant attrition due to mobility of peoples lives, changing circumstances & changing jobs…and I see ceilings along the way where students decide they need a change. 1st grading, other kyu gradings, dan grading, 2nd dan are all milestones where people may decide they have had enough.

My job is to provide a training environment where there is continued growth, new challenges etc that can be seen. Its not enough to leave it to individuals …some stay…but others need reminders and help to see what Aikido offers.

So retention is a problem that can be address by class content , and by class culture -- as instructor I remain open and look for new input, new ideas etc …anything to keep my classes vibrant. So like you I have a growing band of committed seniors who have reached the point where they simply are ‘Aikido' people and change is not an option.

However others do leave so we are constantly recruiting.

What do we do?

Well firstly we know what we aren't MMA…but we aren't Tai Chi. We are a martial art at all times …but we are not focused on how much we can hurt someone else but on how we conduct ourselves and how we are perceived. I feel we are seen as having the potential to harm but the desire to play nicely both in and out of the dojo.

So this is our product and what we sell.

How do we sell it?

First and foremost -- we are our best advert. In the middleground between hardcore & soft we are good…the students are good, the club is well run and we are there for each other.

We have a community -- a facebook presence, a website and discussion forum. So Aikido is constantly in the lives of the students.

We put ourselves about and have a great reputation …we take part in external seminars, multi art courses, give demonstrations and advertise. Even participation in Aikiweb is marketing in the way you conduct yourself. People know about us and very few have a bad word to say about us. Even the hardcore MMA / Boxing fraternity locally know of us, when they meet us we give a good account and train hard and sincerely so we have credibility.

Everything is marketing -- and you and your students have to be out and about on the local MA scene to be accepted as a viable part of it.

We were very fortunate to have a central visible location for many years. So this brought a lot of people to our door. Retention though is down to the culture of the club.

We are now bigger than most so some things are easier for us but this wasn't always the case…for instance we have some classes for specific kyu levels, when beginners arrive they are included in a group of peers and we have frequent gradings to give them short term goals. We also have open classes so they get to feel seniors, but by giving them something they can achieve then they swiftly become part of the dojo and acquire the knowledge of how things work. Finally we have seniors classes where the real business takes place. These are out of reach until the students are past the ‘shiny new toy' phase and gives them something to aspire to.

Of course having established you senior group, the pressure is on you to deliver…if you want to remain in front you have to constantly refresh your skills and this is not easy when the students are all high grade. But since you already have a high grade group I'm sure you already know this.

If you don't have a prominent position where everyone can see you then you need to resort to old fashioned advertising -- I'm just opening a new dojo and doing this right now -- so website is key…it needs all the possible info you can give, then advertising is down to you. I believe in leaflets…but I live where houses are close together. I'll walk around the area near the dojo and drop off the leaflets. Most will hit the bin….but some won't and when they look at our website they'll see every student chatting away on forums, loads of photos, some great videos and every bit of it is excellent advertising.

If you get them from here to visiting then its up to you to generate belief in what you do and in how your club can meet their needs - Which varies from person to person of course..

I could go on….and on…..but you probably get the drift. All publicity is good and if you are genuine in your belief in you group …and have the ability to do something…and can pass it on. Then you WILL succeed. People love to have someone to follow that makes an effort to be the best they can.

Last thing -- Kids into adult classes. Well it's a long haul….and as kids get into late teens there is so much in school, Uni & life for them that lots drift away.

Be there for when they return.

For those that make it through…practice has to be fun. I may be an old duffer but the youngsters like their Aiki with a bit of bounce. So give them what they want and as they mature lead them to a more mature aikido.

Anyway -- hope this helps. If theres just one thing to take from this -- believe in yourself and others will believe in you. If you have somewhere that you think people would enjoy training TELL THEM.

Good luck

Daren
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Old 01-25-2012, 03:42 PM   #5
Krystal Locke
Location: Phoenix, Oregon
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

I am a formerly lapsed student at my dojo. I took ten years off and came back in part to help the dojo through the hard economy. Even when I wasn't training, I really wanted the dojo to be there and to be fuctional. I ran into a fellow lapsed student who still pays dues, for much the same reason. Pretty noble of her.

So, I came back because I missed the training so much, missed the people, and wanted to support the dojo. Do you think there's value in contacting other lapsed members, seeing if they want to come on home?
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Old 01-25-2012, 04:32 PM   #6
Janet Rosen
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Krystal, it may be worth a try if it's pitched as dojo survival. But don't be surprised if folks join up for a few months and fade again.
Right after our dojocho/chief instructor died unexpectedly 13 months ago, our small town dojo had a big growth spurt as several of her former students, including yudansha off the mat 5 -10 years, joined up, paid dues, and started coming to class. Within six months, none were showing up to train anymore, presumably for the same reasons they hadn't been training all along.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 01-25-2012, 05:15 PM   #7
Chris Li
 
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Quote:
Krystal Locke wrote: View Post
My dojo is becoming very extremely top heavy, a lot. This brings up three questions for me.

1. How to get new students in the door. Age old problem, I know. Economy, I know. What works for your school?

2. How to effectively transition adult students from playing with the shiny new aikido toy to practicing aikido for the long haul. Especially when it becomes very obvious to the newbs that they are sorely outranked by everybody else in the school. We have one underbelt student below second kyu. If a new person walks in, they are the only person on the mat not in a hakama. That's gotta be intimidating.

3. How to transition kids from the very full and successful kids class into the adult class, in which they are no longer the big kid on the mat, and after which we do not play samurai tag. I personally find training with the kids who have moved into the adult class frustrating. How can I make their transition smoother and more productive?

Can I get some success stories and some perspective?
Take off the hakama and have everybody wear white belts - that should help a bit. Or even have everyone train in sweats and relax a little (keikogi are, after all, only the Japanese version of a sweatsuit).

A beginner's only class can help out a lot too (but then you have to work out how to transition them into the regular class).

Kids are the bread and butter of a lot of dojo - but personally, I don't think that Aikido's that great an art for them. It's either too difficult or too fluid in what most people are doing - although I have seen some Yoshinkan classes that go pretty well. If you do have the class, then I'd say ditch the samurai tag. I've seen plenty of good Aikido programs (and Karate and Judo too) that do very well with kids without underestimating them or creating training habits that won't be able to transition to the adult class.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-25-2012, 07:19 PM   #8
Keith Larman
Location: California
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

WRT question 3. We have a rather good kids program. The kids have fun, learn some, and a few stick around over the years. What we have is a special class one day a week for the more advanced kids. It's by invitation only and I'm the one who teaches it. FWIW I also teach in the kids classes so I know the kids, who's doing well, who might need a challenge, etc. The goal is to transition the kids from "kid" aikido to a more robust training. One major problem is that if the kids have been there long enough to get good that usually also means they're likely training with mostly kids younger than them. So by putting them together they're no longer working with others they can easily over power. And I will often have a few adults in the class as well to give them more of a challenge.

The focus of the class is on proper ukemi, proper attacks, and learning to do things more decisively. It is a tough transition for some, but the extra challenge usually brings out their best. Keep in mind that it sometimes overwhelms the kid, so make sure they're ready for the challenge.

Over time I encourage them to attend certain general practice classes to get them more experience. And eventually some find their way in to training as a young adult.

Just remember that between 13 and 18 are those magical years when any number of things will likely get them out of the dojo. You will lose quite a few. Some will stay. Just focus on challenging them to get better. Since so few will make it to that point you'll find it is more important to tailor the classes to whomever it is you expect to attend. To their needs, their interests, etc.

Just fwiw.

Keith

Last edited by Keith Larman : 01-25-2012 at 07:21 PM.

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Old 01-25-2012, 07:25 PM   #9
Keith Larman
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Oh, one more thing. When a new kid starts I give them the same speech. I tell them that it is an invitation only class -- they were invited and they can be uninvited. I stress that the class will be more difficult and will push their limits. I want them to feel that this is a serious thing reserved for the more "mature" students. I make it a little more structured, more martial, more focused, more serious. I want them to realize it is a special thing they're doing and only the few are allowed.

Basically my goal is to keep them focused and serious while still learning and having some fun. I want to emphasize the "special" nature of the training hoping the focus and seriousness will carry over when they start attending general practices or beginning adult classes.

Honestly on my part I say that I want them to blow the adults out of the water when they start testing at adult levels. And so far they've done basically that. I've got kids who can do some of our weapons forms better than some yudansha...

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Old 01-25-2012, 09:04 PM   #10
Krystal Locke
Location: Phoenix, Oregon
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

So with the kids martial arts classes, there seems to be two types. One, the kids play a lot, the other, they are pretty regimented. The play classes dont seem to move the kids into adult classes, the regimented ones do. How does someone get the kids to go along with the regimented classes? I have not observed many classes of that sort, and I'd like to get a few hints. Maybe both types are just self-selecting groups.
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Old 01-26-2012, 03:30 AM   #11
Dazzler
Dojo: Templegate Dojo, bristol & Bristol North Aikido Dojo
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Quote:
Krystal Locke wrote: View Post
I am a formerly lapsed student at my dojo. I took ten years off and came back in part to help the dojo through the hard economy. Even when I wasn't training, I really wanted the dojo to be there and to be fuctional. I ran into a fellow lapsed student who still pays dues, for much the same reason. Pretty noble of her.

So, I came back because I missed the training so much, missed the people, and wanted to support the dojo. Do you think there's value in contacting other lapsed members, seeing if they want to come on home?
Do it.! Even if they come for a short while, extra bodies on the mat help create a more vibrant atmosphere....so any newbs that join in that period see a lively dojo with a fuller mat....and not one with tumbleweed blowing in the silence.

Interesting view from Chris on the uniforms....see where you are coming from and agree that it people that count not the clothes....but for every person thats dissuaded by suits....theres another that likes the ettiquette and the whole dressing up thing. ....and quite a few that are motivated by belts hakama and suchlike. Its not right....or wrong...just how people are.

all down to dojo culture I guess.

Cheers

D
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Old 01-26-2012, 04:28 AM   #12
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Quote:
Krystal Locke wrote: View Post
My dojo is becoming very extremely top heavy, a lot. This brings up three questions for me.

1. How to get new students in the door. Age old problem, I know. Economy, I know. What works for your school?

2. How to effectively transition adult students from playing with the shiny new aikido toy to practicing aikido for the long haul. Especially when it becomes very obvious to the newbs that they are sorely outranked by everybody else in the school. We have one underbelt student below second kyu. If a new person walks in, they are the only person on the mat not in a hakama. That's gotta be intimidating.

3. How to transition kids from the very full and successful kids class into the adult class, in which they are no longer the big kid on the mat, and after which we do not play samurai tag. I personally find training with the kids who have moved into the adult class frustrating. How can I make their transition smoother and more productive?

Can I get some success stories and some perspective?
Hi Krystal,

I was suffering from the 'top heavy' syndrome, last year. I had about 8 dan grades and 4/5 kyu grades. No new members for over a year, not even any new curious people coming to look/see. Then due to University starts, travelling and moving, I lost 5 of the higher grades. This somehow had an interesting effect, without any advertising/effort on my part. Within the space of 3/4 months I have picked up 4 new starters, and they all seem to be sticking as well (early days though).

Not sure if this of any help to you, as I can't for the life of me figure out if there is a definite connection, but it does seem to be a common theme that too many high grades in a club, can be off putting to newbies.

Good luck with attracting new students, it is the never ending challenge for all clubs, isn't it?

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 01-26-2012, 06:09 AM   #13
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

I have decided to accept what is...We have a small group of dedicated people who show up 2 to 4 times a week. I no longer teach children. We are open to new students but not actively looking for them. Our classes are really fun and interesting because we can explore concepts that could not be looked into because of inexperience.

I think the trend right now is toward more "Martial" arts....the pendulum will swing back this way again and we grow again.

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Old 01-26-2012, 08:11 AM   #14
Chris Li
 
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote: View Post
Do it.! Even if they come for a short while, extra bodies on the mat help create a more vibrant atmosphere....so any newbs that join in that period see a lively dojo with a fuller mat....and not one with tumbleweed blowing in the silence.

Interesting view from Chris on the uniforms....see where you are coming from and agree that it people that count not the clothes....but for every person thats dissuaded by suits....theres another that likes the ettiquette and the whole dressing up thing. ....and quite a few that are motivated by belts hakama and suchlike. Its not right....or wrong...just how people are.

all down to dojo culture I guess.

Cheers

D
True - but then the question you have to ask is whether or not you want to encourage a dojo culture in which people are motivated by belts and hakama.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-26-2012, 08:18 AM   #15
Chris Li
 
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Quote:
Krystal Locke wrote: View Post
So with the kids martial arts classes, there seems to be two types. One, the kids play a lot, the other, they are pretty regimented. The play classes dont seem to move the kids into adult classes, the regimented ones do. How does someone get the kids to go along with the regimented classes? I have not observed many classes of that sort, and I'd like to get a few hints. Maybe both types are just self-selecting groups.
I think that there's a tendency to think that kids have to be playing or they won't stay interested, but a lot of times that's not true. You get them to go along with it by creating an environment in which such behavior is assumed. For example, there are a lot of regimented ballet or violin programs for children that are quite successful.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-26-2012, 09:28 AM   #16
Dazzler
Dojo: Templegate Dojo, bristol & Bristol North Aikido Dojo
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
True - but then the question you have to ask is whether or not you want to encourage a dojo culture in which people are motivated by belts and hakama.

Best,

Chris
For me its about creating a culture of learning Aikido - when someone looks in at us for the first time you'll see a lot of people doing the best they can. I'm a firm believer in critical mass and people are more likely to stick around if they see a lot of others whereas I believe they are put off by just a couple of high grades and few other newbies. (In general of course as there are always exceptions).

Sticking to Dojo Management - I think the thread is about getting people in the door. If uniforms and hakama gets people in the door then all good.

If uniforms and culture and belts keep them training then all good too.

Of course there comes a time when they have the belt, they have the hak.....and then its up to the dojo to be good enough to to keep them interested.

So of course at some time it has to be about the Aikido, but in my experience very few newbies really know what they are getting into...hell, we can't even agree here what Aikido is so for me its a long term game and it takes time to change the mindset.

I'm evolving all the time, so why not the students?

So why expect them from day 1 to chase kokyu power or whatever your seniors are looking at. Why not give them time to grow away from the normal ego driven trappings? Its no big deal in my eyes how you start...its how you finish.

Of course I know that in the world that is the internet its not trendy to stick to such things as uniforms, gradings, belts etc....Such trappings can be construed as attributes of a 'McDojo'....but just because a dojo is successful, and has good numbers doesn't exclude it from creating good students of Aikido.

So in answer to the question that has to be asked...I want to encourage a culture where people want to train, where its a pleasure to train and where honest open pursuit of Aikido progress is encouraged and I don't see using short term targets such as grades, hakama etc as a barrier to long term objectives.

If gathering in a room in casuals works for you then thats no problem to me either, I do that too on occasion and don't have a problem with it but in terms of dojo management I don't see it giving any benefits in gaining memberships...except avoiding clothing cost maybe.

Heck - if it works for you train naked...now theres an idea.

Anyway - I know the things I've written about work for me so thats been my experience that I offer up to Krystal ....under the banner of Dojo Management...and carefully trying to avoid embroilment in a which model is best for technical transmission arguement.

What I say may not work where you are, so thats your experience.

Whos to say which works best? I'm just say'n...what works best in my experience.

Best regards

D
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:10 AM   #17
Chris Li
 
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote: View Post
For me its about creating a culture of learning Aikido - when someone looks in at us for the first time you'll see a lot of people doing the best they can. I'm a firm believer in critical mass and people are more likely to stick around if they see a lot of others whereas I believe they are put off by just a couple of high grades and few other newbies. (In general of course as there are always exceptions).

Sticking to Dojo Management - I think the thread is about getting people in the door. If uniforms and hakama gets people in the door then all good.

If uniforms and culture and belts keep them training then all good too.

Of course there comes a time when they have the belt, they have the hak.....and then its up to the dojo to be good enough to to keep them interested.

So of course at some time it has to be about the Aikido, but in my experience very few newbies really know what they are getting into...hell, we can't even agree here what Aikido is so for me its a long term game and it takes time to change the mindset.

I'm evolving all the time, so why not the students?

So why expect them from day 1 to chase kokyu power or whatever your seniors are looking at. Why not give them time to grow away from the normal ego driven trappings? Its no big deal in my eyes how you start...its how you finish.

Of course I know that in the world that is the internet its not trendy to stick to such things as uniforms, gradings, belts etc....Such trappings can be construed as attributes of a 'McDojo'....but just because a dojo is successful, and has good numbers doesn't exclude it from creating good students of Aikido.

So in answer to the question that has to be asked...I want to encourage a culture where people want to train, where its a pleasure to train and where honest open pursuit of Aikido progress is encouraged and I don't see using short term targets such as grades, hakama etc as a barrier to long term objectives.

If gathering in a room in casuals works for you then thats no problem to me either, I do that too on occasion and don't have a problem with it but in terms of dojo management I don't see it giving any benefits in gaining memberships...except avoiding clothing cost maybe.

Heck - if it works for you train naked...now theres an idea.

Anyway - I know the things I've written about work for me so thats been my experience that I offer up to Krystal ....under the banner of Dojo Management...and carefully trying to avoid embroilment in a which model is best for technical transmission arguement.

What I say may not work where you are, so thats your experience.

Whos to say which works best? I'm just say'n...what works best in my experience.

Best regards

D
Wow, that's a long response to something that, supposedly, is not that important.

I don't think, personally, that anything that gets people in the door is "all good" - too much of that and you end up with...modern martial arts.

For myself, I'm really not anti-dogi - I wear dogi and hakama about half the time that I'm training in a group, take that as you will...

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-26-2012, 12:55 PM   #18
Dazzler
Dojo: Templegate Dojo, bristol & Bristol North Aikido Dojo
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Wow, that's a long response to something that, supposedly, is not that important.

I don't think, personally, that anything that gets people in the door is "all good" - too much of that and you end up with...modern martial arts.

For myself, I'm really not anti-dogi - I wear dogi and hakama about half the time that I'm training in a group, take that as you will...

Best,

Chris
....and too little and you end up with empty dojos...which motivated the birth of this thread.

We do what we do to get people inspired to train.

Modern martial arts....A label that in this forum most would prefer not to carry, hope no one feels that it could come our way simply because as well as doing our utmost to be as good as we can technically we also have a well run and organised set up.

I dare say some will ...perhaps I should have followed my instincts and p.m'd Krystal in the first place but fortunately I'm not to bothered about those that appear to always look for the bad in people.

Those that know me ....well they know me.

Regards

D
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Old 01-26-2012, 01:14 PM   #19
Chris Li
 
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote: View Post
....and too little and you end up with empty dojos...which motivated the birth of this thread.
Well, it was certainly about getting keeping more people, I don't know about the other stuff. Or whether it's really worth altering your training in order to get more folks - what do you end up with?

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote: View Post
I dare say some will ...perhaps I should have followed my instincts and p.m'd Krystal in the first place but fortunately I'm not to bothered about those that appear to always look for the bad in people.

Those that know me ....well they know me.

Regards

D
I never said anything bad about you in any sense, I'm sorry if you took it that way. My point was that there is a negative side to belts and hakama (and I even pointed out that I wear them too).

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-26-2012, 01:40 PM   #20
Dazzler
Dojo: Templegate Dojo, bristol & Bristol North Aikido Dojo
Location: Bristol
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 638
England
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Well, it was certainly about getting keeping more people, I don't know about the other stuff. Or whether it's really worth altering your training in order to get more folks - what do you end up with?

I never said anything bad about you in any sense, I'm sorry if you took it that way. My point was that there is a negative side to belts and hakama (and I even pointed out that I wear them too).

Best,

Chris
Not at all...was just aware that some people could interpret your modern Aikido comment as coming my way.

Not something I desire.

Other than that I can happily agree that there is a danger that Aikido can get compromised - Other than adding in some 'bounce' for younger people I dont think I've said we would change the Aikido...simply that for us its proved useful to have gradings, hakama and generally make efforts to retain people. The long term plan remains the same....so no offence taken, just perhaps overly strongly stating my case that Aikido comes first.

Having taken great care to direct the dojo towards a position where it has I hope a good reputation locally...I'm not keen to have it undermined by any association albeit indirect with 'modern aikido' <shudders inwardly> or even a suggestion that we are promoting a belt driven culture.......

Regards

D
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Old 01-26-2012, 03:04 PM   #21
Lyle Laizure
 
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Dojo: Hinode Dojo LLC
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 560
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

The passing of time has changed the culture. Everyone wants to know how to get them in the door and to keep them there. I say this doesn't matter. I can't imagine O'Sensei or any other instructor begging students to come in or to stay. Advertising is fine but we should be caterers.

I should also say I do like some of the information that has been provided in this thread as well.

Last edited by Lyle Laizure : 01-26-2012 at 03:04 PM. Reason: content

Lyle Laizure
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Deru kugi wa uta reru
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Old 01-26-2012, 03:11 PM   #22
Chris Li
 
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Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Quote:
Lyle Laizure wrote: View Post
The passing of time has changed the culture. Everyone wants to know how to get them in the door and to keep them there. I say this doesn't matter. I can't imagine O'Sensei or any other instructor begging students to come in or to stay. Advertising is fine but we should be caterers.

I should also say I do like some of the information that has been provided in this thread as well.
Jigoro Kano used to grab kids on the street and say "Hey, you're pretty big, why don't you ask your mother if you can do Judo?". And that was when Ueshiba was elementary school age!

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-27-2012, 03:28 AM   #23
Dazzler
Dojo: Templegate Dojo, bristol & Bristol North Aikido Dojo
Location: Bristol
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 638
England
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Quote:
Lyle Laizure wrote: View Post
The passing of time has changed the culture. Everyone wants to know how to get them in the door and to keep them there. I say this doesn't matter. I can't imagine O'Sensei or any other instructor begging students to come in or to stay. Advertising is fine but we should be caterers.

I should also say I do like some of the information that has been provided in this thread as well.
I get what you are saying Lyle, but even if I serve the finest cuisine in the world from the secrecy of my attic...I guarantee I'll be eating alone..

No one I know is begging, but I know a lot of people that are proud of Aikido...its good right or we wouldn't be doing it?

So whats the problem in letting people know where you are and doing ones best to create a great learning environment for them? If O'sensei wanted his art kept secret...well why teach anyone at all?

Maybe a thread needed for that if people are interested ? (Won't be started by me though).

Of course there is a technical cap in place ...which is the instructor. In my case ME. My ability to teach/do isn't affected by the paraphanalia really (although I personally, being extrovert, prefer a more buoyant dojo)...but its not made worse either.

Only real difference for me is the numbers.

Sure some people abuse this...they can milk the students with excessive grading fees, restrictions on training elsewhere ...I'm sure in many ways.

I don't.

Any neither does any of the dojos I know and respect.

A successful dojo does not equal McDojo....no more than a small dojo with a few seniors and no beginners training just together equals co operative untested training among friends.

Sorry - hope this doesn't sound like a lecture...a small reply just seems to grow...I guess I find the growth of a small group into a large group fascinating, particularly in the way it can be driven by a small teams energy and enthusiasm.

Regards

D
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Old 01-27-2012, 10:58 AM   #24
kewms
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 954
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Are your students enthusiastic about their training?

If they are, then they will encourage their like-minded friends to join. (A process that you can accelerate with referral bonuses.)

If they aren't, then your dojo has a fundamental problem that no amount of recruiting will fix.

Katherine
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Old 01-31-2012, 10:32 PM   #25
Krystal Locke
Location: Phoenix, Oregon
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 387
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Re: Three dojo management questions...

Was skimming a thread about learning Japanese for a trip to hombu when I found this gem from Walter Martindale:

Quote:
More recently, the lectures we had in "how people learn" during PE undergrad studies showed that people pay more attention to demonstration by "significant peer" than by "instructor" or "expert performer" I think the contrast is "instructor" is an expert, perhaps, but he's been doing this for a really long time and I find this difficult... An "expert performer" - well, they're making it look so easy - I'll never be that good. (Neither of these interpretations include the number of years that the instructor or EP spent learning the movement.) However, a "significant peer" who's usually a person of similar age who may have only recently learned the movement gets the reaction "Hey, he (or she) can do it, I bet I can do that too - let's see, the left hand was here, the... right foot did this, the body was positioned here" but all in non-verbal internal dialogue where the person is imagining his/her body doing the movement...
Maybe this is why it is not so great for a dojo to be topheavy? Even if new folk come in, they may not learn as effectively, not seeing any peers having similar success and similar struggles. The gap between what they see and what they can do is too big. There is nobody to identify with, no immediately accessible, intermediate role models. And so they don't stick. And I'm thinking this applies to a whole bunch of other dojo social issues, too. Women and training, GLBT training....

Hmmmm.
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