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Old 08-15-2010, 09:53 AM   #26
lbb
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Quote:
Brian Gillaspie wrote: View Post
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.
There are all kinds of tips and tricks to lure people through the door. Getting them to come back for a second or third class is another trick altogether. You might pique someone's interest, but getting them to keep coming back once they realize that it's plain hard work is another matter -- remember, for most people that first class isn't going to be fun. It's going to be frustrating, strenuous, painful, confusing, or all of the above. That being the case, I think the way you keep people coming back is to acknowledge that it is hard, point out that everyone in the dojo had their own first day on the mat, and let them know that it's all up to them whether they decide to do the work or walk away.
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Old 08-16-2010, 04:05 AM   #27
JJF
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

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Karolina Owczarzak wrote: View Post
That's the best description of aikido I've heard in a long time Mind if I quote you, Deborah?

Karo
Deborah: do you mind if I put this om my website? it's a very cool description

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 08-16-2010, 04:15 AM   #28
JJF
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

I have approx. the same problem. I have started a small dojo in my area hoping to gather just enough students to have a sincere practice every week - however my three students so far are all not able to come. One is a recent mother (for the second time) - one is a recent father (third time today) and the last is on evening shift at work and is not able to join classes in the evening.

So... I'm left alone with my iaito and some sword practice... which is good.. but I sure would love just a handfull of students to help me get the club going...

The thing is - it is true.. we can't get people to pracitce unless they want to. I am not going to sell aikido as anything else.. it is not UFC relevant (the way I do it), it is not the very best self defence in the world (when it comes to skills taught in a short time). It is an art/quest/game that takes time and dedication to master (or so I have been told... still getting there).

What CAN we do then... well..make sure people know we are here - and hope that eventually they will find us. Get som pictures in the local paper, make a website, make sure your dojo is on 'dojo-search' here a aikiweb and show what it is to as many people as possible... then they will come - if they are out there.

You can boost income/number of students by teaching selfdefence or childrens classes - but it will only get you a miniscule no. of sincere students over a long period of time... so it comes down to this... Get the word out to the right people and stay true to what you believe Aikido is. If it can fly - eventually it will... otherwise pack it up and go somewhere else to train.

Just my thoughts on the matter...

- Jørgen Jakob

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 08-16-2010, 05:32 AM   #29
Brian Gillaspie
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Thanks for the replies. I'll hold the first class at the YMCA tonight and as of now I have 4 adults who have signed up for the free three week trial period. I still don't have any kids signed up but I'll have my own two kids there for the class. The good thing is that the room we are in is right off the main lobby and has windows all across it so basically we will be visible to anyone that walks in the door.
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Old 08-16-2010, 06:16 AM   #30
JJF
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Quote:
Brian Gillaspie wrote: View Post
Thanks for the replies. I'll hold the first class at the YMCA tonight and as of now I have 4 adults who have signed up for the free three week trial period. I still don't have any kids signed up but I'll have my own two kids there for the class. The good thing is that the room we are in is right off the main lobby and has windows all across it so basically we will be visible to anyone that walks in the door.
Good luck Brian... remember to wear your best looking hakama to attract as many people as possible

One word of advice.. I found it very difficult to mainain the proper level of disciplin and tradition with no experienced students present.. it is difficult to explain everthing like how to sit, where to sit, how and when to bow etc... if you can bring somebody you know who is a bit experienced then it would be really good...

I'll cross my fingers for you

- JJ

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 08-16-2010, 08:17 AM   #31
Buck
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Another thing is time. It takes time to build a student body because Aikido isn't something EVERYBODY wants to do. Part of that also is you. First impressions, good presentation, play a huge role in getting people on the mat.

The thing is out of the general population there is a certain low percentage of people in that general population in say a 30-40 mile area who are going to be interested and interested in Aikido. You have to let them know you exist and appeal to their interest; which is where much of what allot of people have pointed also applies.

As well as:

Charisma and the charm of the sensei has allot to do with attracting and keeping people. Most people are naturally attracted to people who have these positive qualities. How many people really are attracted to a personality of a dead fish, or obnoxious,or annoying, or who still lives with his parents in the basement, or something along those lines. As a fact people gravitate to those with charisma and charm of the positive kind.

Dojo feel; what your dojo looks like on the inside. Does it look like a warehouse with mats on the floor and a picture of O'Sensei on a Ikea stool, or on a folding chair? Or when you walk in it, does it have a feel of being a special exotic place and esoteric experience.. And that it isn't a Fly-by-night operation. In terms of esoteric, that it is a special activity.

Good presentation and first impressions are so very important in attracting people. Aside from letting people know you exist, via advertising and appealing to those who are interested in Aikido. And keep in mind it takes time to reach all such people.
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Old 08-16-2010, 10:47 AM   #32
Eva Antonia
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Hi,

as for me, I'd prefer BY FAR the warehouse dojo with O'Sensei on the IKEA stool...then I'd know that this is neither a cult nor a commercial operation but just a matter-of-fact dojo!

But for attracting students I really don't know...our dojo in Belgium has pretty the same problem - we are enough people to keep the dojo running, but it does not really GROW.

Wishing all the new-dojo-establishers very much luck!

Eva
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Old 08-16-2010, 11:14 AM   #33
lbb
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

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Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
Dojo feel; what your dojo looks like on the inside. Does it look like a warehouse with mats on the floor and a picture of O'Sensei on a Ikea stool, or on a folding chair? Or when you walk in it, does it have a feel of being a special exotic place and esoteric experience.. And that it isn't a Fly-by-night operation. In terms of esoteric, that it is a special activity.
Emphasis mine.

Buck, if you really believe that aikido is an esoteric practice, I'd like to know where you're getting your definition of "esoteric", and also where you are seeing this put into practice (i.e., where you train). Esoteric practices are the mental (and sometimes physical) equivalent of a daily workout, or a daily practice session on the piano, or something like that. Watching "Kung Fu" (or visiting a dojo made up to look like the set of "Kung Fu") is not an esoteric experience. And, while training in aikido (or mowing the lawn, or cleaning toilets) could be a form of esoteric practice for someone who already has a grounding in such practices, someone who doesn't have such a grounding isn't going to be able to walk into a dojo and get trained in these practices. Expecting to be taught esoteric practices in a dojo is like expecting beef Wellington in a sushi bar. It isn't going to happen, because the large majority of aikido senseis have no qualifications -- zero, zip, zilch -- as teachers of esoteric practices.

Could you lure a few more suckers through the door with a little bit of woo-woo decor that plays to ignorant martial arts stereotypes? Sure, but you'll ultimately disappoint them. At the same time, you'll be scaring away any potential students who didn't just fall off the cabbage truck. Bad idea imo.
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Old 08-17-2010, 06:06 AM   #34
Brian Gillaspie
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Class went well last night. Had 6 adults show up for the class. I also had 2 kids (my own) in the children's class so overall I was satisfied with the first night.

Quote:
Good luck Brian... remember to wear your best looking hakama to attract as many people as possible

One word of advice.. I found it very difficult to mainain the proper level of disciplin and tradition with no experienced students present.. it is difficult to explain everthing like how to sit, where to sit, how and when to bow etc... if you can bring somebody you know who is a bit experienced then it would be really good...
I wore my best looking hakama...unfortunately most people just see a guy wearing a dress

Quote:
Dojo feel; what your dojo looks like on the inside. Does it look like a warehouse with mats on the floor and a picture of O'Sensei on a Ikea stool, or on a folding chair? Or when you walk in it, does it have a feel of being a special exotic place and esoteric experience.. And that it isn't a Fly-by-night operation. In terms of esoteric, that it is a special activity.
My dojo feels like a room in a YMCA. I would like to have a nice looking dojo but it is what it is. If people can't dedicate themselves to training in a plain room then I have my doubts they could really dedicate themselves to training anywhere....but that's just my opinion.
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Old 08-17-2010, 07:53 AM   #35
JJF
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Quote:
Brian Gillaspie wrote: View Post
My dojo feels like a room in a YMCA. I would like to have a nice looking dojo but it is what it is. If people can't dedicate themselves to training in a plain room then I have my doubts they could really dedicate themselves to training anywhere....but that's just my opinion.
Glad to hear it went well.. anything more than one of those six people comming back is a succes.

I agree about the room. Though a nice place with a welcoming atmosphere is a good thing, a lot of this can be achived just by emitting a good and joyful spirit from the people there.

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

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Old 08-17-2010, 08:27 AM   #36
Buck
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Quote:
Brian Gillaspie wrote: View Post
Class went well last night. Had 6 adults show up for the class. I also had 2 kids (my own) in the children's class so overall I was satisfied with the first night.

I wore my best looking hakama...unfortunately most people just see a guy wearing a dress

My dojo feels like a room in a YMCA. I would like to have a nice looking dojo but it is what it is. If people can't dedicate themselves to training in a plain room then I have my doubts they could really dedicate themselves to training anywhere....but that's just my opinion.
Maybe in time you will be able to change that. Like anything you have a starting point with a long term goal. Allot of people think you have to be popular over night having hordes of people knocking down your door in the first week. But a dojo runs along the same model as a small business. You build your customer (student) base overtime looking at long term success over short term success.

Like one poster said you do need experienced students. You also need time to work things out, trying new approaches, finding what works and doesn't for you. As I mentioned the importance of "curb appeal," impresses prospective students sending the message that what you do is special, inviting, and sets and matches expectations. That doesn't have to happen right a way. It is a tool that will bring in those interested in Aikido. Or at least gets people interested in Aikido.

I hope my posts contributed to your question and not distracting. I am sure your dojo will be successful with many students.
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Old 08-19-2010, 08:12 AM   #37
Karo
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

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Eva Röben wrote: View Post
as for me, I'd prefer BY FAR the warehouse dojo with O'Sensei on the IKEA stool...then I'd know that this is neither a cult nor a commercial operation but just a matter-of-fact dojo!
I agree with Eva. My first dojo was a bare-walled gym room where we put down the mats before every class and put them away at the end, with a small picture of O'Sensei tucked by the wall. Even from the very first class, I knew I was there to train, not to admire the decor.

Karo
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Old 08-19-2010, 09:15 AM   #38
Brian Gillaspie
 
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

Quote:
My first dojo was a bare-walled gym room where we put down the mats before every class and put them away at the end, with a small picture of O'Sensei tucked by the wall.
That is basically what we have at the YMCA which doesn't bother me but it would be nice if we didn't have to set up and take down the mats every night.

I see you train at Okinawa Aikiki. I was able to train there one night a couple years ago when I was in town. I really enjoyed it and was impressed by the instructor and all of the students I interacted with.
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Old 08-20-2010, 02:36 PM   #39
heathererandolph
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

To friends and collogues you say: I am trying to get an Aikido class started. Can you please come to the local YMCA for a couple times and try Aikido? You never know. I had one friend join who is still in the class when I started. If they know you need their help to get the class started, they may be more willing to help out.
And they might become hooked, you never know.

As for getting the class started it helps to get some students in their, of course, so do what you can. Roam the YMCA asking questions about people's interest in martial arts. Say you are taking a poll to find out what type of martial arts class to offer here.

There could be someone who really wants to do Aikido but may never even know about the class being offered. Make it your goal that everyone coming to the YMCA knows about the class. Make your goal modest. In order to practice you need one student that is all.

I know they are out there, people interested in Aikido. As time goes on your class should grow, but as long as you have one student you are good to go. If your instructor (or you if you are instructor) are any good, they will come.

A website could help,even with a YMCA. Or at least list your school on the many directories out there. Try putting a query on the Internet like "Aikido school and your area" to find out where you can list your school.
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Old 08-20-2010, 02:40 PM   #40
heathererandolph
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Re: Getting people to try Aikido

To friends and collogues you say: I am trying to get an Aikido class started. Can you please come to the local YMCA for a couple times and try Aikido? You never know. I had one friend join who is still in the class when I started. If they know you need their help to get the class started, they may be more willing to help out.
And they might become hooked, you never know.

As for getting the class started it helps to get some students in there, of course, so do what you can. Roam the YMCA asking questions about people's interest in martial arts. Say you are taking a poll to find out what type of martial arts class to offer here. Talk to the people working at the YMCA, and let them know you are looking for students and how Aikido can benefit people. They may refer some people to you.

There could be someone who really wants to do Aikido but may never even know about the class being offered. Make it your goal that everyone coming to the YMCA knows about the class. Make your goal modest. In order to practice you need one student that is all.

I know they are out there, people interested in Aikido. As time goes on your class should grow, but as long as you have one student you are good to go. If your instructor (or you if you are instructor) are any good, they will come.

A website could help,even with a YMCA. Or at least list your school on the many directories out there. Try putting a query on the Internet like "Aikido school and your area" to find out where you can list your school.

Last edited by heathererandolph : 08-20-2010 at 02:41 PM. Reason: spell
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