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Old 12-09-2017, 09:49 AM   #1
MrIggy
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Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

An interesting article from Aikido Journal:

http://aikidojournal.com/2017/12/07/...ting-a-crisis/

Opinions?
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Old 12-09-2017, 01:50 PM   #2
nikyu62
Dojo: Aikido Club of American Samoa
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Seems to be a problem in most places to bring in and keep students. It is not even necessarily a matter of economics, as there is no charge to attend my dojo. Very few adults here are interested in martial arts or physical culture in general; the few young adults who are, tend to gravitate toward MMA style training. A lot of kids are more interested in video games or sports. Some will come and train for a while, then go off to something else. I just teach whoever shows up; the ones who stay realize it is a process involving time and discipline, not an instant gratification thing.
I support the efforts of Aikido Journal to continue sharing knowledge and as a platform for networking.
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Old 12-10-2017, 01:32 PM   #3
sorokod
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

When a student asks you " why should I spend my limited leasure time on practicing Aikido", what do you say?

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Old 12-10-2017, 01:46 PM   #4
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Quote:
Steven Shimanek wrote: View Post
I just teach whoever shows up; the ones who stay realize it is a process involving time and discipline, not an instant gratification thing.
Do you think training in arts like Boxing, Judo, Wrestling, BJJ... require little time, discipline, dedication, et c. and give instant gratification?
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Old 12-10-2017, 01:48 PM   #5
nikyu62
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

I would say something along the lines of "we train to become better human beings and unify our minds, bodies, and spirits to enhance all areas of our lives; we also train in practical self defense skills...if that appeals to you, come and train."
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Old 12-10-2017, 01:50 PM   #6
nikyu62
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Freaky! Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Do you think training in arts like Boxing, Judo, Wrestling, BJJ... require little time, discipline, dedication, et c. and give instant gratification?
No. I hope i did not give you that impression, as it was not stated or implied.
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Old 12-10-2017, 02:22 PM   #7
sorokod
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Quote:
Steven Shimanek wrote: View Post
I would say something along the lines of "we train to become better human beings and unify our minds, bodies, and spirits to enhance all areas of our lives; we also train in practical self defense skills...if that appeals to you, come and train."
Thats a high target to shoot for, training must be very interesting.

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Old 12-11-2017, 01:19 PM   #8
nikyu62
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

When a target is distant, one must aim high, or will certainly fall short of the mark.
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Old 12-11-2017, 04:25 PM   #9
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Quote:
Igor Vojnović wrote: View Post
An interesting article from Aikido Journal:

http://aikidojournal.com/2017/12/07/...ting-a-crisis/

Opinions?
I think the issue of revitalizing "old" things is an important thing to consider. The mark of a master at anything, in my opinion, (beyond having high proficiency) is in constantly evaluating the craft. This means connecting the tried and true of the past with new possibilities. Things grow and change, and often enough, the more things change, the more they stay the same, too.

Groups that wish to remain or to grow, must find ways to sustain themselves. Displaying/proving relevance is probably a necessary way to get more people engaging in the activity. "The traditional martial arts" have not had a great showing in things like MMA/UFC and I do think Aikido in general gets a bad rap, but I've never really been very concerned about that. I believe people will train how they want, and that people will want different things. If they want something that's a gentle, healthful activity, or something more aggressive and combative (not saying "combat"), that's up to the individual. Without getting into the topic of what constitutes "good," I say give me 5 good training partners and I'm personally quite satisfied. But I have very broad and personal goals and while I presume my learning has given me some ability at protecting myself, the need to do so is relatively low on the list compared to things like simply making my body healthier and as physically/mentally balanced as I can muster.

What do you take from the article, Igor?

Last edited by mathewjgano : 12-11-2017 at 04:28 PM.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 12-12-2017, 06:10 AM   #10
shuckser
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

We need a Steven Seagal for the Millennial Generation.
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Old 12-12-2017, 08:09 AM   #11
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Quote:
Conan Theobald wrote: View Post
We need a Steven Seagal for the Millennial Generation.
Meaning what, exactly? Someone who makes action movies in which he pretends to be some kind of tu tu ru?
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Old 12-12-2017, 04:40 PM   #12
Michael Hackett
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

I think what Mr. Theobald was suggesting is what Seagal Sensei did early in his movie career. His first couple of movies demonstrated a form of aikido - along with Matsuoka Sensei. Later of course his movies became really terrible in every aspect, but his early ones triggered quite an interest in aikido. It would be great if there was some cultural behavior that would interest younger people in our art; a series of movies, television shows, perhaps even public safety events shown in the media. I personally haven't seen it, but someone was telling me that the TV series "The Walking Dead" had a segment that showed aikido and that interest in training was increased to some extent.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 12-12-2017, 05:45 PM   #13
MrIggy
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Do you think training in arts like Boxing, Judo, Wrestling, BJJ... require little time, discipline, dedication, et c. and give instant gratification?
What he meant was that since there isn't competition or at least sparring in general in Aikido young practitioners don't have a measurable way of analyzing their achievements. Too much theory and little usage drives youngsters away.
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Old 12-12-2017, 06:07 PM   #14
MrIggy
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post

What do you take from the article, Igor?
My take is that mostly older practitioners go to AJ simply because they are aware of it's (historical) significance. I know many young practitioners of Aikido who have never heard of AJ, Aikiweb etc. and they could care less. Their main instructor is their "Aikido world" as far as they are concerned and that's understandable.

As for getting young practitioners to the dojo, you have to give them something other than applying a set of patterns over and over again and then just simply giving them kyu after kyu for essentially nothing. Add drills, physical conditioning, mint work. etc. Young people like to be physically challenged not stimulated for over contemplation of "martial principles" they are never gonna use.
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Old 12-13-2017, 05:43 AM   #15
shuckser
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Meaning what, exactly? Someone who makes action movies in which he pretends to be some kind of tu tu ru?
So long as it gets people on the mat, yes, that's exactly what I mean.

Also, what Mr Hackett said.
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Old 12-13-2017, 08:40 AM   #16
lbb
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Quote:
Conan Theobald wrote: View Post
So long as it gets people on the mat, yes, that's exactly what I mean.

Also, what Mr Hackett said.
"Getting them on the mat" is great, but not if it's based on false expectations. When those are disappointed, and the new students find out that aikido isn't about being a posturing goombata wannabee, they'll leave.
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Old 12-13-2017, 09:23 AM   #17
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
When those are disappointed, and the new students find out that aikido isn't about being a posturing goombata wannabee, they'll leave.
Unless they find that becoming a cross between a cult leader and a feudal lord is a worth pursuing path.
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Old 12-13-2017, 10:47 AM   #18
shuckser
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
"Getting them on the mat" is great, but not if it's based on false expectations. When those are disappointed, and the new students find out that aikido isn't about being a posturing goombata wannabee, they'll leave.
Perfect. At least they will have shored up the numbers for an hour or so, helping to hook-in the real beginner amongst them who would otherwise be welcomed to an emptier (and more exclusive and top-heavy) dojo.
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Old 12-15-2017, 04:42 PM   #19
rugwithlegs
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

The tool Josh provides is interesting.

Do we need competition? Tomiki Aikido and Ki Aikido have competition, and they trend no higher than other Aikido styles. Yoga has no competitive element, and trends higher than Aikido.

Does trending well mean something good? Words like pedophile trended higher than any school,of Aikido. I will not take that as advice.

MMA is an entertainment industry, and some of the trending I think is people streaming events (Judo and Taekwondo jump in the stats during the Olympics too).
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Old 12-15-2017, 07:43 PM   #20
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Aikido children's classes are actually pretty popular, but there's a huge dropoff at adolescence. First of all is the panoply of recreational options for a teenager. Second, there are few tangible rewards (aka competition, something particularly important to boys) in aikido practice. Third, adolescents transition into adult classes. Here you are, a fourteen or fifteen year old kid and you are suddenly hugely out of your comfort zone, required to make physical contact with forty year old matrons and balding guys with gray ponytails.

Next is the problem that the bloom is off the rose, so to speak. Aikido, at one time, was unspeakably exotic, the only traditional appearing Japanese martial art available. It contrasted with the more mundane judo and karate, much less the star-spangled-banner-Liberace pseudo arts. Now it's just one of many arts. One can join a genuine koryu school - - but one can also join anything from capoeira to Indonesian silat. The next exciting trend is going to be traditional martial arts from Africa - legitimate arts and organizations are starting to arrive in Europe and America. There is a huge menu of choices - at one time, aikido dominated a certain segment of the 'market' - there's no segment any more that it is exclusive - from internal strength training (or ideology), to reconciliation of aggression to strong martial virtue to traditional culture.

Then, as has already been noted - MMA. When I first joined aikido, there was a blatant assertion of it's almighty potential. This can be tested - and despite all the ways one can argue with the testing agency (sportive competition with rules, etc), the 'too deadly for the ring,' claim really doesn't resonate with most young people, who are quite legitimately concerned about whether aikido will teach them self-defense. I recently read a statement from the current Doshu where he denied the importance of aikido as a fighting system, anyway.

The avenue of internal strength training has been rediscovered, but it will always be the interest of a very few, and even less will put in the grueling hours to actually achieve benefit from such training. And repetitive solo training (funa kogu and ikkyo undo for an hour a day, for example) is going to appeal to very few people in their teens and twenties.

Aikido is, among martial arts, one among many. But can - or should it - emulate yoga? That's been tried - Shin Taido, it's called. It had a brief tiny boom and now its a superficial, not very popular activity (not to mention its founder was a Japanese Harvey Weinstein, and that really damaged the organization).

When you suspend any concern for martial virtue, you will lose the appeal for those who do care about aikido as a martial art - it will become contact improv and why, at that point, concern yourself with a keikko gi, with a dojo or Japanese culture at all?

Perhaps quality rather than quantity should be the issue - perhaps one should NOT be concerned about the diminishing numbers, because if the question is mostly how large numbers of people can support themselves, we are talking about aiki-business, not aiki-do. Perhaps a scaling down, and a more severe evaluation of teachers, so that only excellent people are teaching dedicated people. Enrollment less, dojos closing - but something improving, rather than continuing a continuous watering down from the first generation to now. Imagine, therefore, a future with one tenth or one-50th the numbers, but these dojos worthy of respect on their own terms, something continuously developed and honed like the fine steel from iron that Ueshiba Morihei claimed was the purpose of budo training.

Ellis Amdur

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Old 12-15-2017, 07:52 PM   #21
Peter Goldsbury
 
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Hello Ellis,

Have you by any chance met Doshu recently? Perhaps he might like to read your post.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 12-15-2017, 08:35 PM   #22
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Ellis,

Have you by any chance met Doshu recently? Perhaps he might like to read your post.

Best wishes,
Hi Peter -My reference to Doshu's statement. for what its worth, was a statement I read it in an Aikido Journal account of his presentation during a ceremony at the Iwama Dojo several years ago. Why do you think Doshu might find what I've written of interest?

As for contact, I've had no contact with the current Doshu since 1978.

Best
Ellis

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Old 12-15-2017, 10:12 PM   #23
Peter Goldsbury
 
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Hello Ellis,

My tongue was definitely in my cheek when I wrote the last post.

Your Post #20 gave a good summary of current aikido demographics etc and I wondered aloud whether this was an issue for the Aikikai. During my last conversation with Doshu, last year, he stressed that he could show and teach only what he considered mainstream aikido and had to leave individual explorations of the art to others. In another thread I called this a dilemma, since it applies the iemoto model to a non-koryu art like aikido.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 12-16-2017, 03:48 PM   #24
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

Just checking - I was imagining translating that post to Doshu.

I do remember a conversation with him after practice, back in 1977,where we compared birthdays and found I was a few months older than him. I threw my hakama at him and, deadpan, ordered him to fold it, because I was born first. He held it, looking at me, nonplussed . . . it took him about thirty seconds to realize it was a joke.

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Old 12-17-2017, 10:48 AM   #25
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Re: Aikido: Confronting a Crisis

IMHO, perhaps a crisis is feedback and an opportunity.
I remember a long time ago reading a book on positioning/marketing where we were asked to define our uniqueness and utilize it to position ourselves in a market niche/population.
While the general public may compare all martial arts, its what they intend/want to get out of its that is different. By comparing/competing with all other martial arts we lose our uniqueness in the marketplace. Perhaps Aikido appeals more to what parents want their children to get out of training and to the older marital artist looking for something different/deeper.
Besides an art, we are a business. From what I see, too many dojos fail to have a business/marketing plan that is implemented on a daily bases.
Perhaps individually and collectively we need to rethink what we have to offer, where/who are the people who want it, and how to connect the dots.
Just some initial thoughts.

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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