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Old 04-18-2007, 06:24 AM   #1
Lambdadragon
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Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

I recently overheard a statement which disturbed me, "Aikido is only for those who can afford it." I can remember years ago after finishing law school, with a huge student loan and a small entry level pay, still making certain I had the funds in my tight budget to practice Aikido. Yet, upon reflection, it seems sad but true that Aikido is only for those who can pay for the dojo membership and uniform fees (and if one wishes to rise to dan, then also the steep camp fees). I say sad, because I have always considered Aikido a universal activity for "all" persons. I had heard of one sensei in Brazil, who used Aikido to reach street kids. Is that more an exception?

David Wilson
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Old 04-18-2007, 06:58 AM   #2
DonMagee
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

My aikido club is a $10 mat fee. Nothing else. Ranking has a certificate fee that my instructor pays to his instructor to do the certificates.

There is a possibility to train 3 times a week there, that would make it about $120 a month. Currently I pay $85 a month for bjj, judo, MMA, and boxing at a single location. Before that my judo classes were $110 every 3 months. This makes aikido more expensive then those arts, however it is still cheaper then all of the ATA TKD schools and other family oriented places in town.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 04-18-2007, 07:09 AM   #3
RoyK
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

At my dojo, in every money related announcement (fees, seminars, equipment etc), there's a message at the bottom added by the head instructor "Those with monetary difficulties, please talk to me and we'll work something out".
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Old 04-18-2007, 07:27 AM   #4
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

There are a great many kind and generous souls who teach as a hobby, and demand little more than mutual respect, often putting in far far more than they get out financially. On the other hand, when it comes to large organizations, they don't function without finances, so of course when a person grows to the point where they can become a contributing member, then there is money to be paid, with no more covering by kinder friends. It is implicitly assumed that at some point an aikidoka will have reached a social development where he can contribute and help out those who are still not quite there yet, or starting out. It's also true that many people simply cannot grade because of financial hurdles, that alone can explain the number of dan grades in the rest of the world compared to Japan.
It is not really worthwhile discussing whether people who pay more get access to better aikido, that depends on many more factors. But I would say a person who can accumulate enough money to then go and train internationally, is likely going to be sharp enough to pick up more than the average Joe who only commutes to the local dojo.
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Old 04-18-2007, 07:44 AM   #5
Jerry Miller
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

It is not a charity.

Jerry Miller
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Old 04-18-2007, 07:58 AM   #6
Larry Feldman
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

My experience has been as Roy suggested.

I continue to work with people who have financial difficulty paying dues or a seminar fee.
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Old 04-18-2007, 08:01 AM   #7
statisticool
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Where I live the aikido is by far the cheapest.

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Old 04-18-2007, 08:09 AM   #8
Eric Webber
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

I think that aikido is "a universal activity for all persons" (with the caveat that the person has to want to follow aikido's martial and/or philosophical approach to interactions with others - otherwise it is not the appropriate path to follow for that individual), but agree that this does not mean it must be offered as a charity. I do not know of a dojo that sets its fees in order to keep poor people out; most dojo sets fees to keep the doors open and possibly support the teacher so he/she can afford to focus on teaching aikido rather than holding another additional job. Not being able to afford all the extras - the seminars, fancy dogi, new hakama, etc. - does not keep one from being an aikidoka.
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Old 04-18-2007, 08:17 AM   #9
Dewey
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

That can be said of almost any martial art, including MMA schools. Fees are usually set by three considerations:
1) What the instructor believes is a just fee to charge in exchange for their instruction (this is purely subjective, of course).
2) Business overhead in regards to how much rent and utilities are, sports insurance premiums, equipment cost, etc. In large metropolitan areas, the rent is outrageous.
3) Rather unpleasantly, local competition also sets the fees. The law of supply & demand.

I think what separates a Sensei from merely an instructor is that a Sensei takes a personal interest in their students and will always take into consideration any financial difficulties that might occur. I myself had a series of unexpected expenses last month (not to mention paying my taxes last week!) that left me very short. My Sensei was generous enough to let me continue studying for the month of April without demanding "his money." Instead, he did casually hint that the dojo does need a couple new window blinds and that he saw some at the local dollar store down the street that would be ideal...fair enough in my opinion!
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Old 04-18-2007, 08:17 AM   #10
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Training within Jiyushinkai costs a lot... you have to give of your self, you have to share your heart, and commit to share with your partner, and everyone does their best to bear the responsibilities of helping to pay the expenses and take care of each other. Any one that is willing to do this and wants to take part in this practice together is accepted at the level that they can take part. No one is turned away for financial reasons.

Chuck Clark
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Old 04-18-2007, 08:18 AM   #11
mrfeldmeyer
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Where I am currently living there are two dojos.

An ASU dojo that is part of a university club. I believe there dues are in the neighborhood of $35 a semester and $20 for a summer. They offer practice 3 times a week, so if you do the math the cost is relatively 75 cents per practice.

The other dojo is $20 a month and practices twice a week regularly with some open mat times as senior students are able to be there. Which calculates out to $2.50 per practice or cheaper.

Of course you have your dues to the hombu dojos and what not, but I think that both of these prices make Aikido available for almost anyone financially.
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Old 04-18-2007, 08:18 AM   #12
Mark Uttech
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

If you charge next to nothing, people tend to think what you have is worth next to nothing. Aikido comes very close to a college education.

In gassho,

Mark
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Old 04-18-2007, 08:33 AM   #13
Timothy WK
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

How much does the average Aikido class run nowadays? $80-100/month? Comparatively, that's about the same as anything else.

Membership to a fitness gym is going to run you $100-150/month (maybe a little less). A Yoga studio certainly costs as much as Aikido. Private instruction for, say, a musical instrument is going to run $15-25/hour, so 4 lessons a month is about the same. Educational classes is going to cost $100 or more per credit hour, spread out over time is about the same.

--Timothy Kleinert

Aikido & Wujifa qigongs
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Old 04-18-2007, 08:55 AM   #14
Beard of Chuck Norris
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

All "hobbies" regardless of them being martial arts will cost some money. You will need the correct apparel and equiment for one thing, as well as getting to the place you do it.

peace and love

Jo

BTW He might have meant kendo instead shish it's expensive!!
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Old 04-18-2007, 09:35 AM   #15
ikkitosennomusha
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Mark made a realistic statement. I have often thought that earning a shodan is about like earning your first college degree. In my experience, I have seen monthly dues range anywhere from $45 to $80 a month. You figure the average time to reach shodan is 4 to 5 years. That is a huge investment. As mentioned, you cannot get beyond a certain point unless you committ to attending seminars. I have seen that hold people back. However, it is implemented for a good reason. Although it may not be economical for some, it truely is designed to open the student up to a higher level of training. Each and every time I attended a seminar, I broke through my current plateau!
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Old 04-18-2007, 09:45 AM   #16
SeiserL
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Some may think that investing in yourself is selfish. Others may thinking that investing in yourself is the journey of and to wealth. IMHO, Aikido is an investment in wealth and health, not just as individuals but as a model of communicating and interrelating.

OTOH, there is a reality base for having a place to train.

I have never seen or heard of anyone turned away because they could not afford it. I have heard that used as an excuse by some.

Its a lot cheaper that most people pay per month for drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, spectator entertainment, junk food, depression, anxiety, and other fear based afflictions and addictions.

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 04-18-2007, 10:25 AM   #17
crbateman
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Teaching Aikido is a tough way to earn a living, and I don't know too many who derive their primary income in this pursuit. Most teachers I have encountered do take a student's financial situation into account, and still want to help them out if they are sincere and can benefit from the training. This is different than the student who doesn't give back of himself, or is obviously trying to take advantage of the instructor's generosity. It's a fact that dojo rent must be paid, and lights must be paid, and insurance must be paid, and so on, but it also is a fact that these bills must still be paid whether the needy student is there or not. In short, the instructor must decide, but I find that the attitude of most is that helping somebody out a little when they are down on their luck is a good thing, and there's always room on the mat for one more. My hat's off to those who do it that way.
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Old 04-18-2007, 10:32 AM   #18
mwible
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

my dojo is only $50 a month, which is pretty cheap i think. but maybe thats just my school...
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:40 AM   #19
James Davis
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

I only pay $40.00 a month, but then I'm the one who's teaching.

I've paid a lot to practice in the past, and would gladly pay more if it had to be done to keep the dojo open. We're doing okay at the moment, but then we have three schools sharing a roof.

I've had to give up quite a few things through the years that I've trained. I don't see my old friends so much, but my dojo friends are pretty cool.

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:43 AM   #20
Edward
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

What an expensive Martial Art! You have to pay mat fees? Keikogi? and on top of that you have to pay for your own belt? No wonder it's only for the rich
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Old 04-18-2007, 12:14 PM   #21
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

I have to say, these discussions always get to me. Aikido folks sitting around competing with each other to see whose training is cheapest. Aikido training is so under priced compared to the market it's not funny. The average dues for martial arts training in this country is around $120 to $140 per month.

I am a professional instructor. I have a dojo in an urban area which costs me just under $2000 per month. By the time you add the advertising, telephone, and other basic expenses I'm up to around $3000 per month just keeping the doors open.

The of course, there is my training. Since I am trying to deliver the finest training I possibly can, I am constantly training. My estimate for 2007 for training expenses is about $4500. I have been spending thousands on my training every year for more than twenty years. In fact one could say that I spent my kids college money getting to where I am in this art.

The dues at my dojo is around $100 per month. I teach six or seven days a week. I pay the instructor of my kids program 25% of everything the program generates. When I ran the numbers for 2006, I made all of 18 thousand from the dojo if one just counted the dues. In other words, just like college, the tuition you are paying doesn't come close to covering the true expense. So I have to teach Defensive Tactics outside, do police and security training, sell videos, travel all over doing Aikido seminars in order to not qualify for the earned income credit come tax time.

Hombu dojo has had a training program for professional instructors for decades now. They are supported in their training. This is how they turn out Shihan level teachers. Over here we have to do this ourselves.

So when Aikido people sit around and congratulate themselves on how cheap Aikido is, people should understand what they are saying. Everyone wants good instruction... people want their teachers to be as high level as possible. Why should a teacher be expected to "provide" that for you at his or her own expense?

The fact that Aikido dues are so cheap makes it very hard for people to put the time into their art which would allow them to develop into top level teachers. Most Aikido teachers are amateurs. Because there is no real money in it they limit the amount of training they do (unless they have great jobs to support their training). If they work, they spend the bulk of their free time on their art, taking time away from their families, relationships, friends etc. They use their own money to keep afloat. They are essentially donating their time and money. They do it because they love it but it sure isn't a matter of anyone being "entitled" to the benefits of their efforts.

How many of you folks out there who exult in the $30 - $40 / month dues you pay are donating 6 or 8 hours per week to charity? How many do charity work every weekend? What job do you work at? What if I said that I think that everyone should be entitled to whatever labor or service you provide at a third of what the going rate is for that effort?

People need to understand that in order to develop the finest instruction possible, for us to compete in quality with the Japanese who train professional teachers, we need a support base for our teachers. The bottom line support for a developing teacher is the dojo. It will take thirty years before one is good enough to start traveling and teaching seminars. So his or her support comes from the dojo. When people devalue that experience by saying that a teacher should be providing his expertise as a service because Aikido is a spiritual art, I say what?

If people want the poor to be able to train, then set up a scholarship fund in your dojo, subsidized by all the folks who have real jobs. If you think Aikido programs for the poor are so great, get donations and set up a program. Buy the mats and get a space, solicit donations from local businesses and THEN maybe ask the teacher if he'd donate some time. This after YOU have done some work and put in some time. What makes any of you out there think you are "entitled" to be taught Aikido? Why should people who have spent decades getting to where they are, fall all over themselves so that you can train without making any extra effort?

I can tell you that it was never that way back in O-Sensei's day. He paid a lot of money to be taught by Takeda Sensei and the old 30's deshi paid a lot to train with O-Sensei. The reason that O-Sensei was able to devote himself so completely to his training was that his family was rich. The gentleman never held a real job for any length of time in his life. He had a whole network of people who supported him. They built dojos and provided the financial support for anything needed. We don't have that here. No business man has offered to build me a dojo. No one donates money so that I can train. It all comes from the dojo and my other teaching efforts.

We need to stop thinking of training as some sort of entitlement program and value it the way other activities in our culture seem to be valued. When you undervalue Aikido training you are undervaluing your teachers.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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Old 04-18-2007, 12:32 PM   #22
mriehle
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Thank you, Ledyard Sensei.

You have no idea how timely this is for me.

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Old 04-18-2007, 12:35 PM   #23
DonMagee
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I have to say, these discussions always get to me. Aikido folks sitting around competing with each other to see whose training is cheapest. Aikido training is so under priced compared to the market it's not funny. The average dues for martial arts training in this country is around $120 to $140 per month.

I am a professional instructor. I have a dojo in an urban area which costs me just under $2000 per month. By the time you add the advertising, telephone, and other basic expenses I'm up to around $3000 per month just keeping the doors open.

The of course, there is my training. Since I am trying to deliver the finest training I possibly can, I am constantly training. My estimate for 2007 for training expenses is about $4500. I have been spending thousands on my training every year for more than twenty years. In fact one could say that I spent my kids college money getting to where I am in this art.

The dues at my dojo is around $100 per month. I teach six or seven days a week. I pay the instructor of my kids program 25% of everything the program generates. When I ran the numbers for 2006, I made all of 18 thousand from the dojo if one just counted the dues. In other words, just like college, the tuition you are paying doesn't come close to covering the true expense. So I have to teach Defensive Tactics outside, do police and security training, sell videos, travel all over doing Aikido seminars in order to not qualify for the earned income credit come tax time.

Hombu dojo has had a training program for professional instructors for decades now. They are supported in their training. This is how they turn out Shihan level teachers. Over here we have to do this ourselves.

So when Aikido people sit around and congratulate themselves on how cheap Aikido is, people should understand what they are saying. Everyone wants good instruction... people want their teachers to be as high level as possible. Why should a teacher be expected to "provide" that for you at his or her own expense?

The fact that Aikido dues are so cheap makes it very hard for people to put the time into their art which would allow them to develop into top level teachers. Most Aikido teachers are amateurs. Because there is no real money in it they limit the amount of training they do (unless they have great jobs to support their training). If they work, they spend the bulk of their free time on their art, taking time away from their families, relationships, friends etc. They use their own money to keep afloat. They are essentially donating their time and money. They do it because they love it but it sure isn't a matter of anyone being "entitled" to the benefits of their efforts.

How many of you folks out there who exult in the $30 - $40 / month dues you pay are donating 6 or 8 hours per week to charity? How many do charity work every weekend? What job do you work at? What if I said that I think that everyone should be entitled to whatever labor or service you provide at a third of what the going rate is for that effort?

People need to understand that in order to develop the finest instruction possible, for us to compete in quality with the Japanese who train professional teachers, we need a support base for our teachers. The bottom line support for a developing teacher is the dojo. It will take thirty years before one is good enough to start traveling and teaching seminars. So his or her support comes from the dojo. When people devalue that experience by saying that a teacher should be providing his expertise as a service because Aikido is a spiritual art, I say what?

If people want the poor to be able to train, then set up a scholarship fund in your dojo, subsidized by all the folks who have real jobs. If you think Aikido programs for the poor are so great, get donations and set up a program. Buy the mats and get a space, solicit donations from local businesses and THEN maybe ask the teacher if he'd donate some time. This after YOU have done some work and put in some time. What makes any of you out there think you are "entitled" to be taught Aikido? Why should people who have spent decades getting to where they are, fall all over themselves so that you can train without making any extra effort?

I can tell you that it was never that way back in O-Sensei's day. He paid a lot of money to be taught by Takeda Sensei and the old 30's deshi paid a lot to train with O-Sensei. The reason that O-Sensei was able to devote himself so completely to his training was that his family was rich. The gentleman never held a real job for any length of time in his life. He had a whole network of people who supported him. They built dojos and provided the financial support for anything needed. We don't have that here. No business man has offered to build me a dojo. No one donates money so that I can train. It all comes from the dojo and my other teaching efforts.

We need to stop thinking of training as some sort of entitlement program and value it the way other activities in our culture seem to be valued. When you undervalue Aikido training you are undervaluing your teachers.
I hear what you are saying, and I agree you should want to support your school. However I do not think cheap prices produce cheap teachers. Every judo club I've ever attended was way cheaper then everything else. I paid 110 for every 3 months with an option to pay 360 for the year. This was top level judo instruction from a 5th degree with a great competition record. Currently my judo instruction is free from a 1st degree with an awesome competition record. For non-bjj students he charges 30.00 a month. Even though he is only a 1st degree he is one of the best judo instructor's I've worked under. Plus he is well hooked up in the local judo community with friends who are big names in the chicago scene. There is also great judo at the YMCA which is also very cheap and gives you a lot more then just judo.

The difference is neither of these guys are trying to make a living at martial arts. They just love it and want to teach it. My aikido instructor built a dojo on his property so he wouldn't have to rent, that is why he only charges mat fee's.

There is nothing wrong with trying to run a buisness with a store front and all that. Its just that you don't need to do that to be a great teacher. You can share space with a karate school like my bjj coach does, teach out of a YMCA, teach out of your garage, etc.

The last thing to keep in mind is that although I haven't seen it in aikido, Commercialism of the martial arts has been very unkind to TKD, karate, kempo, kungfu, etc.

I do not place monetary value on my training. I put value on my time and effort that I am willing to give to help my teachers setup websites, solve technical problems, help fill in with new students, and help out for free with anything I have time to do. Even if I paid $1.00 I would not value my education any less. However, I work at a community college, I know all about the perception of skill with the cost of classes. It is sad that a lot of people have the perception that if it is cheap, it must suck.

Last edited by DonMagee : 04-18-2007 at 12:39 PM.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 04-18-2007, 12:44 PM   #24
Dewey
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

Very well and justly stated, Ledyard Sensei!

My Sensei (Richard Harnack Sensei) is a full-time instructor, giving away several hours for each of the 6 days of his week in instruction...he is truly selfless and completely dedicated to the Art. Check out the schedule page: http://www.aikiway.org...he teaches those classes himself!

What he asks in regards to monthly dues is a mere fraction of what he gives in time, effort, expertise...not to mention his own money. Whenever he casually hints that someone needs to donate such-and-such for the dojo...his more serious & loyal students do so. He hinted to me yesterday to buy some new window shades...which I will do this evening.
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Old 04-18-2007, 12:53 PM   #25
gdandscompserv
 
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Re: Is Aikido Only For the Wealthy

I teach foster children free. Everyone else pays a $5 mat fee. I don't have a "dues" structure because I do not offer rank at my dojo. I have never had a problem paying for good aikido instruction.
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