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Old 10-14-2008, 09:01 AM   #1
"Anon,"
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Spirit and loyalty

Hi all, I'm a member of a dojo which has what I think, could be interpreted as a bit of a problem. I train at a dojo which has no regular dan grades except the teacher, very few high kyu grades and is mostly comprised of 9-6th kyus. As a 5th kyu, it is very strange indeed regularly being the highest grade at class and I feel the lack of sempais means I'm not improving as well as I could be. The teacher is fantastic and I get the impression he is supremely frustrated at the lack of dedicated aikidoka.

So my question is, does anyone have any suggestions for how club spirit can be improved? The teacher has tried giving mini pep-talks during line-up about regular training and encouraging everyone to attend seminars as a club team, but enthusiasm is lacking, so far I'm the only one signed up to go to the next one. I tried individually asking people to come with me, but they all have excuses not to go.

You can't force people round to your way of thinking, so what to do? Wait it out?
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Old 10-14-2008, 10:25 AM   #2
John Matsushima
 
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

All you need to practice in the dojo is just one other person and a teacher to help you along.

-John Matsushima

My blog on Japanese culture
http://onecorneroftheplanetinjapan.blogspot.jp/
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Old 10-14-2008, 02:02 PM   #3
"Anon,"
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

Fair point. Looks like we'll have to lump it! ^_^ It's a shame, aikido is so much better when everyone is working as a club, I love the social aspect of aikido too.
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Old 10-14-2008, 02:08 PM   #4
dave9nine
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

in kids classes it is shown that using colored belts provides a 'visual' cue to build goals--something to look forward to and ultimately a reason to train and get better. I suggest a similar thought for people in general. It sound like you're in a rut because there are no examples of what a person could look like in ____ months if they keep training. For me, it was watching sempai do effortless highfalls and saying, "man, i cant wait to do that".
So, since you seem to be most into it, you should try to carve out xtra time with your sensei and rise in ranks and ability so you can be that person for others.
just my take.
-dave
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Old 10-20-2008, 06:29 AM   #5
Ketsan
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Hi all, I'm a member of a dojo which has what I think, could be interpreted as a bit of a problem. I train at a dojo which has no regular dan grades except the teacher, very few high kyu grades and is mostly comprised of 9-6th kyus. As a 5th kyu, it is very strange indeed regularly being the highest grade at class and I feel the lack of sempais means I'm not improving as well as I could be. The teacher is fantastic and I get the impression he is supremely frustrated at the lack of dedicated aikidoka.

So my question is, does anyone have any suggestions for how club spirit can be improved? The teacher has tried giving mini pep-talks during line-up about regular training and encouraging everyone to attend seminars as a club team, but enthusiasm is lacking, so far I'm the only one signed up to go to the next one. I tried individually asking people to come with me, but they all have excuses not to go.

You can't force people round to your way of thinking, so what to do? Wait it out?
Get out and do stuff as a dojo. Go paintballing, drinking, go out for a meal, host a BBQ anything.
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Old 10-20-2008, 07:59 PM   #6
"Anon,"
IP Hash: d3ad96ca
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

Dave - Indeed, it's how I got into aikido, by the grace of sempai who were good enough to go out of their way to help me and by my seeing what they could do and hoping to one day be able to do it too. I suppose I'm concerned that people will miss out on the magic and quit just because there's no one to look up to. I'm not up to it yet, but I'm working on it, I hope I can be of use to someone, sometime

Ketsan - good idea, I'd love something like that, might put it to sensei and see what he says.

Thanks for your thoughts!
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Old 10-24-2008, 12:32 PM   #7
dalen7
 
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

I dont know, never been to your dojo - so its a hit or miss.

Could be 'relevance'.

From my understanding people come out of interest and then give up on Aikido not long after.

They either think 'it does not work', or they last long enough to see its value, but think it would take forever to apply it in a real situation.

A lot may have to do with communication.
Pep talks aside, address the issues mentioned above.

Ask people for their honest feedback and watch where they are at.
Do they look like Aikido looks like a joke to them, etc? What is it that is causing their interest to go down?

Perhaps they learned 4 of the more common Nage moves and same with katame waza and they think this is boring now.
I see this...

Taking aikido and breaking it down into sections and stages of obtainability - focusing on what you can expect once you achieve the goal, of say black belt, would help.
(This will vary by mileage, but the concept is there.)

I would say also in this day and age, Aikido may be at even more of a disadvantage of front as to whether or not it will keep ones interest on the perception that it is fake...or useless.

If beginners realize that not all attacks look like a 'fight club' and that it starts with pushing, shoving, or yelling sometimes - that Aikido blends well in certain circumstances.

And past those circumstances, what is Aikido drastically changes in form, but the concept is their behind it, when in a fist fight, per say.

Once you apply the concepts and you get them to the ground...you have it made. Now some may well argue that aikido is not a ground sport - but I would say the key is to look at it holistically.

In this day and age, this may be what the issue is.
Take a look at what was said, see if it makes sense at all, and this may or may not help to some extent. (Most of it applies to the teacher as its up to them whether or not people come. They are the leader per say.)

But gone are the days of just taking a martial art class cause you saw 'karate kid' and making you look tough. (suppose Im talking about the younger ones that end up in the dojos and leaving.)

And for grown adults, the value in Aikido often is not conveyed.
I had to figure it out for myself...many dont take the time to see what they can get out or make out of something...so if you, or your teacher wants to keep students, thats something to think about.

And last but not least...enjoy your time with the teacher than...learn what you can from him. But I suppose if its a full class you will not get one on one, and you are missing a more senior mentor while practicing. Perhaps he should give you some one on one if this is the case where your basically the only one that shows up and continually goes...(past the new guys that come and go.)

Best to you - most of all, enjoy what your doing in the 'now'...make the best of it...its all you will ever have.

Peace

dAlen

dAlen [day•lynn]
dum spiro spero - {While I have breathe - I have hope}

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http://www.lightofinfinity.org

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Old 10-24-2008, 12:35 PM   #8
dalen7
 
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Fair point. Looks like we'll have to lump it! ^_^ It's a shame, aikido is so much better when everyone is working as a club, I love the social aspect of aikido too.
I will add, Aikido is a bit different in that you do depend on a partner.
Naturally I navigate toward kicking and hitting type sports...dont like prolonged contact with people. - so Aikido was a bit interesting for me in the beginning to say the least.

But now I have gotten past some of my qualms with it and think it adapts well with elbows, knees and whatever else you want to throw in...or it blends well if you just want to use it as the 'path to peace'.

Again, the sensei sets the tone for the particular dojo...how he wants to take it will dictate who will and will not come. And how he drives it will dictate if they keep coming, to some extent anyway.

Peace

dAlen

dAlen [day•lynn]
dum spiro spero - {While I have breathe - I have hope}

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Old 10-24-2008, 04:07 PM   #9
"Anon,"
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

Thanks for your replies dalen7. It's probably a mixture of things, the problem is always that you can't keep everyone happy. There are people who would be more likely to stay if that class was tougher, faster and if we focussed more on 'street application', but that would lose us some gentler members who like that fact they can do a martial art where they're not feeling like they could get hurt at any moment. I have noticed a slight lilt in the direction of 'real application' training recently, so sensei's probably thinking along the lines you mentioned.

Other aikidoka definitely have that idea. At another dojo I visited, after class some of the students got together for a secret don't-tell-sensei "experiment" with more realistic attacks. There was a lot of energetic round house kicks to the face, knees to the groin etc. Was great fun to see! (and no one got hurt!)

I've had a think and am less bothered about it now, I'll just chill out, keep training and eventually we'll all creep up the grades. The ones who stay, stay and the ones who don't, well, don't! When I think of it in terms of doing aikido for 20+ years, that there's not loads of sempai for me to pester right this very minute isn't a big deal.

Besides, there's no such thing as 'too much of the basics'

*A content aikidoka*
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Old 10-25-2008, 03:48 AM   #10
dalen7
 
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

You bring up some things that remind me of my dojo.

About a year ago a couple of Aikido practitioners - (2nd kyu) - left.
They started their own thing doing Russian knives what not.
Now I cant speak for them as to why they left - well I talked to one and can - they felt that Aikido took them as far as it could go and was somewhat outdated for todays world. (in technique.)

I believe this along with Sensei hearing about people talking about mixed martial arts, etc. inspired him to try and show how aikido could work practically in some of todays situations...whether it be kicks, etc.

Truth being, Aikido is something that takes some getting used to in order to effectively do this. Im not saying it cant be done in a shorter time period like in kick boxing training...but as many people mention, the 'live aspect' is what helps. But in the same token, with Aikido you can do some damage if uke is not up to par (that be me...hehe), etc.

So it really boils down to the persons temperament if they have the patience and willingness to try to round out their skills this way. (not that Aikido is the only way to go about doing this.)

But you point out something valid.
You have to be true to yourself and your goals...if its not authentic you will, as a teacher, loose both sides of the class.

On the other hand, if you are open enough as a teacher, it could be that you can add an extra class per week for advanced students.

Now that wont address the fact that these are beginners wanting to feel like they can kick some butt...it should be more of a motivation that there is more and to stick it out. After all in the beginning stage they are asking to get hurt with this...cover the basics, as you said, until you got it.

Thats something Im still ironing out after a year in Aikido and would like to more finalize it so that I can go on with some of the ideas I have for Aikido and mixing it with something like Thai boxing.

Anyway, the best to you...and as you put it..."a content Aikidoka".

Best to you.

dAlen

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Thanks for your replies dalen7. It's probably a mixture of things, the problem is always that you can't keep everyone happy. There are people who would be more likely to stay if that class was tougher, faster and if we focussed more on 'street application', but that would lose us some gentler members who like that fact they can do a martial art where they're not feeling like they could get hurt at any moment. I have noticed a slight lilt in the direction of 'real application' training recently, so sensei's probably thinking along the lines you mentioned.

Other aikidoka definitely have that idea. At another dojo I visited, after class some of the students got together for a secret don't-tell-sensei "experiment" with more realistic attacks. There was a lot of energetic round house kicks to the face, knees to the groin etc. Was great fun to see! (and no one got hurt!)

I've had a think and am less bothered about it now, I'll just chill out, keep training and eventually we'll all creep up the grades. The ones who stay, stay and the ones who don't, well, don't! When I think of it in terms of doing aikido for 20+ years, that there's not loads of sempai for me to pester right this very minute isn't a big deal.

Besides, there's no such thing as 'too much of the basics'

*A content aikidoka*

dAlen [day•lynn]
dum spiro spero - {While I have breathe - I have hope}

Art
http://www.lightofinfinity.org

Philosophical
http://dalen7.wordpress.com
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Old 10-27-2008, 10:30 AM   #11
Hanna B
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

Quote:
Alex Lawrence wrote: View Post
Get out and do stuff as a dojo. Go paintballing, drinking, go out for a meal, host a BBQ anything.
Café or a beer after training is usually a good idea to build the feeling of a group. It takes that the teacher is willing to do this investment in time with his/her students, though. It can be done without the teacher, but usually less people join.
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Old 10-30-2008, 05:25 PM   #12
"anon,"
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

Hanna, you're absolutely right, my fondest memories involving aikido have actually been after class sat in cafés with friends. It'll happen in this dojo too - eventually.
This is a case of an "not everyone thinks like I do" oops. That some people treat aikido as an activity they do once/twice a week to see what they get out of it is fine (I have come to realise), not everyone needs to or should take it so seriously, in fact one could argue that I'm the one who needs to chill out and stop treating it like the be all and end all (but I don't think I will, haha!).

I'm not worried anymore, every dojo is different and each will evolve too. I trust my sensei and what he teaches might lose a few people along the way, but it won't lose me!

Thanks guys!
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Old 11-14-2008, 05:28 AM   #13
john.burn
 
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

We're only a small dojo with maybe 20 members - I guess we have on average about 8 people on each class. The club that we (myself and our other teacher) came from changed in atmosphere when people stopped socialising after class so we always make a point of going out for a drink after class and making newbies feel very welcome and getting them to join us.

Best Regards,
John

www.chishindojo.co.uk
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Old 11-14-2008, 10:16 AM   #14
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Wink Re: Spirit and loyalty

Everywhere I ever enrolled - fitness club, dance school, Karate, and finally, Aikido - I had to fill up a form that included the following question: why do you want to do.....? This is a very important information. It gives you an idea of what the student is looking for. He/she often finds something different from what they wanted. At this point, they either quit or be interested in a perspective that they had not expected. Those who stick around stay for a reason. There is one student a my dojo who apparently comes just for the fun and the socializing. As a result he does not improve much, but what can we do? He's a nice guy and he often makes himself useful in other ways. We take him as he is.
The thing is that you cannot force commitment one someone.
Try to find out what most people want upon enrolling, and start working from there. You will not always be able to please them. But those who stay just might suddenly be hit by the light one fine day. You plant the seed, you water it, and, having done your best, you wait.
This is one of the many humbling aspects of the martial arts.
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Old 01-27-2009, 03:24 PM   #15
Chantal
 
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

I live in a small town and on a good day, we have 5 ppl on the mat. I personally do not mind the small class. In my case, the sensei has more time to correct mistakes and really take time to teach techniques.

As far as morale and involvement is concerned, we go out twice a week for a beer after class. It's nice to see everyone off the mat and chatting in a more "personal/friendly" way. We also plan Christmas parties and occasional movie/wine nights at the sensei's house. I feel close to the people I train with. I trust them immensely.
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Old 01-28-2009, 03:01 AM   #16
Guilty Spark
 
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

Hello Chantal,
Have you considered adding Whiskey to the menu on the movie/wine nights?

You never know who might show up

Last edited by Guilty Spark : 01-28-2009 at 03:07 AM.

If you're hungry, keep moving.
If you're tired, keep moving.
If you value you're life, keep moving.

You don't own what you can't defend
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Old 01-28-2009, 06:05 AM   #17
Chantal
 
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

hahaha ... funny guy ...on beer nights everyone drinks beer but me ... I am the only one who drinks rye and ginger ... looking for another rye drinker!! You gonna come out? lol ... if you can find your way to my dojo
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Old 01-28-2009, 09:00 AM   #18
Guilty Spark
 
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

If you're buying then I'll drink rye with ya
We just have to keep an eye on Pete and stop him from trying to show techniques, it tends to draw attention.

Ask him about the time at fatty cats when a corrections officer (female 130 lbs) was telling us about the aikido she knew and how she could break both our arms and how she should come to the school to teach.

I agree 100% having a smaller class is much more intimate and students benefit from more exposure to one on one instruction. I really enjoy going for drinks and stuff after class (sometimes before, ha) and the christmas parties/get togethers after someone got a new belt.

If you're hungry, keep moving.
If you're tired, keep moving.
If you value you're life, keep moving.

You don't own what you can't defend
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Old 01-28-2009, 02:33 PM   #19
Chantal
 
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

He might have told me about Phatty Katz ... but not 100% sure .... did he ask her to hold him really good where she was sure he wouldn't move. Then he turned her around or something and kissed her cheek (something like that .. my memory is failing me right now).

As far as the rye goes ... haven't I bought you rye before??? Actually, I have even delivered it to your home after work ..lol .. I am a good friend

lol ... Pete is always waving his arms around and talking aikido when we go out for drinks ... it's hard to change the subject ... and when it is changed, you can imagine what the next topic is ... women ...lol So I usually start conversations about movies, weather, stupid things I did teaching that day ... how my students are so smart ....

I do like the small class though ... be nice if Bob showed up more often too ...
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Old 01-31-2009, 07:28 AM   #20
Guilty Spark
 
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

Nope that was a different person. I've heard *that* one maybe 2 dozen times

Now that you mention it I think you HAVE delivered rye, more than once LOL. A great friend bearing gifts indeed.
Speaking of students (tell yours I said hello, video message to come soon) I might be teaching in Ottawa or north of Toronto this summer but I'm aiming for Ottawa or closer to home.

Bob's great to train with. Him and I usually speed it up and go pretty hard when Pete isn't looking. Friendly cop vs Soldier thing. His shift work does kill his trainign though, is he still 1st green or did he make it to 2nd?

If you're hungry, keep moving.
If you're tired, keep moving.
If you value you're life, keep moving.

You don't own what you can't defend
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Old 02-07-2009, 04:24 PM   #21
Chantal
 
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Re: Spirit and loyalty

guess no need for the video message since you may be coming home in 2 weeks ... instead, you can visit my class and talk to the kids yourself

Bob is second green ... but he is rarely there ... I haven't seen him since my test (early January) ... and before that was early November ... police work and family keep him busy!! I am sure you could show him a few things when you get back.

Such a small class ... we know what is going on with everyone .. kinda nice though ... we all get along well!!

see ya soon,

Chantal
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