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Old 10-17-2012, 08:50 AM   #1
Mary Eastland
 
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Dojo: Berkshire Hills Aikido
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So how is your dojo doing?

Our classes have been small. Our dedicated students have been with us for a long time. We have a small core who train regularly. New people don't stay so much anymore. I am so grateful for the people who keep coming so Ron and I can continue train.

It seems like a new trend is for people just to go to seminars. Well, it is nice to see people there. I am putting it out to the universe that I would like our dojo to continue to grow and thrive.

How about your dojo? How is is going there?

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Old 10-17-2012, 10:19 AM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

December will be two years since our founder/chief instructor died.
Immediately after her passing, a bunch of former students, including some fairly senior folk, reappeared on the mat; however, they quickly faded away.
Our core group remains quite small - this is a small town in the heart of a very rural area- however we have a small, regular influx of newer students periodically thanks to our beginner's and kids' classes being regularly listed via the three times a year local recreation guide - folks can sign up via the city rec dept. for discrete four week sessions w/o technically "joining" the dojo or buying a gi. We normally pick up one or two "keepers" for the adult classes this way.
And thanks to three volunteer instructors, our kids' classes are generally well attended, which besides continuing our role as part of the local community definitely helps pay the bills.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 10-17-2012, 10:21 AM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
It seems like a new trend is for people just to go to seminars.
I'm curious about this, Mary. Are you saying that you find people don't show up for regular training at the dojo, but somehow keep their skill level up enough to instead just attend seminars from time to time?

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 10-17-2012, 10:59 AM   #4
aiki-jujutsuka
 
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

I have the interesting situation at my dojos in that I'm alittle like the spare wheel. As our arts require partners to act as tori and uke, I don't have a regular/grading partner. There have been a few uni students who have joined us who have come as a group so stick together; there is also a couple of teenagers who've joined and a couple of guys I've graded with before who've either left or don't attend regularly anymore. It can be frustrating, especially when coming up to a grading. I've been doing well just recently as there has been another brown belt whose regular training partner hasn't been around and I've managed to train with him, but there's no certainty we'll train together regularly in the future.
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:10 AM   #5
Walter Martindale
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
I have the interesting situation at my dojos in that I'm alittle like the spare wheel. As our arts require partners to act as tori and uke, I don't have a regular/grading partner. There have been a few uni students who have joined us who have come as a group so stick together; there is also a couple of teenagers who've joined and a couple of guys I've graded with before who've either left or don't attend regularly anymore. It can be frustrating, especially when coming up to a grading. I've been doing well just recently as there has been another brown belt whose regular training partner hasn't been around and I've managed to train with him, but there's no certainty we'll train together regularly in the future.
That's interesting.. With the exception of Calgary (Aikido Bozankan) in the mornings, and Aikikai Hombu in Tokyo, all the dojo I've practiced in have switched partners quite regularly during practice.

Does your dojo not encourage practicing with as many different people as possible? After all, one needs to be able to "aikido" anyone, not just a regular partner..
Cheers,
Walter
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:16 AM   #6
aiki-jujutsuka
 
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Yes we switch partners occassionally, sometimes a few times per lesson, but especially when we are approaching a grading, it is generally encouraged to have a regular training partner. It has worked to my advantage in the past when my instructors have given me one-to-one support and training. There are a few guys I train with but sometimes it can be frustrating when you want to establish a partnership for gradings.
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:46 AM   #7
Walter Martindale
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
Yes we switch partners occassionally, sometimes a few times per lesson, but especially when we are approaching a grading, it is generally encouraged to have a regular training partner. It has worked to my advantage in the past when my instructors have given me one-to-one support and training. There are a few guys I train with but sometimes it can be frustrating when you want to establish a partnership for gradings.
I see. I've done it both ways - practice with someone over and over and .... oops, he can't make it to the grading so... um... Who's available? I've also "uke'd" for someone going for his shodan when he didn't have a partner lined up.
Last two of my gradings have had multiple partners without much pre-selection. Vastly different people, too, in the nidan test. The shodan grading was just a queue of 5 guys, one after the other, with the examiner calling out all the requirements.

I'd suggest you make a point of getting used to not being used to anyone - but also being used to everyone. Practice with little folks, big STRONG folks, loose folks, TIGHT folks, fit folks and not so fit folks. Ask them to be relentless and to push, push, push until you can barely stand up. (of course this is very good training for both parties uke and nage because in practice you take turns. work until you NEED rest, and then work until you can't keep going.. harder to do than we think.)
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Old 10-17-2012, 12:00 PM   #8
aiki-jujutsuka
 
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Easier said than done. I've trained with most people in my dojo, I've helped the lower grades and the teenagers before. We did a Nidan session a few weeks ago where I partnered with one of the teenagers but his wrists were so weak that he crumpled in pain with almost every technique and I had to train very lightly with him. Not a criticism of him, he couldn't help his frame but it wasn't the most beneficial session for me. I've trained with some bigger guys, whose body frame is much bigger than mine and are much stronger than me, which has been good to really hone the technique to make it work. The hardest I think I've trained is when I've done knife defence - but there is less emphasis on ukemi in AJJ than Aikido and more emphasis on atemi, so training is done with great care to avoid injury.
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Old 10-17-2012, 12:00 PM   #9
lbb
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

We have our stalwarts, but we could use more bodies -- sounds like it's a common theme. Martial arts practice is a minority taste -- while a lot of people might try it, few stick with it -- and since we are not located near a large population center, a small percentage of a not-large population gives us...you get the idea.
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Old 10-17-2012, 12:03 PM   #10
Eva Antonia
Dojo: CERIA
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Dear all,

at the moment I have the impression that our dojo is doing fine. What does "fine" mean?

I have seen dojos with much better attention, more students, several classes per day, lots of fantastic teachers and high graded students. These range from non-profit to professional ones; to count three - www.aikimode.com in Turkey, the Aikido Federation of Azerbaijan (www.aikiaz.ru) and last but no ways least, the Cercle Tissier (www.cercletissier.com). We are lightyears away from them, no way to compare.

But then in Brussels there is an aikido dojo at every street corner (alone four aikikai dojos in 10 min biking distance from my house), fees are very cheap and teachers are generally good. I've never seen dojos with the main instructor being 1st kyu or things like that. So, there is lots of competition, and in consequence most dojos are quite small. It's by the way the same for other martial arts.

So, for us, doing fine is having more than half of the students wearing a hakama, all of them being at our dojo for years, and also most of the lower kyus being permanent. Turnover and awol rates are quite low. We got five new white belts with the begin of this season, and all of them purchased a gi (token of commitment...). At normal classes, 10- 15 people show up. There are six kids coming permanently to kids classes, including one of my daughters. And we have four instructors/ assistant instructors between shodan and yondan, which is also fine. We have four classes per week, two for adults/ advanced students, two for children/ beginners. No one is very much in a hurry for passing exams, and there is neither exam stress nor exam fees (for the kyu grades, that is). Some people are not satisfied with training "only" four times per week and complement by training in another dojo. That's also fine.

I remember having dire straits with at first our dojo being under construction (renovation of the university sports complex we belong to) for 18 months, then our main instructor falling ill and having to give up after some months. That cost us something like half the number of students, and there were times we showed up for training with two people, the highest ranking being 4th kyu or so. So at that times I thought our dojo was menaced with extinction, but luckily we got over this, fusioning with another dojo that had problems with the place it rented.

And since then, I'd say, it's improving slowly but continuously. I hope it'll remain like that and if maybe some day we could host more seminars it would be even better. I wish the same to you all!

Best regards,

Eva
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Old 10-17-2012, 12:35 PM   #11
Janet Rosen
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

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Eva Röben wrote: View Post
Turnover and awol rates are quite low. We got five new white belts with the begin of this season, and all of them purchased a gi (token of commitment...).
We have a wry joke that we discourage newbies from purchasing a gi as, rather than being a token of committment, too many seem to buy the gi and then never come back

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 10-17-2012, 01:34 PM   #12
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
I'm curious about this, Mary. Are you saying that you find people don't show up for regular training at the dojo, but somehow keep their skill level up enough to instead just attend seminars from time to time?
We have several people who have moved away from the Berkshires but still come back to our seminars. 2 of them have opened a dojo and train there...some just come to seminars. We also have a club and a class at MCLA and a class at Berkshire Community College and a small dojo in Pittsfield which is about 20 miles north of here.

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Old 10-17-2012, 01:50 PM   #13
phitruong
Dojo: Charlotte Aikikai Agatsu Dojo
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
We have a wry joke that we discourage newbies from purchasing a gi as, rather than being a token of committment, too many seem to buy the gi and then never come back
you too? quite a few folks who bought the gi then neverheard from them again. very strange. now, we just tell folks to not bother with the gi, until you have trained for a few months.

methink, it's a cultural thing. there are folks who don't want to do martial arts, because they associate that with UFC/MMA violent. then there are folks who want to do martial arts, because they associate that with UFC/MMA violent. then there are folks who don't know what they want but afraid to try something new, because it might change them. then we have folks, because of various life issues, who can't or won't.

it's hard to get folks that are really interested and committed. maybe aikido just isn't sexy enough and guys in funny skirt aren't helping or attractive looking (except for moi).

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 10-17-2012, 03:06 PM   #14
Janet Rosen
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
you too? quite a few folks who bought the gi then neverheard from them again. very strange. now, we just tell folks to not bother with the gi, until you have trained for a few months....
it's hard to get folks that are really interested and committed. maybe aikido just isn't sexy enough and guys in funny skirt aren't helping or attractive looking (except for moi).
hmm...maybe we need to get the newbies right into haks, take them away for just keikiogi at first grading, and then at shodan you get to just wear your street clothes

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:35 AM   #15
SteliosPapadakis
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

The dojo has been doing fine.
We also accommodate a Zumba (!) class after the lesson...
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Old 10-26-2012, 03:49 PM   #16
Chonin
Dojo: Aikido of Denton
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
hmm...maybe we need to get the newbies right into haks, take them away for just keikiogi at first grading, and then at shodan you get to just wear your street clothes
Well I am simple newb getting ready for 6th Kyu. I don't wear a nifty hakama but my wife says I am wearing tighter abs and pecs outside the dojo.

That's good reason to keep at it.

How's my dojo doing? They build solid cores and everyone gets along.
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Old 10-26-2012, 09:48 PM   #17
Alic
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

In the Vancouver Yoshinkan club we're doing pretty well for ourselves. A senshusei graduate as regular class sensei, and the dojocho teaching advance classes. A good solid core group of pretty junior students, some already shodan candidates.

I find that it's difficult to keep beginners around, even though us college kids keep bringing in friends and classmates. Mostly they tell me it has to do with work, classes, and/or significant others, but a nagging part of my brain tells me they're just being lazy and don't want to put in extra effort...

What do you guys think? Am I just being a douche and assume everyone's lazy, or is that why the new people don't come to training? Is there any way to combat the lazy factor, or should I just let the lazy ones slip away?
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Old 10-26-2012, 11:58 PM   #18
Janet Rosen
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Quote:
Alic Xie wrote: View Post
What do you guys think? Am I just being a douche and assume everyone's lazy, or is that why the new people don't come to training? Is there any way to combat the lazy factor, or should I just let the lazy ones slip away?
Why make it a value/personality judgement like "lazy" instead of just thinking that most folks just aren't really interested in doing martial arts?

Janet Rosen
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Old 10-27-2012, 12:09 AM   #19
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Our classes have been small. Our dedicated students have been with us for a long time. We have a small core who train regularly. New people don't stay so much anymore. I am so grateful for the people who keep coming so Ron and I can continue train.

It seems like a new trend is for people just to go to seminars. Well, it is nice to see people there. I am putting it out to the universe that I would like our dojo to continue to grow and thrive.

How about your dojo? How is is going there?
Hello Mary,

Tomorrow we celebrate our 10th anniversary. We expect to receive about 50 visitors from other parts of Japan and we will have a training session followed by a short demonstration, and a party.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 10-27-2012, 04:46 AM   #20
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Why make it a value/personality judgement like "lazy" instead of just thinking that most folks just aren't really interested in doing martial arts?
What Janet said. Is everyone who doesn't sing in a choir "lazy"?

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 10-28-2012, 06:57 AM   #21
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Onegaishimasu, George Ledyard Sensei once wrote that less than 1% of folks are SERIOUSLY
interested in learning the martial arts. I think dojos can rest easy: 60% of the poulation is aging to a serious point where they want to begin trying to save their lives and running isn't for everyone. There is a known story (from the 'Principles of Aikido') where O Sensei tells a 70 yr old beginner that he himself is over 80 and pairs up with him to practice kokyu tanden ho. There's plenty of innovation going on in the Aikido world.

In gassho,

Mark

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Old 10-28-2012, 01:53 PM   #22
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Like everyone's post, but way cool Mark! just what I wanted to hear. I'll be seventy in a year and a half.

But I don't have my reading glasses on. I looked again and it was "innovation", yep, that's great to know, but what I first read it as, applies to me :"motivation!'

Thanks Mark, and thanks to the 70 year old beginner for starting a trend way back that I'm sure has always been in the background since then.

Nice to know that according to Mark, when I come out of Aikido retirement there will be plenty of people who don't mind practicing slow

Last edited by Diana Frese : 10-28-2012 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 10-28-2012, 02:04 PM   #23
Krystal Locke
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Diana, what are you waiting for? I'll train slow with you. Seriously, why aren't you on the mat? You are clearly still doing aikido intellectually and emotionally.....
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Old 10-28-2012, 02:56 PM   #24
Diana Frese
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Don't want to shock anyone, but I have used the Y situation as an excuse to try "scenario teaching" Not strict self defense scenarios but to get some principles across conveniently to newbies and not so newbies at the same time. Like teaching beginning irimi nage from a simple diagonal shoulder push in a made up bar scenario where people are leaning against the mirror wall. I call it the Star Wars Bar Scene, though none of that cool music available!

If you don't mind the details, one person stands out in front and is told to wave hands around and act flustered while each would-be attacker uncurls from the "bar scene" wall and aims to push the "nage to be" So the attacker would keep coming if unopposed.

So second time around for each: Let the uke start to push the shoulder. Nage-to-be uses this to sense where uke is coming from, feeling the light push a bit.

Third time, let uke pass by as if nage is a swinging door, one hand indicating continue in uke's direction, but other hand behind uke's neck, gently turning towards wall with other people leaning on it. Uke ends up where he or she started.

"Here, have a beer you'll feel better." (Or a ginger ale or whatever they want)

If Phi showed up to help, I guess we would have had to have real beer, not imaginary. But all this was decades ago. He would have liked our old YMCA dojo. We always went out for food and drink after class. Usually Italian food. My favorite was eggplant parmigian',

Now you all are getting me nostalgic. But all this talk about haks, both of mine shredded (the indigo cotton kind) over two decades ago and too spoiled or too broke to buy cheaper ones later.

A few years later, we had a little loft dojo. We just wore sweats and shirts and some kinds of jackets etc. No rolling, most of us five had some injury and window wall was old and scary but I was amazed at what good Aikido they did if I do say so myself. We only had the space a few months but it was a great time for all of us.

Last edited by Diana Frese : 10-28-2012 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 10-28-2012, 04:32 PM   #25
SteveTrinkle
Dojo: Aikido Kenkyukai International
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Quote:
Alic Xie wrote: View Post
In the Vancouver Yoshinkan club we're doing pretty well for ourselves. A senshusei graduate as regular class sensei, and the dojocho teaching advance classes. A good solid core group of pretty junior students, some already shodan candidates.

I find that it's difficult to keep beginners around, even though us college kids keep bringing in friends and classmates. Mostly they tell me it has to do with work, classes, and/or significant others, but a nagging part of my brain tells me they're just being lazy and don't want to put in extra effort...

What do you guys think? Am I just being a douche and assume everyone's lazy, or is that why the new people don't come to training? Is there any way to combat the lazy factor, or should I just let the lazy ones slip away?
in the spirit of non resistance,if they want to come train,Illet them come,if they want to go,I let them go

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