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Old 10-28-2012, 06:20 PM   #26
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
Location: Stamford Connecticut
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 382
United_States
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Thanks Krystal, sorry I missed your post! I didn't see it before I posted again. Would you believe my husband and I were just talking today about trying to visit our friends' dojo if we can manage the transportation part. We visited a couple of years ago and they were very kind. Of course it helps to go to the early morning class where there are fewer people! We would love to train with you but haven't traveled in years. My hubby is from a different martial art but likes Aikido too. Sometimes we practice in the yard but for me it would be better a bit more regularly.....

Again, sorry I missed your post while I was typing. But my second post proves your point!
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Old 10-29-2012, 10:18 AM   #27
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
Location: Houston
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 608
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

On November 1, 2012, we (Shudokan School of Aikido) are celebrating our 4th anniversary at the new location. Since 2004, we have been at the YMCA, and other places we shared with Karate and other kinds of martial arts groups. We came to this location with 29 students. As of this morning, we have 93 active students. We have held our dojo population in the 90's for over two years. When we arrived at this location, we had complete use of the facility so we started with 4 days a week and got it to 7 days a week as soon as we could. We then separated the classes so we now have 1 early morning, 1 mid afternoon, 3 lunch time classes and multiple night classes 5 nights a week. I believe we are now offering 20 hours of training a week.

We currently have 55 adults and 38 children. Our kids are very active and we have 4 classes a week for them. We don't do any advertising other than our website, and Facebook page that we maintain. The driving force of our kids program is the curriculum that we use and the number of classes that we offer them. The fact we were able to raise a student body has been because we have been at the dojo 7 days a week to sign up people, even before we had classes 7 days a week. We have the dojo in a neighborhood on a busy street so the visual is a good one and I think that is critical. If you have a good location but you're not going to be there to receive the students, then they can't be signed up. After 4 years, I am still at the dojo every day teaching, managing and signing people up.
It's a lot of work but all in all, we are grateful for the opportunity to live the dream, and have a great time dedicating all of our efforts to train, teach and promote Aikido.
Best wishes,
Jorge Garcia
Shudokan School of Aikido
Houston, Texas

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 10-29-2012, 05:16 PM   #28
robin_jet_alt
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 537
Australia
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Well, my dojo is struggling. The trouble is that we are all interested in training and getting better at aikido, but none of us want to go around promoting the dojo. We are rapidly losing members and everyone seems to want to set up their own dojo rather than training with us. It's a shame, because I think we have an excellent teacher, and I feel that I am really making progress with my aikido, and enjoying it too. I guess it's like sensei said. People just want to dance around in skirts and feel like they are invincible, and that's not what we offer.
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Old 10-30-2012, 04:30 AM   #29
JJF
 
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Dojo: Vestfyn Aikikai Denmark
Location: Vissenbjerg
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 780
Denmark
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Stephen is right. It's no use forcing people to stick around. If they don't wanna train, nothing good will come from trying to keep them in the dojo. If they one day feel the urge to come back they will. Also peoples lives can change and sometimes it is necessary to stay away from the dojo for a while and then come back once your life situation permits or the urge becomes unbearable.

My dojo have been very small since it started in 2010. Now we moved to a better location, so we are gaining new students that seems to be very serious. The hard part is to include everybody and give time and attention to all. I expect the 'stick-to-it-ness' of my latest dojo mates will be lower than that of 'the original cast'.

I think Stefan Stenudd wrote a great article about this.

Good luck everybody

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 11-02-2012, 11:01 PM   #30
OwlMatt
 
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Dojo: Milwaukee Aikikai
Location: Wisconsin
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 401
United_States
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

I have just joined a new club in the last few months. It used to be a Nippon Kan club but now is in a new location and is run by a sandan from the Hawaii Aikido Federation. So now, we're starting a Hawaii Aikido Federation club in Wisconsin. Go figure.

We have a small but dedicated group of students, and our facilities are modest enough that that's all we need to stay afloat right now. We just had our first HAF rank test.

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Old 11-03-2012, 09:48 PM   #31
hughrbeyer
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Boston
Location: Peterborough, NH
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 653
United_States
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

We're fortunate to be doing reasonably well right now. Two things that I think have helped:

We charge new students roughly 2.5 x the monthly fee to join up. That fee includes their first month, a gi, some one-on-one sempai time after class, and their first seminar. So it's not really much more than getting all those things a la carte, but it means anybody who signs up has already made a bit of a commitment. I can't tell that we have any fewer people signing up, and i think the people we do get stick better.

We're working very hard to treat new students well. Anybody can try out a lesson for free. Anybody who brings in a new student (and takes care of them) gets a free month when they sign and another if they stay three months. Taking care of them just means looking out for them, work with them a little after class, and so forth.

Between the two, we've got a pretty good mix of students on the mat--some higher-level folks, some kyu grades who have been with us a while, and some brand new.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 11-04-2012, 10:51 AM   #32
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,817
United_States
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Hugh, how long has your dojo done the 2.5x thing?

Also, what you said about mentoring makes me think that we'd do better with both retention and integration if we did a systematic job of mentoring. It's all well and good to have handouts and such, but it's probably a lot better if a sempai takes the new student aside after class and establishes a personal relationship, answers any questions they have then (and maybe some unasked questions that they don't know to ask), and maybe asks when they'll be training next and tries to make a point of being there. Is that sort of like your approach?
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Old 11-04-2012, 04:41 PM   #33
hughrbeyer
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Boston
Location: Peterborough, NH
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 653
United_States
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

We've been doing the 2.5 x thing for about a year and a half. A few things happened at the same time, including a (wonderful) new student writing us a letter about how terribly we were handling new students. It was the best calling-you-on-your-bullshit letter I've ever read, neither defensive nor accusatory, but very very clear.

And it's not just one semapi per student--we have a few senior students who have taken it on at this point to make sure new students aren't abandoned and have some coaching on basic ukemi and so forth.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 11-08-2012, 01:17 PM   #34
Chonin
Dojo: Aikido of Denton
Location: Denton
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 8
United_States
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Re: So how is your dojo doing?

I cant speak as anything other than someone who is in their 5th month, yet as someone who makes a living in sales I see clearly why they drop out. They take their eye off the ball because, well, they had their eye on the wrong ball. I think it's crucial for the Sensei and Senpais to dial in to what lights that individual up. They need to ask what do I need to do or say to connect in the short time I have their attention to this individual What will make them WANT to come 3 times a week get tossed like a sock in the dryer. What will make an individual come in every week with the full knowledge it takes a year for modest proficiency and not quit? What makes a new person stick to Aikido when BJJ and MMA enthusiasts at Bullshido.net mock Aikido?

What lights me up about Aikido? It ain't the price but people who don't understand sales think it's always about the price. I could study down the street for $30 a month less but I chose this dojo. Why this dojo? Well on my gut I just clicked with this bunch. They take safety seriously and are very patient. They are also some of the most unpretentious down to earth people who handle their business efficiently on the mat. That's why I chose this dojo. I chose Aikido because The Art of Peace cuts through the BS of life. I dig the whole concept of Budo. I may not give it my best every session. That comes from the fatigue of putting in an 11 hour day of work and commuting, then racing off to class. Yet I really think this is something I'll stick with for a very long time and go at my pace.
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Old 11-08-2012, 03:04 PM   #35
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
Location: Stamford Connecticut
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 382
United_States
Offline
Re: So how is your dojo doing?

Great post, Charles. Please note, everyone he has been there 5 months and writes great description of a great dojo and why he likes it. And his sales background helps him understand what attracts students to a good dojo. And he is willing to travel after an 11 hour workday.... sounds like a match: great dojo that looks out for the new student, and dedicated student who appreciates it! Wow Charles' post made my day.
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