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Old 08-20-2002, 12:10 PM   #1
Guest5678
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New Aikido dojos in Florida

Linden sensei wrote:

"I recently realized that in the State of Florida we have not had a new Aikido Dojo, at least in ASU, in almost 10 years. I am not counting Hooker Sensei's move accross town or Messores Sensei's move to his new location, I mean a student with the hair to sign his name to a lease, telephone book ad, insurance agent, etc. and open doors to a real dojo. To invest in his future and the future of the art takes a real warrior spirit. What is going on out there? Can anyone tell me? Is it liability? Is it too much trouble? Is the art losing momentum? I'm interested. Or is it just Florida?

__________________
Daniel G. Linden
Founder and Chief Instructor
Shoshin Aikido Dojos "

As I'm not yet 100 years old, I can't contribute to the "Voices of Experience" thread so, I guess we have to duplicate the postings in order to answer Linden sensei's questions...

At any rate, I doubt "hair" or "warrior spirit" has much to do with it. The real issue is who the hell wants to compete with Hooker sensei, you, Messores sensei, etc... for students? Never mind the fact that the head hancho himself ALSO lives here! Think about it.... ice cubes and Eskimos....

Hopefully I'll be lucky and soon achieve what you did in opening a dojo on my property however, it will be geared more for sword training than anything else.....nice hardwood floor and Zebra mats....yeah! let the good times roll!!

-Mongo
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Old 08-20-2002, 12:13 PM   #2
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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Hey, this would be a good post to add to the thread "alternative thread to VOE" or something like that....
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Old 08-21-2002, 11:52 AM   #3
DGLinden
Dojo: Shoshin Aikido Dojos
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Well, let me add this so you understand that I was serious. First, a Nidan or Sandan should be able to adequately handle a class in a beginning dojo. By the time his students are strong enough to push him, he'll be strong enough. Second, the rent, or lease is expensive and it takes a great deal of commitment and courage to write a cheque for five to twenty thousand dollars to get things going.

But to respond to your real point, i.e. that you would 'compete' with us, There are nearly 10 milion people in Florida. Half are senior citizens (a hundred years old, wasn't that what you said?) and half of the rest are lazy. That leaves 2.5 million. If Hooker, Messores and I each are able to attract 1/10,000th of these we would have to compete for our share of 250 students Combined, we don't have that many in Florida. Including 'The Big Guy'.

Mongo, we don't compete for students. People are attracted to a particular Sensei and go his way. Orlando alone is big enough for there to be 50 large, strong Aikido dojos. We could never exhaust all the potential here. Go spend some time in France or Germany. There are dojos on every other corner and it does everyone good.

So again my question is, Whats with all those sandans and nidans? Are there one or two with the hair to get it done, and if not, why not?

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
www.shoshindojo.com
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Old 08-21-2002, 11:59 AM   #4
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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Hello Mr. Linden,

I am writing from Michigan, where our population base is probably smaller than what you are dealing with in the Orlando area. I definately think there is room to grow and expand aikido, and am trying to do my bit here in my community. While I am just a nidan, I do feel competent enough to handle starting a small club and helping people get a start in aikido. It is scary, and is a huge commitment, but I imagine there are lots of people doing small scale things like me. I figure once I've got a core group going, then we can look for a dedicated space (we will be training in a chiropractic clinic). By the way, the population of the area that I am starting my club is only around 10,000 total! I'll update on how things are looking once the ball gets rolling here.

Hope this letter inspires others who are trying to start clubs, or have just started something, to write in and let us all know how things are progressing.

best,

Rachel
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Old 08-21-2002, 12:40 PM   #5
Bronson
 
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Quote:
Mongo, we don't compete for students. People are attracted to a particular Sensei and go his way.
In my very limited experience I would agree with this. I teach at a small club, I think we've got about 15 regular students, that is twenty minutes away (in a different city though) from my sensei's dojo. I've asked my students why on earth do they study from me when they could drive the twenty minutes and study from a very talented godan, his very talented yondan senior student, or the other talented assistant instructors there. Their response, they kind of shrugged their shoulders and said "we like it here". If it's good enough for them I guess I got no reason to complain

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 08-21-2002, 01:00 PM   #6
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Linden sensei,

I meant that "I" was not 100 years old, so I can't post in the VOE thread (it was a joke).

Ok, even if your math is correct, a person becomes a "whatever-dan" by training with people of your experience. What are they to do, move away once they reach that magic dan number in order to open another dojo? I don't know many that would do that. Would you expect them to open one near you? What sense does that make?

I can understand you aiming your question at those that have reached that rank and moved away from their dojo, but I don't feel it applies to those students that still live near the dojo.... Shindai is a perfect example of this. Very top heavy because they all live in Orlando and contribute much to the existing dojo. I'm sure that if they were to relocate somewhere they'd be opening their own.

-Mongo
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Old 08-21-2002, 05:02 PM   #7
DGLinden
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Mongo,

Yes. I would be happy to have my senior students make the commitment to build for their own futures.

I feel that a sandan is a complete student. Is he a mature, finished Aikido Shihan? Of course not. However, there is a certain something that you learn from teaching other people that those who have never done it never understand. Taking a student to shodan or nidan or sandan is a very special thing. Teaching under someone else's name does not count.

Taking on the responsibility to provide a real class and a solid training experience is awesome when everyone who pays you money expects to recieve what he has paid for. Look to those around us, those who we respect and honor. Their names are equated with the dojos that they founded and built and serve.

Rank does not equal leadership. Leadership is what you discover in yourself when it is time to begin and no one else stands up. This is a significant moment, when a man says to himself, "I can and will do this." These are the people whom we honor by associating the names of Shindai, Shobu, and I would hope Shoshin, dojos.

Leadership is not easy and it never implies elitism or priveledge. A leader leads from the front and defines by example. His charechter is supposed to one that others admire and wish to emulate. And rank is not part of the requirement.

So yes, I want my sandans to leave and create a dojo and come visit (no more than once a week) and when they have shodans of their own to bring them along. Mr Hooker and Mr. Messores and I will not live forever no more than Saotome Sensei. Where are the future leaders?

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
www.shoshindojo.com
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Old 08-21-2002, 05:12 PM   #8
akiy
 
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Hi Dan,

I think this relates to another thread here called "Learning How to Teach", but I thought I'd ask this here.

I know that some organizations out there have "instructors courses" and such to help standardize teaching methods.

What sort of methods do you use to prepare people to start their own dojo? Do you hold special classes to enable people to learn teaching methods?

-- Jun

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Old 08-21-2002, 06:09 PM   #9
Erik
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Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
What sort of methods do you use to prepare people to start their own dojo? Do you hold special classes to enable people to learn teaching methods?
I'd like to piggy back on this question if I may. What about the mechanics of running a dojo? Things like marketing, sales (closing), insurance, accounting, liability, retention, etc...

By the time someone gets to nidan/sandan they've probably already done some teaching and they've also been exposed to a number of different teaching styles. So while I think it's valuable and don't mean to underestimate classes on teaching, it does tend to take care of itself at least a little bit in most places.

However, when it comes to those other things, I swear everyone has to completely reinvent the wheel when they open a dojo.
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Old 08-21-2002, 07:04 PM   #10
rachmass
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I was lucky, in that I ran the finances of a relatively large dojo for a number of years, arranged insurance, advertising (what little we had), some of the tax stuff (the Sensei handled the actual tax information), ordering equipment, etc. I also did a formal kenshusei program for over a year (it was too much for me to handle). So, I was lucky to have seen many aspects of running a dojo, outside of the teaching end (I've been teaching within a dojo for six plus years). My teacher saw to it that we all had some experience in taking care of the business end of the dojo.
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Old 08-22-2002, 07:15 AM   #11
DGLinden
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Hello Jun, Nice to hear from you.

I begin by rotating Dojocho responsibilities from one student to another. They serve for about two years and learn the mechanics of running a dojo through experience. Mrs Saotome is very accomodating and has been a great help. We have standardized programs which are easy for computer literate individuals.

The mechanics of teaching are fairly complicated if you try to give a balanced format. I rarely 'wing it' as so many teachers do. There is usually a prepared class to which I will add cerain technical information for those who need it as well as the normal spontaneous techniques and lectures.

I have all my students prepare a class (on Paper) and they may be asked to present it at any time. We also regularly stop class and re-examine the technique I used to teach a certain aspect of the training (not just technique) so they can see how one step leads to another.

Also the most important aspect for standardized instruction is weighted technique. Over the years I have set down the relative importance of the various techniqes and over any given 12 month period make sure that these are seen by the students to that weight. For example, Shomenuchi Ikkyo is at the top of the pile with a weight of 30; Ushiro-higi-dori Yonkyo is down there at about 2. So every 12 months we WILL train shomenuchi Ikkyo at least 30 times. It also means that we never train that yonkyo less than twice.

Please stop right now. I know that everyone will want to argue what is more or less important. Once you sign the lease and take out liability insurance you can make your own list or do what most instructors do, 'just go out there and be divinely inspired'. Just remember that the more organized you are about teaching, the more easily your students will learn. And this is really all that matters, isn't it? We all have classes we have taught 10, 50 or 100 times and we can do those in our sleep. It is human nature to want to do what we do best, so this is why I use the weight system to make sure that at the very least, we see all techniqes at regular intervals.

Of course we teach principles as needed. There is a great deal of flexiblity when you are certain that everything is covered. We can go in any direction as needed as long as we note it and record the annual progress. I hope this short overview is what you were looking for.

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
www.shoshindojo.com
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Old 08-22-2002, 08:01 AM   #12
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Quote:
Daniel Linden (DGLinden) wrote:
Mongo,

Yes. I would be happy to have my senior students make the commitment to build for their own futures.

<< Well, what do they have to say when you ask them? What are their views? It would be interesting to know. >>

I feel that a sandan is a complete student. Is he a mature, finished Aikido Shihan? Of course not. However, there is a certain something that you learn from teaching other people that those who have never done it never understand. Taking a student to shodan or nidan or sandan is a very special thing. Teaching under someone else's name does not count.

<< This comes too close to personal opinion here as I'm really glad certain "sandans" don't teach as well... >>

Taking on the responsibility to provide a real class and a solid training experience is awesome when everyone who pays you money expects to recieve what he has paid for. Look to those around us, those who we respect and honor. Their names are equated with the dojos that they founded and built and serve.

<< Again, it's awesome for you and many others as well, however, it's obviously not for everyone, otherwise you'd not be asking the question in the first place... >>

Rank does not equal leadership. Leadership is what you discover in yourself when it is time to begin and no one else stands up. This is a significant moment, when a man says to himself, "I can and will do this." These are the people whom we honor by associating the names of Shindai, Shobu, and I would hope Shoshin, dojos.

<< Really? hmmm...then why are you given more

"leadership tasks" as you rise in "rank"? You're asked to teach more and you're expected to take on more responsibility in the dojo..... Leadership comes in many forms. Sometimes it's even quietly operating there in the background... >>

Leadership is not easy and it never implies elitism or priveledge. A leader leads from the front and defines by example. His charechter is supposed to one that others admire and wish to emulate. And rank is not part of the requirement.

<< It's quite easy to say that "rank" is not a requirement here however, I think even you have been down that path before..... How did things work out then? >>

So yes, I want my sandans to leave and create a dojo and come visit (no more than once a week) and when they have shodans of their own to bring them along. Mr Hooker and Mr. Messores and I will not live forever no more than Saotome Sensei. Where are the future leaders?

<< They're all sitting quietly in the background.... waiting for you old farts to kick off! HA! Just kidding.... >>
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Old 08-22-2002, 08:25 AM   #13
mike lee
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welcome competition

Maybe the problem down there is that there's not enough competition. Maybe if another association or two were competiting head to head, enrollment for everyone would rise.

Why? It's the noodle-stand phenomenon that I often see here in Asia.

It seems that one guy can stand with his cart on the street all day, trying to sell his hot beef noodles, but he gets very few customers. Then a number of other street vendors show up, selling different kinds of food. Shazzam! Suddenly it seems like the vendor is constantly busy. Why? Because it's all become more visable, more lively, people feel like they have a choice, and they can go to the same place, day after day, and get something different to eat.

A number of aikido dojos in the same area is not a bad thing. The combined force of the additional advertising alone builds up public awarenes that there's aikido in the area. The whole thing can snowball.

Just a thought.

Last edited by mike lee : 08-22-2002 at 09:15 AM.
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Old 08-22-2002, 09:10 AM   #14
Don_Modesto
Dojo: Messores Sensei (Largo, Fl.)
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Re: welcome competition

Quote:
Mike Lee (mike lee) wrote:
Maybe the probelm down there is that there's not enough competition....Why? It's the noodle-stand phenomenon that I often see here in Asia.
The Home Depot/Lowe's phenomenon here. I asked an employee at Home Depot in St. Pete, Fl., how big a chunk the Lowe's which had opened directly across the street had taken out of their profits. He said the first month they dipped 15% and thereafter ROSE 10% until present.

Dan was proselytizing his point--this thread, essentially--to me recently in Orlando. I, too was dubious about competition. He makes a good argument, though, and your post makes it even more compelling.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 08-22-2002, 09:48 AM   #15
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Mike,

I have to agree there. I've seen that same thing in other venues as well. Humans are funny that way....

Ya know, it's hard for some people to believe, but there are people out there that just want a place to train. They are not interested in leading or operating a dojo or getting heavily involved in an organization. For them, it's the pure enjoyment of training and the interaction with others that they're after (or need). But that doesn't mean they are any less grateful for the opportunity or less dedicated to the other people training there either....

The problem is that this attitude is not considered appropriate in many places and is sometimes viewed as a threat to an organization. It's also sometimes seen as self centered or going against the grain, disturbing the "wa" if you will. When in fact, these same people may well be the ones that stick around the longest, absorb and share the most and contribute greatly to the atmosphere of the dojo. There appears to be real problems for some to accept people for who they are and acceptance for their reasons for training. I guess we're all supposed to fit in that neat little pre-designed box.……

Operating a successful dojo is a very difficult thing to do and I believe it takes a special person(s) to do this. I do not believe it's for everyone though, nor do I think it should be considered a requirement of any kind….. if it suits you, great! go for it and do the best you can! If not, that's great too, contribute to an existing dojo and help make it successful! As for "future leaders", I'm not too concerned because I believe there will always be a place where people come together and train. It's just too much fun not to!

Humans are funny that way….

-Mongo
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Old 08-22-2002, 10:35 AM   #16
mike lee
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understand free will

Quote:
Operating a successful dojo is a very difficult thing to do and I believe it takes a special person(s) to do this.
I agree. If you pressure people to take on administrative tasks, they may just end up quitting. Then where are you? You just end up with less and less students.

With the exception of cleaning, which should involve everybody (except me of course!), I think that additional duties should be voluntary -- maybe even paid.

Paying a student minimum wage to do some clerical work can go a long way toward making them feel appreciated and keeping them around.

What about professional working people or college students? I don't think they want to get bogged down in managing a dojo. It's just not an efficient use of time -- it's not practical.

At my place, I just set an example. I always come a little early and clean the dojo. As students start to arrive, I explain to them why sweeping the mat is important (so we don't get dust in our eye when being pinned). I also tell them that sweeping the mat is like clearing the mind of all the day's thoughts. It helps to prepare me for the day's lesson, either as a teacher or as a student. It's zen.

Now, I would say, about 90 percent of the time, a student is there early, happily sweeping the mat of his own free will.

I can't take credit for this kind of teaching -- it's how my teachers taught me!

Last edited by mike lee : 08-22-2002 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 08-22-2002, 11:08 AM   #17
Erik
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Quote:
Mike Lee (mike lee) wrote:
With the exception of cleaning, which should involve everybody (except me of course!), I think that additional duties should be voluntary -- maybe even paid.
Shudder!

Is that legal in the Aikido world?
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Old 08-22-2002, 11:31 AM   #18
Erik
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Daniel,

I like the weighted idea, a lot.

When I took my shodan test I remember coming to the realization that there were certain techniques which I had barely practiced, particularly those from hanmi handachi as my instructor's knees kept talking them out of practicing them. It made that portion of the test a bit of an adventure and it's something that has always bothered me. Weights sound like a very good solution.

Do you actually track it down to the student level? For instance, would you know how many times Fred has seen a certain technique? If so, and if you have software to track it, I'd be very curious to know which packages. I've been working on something to address it but the scope of the project grows exponentially for each feature and it's become daunting.
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Old 08-22-2002, 02:39 PM   #19
DGLinden
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Thanks Don.

Erik, I could, I guess, go back and track by student, but I only keep track of what I teach.

And Mongo. The atmosphere gets pretty rarified by the time you get to Sandan. Most have already established that they are in this for the long haul. And to reiterate, there are simply some very important things you can only learn by starting your own dojo and teaching. Things that not everyone wants or needs to learn. Also, not to put to fine a point on it, it has been ten years after all...

This is all my very own opinion, of course, and I could be wrong... But not in Shoshin Aikido Dojo.

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
www.shoshindojo.com
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Old 08-22-2002, 02:56 PM   #20
akiy
 
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Hi Daniel,

Thank you for your posts. They're quite enlightening, especially in your thoughts on putting "weights" on certain techniques which you feel ought to be taught more often than others.

It sounds great that you are giving some of your students increased responsibility in helping run the dojo and such. You mention "standardized programs which are easy for computer literate individuals." Are you talking about student tracking programs for attendance, finances, and so on?

As far as people at about the third dan level leaving to establish their own dojo: I currently train at a dojo which has probably 120 members or so, many of whom are third and fourth dan. It just may be the training environment but I really don't get the feeling that any of them want to go out to start their own dojo. Perhaps the training environment itself has something to do with it? Compared to a lot of other dojo where I have trained, this dojo has more of a "just train" feeling like that which Dan (Mongo) mentions above -- in other words, people who train here want to "just train" and not really do things like branch out to establish a dojo.

As far as having many dojo in one area, I, too, will point to the San Francisco Bay Area in which there are 70 dojo listed (in the AikiWeb Dojo Search Engine, at least) within 75 miles of the city. Also, I remember asking a friend of mine who owns several McDonald's franchises about what makes a good location for such a restaurant; his response was that it helped to have other restaurants like his (Burger King, Jack in the Box, etc) close by as it only helped each other's business. He pointed to the huge "auto mall" strips in every town that have several automobile dealerships in a row, too.

In any case, interesting stuff. Thanks!

-- Jun

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