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Old 03-19-2008, 08:21 PM   #1
mwible
Dojo: Aikido of Suenaka-Ha in Greater Richmond
Location: virginia, U.S.A.
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a bump in the road....

im sure more than one of you have come upon the situation i would like to discuss. a situation that is currently taking place for me in my Aikido-life.

i have only been studying aikido for about 2 years now. but, i love it to death. i try to live by the 4 basic principles, i try to be mindful of others, i try to be at class every chance i can(in my case only on tusedays and thursdays). but unfortunatly i have been having to work one or the other of my Aikido nights almost every week. but that isnt the main problem or topic of this post.
i can work around my work/ Aikido schedule.

What has mainly been bothering me is the growing lack of interest among my fellow Aikidoka at my Dojo. Just yesterday i was in class with me, my father(started several months ago), and the instructor for the evening(not of dan rank). my Sensei can only be there every-other-week due to family issues; and i am in no way complaining about that. but, it seems that every other week only a few of my fellow students choose to come to class, and even the weeks that my Sensei is there, the numbers only slightly increase. But i am most concerned that if the numbers stay so low, that my school might shut down that my Sensei might stop instructing. im not sure what to do, it doesnt seem as though the greater population of the students at my school believe and have such a love of aikido as i do. and i dont know what to do about it. i dont think talking to them would help. nothing i can say can change there feelings about something they believe. and (i think i should mention that i am only 17 years old) i cant seem to find many friends or fellow students at my high school to come try a class. and even if i could, how would i get them to stay with so few students ever in class?
im just not sure what to do.

any advice from any senior/ non-senior aikido out there? any would be much appreciated.

-morgan
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Old 03-19-2008, 08:31 PM   #2
Joseph Madden
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 160
Canada
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Re: a bump in the road....

Morgan,
I wish you had more students like yourself in your dojo. Unfortunately, what your experiencing is indicative of not only your dojo, but many dojos, including mine. Some students have it in their minds that if your shihan(your head sensei) isn't in class, it isn't worth taking. Why? Because those other students(your seniors) don't have the ability that your sensei does, so they don't bother to show up unless he's there. In my dojo, I've watched senior students walk into the dojo, see that our sensei isn't there and another senior is teaching, and then walk out again. Literally, the height of disrespect from one senior to another. Now, this hasn't happened in a few years and my sensei's numbers have always been good. But, anytime you have people who walk into your dojo with an ego that cannot be quashed, you will have this level of disrespect. Hopefully your dojo will not close and you student roster will increase in the future. Hopefully you will have students who seek not only martial arts training, but spiritual enlightenment as well.

OSU
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Old 03-20-2008, 03:51 AM   #3
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
Location: Wisconsin
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Re: a bump in the road....

If the dojo is open or if you have a key to open it yourself, you can create the aikido world you want to be in.The one thing we cannot create, is this self/same desire in others. It is an actual koan, a life problem. A bump in the road is part of the road.

In gassho,

Mark

- Right combination works wonders -
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Old 03-20-2008, 06:47 AM   #4
crbateman
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Re: a bump in the road....

How many people do you know that bought an expensive treadmill or other exercise machine, and after it's used a few times, it's relegated to some corner, with laundry hung on it? Many people start MA training with good intentions, but can't or won't sustain it. Aikido dojos have much their share of this.

And there are are others who simply don't get out of it what they're looking for (often because they don't put anything into it). There are those whose means have been diminished in these times of economic distress.

Keiko, by necessity, involves much repetition, much devotion to the basics. Often, this becomes boring to the student looking for more immediate gratification.

All this adds up to an enrollment/attendance problem in many dojos. The chemistry of the training derives from the motivation of the participants, the delivery of the instructor(s), and many other factors. And it is often a fragile and tenuous thing. Are the students going to show up in droves if the main instructor only teaches one night per week? Is the instructor going to drag him(her)self down there six nights per week if nobody shows up half the time?

Not much clapping gets done unless both hands are into it. Sometimes, things just don't add up.
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Old 03-20-2008, 07:47 AM   #5
Erick Mead
 
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Re: a bump in the road....

People, alone and in groups have seasons like the world does. What we practice when things are hot, sweaty, busy and crowded seems distinct from what we practice when things are spare, dry, cool and lonely. We would not know the one but for the other (in-yo), but they are actually not different at all. Only our perception of them differs according to whether we harmonize our personal seasons with those around us, or act in a way to harmonize those around us to our own. We are always in the process of doing one or the other. That is also aikido -- in the dojo or out of it.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 03-20-2008, 08:05 AM   #6
dps
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Re: a bump in the road....

One of my earlier senseis held classes in the morning and in the evening. If no one showed up to practice with him he practiced alone.
He practiced his Aikido without worrying about other people practicing their Aikido. If they wanted to join him great, if they did not great, he still practice regardless.

Quote:
Mark Uttech wrote: View Post
If the dojo is open or if you have a key to open it yourself, you can create the aikido world you want to be in.The one thing we cannot create, is this self/same desire in others.
David
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Old 03-20-2008, 08:42 AM   #7
Jonathan
Dojo: North Winnipeg Aikikai
Location: Winnipeg, Canada
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Re: a bump in the road....

A time came for me when I found myself without a dojo of people with whom to practice. Nonetheless, I was determined to continue to practice Aikido. So, I went down to a nearby YMCA, got permission to use a portion of the gym three nights a week, and began to train -- alone. I practiced rolls, worked on jo and bokken stuff, and moved through the techniques that I knew slowly, tai chi style, for about an hour. I did this for a few months and then, one day, someone walked up to me and asked me what I was doing. I explained and they asked if they could join me. After about a year I had a dozen people regularly practicing with me.

Years later I suffered a serious back injury. Ruptured a disc, lost my ankle reflex and had a numb leg for several months. I limped terribly. One of the first things my doctor told me was, "You must never do Aikido again." My first thought was, "Oh, yes I will! Even if all I can do is katate tori nikkyo, I'm going to keep practicing." And I did. It wasn't easy; my recovery took a couple of years and even now my back is easily aggravated. But I'm sandan maybe soon to be yondan.

If you truly love doing Aikido, you'll work with what you've got. You can let the bump in the road stop you or you can simply walk over it. You choose.

Gambatte okudasai!

"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
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Old 03-20-2008, 09:48 AM   #8
odudog
Dojo: Dale City Aikikai
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Re: a bump in the road....

Once, the instructor for the day didn't show up so I took over the class seeing that I was the most experienced although I was still a low level kyu. One person walked out. I was shocked and disheartened but there was nothing I could do about it. I got over it.

I set up a day for advanced students to get together at our dojo so that we could get ready for our shodan and other high level tests. I put some hard work into this {negotiations}. For about 8 of these practice days, I was the only one that showed up. I was once again disheartened. So I practiced by myself and I got over it.

I also let them know when the seminars are coming close by. I advertised them for months in advance so that they can work it into their schedule. These are good opportunities for us to learn and bring in new things to the dojo as well as advertise our dojo. However, if anybody attends the seminar from our dojo, it always seems to be me alone. I will learn to get over this as well.

Things like this will happen at smaller dojos and there is nothing that we can do about it. All we can do is continue to show up all the time and learn as well and as fast as we can. You will most likely progress better than your dojo mates since you put in more time and effort.

Now comes the hard part. Will you share your insights and new techniques with the other people who tend to walk out on senior students, don't attend seminars, or don't show up as much at the dojo so that they can progress in the same time as you, or, let them stumble and bumble along and figure things out for themselves.
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Old 03-20-2008, 10:14 AM   #9
mari
Dojo: Green Bay Aikikai
Location: Green Bay
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Re: a bump in the road....

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post

Keiko, by necessity, involves much repetition, much devotion to the basics. Often, this becomes boring to the student looking for more immediate gratification.

Not much clapping gets done unless both hands are into it. Sometimes, things just don't add up.
I so agree with your whole post and specially this paragraph.
Aikdio dojos struggle more than any other martial arts and our dojo is no different. We have been loosing money every month for the past year.
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Old 03-20-2008, 10:52 AM   #10
James Davis
 
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Re: a bump in the road....

Quote:
Jonathan Hay wrote: View Post
A time came for me when I found myself without a dojo of people with whom to practice. Nonetheless, I was determined to continue to practice Aikido. So, I went down to a nearby YMCA, got permission to use a portion of the gym three nights a week, and began to train -- alone. I practiced rolls, worked on jo and bokken stuff, and moved through the techniques that I knew slowly, tai chi style, for about an hour. I did this for a few months and then, one day, someone walked up to me and asked me what I was doing. I explained and they asked if they could join me. After about a year I had a dozen people regularly practicing with me.

Years later I suffered a serious back injury. Ruptured a disc, lost my ankle reflex and had a numb leg for several months. I limped terribly. One of the first things my doctor told me was, "You must never do Aikido again." My first thought was, "Oh, yes I will! Even if all I can do is katate tori nikkyo, I'm going to keep practicing." And I did. It wasn't easy; my recovery took a couple of years and even now my back is easily aggravated. But I'm sandan maybe soon to be yondan.

If you truly love doing Aikido, you'll work with what you've got. You can let the bump in the road stop you or you can simply walk over it. You choose.

Gambatte okudasai!
Great post. Way to go!

"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 03-20-2008, 01:40 PM   #11
CarrieP
 
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Re: a bump in the road....

I think that there are several reasons why people will start to train less after a while.

A lot of it has very little to do with aikido, and a lot to do with real life getting in the way. There are illnesses, family obligations, several things that can prevent somebody from getting to class on a regular basis. Even the weather can make it difficult.

In an ideal world everyone's committment level is high, but sometimes it isn't. But that doesn't mean necesarily that those students are going to leave. It may just be a busy time for them, and they will be able to devote more time to aikido after a couple of months.
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Old 03-20-2008, 02:14 PM   #12
SmilingNage
Location: NJ
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Re: a bump in the road....

Sounds like you are in spot. If things fail at the dojo and it closes,Maybe you can work it out with your teacher to work with him/her privately say out of garage, backyard, park. Have a talk with your teacher and see where the dojo's future stands and try a way to work out arrangement to keep training.

As for practicing by yourself, it is a good idea but your practice really needs to be evaluated by a teacher. Just in case you develop and/or re enforce bad movements. posture, etc. With that said, I use to practice a lot by myself.
1 I would stretch
2 practice my ukemi and suwari waza movements
3 Go over my last test and next test by myself by moving slowly thru the technique.
4 End with bokken and Jo work.

Doing technique by yourself is good but you do need to have physical feed back ie an uke, to help you dial into the technique's subtleties.

Good Luck

Dont make me, make you, grab my wrist.
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Old 03-20-2008, 05:09 PM   #13
ayu cicada
 
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Re: a bump in the road....

It is true that there are many factors causing one not to attend or let's say miss aikido practice. But walking out from a senior aikidoka specially non-Dan is a big boo-boo on an Aikidoka's spiritual understanding of The Way. This is an ego-issue within practioners which is a normal thing in a normal world. However, this should be avoided and needs to be eventually discarded in serious practioners, both physical and spiritual, as our dojo is regarded a special place, much to the Art itsel. It is not a convenience store where one has the luxury to pick anything they want, not a beach where one can display georgeous abs. So to say, it is a place where ego should not be displayed.

As long as one continues to dig deep in the true nature of his/her enrolling Aikido and refine his views and practice, there would be very minimal problems like this in the future. Aikido teaches humility. Aikido develops discipline among practitioners. If these virtues do not show up in one's tenure in Aikido, then he is not on the right track.

My work also happens to take a lot of my time as most people in my dojo. Making me atten Keiko once a week.Too bad. However, I see to it that I have atleast 10 minutes of my time doing bokken everyday. I remember my Sensei to do it to improve my stance. It did. I also do my jo exercises every Sunday at the Park after my 3K run. I don't care if some people look at me strangely while I do 31 Jo Kata in the corner of the park. Just like Jonathan Hay, maybe someone would walk up to me one day and ask what I was doing.
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Old 03-20-2008, 07:34 PM   #14
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
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Re: a bump in the road....

Quote:
Carolyn Parkinson wrote: View Post
I think that there are several reasons why people will start to train less after a while.

A lot of it has very little to do with aikido, and a lot to do with real life getting in the way. There are illnesses, family obligations, several things that can prevent somebody from getting to class on a regular basis. Even the weather can make it difficult.
I'd add to that that the time crunch often comes up after a month or two, when the student takes a look at missing out on two or three (or more) evenings at home every week on a sustained basis, and decides it can't be done. People will often do that sort of thing for a course that lasts a month or a semester, but most people spend their evenings at home. Sometimes a SO puts a foot down and says, "Enough already," sometimes an illness will disrupt training for a few days and the student rediscovers the joys of CSI: Whateveritis This Season...whatever. Giving up several evenings a week isn't something that many people will do, period.
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Old 03-20-2008, 10:49 PM   #15
crbateman
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Re: a bump in the road....

Quote:
Oliver Fernandez wrote: View Post
But walking out from a senior aikidoka specially non-Dan is a big boo-boo on an Aikidoka's spiritual understanding of The Way.
You must understand that in many dojos, no one learns The Way, because no one teaches The Way, because no one knows The Way...
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Old 03-21-2008, 01:24 PM   #16
mwible
Dojo: Aikido of Suenaka-Ha in Greater Richmond
Location: virginia, U.S.A.
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Re: a bump in the road....

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I'd add to that that the time crunch often comes up after a month or two, when the student takes a look at missing out on two or three (or more) evenings at home every week on a sustained basis, and decides it can't be done. People will often do that sort of thing for a course that lasts a month or a semester, but most people spend their evenings at home. Sometimes a SO puts a foot down and says, "Enough already," sometimes an illness will disrupt training for a few days and the student rediscovers the joys of CSI: Whateveritis This Season...whatever. Giving up several evenings a week isn't something that many people will do, period.
i do see where you are coming from, and i thank you for your reply. but my situation isnt too in-tune with what you are saying, we have indeed had several begining White belts drop out soon after joining. but what i am really talking about is the students that have been studying longer than myself who rarely come anymore
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Old 03-21-2008, 01:25 PM   #17
mwible
Dojo: Aikido of Suenaka-Ha in Greater Richmond
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Re: a bump in the road....

thank you all for your suggestions and advice, they are much appreciated. and i will continue to study (even if it must be alone) no matter what.
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