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Old 09-21-2002, 02:55 PM   #1
Chocolateuke
Dojo: Muhu Dojo
Location: Middle of nowhere in California 14 miles from Buellton
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 238
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Teaching with a brand new student base

Hey all! How you all do? I'm fine. now that's out of the way I have a simple story followed by a simple question.

We don't have a dojo right now ( lease crap and stuff.) So Sensei kinda asked my family if we could store the mats for him in a trailer we have. We said yes and sensei said we could use them for things like yoga and stuff. So today we got the mats out for a yoga seminar we are holding, before the first class, I decided to do some tumbling and breakfalls cus I haven't done any aikido for 3 weeks ( im deppressed) so, some people were astonished and wondered if I could teach them how to roll. I said I will teach them how to do a simple roll from their knees, I don't really feel confident teaching anything else, esp because I don't have a teaching licence and I'm only a shodan. So, I just teach them how to do a forward roll from their legs. I taught them exactly how we teach student at the dojo. show them some exercises and how to push with their toes and stuff. They did really well considering they did it for about 15 min! some of them were kinda depressed that they couldn't do it like me, I said that it can take a whole week to do this well. I also said that i have been doing it for 5 years so don't worry. They did really well, but man it was hard to teach a group of newbie's from scratch. then we had the yoga class ( which I couldn't attend because i had to do other things.)

My question is: how do you start a dojo from scratch? I don't want to start a dojo any time soon but it seems like a huge task!


BTW during kids class ( when we do have a dojo) I am usually the person to teach the new people how to roll.

thx
Dallas

Dallas Adolphsen
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Old 09-22-2002, 06:33 AM   #2
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
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Well Dallas, in another few weeks I'll start to tell you all my story with this, because I intend to do just that. I am hoping to "borrow" some students occasionally from my home dojo to help out, but by and large, the membership will be complete newbies.

Rachel
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Old 09-22-2002, 07:24 AM   #3
Arianah
Dojo: Aikido of Norwalk
Location: CT
Join Date: Nov 2001
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My sensei relates the story of how he moved and started up his dojo here in '99, and had to conduct his first classes without any experienced students. He'll grin and say, "Try teaching Aikido when no one knows how to fall..."

He seemed to do ok: (the other night, there were twenty students on the mat, and one girl with a broken collarbone sitting on the sidelines, itching to be let on. Sigh...)

Sarah, pouting and counting the weeks

Out of clutter, find simplicity.
From discord, find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.
-Albert Einstein
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Old 09-23-2002, 05:10 AM   #4
JJF
 
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Once when I was a brand new 3. kyu i was on a business trip and went to visit the local dojo, since I had met the sensei there and he had told me to drop by whenever I was around. As fate would have it, That evening the sensei was unable to teach and the assistant had other matters to attend, so I found myself with 4 beginners who had from one to 3 months of practice behind them. We allmost just left, but they talked me into teaching them. THAT was a challenge as it turned out the guy with the least experience actually was the best uke for showing the techniques. He had good committed attacks but wasen't dead set on making it impossible for me to do the techniques. I was tired when I went home - but also kind of excited by the realisation that I could actually teach an aikido-class

- Jřrgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 09-23-2002, 05:55 AM   #5
Creature_of_the_id
 
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Dojo: Alnwick aikido club (UKAU)
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This is actually what I am doing at the moment. I am starting a dojo from scratch.

It is a begginers club, and once they get the grip of aikido then I introduce them to the system our association has in which you can train in many many dojos in the north east of england.

My class started last week, after having advertised the begginers class in newspapers and on posters in the area etc.

We got 1 student!

So, he got personal tuition for the price of normal membership hehehe.

Since it was a new club in a new venue, we prepared a video for people to watch explaining and showing what aikido is. Then they enroll and come on the mat.

First lesson, I teach only pins.

My Sensei has recorded many statistics and has found most people leave the dojo in their first few lessons because of undisclosed injury.

Alot of these injuries are caused by ukemi. Because of this we tend not to teach ukemi straight away. (I havent heard if retaining students has improved since this was changed.. we will wait and see).

anyway, first lesson...

warm ups, footwork, (if i feel it necissary to do ukemi then ushiro ukemi at the most), then possibly 2 or 3 pins with varying footwork to show the application of the feet and also to get the student moving.

Second week we give them a small booklet, which has information on etiquette, it also has a list of techniques and movements which will be signed off by their instructor. This is ran as a 8 week course, on completion they recieve a certificate and it leads into their first belt as they have done all of the things that are on the syllabus for that belt.

I think the hardest part is getting students to stay through the first 3 months. They get frustrated as they get co-ordinated, they get frustrated that they cant fall as well as you can, they get confused by the names and alot of people want to be like Steven Segal after one lesson.

On joining we get the students to pay for the first 2 months in one go at a reduced fee. We also give them 1 free month if they bring one friend, 3 free months if they bring 2.

If they bring friends then it is more likely they will stay also.

If they stay for 3 months, then chances are they will stay even longer.

Once you know that you have them for a good deal of time then it is far easier to help them get where they want to be and get what they want out of aikido.

I think this week we will have 3 students, lets see how it grows from there

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Old 09-23-2002, 06:02 AM   #6
JJF
 
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Hi Kev!

Best of luck to you. I admire your sense of humor and your spirit. I hope it will be awarded by many new students that wil stick around long enough to learn what Aikido is all about.

- Jřrgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 09-23-2002, 06:05 AM   #7
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
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Kev, Sounds like a great plan you've got there. I wish you the best of luck with this, and please keep us all up to date on what is happening with this club.

Best,

Rachel
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Old 09-23-2002, 06:52 AM   #8
Creature_of_the_id
 
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Dojo: Alnwick aikido club (UKAU)
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Thanks for the support guys, it is appreciated.

I'll keep you posted as to how things go. (our second class is tommorow, fingers crossed for at least 3 turning up)

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Old 09-23-2002, 06:56 AM   #9
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
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Quote:
Kev Price (Creature_of_the_id) wrote:
This is actually what I am doing at the moment. I am starting a dojo from scratch.

It is a begginers club, and once they get the grip of aikido then I introduce them to the system our association has in which you can train in many many dojos in the north east of england.

My class started last week, after having advertised the begginers class in newspapers and on posters in the area etc.

We got 1 student!

So, he got personal tuition for the price of normal membership hehehe.

Since it was a new club in a new venue, we prepared a video for people to watch explaining and showing what aikido is. Then they enroll and come on the mat.

First lesson, I teach only pins.

My Sensei has recorded many statistics and has found most people leave the dojo in their first few lessons because of undisclosed injury.

Alot of these injuries are caused by ukemi. Because of this we tend not to teach ukemi straight away. (I havent heard if retaining students has improved since this was changed.. we will wait and see).

anyway, first lesson...

warm ups, footwork, (if i feel it necissary to do ukemi then ushiro ukemi at the most), then possibly 2 or 3 pins with varying footwork to show the application of the feet and also to get the student moving.

Second week we give them a small booklet, which has information on etiquette, it also has a list of techniques and movements which will be signed off by their instructor. This is ran as a 8 week course, on completion they recieve a certificate and it leads into their first belt as they have done all of the things that are on the syllabus for that belt.

I think the hardest part is getting students to stay through the first 3 months. They get frustrated as they get co-ordinated, they get frustrated that they cant fall as well as you can, they get confused by the names and alot of people want to be like Steven Segal after one lesson.

On joining we get the students to pay for the first 2 months in one go at a reduced fee. We also give them 1 free month if they bring one friend, 3 free months if they bring 2.

If they bring friends then it is more likely they will stay also.

If they stay for 3 months, then chances are they will stay even longer.

Once you know that you have them for a good deal of time then it is far easier to help them get where they want to be and get what they want out of aikido.

I think this week we will have 3 students, lets see how it grows from there
Hello Kevin,

I also am starting a dojo from scratch. I also put ads in the local newspaper and appeared on local television channels. About 25 students turned up for the first class and around 20 have stayed. They are all Japanese and are obviously somewhat fazed about learning aikido from a foreigner--in Japan.

I am curious about your first lesson. You said you taught only pins. I think this is sound, but the only pin I would consider teaching a student in the very first lsson is the elbow pin from ikkyo. In fact, much of the first lesson was devoted to how to take ukemi from ikkyo. There is a art to taking ukemi from aikido pinning techniques and I think that this has to be taught.

Any thoughts?

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
_______________________
Hiroshima, Japan
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Old 09-23-2002, 07:42 AM   #10
Creature_of_the_id
 
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Dojo: Alnwick aikido club (UKAU)
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20 students Peter?

Nice one!! hehehe
Quote:
Goldsbury Peter (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
I am curious about your first lesson. You said you taught only pins. I think this is sound, but the only pin I would consider teaching a student in the very first lsson is the elbow pin from ikkyo. In fact, much of the first lesson was devoted to how to take ukemi from ikkyo. There is a art to taking ukemi from aikido pinning techniques and I think that this has to be taught.

Any thoughts?
I am an ukemi fanatic (as my student will soon find out). I dont think that I would have retained my one student that lesson had I taught ikkyo ukemi though, unfortunately.

I think it is a cultural difference more than anything else.

Over here People who come along tend to have a short attention span and pass things off quickly when they dont understand them. But, once they are involved then they will take more interest in the details and take more time over it.

I think the first hurdle here is getting them to that point.

My aim first lesson was to get my student moving. So I did footwork and then applied that footwork to the pin. I then changed the pin to Nikkyo mainly to stop him from getting bored, making him think he was doing something new and different

The class would have been different had he turned up with a friend. I probably would have done ukemi with them then to stop them getting frustrated with each other. But as it was he was able to use Mark (my uke) to do technique on. and Mark was able go control him enough so he knew how to co-operate.

please let me know how your class goes, and any advice you have is always appreciated.

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Old 09-23-2002, 08:15 AM   #11
Sam
Dojo: Kyogikan Sheffield
Location: UK
Join Date: Jan 2001
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Teaching an all beginner class without help is no joke. I used to teach a series of six free introduction classes to about 75 university students who turned up at the beginning of each academic year. The hardest thing was getting everybody to stand in the right place and practising in turn - nevermind the aikido!!
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Old 09-23-2002, 08:28 AM   #12
Creature_of_the_id
 
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Do you not find university classes very frustrating because the students are not always around all year? Alot of the students we have had from university classes only stayed a short time. Many of them continued aikido else where though

75 students is pretty impressive. I dont think we have ever had that many turn up. How do you advertise?

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Old 09-23-2002, 09:58 AM   #13
Steven
 
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Dojo: Aikido Yoshinkan Sacramento - Seikeikan Dojo
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Hi Dallas,

Sorry to hear about the dojo. Especially after just receiving shodan and all. The bright side is now you have time to trek up here to Sacramento to play .... er .... train with us.

Starting a dojo from scratch is how I started. No easy task, especially if the student(s) have no M.A experience. That was the case for my first student. The second was a black belt in karate so he was a bit easier. I laid out the foundation and requirements from the get go. Making sure they understood that the basics (kamae and kihon dosa) as well as ukemi is what they'll be learning for the first month or so. Of course, I always throw in a technique toward the end so they feel as if they got to practice something other than ukemi and kihon. What technique that is varies. It depends on the student and how quickly they grasp the basic concepts.

25 students on day one?!? Dang Peter, there must not be much to do in your neck of the woods.

Regards,
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Old 09-23-2002, 10:26 AM   #14
Goye
 
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Dojo: Satori Dojo
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Smile

Hi Every body!!!

It seems that we are starting a new dojo. I´m also going trough this important task. Congratulations!!

I opened my dojo about a month ago,.. now a have like 12 starting students and i´m now sending to all my friends a poster in a jpg format with all the information about the classes, schedules and fees. I asked them to reply the information to all their e-mail distribution list or to print it and post in their offices. This could also work for you.

At first i´m teaching soft thinks in order to prevent them to get frustrated and bored with Aikido, a lot of kokyo Nage, rolls,.. not to much and also taizabaki,... then starting with basic tecniques, irimi nague, Kote Gaeshi, ikkyo,... I´m sure the proces will grow and they will impprove their skill with practice and time. Ihave also the problem of their ukemi,.. it has been necesary to invite a friend and ask him to serve as uke,.. i think it is important for they to see tecniques done in a propper way.

good luck in your task!!

César Martínez
Satori Dojo
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Old 09-23-2002, 07:12 PM   #15
Chocolateuke
Dojo: Muhu Dojo
Location: Middle of nowhere in California 14 miles from Buellton
Join Date: Jun 2000
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Hey steven Ill take that offer sometime ( if I can get up there!) just make sure you have lots of and lots of energy! also, My breakfalls will need some work! Which is why I was pratacing, rolls I rock at tho! One day I be able to get there!

as for all who are starting a new dojo (Peter Goldsbury ,Rachel Massey, Kev Price) I salute (er bow but who cares?). Have fun!

Dallas Adolphsen
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Old 09-23-2002, 10:42 PM   #16
G DiPierro
Location: Ohio
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I was fortunate in that my first teacher was very good at teaching beginners. He was a psychology lecturer and had developed an excellent set of exercises to build basic knowledge. Much of it was the old solo exercises from Ki Society, which he had trained in, and the rest were rolling skills and shikyo broken down into easily learnable segments. We started with the standard introductory technique, shihonage, but I can't really remember the exact technical progression from there. Simple kokyunages and maybe ikkyo were early techniques, nikyo, sankyo and iriminage came a bit later. After that, probably stuff like kaitennage, udekimenage, etc. Koshinage and randori came much later.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 09-23-2002 at 10:45 PM.
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Old 09-23-2002, 10:51 PM   #17
Steven
 
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Quote:
Dallas Adolphsen (Chocolateuke) wrote:
just make sure you have lots of and lots of energy!
HA! Just try to keep up! LOL
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Old 09-24-2002, 12:38 AM   #18
daedalus
Dojo: Seiryukan Dojo/Illini Aikido
Location: Champaign, IL, USA
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I guess I could add my input. I'm starting an Aikido Club at my university (first class is tomorrow night actually). I've been training for 2.5 years, so I'm obviously not qualified to instruct, but I wasn't willing to give up Aikido in the style I was doing it. The head instructor of my organization is coming down regularly to teach (weekly to begin with), but I'm in charge of class for the other 2 days (eek!). My Sensei told me to just concentrate on the VERY basics (ukemi, 7th kyu test requirements).

It's a college town, so the advertising we've got going involves me walking the campus (the largest in the state) with flyers and taping them to everything that I'm legally allowed to, as well as me telling everyone I know to come. The instructor is coming down next week, so I'm hoping that we will have 5 students by then <crossing fingers>.

Fees are up in the air because were a school club, so we can use the space for free as long as we share like nice little boys and girls. The only reason we might want money is to help pay for gas (it's a three hour drive here from the headquarters for the instructor, so it would be nice to help him out) and, of course, beer and pizza money for the club after class. :^)

Brian
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http://www.shinjinkai.org/
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Old 09-25-2002, 01:29 AM   #19
Creature_of_the_id
 
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taught the second class in the new dojo. got 1 more member!

lol

100% growth... I now have 2 students! :P:P

(There were 4 on the mat though, I took my girlfriend who is 4th kyu and my friend who is 1st kyu is uke and does administration for the class)

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Old 09-25-2002, 07:24 AM   #20
Duarh
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Re: Teaching with a brand new student base

Quote:
Dallas Adolphsen (Chocolateuke) wrote:
Hey

<...>

kinda depressed that they couldn't do it like me, I said that it can take a whole week to do this well. I also said that i have been

<...>

Dallas
Hey, now _I_ am getting depressed. Does it really only take most people a week to learn a proper roll? The day before yesterday, i made my first Perfect ( or as near to perfect as i know, and only in one respect) roll, and that's after more than a year of training.

For the first time, i FELT that the roll was round and there were no 'edges' on it. Strangely enough, it comes much more easily to me now, but still, I've spent a year getting there . Anyone else whom it took that long?

Last edited by Duarh : 09-25-2002 at 07:30 AM.
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Old 09-25-2002, 08:21 AM   #21
Sam
Dojo: Kyogikan Sheffield
Location: UK
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Quote:
Kev Price (Creature_of_the_id) wrote:
Do you not find university classes very frustrating because the students are not always around all year? Alot of the students we have had from university classes only stayed a short time. Many of them continued aikido else where though

75 students is pretty impressive. I dont think we have ever had that many turn up. How do you advertise?
I always felt that a student club had both disadvantages and advantages. The main adavantage is that new students tend to be younger, more broadminded and enthusiastic. The downside is that you only get them for three years and the big numbers only at the start of the year. 75 represents the biggest number we had. Each year, in freshers week there was a sports 'bizarre' where all sports and clubs set up tables and students could wander round and sign up for anything they felt like trying. We also did a demo - a lot who came said they saw the demo.

Its interesting about you saying that some people went elsewhere for aikido - every year we got two or three real weirdos who made life awkward for a while and then disappeared. When I visited another club for a seminar they all trained there - every last one of them from the last five years or so - It was like training in the twilight zone or something!

Unfortunately my student days are over and I'm now trying to find a venue to run a club in Watford.
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Old 09-25-2002, 09:02 AM   #22
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
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Start a practice, and they will come.

The first rule of a having a dojo is the willingness of the practitioners to come. If they come that is the first hurdle, if they continue to come then the criteria of finding a place to practice is the second hurdle.

Of course, a hall, a public place such as a meeting hall, or being part of local program does make it cheaper to start out a group, but as far as teaching curriculum ... most beginning teachers maintain contact with teacher or teachers in their repective Aikido association, and review their teaching methods and curriculum on a bi weekly or monthly basis.

I have found that the way you approach teaching, and the way people come to the mat eager to practice is the biggest hurdle to having a practice.

There is nothing so disconcerting than showing up for a practice and there is no teacher, so although there is no teacher, you have an informal practice/ formal practice just as you would if the teacher was there. I have had at least a dozen of these type of practices, and if nothing else, it brought out many of the flaws, improper use of movements that needed to be addressed and corrected by Sensei.

So, Take Heart. Events have a way of bringing to light changes that are supposed to happen.
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Old 09-28-2002, 08:24 AM   #23
j0nharris
Dojo: Kododan Aikido USA
Location: Radford Virginia
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Quote:
Kev Price (Creature_of_the_id) wrote:
Do you not find university classes very frustrating because the students are not always around all year? Alot of the students we have had from university classes only stayed a short time. Many of them continued aikido else where though
We're also at a university, and it can be frustrating, not only that students aren't there year round, but that every six months or so, we get a batch of new students and start all over again. With our training schedule limited by university timing, we can't do separate classes for beginning | intermediate | advanced. It does, however, give the higher kyus a chance to start teaching early on as they work with beginners every semester; I think that that experience helped to make me a better instructor once I became a shodan.

When students leave for the summer, we encourage them to find a dojo near their home, and will make an introduction to the local dojo cho by email or letter if they wish. The ones who do this come back saying that it helped them a lot.

My personal difficulty in teaching new students is ukemi. I can do it just fine, but having started in judo at the age of 6 (I'm 37 now), ukemi is an integral part of how I do things that it can be hard to explain it to others. Though I am getting better at doing so.

We are also talking about starting up another dojo about 20 miles away to exand our student base, and I'll be leading classes there if we do.....

Wish us luck, and everyone else who's doing the same, please keep us posted on how it goes.

Happy Training,

-jon

jon harris

Life is a journey...
Now, who took my @#$%! map?!
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