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Old 10-17-2002, 03:24 PM   #26
Hanna B
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Join Date: Dec 2001
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Teaching small classes

Quote:
Erik Haselhofer (Erik) wrote:
One of the best arguments for larger classes. More students and the teachers attention gets spread out, hence, you don't get micromanaged so much.
Well, actually not. It's an argument for teaching small classes differently than you do big classes. Three or seven students can be taught nicely by the instructor showing the technique to the class, then training with one student and making a few excursions to other parts of the mat when needed. With one or two students, you train with them/him/her and make sure to make a difference between time for instruction and time for practise without so much correction.

Aim for bigger classes of course, but don't be nervous about small ones.

Hanna

Last edited by Hanna B : 10-17-2002 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 10-17-2002, 05:49 PM   #27
Erik
Location: Bay Area
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Re: Teaching small classes

Quote:
Hanna Björk (Hanna B) wrote:
Well, actually not. It's an argument for teaching small classes differently than you do big classes. Three or seven students can be taught nicely by the instructor showing the technique to the class, then training with one student and making a few excursions to other parts of the mat when needed. With one or two students, you train with them/him/her and make sure to make a difference between time for instruction and time for practise without so much correction.

Aim for bigger classes of course, but don't be nervous about small ones.

Hanna
No disagreement but I've been around teachers who couldn't do that. It took larger classes.
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Old 10-17-2002, 06:21 PM   #28
Larry Feldman
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Dojo: Atlanta School of Aikido
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My classes are scheduled late in the evening 8:30-10PM. For awhile this has kept class size small. I used to hesitate to mention class size when speaking to prospective students, but most were more impressed with a small class, and the personal attention it afforded them. The other big advantage was that I got to work out with the class - something I miss now. So do not be hesitant in any way about starting small. My more advanced students long for the days...One even jokes about not being able to wait for the holiday season when everyone stops showing up so he can get some advanced practice.

I get limited action from the yellow pages, and use the number for a long message about the classes and a place for them to leave a message. My wife got tired of calls to the house. The web has been good for attracting people - and the price is right.

Sorry, not the Larry Feldman from NPR, there are a lot of imposters out there!
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Old 10-18-2002, 01:19 AM   #29
Duarh
Join Date: Sep 2001
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Quote:
Larry Feldman wrote:
One even jokes about not being able to wait for the holiday season when everyone stops showing up so he can get some advanced practice.
now THIS sounds familiar. We have a rather immense beginner class (as many as 50 people show up at one time) and, even though our mat is laarge, there's still little space and the big class size means that what can be taught and how it can be taught is rather limited. So it's nice training in the summer, for instance, when only half the usual number of people turns up.

But I suppose you won't have THIS problem soon, Rachel Good luck with getting your first students. Suggestions, suggestions. . .actually, i'd talk with friends and ask them to come/talk with their acquaintances and so on. IF you have enough acquaintances to make it work (that is, if you've been living around the place for a while), it may be a solution.

One thing I've observed here is that people who're traning already tend to attract their friends/family members/collegues as long as they see there's still mat space left - meaning, once you've got some students, the number will multiply. The beginner class size at our dojo jumped from 15-25 to 40-50 in a few weeks after we moved to a new and rather wider mat.

Again, good luck!
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Old 10-18-2002, 03:28 AM   #30
MaylandL
Location: Western Australia
Join Date: Sep 2001
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Quote:
Toms Kreicbergs (Duarh) wrote:
...actually, i'd talk with friends and ask them to come/talk with their acquaintances and so on. ...

One thing I've observed here is that people who're traning already tend to attract their friends/family members/collegues ...
This how the membership at the dojo I train at increased when it started up about 8 years ago.

Mayland
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Old 10-18-2002, 05:25 AM   #31
JPT
Dojo: trad
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Get a few of your old MA magazines & stick you ad inside, then donate them to anyplace where there is a waiting room, doctors, dentists, garages etc...

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Old 10-18-2002, 06:21 AM   #32
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
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Thanks again for all the suggestions!

Last night had my second class; my husband is going to get good at aikido, lots of personal attention. Now my almost 13-year old son wants to start doing aikido again, since his old mum has her own dojo. He trained for 4 years back between the ages of 4-8 and had an awesome center (could be due to being born into aikido?). Now I'll have two students, both family members. Maybe there will be some folks starting to look on Saturday morning, you never know.

I am taking you all up on your suggestions. I've got a sign going up today, and hopefully that will help too.

One thing I noticed last night, since we were actually doing some rolling around, is that 400 square feet is a very small mat space! I imagine that 10 folks would be the limit on this small mat, without some very serious line throws.

I'll keep you all up to date on how things progress.

Thanks for your suggestions again!
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Old 10-18-2002, 06:37 AM   #33
JJF
 
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I can't help thinking that it would be wonderful if an old saying could be rewritten into "when the teacher is ready - the students will appear", but alas it is not so.

How about contacting that dojo in the next town, maybe you could have some of them come practice with you now and then. It would give you a couple of good uke's to throw around and it would create that 'intense' atmosphere that makes your dojo more attractive. If you can build good relations it could be beneficial for boths parties, and if you classes don't collide with theirs it is actually an expansion of the possibilies in the area. Allso that would help to build your reputation.

Another idear could be to get in touch with local organisations and offer an 'Aikido introductory course'. Perhaps at a local college as an alternative to what they are currently offering in P.E.

Another possibility would be to host a seminar with a fairly highly graded sensei. That should be able to attract some students from out of town, and would stirr up some reactions in your local area.

Finally get some media coverage. Radio talk-shows, newspaper interviews and maybe writing an article for a magazine if you've got any experience in writing those things.

Hope these things help. Best of wishes on your quest

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 10-18-2002, 07:21 AM   #34
Ghost Fox
Dojo: Jikishinkan Dojo
Location: New York City (Brooklyn)
Join Date: Oct 2001
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Nothing to add, just wanted to thank you for sharing your experiences about opening up a new dojo. This is probably one of the best threads I've ever read. I'm learning a lot. Maybe in 10-15 years I'll open my own dojo.

Peace and Blessings.
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Old 10-18-2002, 07:25 AM   #35
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
Join Date: Jul 2002
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Thank you Damion, I too thought it would be interesting to have an ongoing saga about the trails and tribulations of starting a small club. I hope that it is helpful to others, as it is certainly helpful to me to receive so much feedback and support from this wonderful aikido community.

All the best, Rachel
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Old 10-18-2002, 07:27 AM   #36
Ghost Fox
Dojo: Jikishinkan Dojo
Location: New York City (Brooklyn)
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I'm not much into organized religions, but maybe you could go around to churches (or your church??) and make an appeal about the loving nature of okay and stuff.
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Old 10-18-2002, 02:55 PM   #37
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
Join Date: Jul 2002
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Thanks Ghost Fox, I think I'll stay away from that one. My husband, a long time zen practioner, is almost convinced to hold meditation sessions in the dojo. That would be my idea of a real family dojo!
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Old 10-18-2002, 11:00 PM   #38
davoravo
Location: New Zealand
Join Date: Apr 2001
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I think you should definitely offer 1, preferably 2, free classes to beginners.

Get "affiliated" with a meditation or tai chi or feldinkrais or reiki etc group and share each others space and resources (and steal their students heh heh heh ... )

Posters and flyers will get highest effect at schools, universities/colleges, gyms and community or rec centres.

Are there other martial arts groups in town? Perhaps you could offer to show what you know or cross train (and steal their students heh heh heh ... )

David McNamara
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Old 10-18-2002, 11:01 PM   #39
Edward
Location: Bangkok
Join Date: Oct 2001
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Thailand
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Some of the suggestions sound too commercial to me. If implemented, they will attract a certain kind of people. I myself would be attracted to a non-commercial dojo, and seeing flyers all over town would definitely be a turn off.

PS: Didn't mean any post in particular especially not David's since it seems we wrote simultaneously.

Last edited by Edward : 10-18-2002 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 10-19-2002, 01:04 PM   #40
opherdonchin
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
Location: Baltimore
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I like the idea of connecting to zen, yoga, or tai chi schools. Similarly, you can talk to 'wellness centers' at hospitals or in large corporations. Often they will subsidize activities that they recommend.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 10-28-2002, 12:34 PM   #41
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
Join Date: Jul 2002
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Smile Progress report

Hi everybody,

I just wanted to give an update to how things are going at my new dojo.

We've had two full weeks of classes now, and we had one visitor come and look. He seemed rather interested, in that he stayed and watched the entire class when he originally told me he would leave half way through. I think he won't be back though, as he is just getting ready to test for his shodan in hapkido, but hey, you never know! He was very nice though, and seemed to like what he saw. A very helpful student from my home dojo came to take ukemi for this class so that I had someone I could demonstrate with, and that really helped.

My two students are making very good progress, and I am really happy with their efforts! It is a delight to see progress.

I got accepted to run a community education program which will start in January, so hopefully this will add a whole new dimension to the practice, and hopefully many new students.

My husband and his sitting partner have agreed to run a zazen meditation group out of the dojo on Sunday mornings, and I am truly excited about this (they have even convinced me to join them).

Again, I will try to keep you up to date on the progress, and the trails and tribulations of starting a new dojo, right from scratch, without any experienced aikidoka (quite a challange).

All the best,

Rachel

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Old 10-28-2002, 10:31 PM   #42
MaylandL
Location: Western Australia
Join Date: Sep 2001
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Its wonderful to see that you are starting to get students. Its great news about the Community Program too.

I wish you all the best for the success of your dojo.

Happy training

btw...the website's great.

Last edited by MaylandL : 10-28-2002 at 10:33 PM.

Mayland
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Old 11-01-2002, 03:56 PM   #43
henry brown
 
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Dojo: Soseikan, Worth IL
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I think participating in a community program like a 'Y' is a one of the best ways to go. They do the advertising for you, and if the students like it, they will eventually show up at your dojo.

We have found that advertising in the yellow pages to be pretty cost inefficient. We do get a decent number of referrals through our web site. Test to make sure that you are easy to find via search engines if someone asks for 'aikido' and 'michigan' Use META name headers in your web document liberally. Make sure that your web page is easy to read, and has easily found contact info.

Starting a dojo is hard. The best way to make a small fortune in the martial arts is to start with a large one! Good luck!
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Old 11-01-2002, 05:52 PM   #44
Steven
 
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Dojo: Aikido Yoshinkan Sacramento - Seikeikan Dojo
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Re: Progress report

Hi Rachel,

I certainly can relate to your situation. For the first 2 months it was just me and my daughter. I think a lot of it had to do with the location. Being at the Community Center has made a big difference.

Continued success to you and your school.

... Steven
Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
Hi everybody,

I just wanted to give an update to how things are going at my new dojo.

We've had two full weeks of classes now, and we had one visitor come and look. He seemed rather interested, in that he stayed and watched the entire class when he originally told me he would leave half way through. I think he won't be back though, as he is just getting ready to test for his shodan in hapkido, but hey, you never know! He was very nice though, and seemed to like what he saw. A very helpful student from my home dojo came to take ukemi for this class so that I had someone I could demonstrate with, and that really helped.

My two students are making very good progress, and I am really happy with their efforts! It is a delight to see progress.

I got accepted to run a community education program which will start in January, so hopefully this will add a whole new dimension to the practice, and hopefully many new students.

My husband and his sitting partner have agreed to run a zazen meditation group out of the dojo on Sunday mornings, and I am truly excited about this (they have even convinced me to join them).

Again, I will try to keep you up to date on the progress, and the trails and tribulations of starting a new dojo, right from scratch, without any experienced aikidoka (quite a challange).

All the best,

Rachel

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Old 11-01-2002, 06:03 PM   #45
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 794
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Thanks Steven,

I most certainly appreciate all the help you have rendered this past month, with the website information, and your own stories on starting a dojo from scratch.

I have virtually NO EXPOSURE at my location! At first I thought it was a good spot, but seeing how three weeks into this, only one person has poked their nose in the door (and I haven't even seen anyone looking through the big window), being at the back of a building by a municpal parking lot may not be the best place ;-)

All the best to you,

Rachel
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Old 11-01-2002, 10:38 PM   #46
Jonathan Lewis
Location: Boulder, CO
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 34
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Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
... being at the back of a building by a municpal parking lot may not be the best place ;-)
Hi Rachel,

If ordanances allow, you could try putting a simple sandwich-board sign in the more traveled/visable area of the property pointing to your dojo. Also, something that says prominently, "visitors welcome", with the class schedule might help. It is surprissing how many people just aren't sure it's OK to go on in. I havent read through every post so maybe you are doing those things already.

Best of luck and thanks for putting so much effort into it.

-JXL
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Old 11-01-2002, 10:40 PM   #47
Jonathan Lewis
Location: Boulder, CO
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PS sooory abpoyt allllll the typoooooooooo's trhn g;nds, ;P

-JXL
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Old 11-12-2002, 09:30 PM   #48
Juan
 
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I don't know how they are doing things your way but, what I did was get information on price, schedule and contracts if any from the local MA schools in my area and just plain BEAT their deals. First of all I offer everyone one free week of training. Second I asked all of my friends to PLEASE come to class (on a determined day) to fill the mat and Third, I went after the KIDS...That is where the real money is. Make your Kid's schedule an easier to deal with one than the other MA schools, for example I scheduled my Kid's Class M-W 6 pm to 7 pm that way the parents don't have to kill themselves to get the kid to class if it is to early. Fourth, I called all my other MA friends (judo,karate, kung-fu ect. and offered them a discounted rate and taught Aikido for practitioners of other MA. More so I let them wear the rank from their art. Please feel free to email me with any questions. Oh yeah, I have the basic ad in the Yellow Pages, and it has already paid for itself 10 times over.

In sincere Aiki spirit

Juan Alberto
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Old 11-13-2002, 09:04 AM   #49
Dangus
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 48
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Another suggestion:

You are a woman, and as such, you'll have a bit of comfort level advantage with women students. Use that to your advantage. Recruit from the female masses, which are so often overlooked anyway in martial arts.

"Those who beat their swords into plowshares plow for those who keep their's" -Ben Franklin
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Old 11-13-2002, 09:48 AM   #50
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
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Thank you Dangus and Juan for your responses, I appreciate both of your comments.

It isn't my intention to have this club be a money making enterprise, I just would like it to pay even partly for itself so that I can continue to have it in operation. Right now it has just started, and is really limping along. I am exploring free introductory classes, but have to get a commitment from another experienced aikidoka to help out (I don't have anyone in my dojo who is ready for this yet), and I will be starting with the Community Education program in January.

I feel extreme uncomfort with a commercial type of enterprise (please bear in mind that I have my own business that I have been running sucessfully for over 10 years, so it is not a discomfort with business, just an aikido dojo run as such) and would like to keep it more in the line of a non-profit (once I get to the stage I can actually make it one).

Also, I don't have an affinity necessarily to either men or women as students/training partners. To me, people are people and I don't treat them any differently (of course, if someone is inexperienced and tentative, I will blend with what they need/give me). I do agree Dangus, that women might be drawn to a woman teacher, but so might men. I don't want to go out an market to one sex or the other. There are a lot of women teachers out there who kick butt (and I hope I am included in this population) and appeal to both sexes. I know of one very good teacher who draws many more men than she does women. I think there are far more men drawn to the martial arts than there are women, and I don't think that the sex of the teacher really matters in the end.

Thank you again for you comments, and keep them coming, they are helpful (even if this time I decided I don't want to run with them).

All the best,

Rachel
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