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Old 10-13-2000, 10:04 PM   #1
Richard Harnack
Dojo: Aikido Institute of Mid-America
Location: Maplewood, Missouri
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 137
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I cannot believe that there is no one teaching Aikido any where. I know I am not alone out here.

I am currently teaching in the greater St Louis area and am entering my 15th year of teaching here, and my 25th year of teaching Aikido.

Just beginning to get an handle on the basics.

Any other instructors out there with experiences we can share? Or issues to discuss? You know that one student who seems to be able to frustrate you at every turn. Or how about the method of teaching which seems to work better for the "slow student"?
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Old 10-19-2000, 11:51 AM   #2
ian
 
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Dojo: University of Ulster, Coleriane
Location: Northern Ireland
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at last?

Hi Richard,
I have just started a club up and finding it quite an experience. For one thing my first night saw an attendance of 30 students, most of whom had never seen Aikido, let alone practised it before.

The reason I started teaching was that I have moved around a lot in the UK and the clubs are either non-existant of very small; often leading to them folding. (two clubs I have been in folded). This made me learn one very important thing about Aikido - it isn't for you and your friends to train, its for everyone; so advertise.

I also have a question to put to you. I do not like to enforce philosophical, religious or ethical ideas on people and believe the real truth is through experience. How can I be sure that all my students are developing in the spirit of Aikido without ramming it down their throat or spending a session waffling? They all seem pleasant enough at the moment but I do worry about martial arts being used for inappropriate purposes. Do you have any exeriences of roguish practisioners and how you deal with them?
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Old 10-19-2000, 12:30 PM   #3
sfellwock
Dojo: Silverstrand Dojo
Location: Lincoln, NE
Join Date: Jul 2000
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Wink Re: at last?

Quote:
This made me learn one very important thing about Aikido - it isn't for you and your friends to train, its for everyone; so advertise.
Just an FYI. In days gone by in Japan, Aikido dojos did not advertise. Instead, they spread the word via exhibitions. The sensei would have his students give demonstrations at various events. Since it was the students who were performing, it was a good way to judge how compitent the sensei was. Also, word of mouth would spread a dojo's reputation.

Obviously, today this wouldn't be as productive. Advertising is a necessary evil. But it is just nice to remember tradition.

Keigu,

Steve
-"Great. What else do you do?"
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Old 10-19-2000, 12:55 PM   #4
crystalwizard
Dojo: Aikido of Dallas
Location: Dallas
Join Date: Oct 2000
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I'm curious

why you feel that demonstrations wouldn't be productive.

_____________
Kelly

[Edited by crystalwizard on October 19, 2000 at 11:34pm]
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Old 10-23-2000, 11:11 PM   #5
Richard Harnack
Dojo: Aikido Institute of Mid-America
Location: Maplewood, Missouri
Join Date: Oct 2000
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Cool Spirit of Aikido, Training & Advertising

Ah, there you are!

Ian, I have found in my practice that it is difficult to teach Aikido without using some of the Aikido jargon. What I usually do is provide people with a dojo manual which includes definitions of terms and a brief overview of the underlying philosophy. Generally I recommend to all new students that they read Kissomaru Ueshiba's little book The Spirit of Aikido. This relieves me of the burden of "ramming" Aikido philosophy down their throat.

In my dojo we seem to have people of all religious and philosophical stripes. Everyone from witches to fundamental fire and brimstone Christians. Generally I tell people if they have a problem with "ki" and "oriental philosophy" that it is not the terms which are important, but how they practice and train their techniques. The Founder stated in one of his doka that he saw aikido not as a religion but as a physical expression of the highest in all religions - peace on earth.

As to how can you teach your students all of this? Well, first work on embodying the principles in your practice and in your daily life. Then your words and practice will mesh.

Too often I have run across persons in Aikido who mouth the philosophy but then proceed to behave in fairly brutish and selfish ways.

Then there are the others who only train the techniques and pretend the philosophy is not there. They perhaps feel that they are not "profound" enough or some such. For me this robs the students under them of possibilities for even greater understanding.

The path of Aiki is fairly clear, train the basics, practice techniques, study the writings of the Founder and others, practice, attend as many seminars as possible with as many different teachers as possible, practice, meditate on your understanding, practice ( do you notice a trend here? ).

In my take on teaching, the teacher is the least important person in the room. Every student I put up for any examination or for yudansha is a reflection of my teaching. Their positive achievements are theirs. Their mistakes are mine. This for me is the only honest standard for teachers in any field, but particulary in aikido.

As to adverising, some is good, however watch the pitfall of trying to make your self sound too good. We have a gentleman here in the states who always advertises himself as a student of a disciple of a aikido movie star. I am certain he is proud of this association. He runs a "successful" dojo. Many of his students may enrol thinking they will meet this movie star. The reality is much different.

Your best adveritising is always your students. Treat them with respect, provide them with consistent training, and keep your training/skills up to date, and, they will make certain that others enrol.

Hope this long-winded peroration helps
Yours In Aiki
Richard
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Old 10-24-2000, 12:00 AM   #6
Erik
Location: Bay Area
Join Date: Jun 2000
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Re: I'm curious

Quote:
crystalwizard wrote:
why you feel that demonstrations wouldn't be productive.

_____________
Kelly

[Edited by crystalwizard on October 19, 2000 at 11:34pm]
I actually don't know of anyone whose signed up for an Aikido class based on a demonstration. Conversations I've had with instructors seems to confirm this. I'm sure others out there have success stories but my feedback and experience has been that they don't work to bring in students.

I think the reason is that they are one time things and require a bit of luck that someone in the audience also has an interest. We probably would be better off walking down the street and asking everyone if they want to do Aikido.

The best marketing promotion I know of in the bay area was when Seagal came to visit and the host dojo got a write up in the local newspaper. My understanding is that they did reasonably well off that. His star has fallen a bit so maybe that wouldn't work as well these days.
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Old 10-24-2000, 06:30 AM   #7
ian
 
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Dojo: University of Ulster, Coleriane
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Cheers Richard,
I'll keep those points in mind

Ian
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Old 10-30-2000, 04:07 PM   #8
George S. Ledyard
 
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
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Re: Re: I'm curious

Quote:
Erik wrote:
Quote:
crystalwizard wrote:
why you feel that demonstrations wouldn't be productive.

_____________
Kelly

[Edited by crystalwizard on October 19, 2000 at 11:34pm]
I actually don't know of anyone whose signed up for an Aikido class based on a demonstration. Conversations I've had with instructors seems to confirm this. I'm sure others out there have success stories but my feedback and experience has been that they don't work to bring in students.
We used to do a survey when people signed up. The average person had seen his first Aikido over two years before they came into the dojo. Since people move around so much basically they had seen someone elses demo if they had seen one. We have done demos with 200 people watching and not had one signup. On the other hand I stumbled onto a demo 23 years ago in DC that Saotome, Ikeda, and Dobson Senseis put on with the Yudansha of the newly opened DC dojo. They got one student from that fantastic demo but it was me. I was in the dojo the next week and have been on the mat 5 or 6 days a week since then. You just never know.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 10-31-2000, 01:38 AM   #9
Erik
Location: Bay Area
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 1,200
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Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
We used to do a survey when people signed up. The average person had seen his first Aikido over two years before they came into the dojo. Since people move around so much basically they had seen someone elses demo if they had seen one. We have done demos with 200 people watching and not had one signup. On the other hand I stumbled onto a demo 23 years ago in DC that Saotome, Ikeda, and Dobson Senseis put on with the Yudansha of the newly opened DC dojo. They got one student from that fantastic demo but it was me. I was in the dojo the next week and have been on the mat 5 or 6 days a week since then. You just never know.
Good point and now I know someone. So perhaps they promote and build the art but do a lousy job at class size?
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