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Old 03-24-2001, 02:52 AM   #1
Jim ashby
Dojo: Phoenix Coventry
Location: Coventry, England
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I was reading another thread and someone quoted a statistic of 1% of people interested in Martial Arts, and then the dropout rates etc etc. I was wondering what the dropout rates are in other Dojo's. I am lucky in that I train in one of the vey very few permanent Dojo's in the U.K with full-time instruction and yet we still get people dropping out, even when they have got to second or even first Kyu. I'd be interested in any info from you guys around the world.
Have fun.

Vir Obesus Stola Saeptus
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Old 03-24-2001, 10:46 AM   #2
Mark Cochran
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In response to the question about drop out rates. My dojo is a small dojo in Chester NJ. Its so small that most of the people in Chester don't even know it's there. We have rather high drop out rate. This could be because there are several large Aikido dojos in Northern and central NJ. Another reason is that the class lasts just over three hours and many people are just unwilling to give up that much of their free time. However the drop out rate really doesn't bug us all that much because we have a core group of about ten students who train on a regular basis, and this makes up for the lack of interest shown by many of the two day students. My question is do we really suffer from not haveing students in the dojo who lack the discipline or intrest to stay for the journey.

The meek shall inherit the earth. It is our duty to seek out and protect them.
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Old 03-24-2001, 11:29 AM   #3
Nick
Dojo: Aikido of Greater Atlanta
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I read something that went something like out of all the people who start martial arts, half will stop after their first class. Half of that will last two months, half of that will last 2 years, half of those will drop out before shodan, about another third after, and a fourth of the remaining group stay around long enough to show others the Way. Those are the sensei.

As for why... I guess it's just not what they were looking for... if they want it, they'll come back. If not, your dojo is better off without them.

Nick

---
Nick Porter
"Do not fall into the trap of the artisan who boasts twenty years of experience, when in fact he has had only one year of experience-- twenty times."
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Old 04-06-2001, 04:01 AM   #4
JJF
 
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Wow - that's very close to 1 percent that becomes a sensei, if my math doesn't fail me. Let's say 100 people start, after first lesson 50 is still around, 25 within 2 months, down to 12 within 2 years, 6 left when shodan is reached, 4 sticks around after shodan and only 1 becomes a sensei. Hmmm not very good odds

I know it's not a scientific fact, but it comes pretty close to my experience.

I think, that what is really the reason is the lack of disciplin. That's what made me quit in the first place (I'm back now - and doing better - guess I must have changed a bit ) Where I come from it is also a factor, that shodan takes quite a long time. 7 years as a kyu grade is very likely, and very few make shodan in less than six years.

Just my thoughts on the subject.

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 04-06-2001, 05:54 AM   #5
ian
 
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I think Mark has a good point; you don't want or need everybody training at your dojo. Quality is definately more important than quality. By that I mean that it is far more fulfilling teaching people who are diligent, work hard, and are sincere in their training.

I found that some people join martial arts either because they want to overcome opponents or because they wish to discover a magical technique which will allow them power over others or stop people having power over them. Often when they realise it takes a lot of hard work, and the real obstracle becomes themselves, they loose interest.

I think, particular to aikido, there are also drop outs due to the feeling of complexity or unrealism at the start. Many people are accustomed to arts designed to destroy someone through strikes, and also find the concept of moving your whole body as one unit quite alien.

The final stage of drop out is when someone feels they have gained the 'techniques' of aikido. Sometimes this can just be that a plateau has been reached and it seems that there is nothing else to learn (around the 6-7 year period seems common). This could be a good time to train with other Sensei, though what often happens is that people either try another martial art or leave completely.

Also, in the UK there is an increasing student population (I think its the governments way of keeping the unemployment figures down), as well as job insecurity, and therefore lots of people just leave 'cos they move to get work.

Ian
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Old 04-06-2001, 05:56 AM   #6
ian
 
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P.S. I also think ukemis at the start are a major reason for people leaving - people either think they are stupid looking or dangerous. Females will hate me for saying this, but it mostly seems to be women that don't like doing ukemis. Any suggestions to remedy this would be greatly received.

Ian
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Old 04-06-2001, 07:28 AM   #7
Sam
Dojo: Kyogikan Sheffield
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I personally think that only a very small minority of people possess the patience to do something like aikido.
Quite a few people come to watch a class before they decide to join in. They sometimes leave before we have even finished the warm up and basics. They haven't even seen any aikido yet.
If somebody cannot even wait a half hour to see aikido, it is not surprising that some people drop out after a few months.
A lot of people have problems with the continual cycle of self-evaluation. First you think you know a bit about aikido. Then as you learn more, you come to know enough to know you know nothing.
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Old 04-06-2001, 08:27 AM   #8
andrew
Dojo: NUI, Galway Aikido Club.
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Quote:
ian wrote:
P.S. I also think ukemis at the start are a major reason for people leaving - people either think they are stupid looking or dangerous. Females will hate me for saying this, but it mostly seems to be women that don't like doing ukemis. Any suggestions to remedy this would be greatly received.

Ian
Absoloutely true- a lot of people do leave because of that.
I see what you're trying to say about some women who take it up, but it's far too complex to sum up in a sentence like that.
andrew
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Old 04-06-2001, 08:29 AM   #9
Moomin
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I aggree with Ian that ukemi is off-putting. I smashed up both shoulders within a fortnight of starting aikido, and I have a mental block about going over on my left side. (I'm starting to get over it but it will take time). Ukemi appears to my limited insight to be about a third of all aikido; if you can receive it well you can understand the technique from both sides. If I can't receive ukemi, tori can't perform the technique properly and I end up wasting everyone's time.

I've been told that it will come in time, but the way that's working for me is to start off on my knees and go through each "stage". As I overcome one problem I can work on the next piece. For instance, when I started my leading arm would just collapse. Then I had to "look" in the right direction. Now I've got to work on getting lower to the mat. After that it'll probably be which foot to lead off and so on. Also, my sensei has been so helpful in identifying the problems.

In addition, we've had quite a few people start at our dojo just after me. We also have a 5th dan who guests as instructor once a month. His technique is so beyond most people, and quite furious. I think that puts people off aswell (he's not as generous with his teaching as our regular sensei). (But incredible to watch!)

(Long post. Sorry.)

Greg
The tiger who hunts for men may be plump,
But he still pounces
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Old 04-06-2001, 08:40 AM   #10
Brian Vickery
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Quote:
Jim ashby wrote:
I was reading another thread and someone quoted a statistic of 1% of people interested in Martial Arts, and then the dropout rates etc etc... I'd be interested in any info from you guys around the world.
Have fun.
In 'Aikido in America' and in 'Mastery' George Leonard Sensei states something
about 2% of the people who actually sign up stick around long enough to make
it to shodan. My experience has shown me that that number is actually high, the
1% figure has actually proven true!

The reasons why people quit is as varied as the reasons why people came to
to dojo in the first place ...but the reason for quitting that I hear most often is that
this stuff just flat-out HURTS!!!

...So, how many of the people chatting in here right now will be members of the
1% Club?!?!

Good Luck!

Brian Vickery

"The highest level of technique to achieve is that of having NO technique!"
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Old 04-06-2001, 09:23 AM   #11
MikeE
 
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I have a few opinions I'd like to share on drop-outs. Please let me know if you think I am way out of line.

I think the first reason someone will drop out is cultural. We are in a "want it now" quick results society. Aikido doesn't give you that. For many, it may take years before you start getting what I like to call "fleeting flashes of insight". (Those days in the dojo that you just "get" a technique and everything works perfectly) Of course then the next time you train the technique it doesn't work On this line, it will also depend on what the person's goals are. Aikido is not overtly conducive to short-term goals. A person may come in with the goal of reaching a black belt. (Will they fail because its too hard, or will they succeed and move on after they attain their goal?) Depends on the person.

This leads to the second reason people drop out; frustration.
Frustration over technique not working. Frustration over the instructor giving the same advice over and over and not being able to absorb it. (The definition of insanity is: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result). Frustration because ukemi hurts at first. Frustration because many techniques are painful. Frustration over things outside the dojo.

This leads to the final drop out reason. There is something more important, or the "I just don't have time" excuse.

The funny thing is I don't think Martial Arts are unique in this respect. I would bet that kids that start tap dance, ballet, or lessons with musical instruments have just as high of a dropout rate.

But, the good thing is that Aikido has an almost Darwinian effect of weeding out the weak (not the best term). So, for the most part, Aikido's senior people should be stocked with fairly high character individuals.

Just my thoughts.

Mike Ellefson
Midwest Center
For Movement &
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Old 04-06-2001, 11:24 AM   #12
mj
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All salient points. And maybe this is another one, delayed gratification is not really part of the western culture. People WANT it NOW, whatever it is, because that is the way we are brought up. So maybe high drop-out rates, from anything that is hard nd takes time, is not a problem in Eastern cultures. I don't know if it is or isn't, I was just thinking. Maybe we, the ones that 'waste' our time learning an 'art' are just weirdos and it's the 'normal' people that drop out...

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Old 04-06-2001, 12:17 PM   #13
Erik
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Anyone know what the dropout rate is in Japan?
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Old 04-07-2001, 06:10 AM   #14
Jim ashby
Dojo: Phoenix Coventry
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Thanks for the info

Thanks guys and gals. When I started in Aikido, there were fourteen in my beginners "group", by the time Shodan came around there was just me. Some did drop out because Aikido does hurt and we do the same thing over and over again, but these guys dropped out early. It's the people who are at second and first kyu that drop out that I find hard to explain. By the time you've got there, there are (or should be ) no surprises, you've taken hard training and a few knocks, you can almost see that hakama beckoning and then you drop out. Just seems very strange to me. Anyway what does everyone else think?
Have fun,

Vir Obesus Stola Saeptus
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Old 04-07-2001, 06:25 AM   #15
Liz Baron
Dojo: Bury Aikido Club
Location: Lancashire
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My 2pence worth

Forgive an inexperienced view (and a rather long one...)

I took up Aikido very recently, so I'm not really qualified to judge what makes people drop out over the long term - ask me again in ten years!

The search that brought me here was a long one: I'm thirty five this year, and it's taken me until now to learn the beginnings of patience. A vague interest took me to karate in my teens but I lasted no time at all as I had no patience. Work and life have intervened since, as have a few injuries, including one to my back (lifting! just say no...) which can put me down for a week at a time if I'm daft.

I reached a point where I realised that how good my life is could one day be dictated by how my back feels. I have exercises which are meant to help prevent this, but I work long irregular shifts, and I was losing the motivation to do them.

It took me two years to find aikido as a way of answering this problem. Actually I found Aikido in six months - it took the rest of that time to pluck up the courage to make the phone call. Thus far I have no problems. I have no intention of dropping out since I feel like I have found a home in Aikido: it seems to suit me physically and mentally. Obviously there will be techniques that I will have difficulty with, but so far so good.

I feel that drop out rate may be directly related to goal/expectation. I see Aikido as a long term prospect, to improve my balance, posture, timing (and judgement?), thereby reducing a number of problems I may have as I get older. I am not attempting to 'be a black belt by age X.' Other people's goals are different. Incidentally, why is it that non-practitioners only ever seem to ask 'how long will it take...?'

Perhaps because I find this important for my future I may be less inclined to quit, but I suspect that nobody intends to drop out; it just happens.


L


Windcheetah 176
"Handbuilt by Daleks..."
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Old 04-07-2001, 06:48 AM   #16
Jim ashby
Dojo: Phoenix Coventry
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Thanks for the reply

Thanks Liz, trust me, starting Aikido is probably the best thing you could have done. The average age of our Dan grades is over forty, unfortunately, their aveage weight is pretty high, probably due to the fact that our Dojo is in the grounds of a pub! If you get the chance, go to the "Big three" course in May, it'll be a stormer and you'll meet some great people. You'll probably end up saying "why didn't I start this years ago?". I know that's a question I ask myself every time I'm on the mat.
Have fun.

Vir Obesus Stola Saeptus
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Old 04-07-2001, 04:01 PM   #17
aikijames
Dojo: Fayetteville aikido club
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I think there are many reasons why people drop out. but i think probably the most i have seen at my dojo is that people come and expect to take a couple classes and be unstopable but when they relize how long the hard proccess is they get discouraged.(those kind of people would probaby like a punch kick art such as karate, or kung fu better)i know when i desided to do aikido i made up my mind that i wasn't going to quit no matter what. i wasn't going to let any pain or discouraging feelings i had get in the way of my goal. but as an american i think our culture trys to find fast ways to the payoff of things. also disipline most people arn't used to and have a hard time with. i remember my sensi told me to rollfall while he went to help other students and he left me there for what seemed like and hour or so. and he also did something similar with me with the ongaurd position.
thinking back it doesn't seem that strenuous now but i remember wishing he would come back so i could stop. i think, how many people would have the disipline and respect to let a sensi mold them in this fasion?

anyway these are a couple of my thoughts about this.

James
____________
sorry about my many spelling errors
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Old 04-07-2001, 04:37 PM   #18
Nick
Dojo: Aikido of Greater Atlanta
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Re: My 2pence worth

Quote:
Liz Baron wrote:
Forgive an inexperienced view (and a rather long one...)

Perhaps because I find this important for my future I may be less inclined to quit, but I suspect that nobody intends to drop out; it just happens.

No problem, in the grand scheme of things, we're all inexperienced, and usually long winded...

I heard a little saying somewhere along the lines of that last paragraph, that goes something like "We do not rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training."

I'd write more, but dinner's ready, perhaps after--

Nick

---
Nick Porter
"Do not fall into the trap of the artisan who boasts twenty years of experience, when in fact he has had only one year of experience-- twenty times."
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Old 09-26-2003, 12:29 PM   #19
ajbarron
Dojo: Calgary Aikikai
Location: Calgary, Alberta Canada
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After a long discussion (on why people drop out of the dojo and what it costs to keep the building we are in)following our monthly black and brown belt class I volunteered to try to do a follow-up survey (by phone)of people who have dropped out of our dojo after a short time.

We would like to address what those students, particularly those who might have continued if we offered something else or in a different manner, would have kept them involved.

At our meeting we discussed special beginner classes, starting beginner classes only a specific times of the month so a group could progress through the basics together, a buddy system (formal/informal) with a more experienced student, our Sensei making an effort to approach new students on a regular basis, not throwing new students across he room, having a tea after practice( a social bonding activity)with our beginner class as we do now on Wednesdays, and many other suggestions.

Has anyone done a survey before?? I'd rather not reinvent the wheel.........I'd rather steal/borrow one!!!!!!

Thanks in Advance

________________________________________________________________________

My Aikido sucks, but each class I suck to a higher level.
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Old 09-26-2003, 01:27 PM   #20
BKimpel
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While I have never done a survey I can tell you what has made me, and a number of others move on.

Try having a certain black belt that goes to Japan for 6 months, then when he comes back he acts like a cocky jerk to beginners and intermediates alike -- but has a completely different face when sensei or the other black belts are around. And best of you PAY for this fantastic treatment!

There are two critical factors that I have seen in dojo's that have made me (and people I know) move on:

(1) The dojo-cho (head sensei) does not spend enough time mingling to see these little events happen, and because of this the sensei is perceived to be unapproachable and no one feels comfortable going to their sensei and saying, "bobby's being mean to me" cause they feel like a child tattling. And in total honesty, as much as people who study Budo are rarely petty -- we only have so much time in our lives (with jobs and families) to do "something" and if that something isn't good/fun/enjoyable/fulfilling, and then on top of it all we are paying for it (its not that cheap either you know), we *sigh* and wander off.

(2) And while some people are extremely dedicated and willing to put forth a life-long effort, others just want to learn something new and enjoy the experience (much like General Arts in University -- they want to broaden their experiences, but they don't intend to make a career out of it).

Now the reason why I personally have moved on has always been related to number (1), since I am extremely dedicated to Aikido and Budo in general, but I have known many beginners that leave because of number (2) -- many!

How do you fix number (1)?

It's almost all perception. If sensei makes a "visible" effort to make contact with his students frequently, he will gain their trust and confidence. Also dojo's should setup up an explicit way of dealing with issues that protects the student from feeling awkward. It will facilitate better communication and resolve issues before the get started, and serve as a deterrent to the jerks as they will be exposed much more frequently -- and then THEY will be the ones feeling awkward.

(2) Is tougher, but it doesn't mean you need to compromise your art (and start offering Aiki-dance-aerobics and such).

Like you said newbies want to feel like they are progressing, and they want to see more of what Aikido really is.

(a) Try having sensei do a 5-minute demonstration, or randori, or aiki-ken, or ninan-dori (something cool) at the begging of every class -- no talking just demonstrating. I guarantee you newcomers will "want" to get into it. The first Aikido class I saw, sensei saw a bunch of us come in and sit on the bench, and "decided" to demonstrate koshi-nage. When he touched the light on the ceiling with ukes' feet a few times, he had us riveted and he knew it.

The other part is "shake it up a bit". Some days should be kata (regular technique practice), some days should be randori (grab-only randori allows new comers to feel comfortable in that chaos -- they will learn to have fun with it), some days should be single-technique shugyo (total emersion into one technique to really figure it out). People will see progress faster, and keep interested.

Wow, sorry for such a long post, but one last thing about partnering a newbie with a "more" senior student. Although the apprenticeship is the best way to learn any art form, you may be de-motivating your regular students that way cause they will be "forced" to work with someone of lesser ability and feel like their not progressing themselves. I think you should have someone mentor them (buddy-up) for the first month only to get them oriented, and then after that they should just get into the "everybody practices with everybody" mode, which gives everyone a range of exposure.

These are just my opinions, and having practiced in your dojo I KNOW it's not your sensei's teaching ability that is lacking -- he is one of the best I have come across yet (to date).

Bruce

Bruce Kimpel
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Old 09-26-2003, 01:54 PM   #21
bob_stra
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Quote:
Bruce Kimpel (BKimpel) wrote:
While I have never done a survey I can tell you what has made me, and a number of others move on.

and no one feels comfortable going to their sensei and saying, "bobby's being mean to me" cause they feel like a child tattling. And in total honesty, as much as people who study Budo are rarely petty -- we only have so much time in our lives (with jobs and families) to do "something" and if that something isn't good/fun/enjoyable/fulfilling, and then on top of it all we are paying for it (its not that cheap either you know), we *sigh* and wander off.

Bruce
I agree with you 100 billion trillion percent!

IMHO I feel this problem is worse in aikido than in other arts. For example, if a guy hurts you in wrestling, boxing, MMA, judo he had better be damn sure he knows what he's doing, because you can hurt him right back. With ease and almost instantly. In general, getting a beatdown ain't fun, so folks are cordial to each other. Kind of a M.A.D. (mutually assured destructuion) situation.

(and pardon the pun) After a while, everyone just chills out and there's minimal aggro.

In aikido, the guy cracks and pops your wrist, and says that pretend kind of sorry. By the time its your turn, you'd feel petty to do the same to him, so you let it go. But the resentment builds. Sometimes it escalates from there. Eventually, you have to either approach the instructor or avoid that person.

(this, BTW, is from direct observation, as well as some of the saucier posts on here over the past year or so - ie: the "sensei hit me on purpose" one)

I'm not certain I know what the solution is, to be honest. But this seems to be a problem in arts that don't spar much. A kind of "hah ha, I'm a higher grade, I can hurt you" deal.

Oh, and BTW, I'm not saying this is rampant by any means. I see it only minimally anywhere (folks aren't assholes generally). But when I do see it, its mostly in the above scenarios - ie: non sparring arts.

Sorry. Hobby horse. ;-)

Last edited by bob_stra : 09-26-2003 at 01:58 PM.
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Old 09-26-2003, 04:04 PM   #22
BKimpel
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I think you hit the nail on the head Bob, with your comment about why you don't see it in the other martial arts as much as in Aikido. People that study Aikido do so with a desire to be nice to people (albeit while defending themselves), and Aikidoka make easy pray for jerks when they are "actively" trying not to fall to the jerks level.

When I was only a yellow belt in Karate, I was sparring with a brown belt one time and the tension level was building because he was toying with me, sort of showing off. He cranked me real hard in the face and my tooth chipped (and I swallowed the piece - quite a disgusting feeling, he he). Sensei jumped in as he immediately sensed the tension between the two of us was at a "breaking" point and he took me aside. He said, "your spirit is great, but you should try a different block" with a smirk on his face (implying that I should try blocking period). The tension was gone instantly, and both of us got back to business (and I used my arms to block instead of my face).

In Aikido, the tension can go almost unnoticed because of the nature of the art it self.

Unless sensei is right beside you it is difficult for him to notice subtle things like two people crushing each other's wrists, or if nage is ignoring ukes tapping, etc.

The only remedy for Aikido tension issues is to create a comfortable, open communication system between sensei and his students. Even if sensei IS an approachable guy, he must explicitly reinforce this openness just to combat the natural tendency of the student to avoid conflict (the reason they like Aikido in the first place).

Bruce

Bruce Kimpel
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Old 09-26-2003, 07:20 PM   #23
Suzanne Cooper
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Hmmm! What an interesting thread!

Help this newby, please! Ukemis: the ones getting thrown (pinned, crunched)? Is it a person or an action? [If you laugh at my question, please do so quietly so you won't hurt my feelings. ]

Yes, Ian, you correctly note that a woman would rather not get thrown, pinned and crunched by someone that she might not know who might be hurting her on purpose!

Me? I think it's testosterone. All you men know, of course, that there is only one cure for testosterone...

pink fingernail polish on the female getting crunched!

Last edited by Suzanne Cooper : 09-26-2003 at 07:22 PM.

I got guts, yes I do. I do aikido--do YOU?
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Old 09-26-2003, 08:16 PM   #24
PhilJ
 
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I skimmed this thread and find it interesting that everyone is actually agreeing, for the most part.

Since I get along so well with MikeE, it's no surprise to me that I agree with him and others.

I rely on the fact that most MA do have some kind of inherent social weeding, and find it also interesting.

Dropout rates don't concern me unless you start to lose your core group, or, can't build one over a few years. There might be a cause of advertising or what/how material is taught, but for the most part, doesn't bug me much -- I still sleep at night.

*Phil

Phillip Johnson
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Old 09-26-2003, 11:44 PM   #25
sanosuke
Dojo: Seigi Dojo
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 247
Indonesia
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I remember of what my teacher said to me when I passed my brown belt grading, "The toughest belt in aikido training is brown belt (3rd-1st kyu), Why? because its the time people will dropout most with various reasons."

Based on my observations, what my teacher said is true. Although some are quitting at the early stages, most peole quit, or at least didn't come regularly, once they reached 3rd to 1st kyu. i don't know why they quit, but it makes me think can it be because the think brown belt is adequate enough to learn aikido, since brown belt (the 3-1st kyu) i considered as 'senior' already? if yes, then i don't know what to say.......

as for me, i'm trying hard to prove to my teacher that his saying is totally wrong.
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