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Old 02-20-2005, 07:58 AM   #1
"Aikiuniversalis"
IP Hash: 4f219908
Anonymous User
Moral issues about teachers agenda

Moral issues about my teacher's agenda.

For some time now I have been enjoying Aikdio. I first stumbled upon Aikido doing research on Martial arts which emphasized non-violence. I then read up a little on the subject and found it to be most interesting . I then tried to find an Aikido school in my town, which off course there wasn't. So I joined a martial arts center, which offered an Aikido course lasting 16 weeks. I stayed with the program for 12 of those weeks, as the Sensei only trained us a couple of times. I quit because our trainer was a 5 or 6 Kyu aged 16. And I felt it did not give me what I was looking for. There was no etiquette, which for me is one of the things I am looking for. Then after some time, I heard about an Aikido school opening in our town. My first impression of the school was great. Like a true dojo and not a training hall with techno pumping through the amps all day. The Sensei seemed serious and had a fun attitude with him. I trained there for 6 months, took a grading and felt more empty then before. This was due to the fact that I felt I did not deserve my grading…Actually I felt very few deserved their grades that day. From that point on I got a bad feeling about my school. Then I began at night school(ordinary schoolstuff) and worked more often. So I could only go to trainings once every other week. And now I haven't been to training since before Christmas.

My moral issue is this:

My Sensei approached me at work, wondering where I had been lately and wondered if I were to continue. Which in itself seems rather like a nice thing to do. Problems is that he told me that if I did not come back he would have to lay down the Aikido School. Not for money issues he said, but because he had no interest in training only a few people(3-5). So, he wanted to start having kids classes so he could have more students. This to me goes against everything I see Aikido to be. For me, it seems like he started the Aikido Dojo simply to make money. He send me a bill for 6 months of training, even after I told him I could not start training until after this summer. All this put together gives me a bad feeling about his capacity to teach me true Aikido. And I feel like a F***** backstabber for saying this, but my morals and princippels are at a crossroad. He runs the only Dojo offering Aikido in our town…actually our whole region.

Therefore I have been searching the web again and I came over a Japanese art called TENSHIN SHODEN KATORI SHINTO RYU. The Sensei which runs it also has a Dan degree in Aikido.

I think its most likely I will join them after this summer, but I would like some feedback from you guys on how u would handle this?


And the thing that really bothers me is that at the Aikido Dojo there is one Sensei, higher ranked than the Sensei running the Dojo, and he teaches wonderfull Aikido and he has a flow about him and I would truly enjoy learning Aikido from him in the future aswell. However, I have moral issues about staying with the dojo due to what I have explained earlier. What do guys think would be wisest to do?
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Old 03-09-2005, 03:20 PM   #2
Kevin Kelly
Dojo: Aikido of Reno
Location: Fernley, NV
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Re: Moral issues about teachers agenda

Quote:
Moral issues about my teacher's agenda.

The Sensei seemed serious and had a fun attitude with him. I trained there for 6 months, took a grading and felt more empty then before. This was due to the fact that I felt I did not deserve my grading…Actually I felt very few deserved their grades that day. From that point on I got a bad feeling about my school.
From my own experience, your first few grading are pretty simple, just getting used to grading and whatnot. I feel when you test, your testing for yourself. I'm also pretty sure that at a certain point, your sensei won't let you test until your ready to pass when you get to the higher levels.

Quote:
My moral issue is this:

My Sensei approached me at work, wondering where I had been lately and wondered if I were to continue. Which in itself seems rather like a nice thing to do. Problems is that he told me that if I did not come back he would have to lay down the Aikido School. Not for money issues he said, but because he had no interest in training only a few people(3-5). So, he wanted to start having kids classes so he could have more students. This to me goes against everything I see Aikido to be. For me, it seems like he started the Aikido Dojo simply to make money. He send me a bill for 6 months of training, even after I told him I could not start training until after this summer. All this put together gives me a bad feeling about his capacity to teach me true Aikido. And I feel like a F***** backstabber for saying this, but my morals and princippels are at a crossroad. He runs the only Dojo offering Aikido in our town…actually our whole region.
Since his school is relatively new, it will take some time for him to build a student body. My dojo has kids classes but they are seperate from the adult classes and they play a lot of Aikido games.
I feel that my Aikido dojo is a place for me to learn and grow, therefore I don't have a problem supporting my dojo with whatever the dues are. I can train or not train, it's up to me, but If I don't show up for awhile, I will be asked where I've been. If you need to take a leave of absence, tell them and have them stop billing if that is what you wish.


Quote:
And the thing that really bothers me is that at the Aikido Dojo there is one Sensei, higher ranked than the Sensei running the Dojo, and he teaches wonderfull Aikido and he has a flow about him and I would truly enjoy learning Aikido from him in the future aswell. However, I have moral issues about staying with the dojo due to what I have explained earlier. What do guys think would be wisest to do?
If you really enjoy the one Sensei, stay. If you really want to do Aikido, stay at the Aikido dojo. I don't know what your dojo is charging for six month dues, but how many classes a week can you take? How often are they given? If anything you should talk to your sensei about your misgivings.
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Old 03-09-2005, 05:20 PM   #3
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Moral issues about teachers agenda

Quote:
He send me a bill for 6 months of training, even after I told him I could not start training until after this summer.
Just wondering about this one detail - did you let the sensei know that you were going to stop before you dropped out of practice? Did you just drop out and stop paying?

It's difficult enough to keep a dojo afloat and pay the rent and insurance etc. Our dojo has a rule IIRC that you have to cancel your membership one month in advance, in writing. That way we have some chance to plan the finances. For a new dojo with a small group of students I imagine this would be even more important.

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 03-09-2005, 06:38 PM   #4
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: Moral issues about teachers agenda

Quote:
I trained there for 6 months, took a grading and felt more empty then before. This was due to the fact that I felt I did not deserve my grading…Actually I felt very few deserved their grades that day.
New school means new students, right?
You spend the first 6 months at least figuring out which left foot the instructor means whe they say to move your right foot...
The first grading is hard for many reasons, and not a lot of it has to do with nailing techniques, coz that just isn't gonna happen after 6 months.
It's also hard on the instructor, because he has no senior students to help the juniors through.
As someone with only a few months training, you're really the last person qualified to know whether you or anyone else deserved to pass their grading. Your own less so than anyone else's, coz you can't even see how you looked on the day.

The various financial issues have already been discussed in other posts. But remember the hardest time for any business is the start, where they have most of the cost and haven't got a consistent base of revenue.

So I'd advise to cut your instructor a little slack and just train hard and enjoy yourself.

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Old 03-10-2005, 11:25 AM   #5
jonreading
 
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Re: Moral issues about teachers agenda

Your concerns are understandable, but maybe a little off. While I do not condone an instructor that won't teach because he/she doesn't have enough students, I can appreciate the frustration your instructor is experiencing. As a student, you have a responsibility to communicate your thoughts and concerns if you are interested in being part of the dojo.

That said, instructing is a hard job with serious responsibilities. A good instructor must be willing to work, lead, guide, and govern his/her students. It sounds like you may be dealing with an instructor that is having difficulty with the task.

Does a poor instuctor mean the dojo will be poor? No. But it means that others must make up for any deficiency the instructor has to make the dojo better. That means more work for other instructors and students (especially senior students). Do you want more work in your training? More responsibility? The real question is do you want to stay or go. If you stay, expect more work and greater participation; if you leave, there is no guarantee that you will find a "better" dojo.

Money should always be a secondary concern for your training. If you are happy in the dojo, support the dojo. I am always wary of advance payment deals, but dojo are dues-based and financial stability makes everything easier.
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Old 03-12-2005, 01:41 PM   #6
Adam Alexander
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Re: Moral issues about teachers agenda

Quote:
This to me goes against everything I see Aikido to be. For me, it seems like he started the Aikido Dojo simply to make money.
The real problem here is that you want people to say that it's ok for you to not follow what you believe to be the "moral path." Since, you obviously know more about the path of Aikido than this instructor, you should quit.

If it were me, I'd train with him for the sake of training. It's not my business why he runs an Aikido school. My business is to train.

As far as the money, call and tell him you don't owe it if that's the case.
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Old 03-12-2005, 09:30 PM   #7
mriehle
 
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Re: Moral issues about teachers agenda

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
Money should always be a secondary concern for your training. If you are happy in the dojo, support the dojo. I am always wary of advance payment deals, but dojo are dues-based and financial stability makes everything easier.
You are correct to be wary. But it pays to remember that you can go wrong by being too skeptical as easily as you can by being to gullible.

I offer an advance payment option to my students. Basically, I give them a deep discount if they pay for several months in advance. I make it clear that such payments are non-refundable. I don't do it so I make more money.

In fact, I make less when they take advantage. Why do I do this then? Because I have families where three or four people train and even with the family discount they love to be able to save more money. Why shouldn't they?

But then, I'm having serious heartburn over the realization that I'm going to have to raise my monthly dues by 5 bucks soon if I expect to keep the dojo open. So maybe I'm not the guy you are generally wary of?

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Old 03-15-2005, 05:01 PM   #8
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
Location: Wisconsin
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Re: Moral issues about teachers agenda

[b]Dojos with money problems should figure out why money should be a problem. Anyone who opens a dojo should figure on a ten year commitment to keeping the dojo open, even if it means paying for the rent yourself. The shinto Gods require a serious commitment.
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Old 03-15-2005, 05:31 PM   #9
MaryKaye
Dojo: Seattle Ki Society
Location: Seattle
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Re: Moral issues about teachers agenda

Quote:
Mark Uttech wrote:
[b]Dojos with money problems should figure out why money should be a problem. Anyone who opens a dojo should figure on a ten year commitment to keeping the dojo open, even if it means paying for the rent yourself. The shinto Gods require a serious commitment.
My teachers already teach for free, and one of them commutes 70 minutes each way to do it. Asking them to pay the rent as well would be too much. (They pay dues, but just their share of dues; we don't ask them to cover if money is short.)

One of the Ki Society heads gave us a talk on this once. He said, if you are in occasional financial trouble it's fine to ask for extra efforts--fundraisers, contributions, recruitment efforts--from the teachers and students. If you are in contant financial trouble, though, something is wrong. You should not be continually asking for extra effort from everyone; you should be figuring out what's wrong and fixing it. In our case, our location was too expensive. We moved and are now in the black. (By about $35/year. But it's better than being in the red.)

I don't see why the gods should ask less of us than of the hard-working fool (excuse me, sensei) who opens the dojo. (In any case the person who opened ours died a decade ago; doesn't relieve us of having finances.)

Mary Kaye
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Old 03-15-2005, 07:35 PM   #10
Neil Mick
Dojo: Aikido of Santa Cruz
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Join Date: Jun 2002
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Re: Moral issues about teachers agenda

Quote:
I have moral issues about staying with the dojo due to what I have explained earlier. What do guys think would be wisest to do?
The wisest thing. I can't answer that one. But, based upon my own experience, the wisest thing I'd do is run.

Quote:
My Sensei approached me at work, wondering where I had been lately and wondered if I were to continue. Which in itself seems rather like a nice thing to do. Problems is that he told me that if I did not come back he would have to lay down the Aikido School.
One of the things I value in Aikido is that there is no pressure to come. No one has hassled me for not coming for a given period, which is probably why I stayed with it for as long as I have.

IMO, your Sensei sounds as if he's laying a guilt trip on you, based upon his membership (and money) woes. But, this is a premature judgement, as I have heard only one side of the story.

Quote:
He send me a bill for 6 months of training, even after I told him I could not start training until after this summer. All this put together gives me a bad feeling about his capacity to teach me true Aikido.
Money can be a very sticky issue. I have heard several cases (including myself) where money came between a Sensei and student. This is of course first acknowledging that running a dojo HAS to have a money-concern to it...just because of the way our society operates. All dojo's have to either make money or survive from some other endowment (grants, etc).

But, beware of the Sensei who makes "money" an important component of training, or your communications (unless, of course: the money-issue is YOURS, not his/hers). This guy sounds as if he is still working out his personal issues of what an Aikido Sensei is, or isn't. IMO, you should make clear that while you sympathize with his problems, they are not yours. YOU should not take the burden for his attendance, or money, problems.

I once had a Sensei who had "money issues." The night I left his dojo: I asked him what being a member of his dojo meant. "Someone who regularly pays their monthly dues," he said, with almost no hesitation. I haven't been back since.

If I want to be a member at a dues-centric "athletic club:" I'll go join Gold's Gym. I come to Aikido for more than simply training, and paying dues. He disagreed, and so we parted, on amicable terms.

Last edited by Neil Mick : 03-15-2005 at 07:41 PM.
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Old 03-15-2005, 08:08 PM   #11
PeterR
 
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Re: Moral issues about teachers agenda

Just to be contrary.

Money is a major thing especially if you have rent and other expenses to pay. It's also the one thing that students are most likely to avoid if you let them.

I am poor
I am a senior student
I am your friend
I forgot
I'm a special case

Basically a teacher answering the question "what being a member meant" saying paying your dues is giving a a true minimal answer.

Luck has it I don't have to worry about money so our dojo is pay a minimal amount as you go. If I had more extensive bills to pay I would alter my policy to reflect the need for longer term financial planning. Lot's of ways to do this.


I suspect that those who cry loudest about how Aikido isn't about money don't even consider how a teacher feels having to continually ask certain members to meet their basic obligation so that the dojo can maintain its own basic obligation.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-16-2005, 08:48 AM   #12
gstevens
 
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Re: Moral issues about teachers agenda

Maybe the dojo where I train is strange.

The Sensei's only occupational activity is teaching us Aikido.

The dues seem reasonable. $85.00 a month.

The level of teaching that we receive seems truly awesome to me.

Back when only I trained, I paid EXTRA, yep EXTRA, routinely I would put in at least an additional $20.00 on my check in the dues box. Now with two of us form our family training it made the budget a little tighter so we pay the $170.00 without the extra. Not that I don't think that it is worth at least $100.00 per person per month.

It takes money to do everything in this world. My sensei has dedicated 30 years of his life to learning and teaching aikido, at least 16 of those years it has been his sole occupation. That level of devotion to teaching ME something that is life changing, fun, and eye opening like Aikido should be rewarded. I should expect to pay for his time. I don't work for free, (and I love my job too!)! Why should he. Additionally I have been told by some of the yudansha how much it is that Sensei makes a year. The man is not what I would consider well paid, yet I would consider him the best teacher that I have ever had!

I believe that part of the reason that my sensei teaches so well is because it is his calling, his occupation, hobby, and love all rolled into one. I think that his teaching, and my learning would suffer if he were to be forced to take a "day job". I know that my training schedule would be impacted!!!!

Why is it that this money issue always comes up in threads? Why is it that people feel that Aikido training should be free? Should guitar lessons, piano lessons, fencing lessons, boxing lessons, whatever lessons all be free? Should computer programmers work for free? How about mechanics?

Maybe the answer is that a lot of people think if you like what you are doing, which most Aikido Sensei seem to, that you should not get paid for it. Seems people in our society have been programmed to believe that you should only get paid for things that you hate doing, but feel that you have to for money!

It takes money to cover the expenses of the dojo, in addition to being a teacher, the sensei has to make sure that the rent is covered, the dojo kept clean, safe and maintained. Would you go to a dojo that was free but the roof was caved in? How about one where the walls had mold on them?

I go to 8 classes a week, lets say there are 4 weeks in a month, that means that I train for about $2.66 per class. WOW that is cheaper than I thought it would be, maybe I need to find more slack in my budget and give some more to the dojo and sensei!

My bet is that most people on these forums spent more on their beer budget than they do on their aikido dues, and them moan incessantly about how much aikido costs. Why not moan about how much your beer costs……

Thanks to the sensei that are on these lists that answer our doshi level questions time and again, thanks for running a dojo even when people try and convince you that your teaching has no value economically. Thanks for spreading the art of peace, and taking the edge off of the warrior spirit that has turned to the spirit of rage in this country. That takes skill, learning, and LOVE, all in great big huge doses. I look upon all of you with the greatest respect…

Guy Stevens
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Old 03-16-2005, 11:02 AM   #13
Dazzler
Dojo: Templegate Dojo, bristol & Bristol North Aikido Dojo
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Re: Moral issues about teachers agenda

Great post Guy.

Glad to hear that Aikido is still truly valued in some quarters.
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Old 03-16-2005, 05:13 PM   #14
Murgen
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Re: Moral issues about teachers agenda

I agree with Guy. Aikido training is not free and even though you may have a personal relationship with the sensei, they still need to pay the bills and support their families.

Anonymous. Sounds like you lost interest because you could only train every other week. Yeah, it sucks to pay good money yet get 1/4 the classes. It also sucks to see other student progressing and getting that sinking feeling of being left behind by the other students when you first start. I started with a group at a new branch of our dojo. The classes are small and we were all beginners. I have the same issues as I can only go once a week and definitely have had to work harder to keep my techniques. I make up for it with private lessons and really trying to lock in the techniques at home. Privates make a HUGE difference. It's not an easy path, but it is one. Up to you if you want to take it. Remember that everybody's path in Aikido will be different and things change and you can get to more class someday. Paying $25 dollars a class in my opinion would be worth it if you have a Sensei who can teach you something you can put in your Aikido toolbox. Charging you for months you weren't there seems kind of gamey. I would be shocked in my Sensei did that to me. I would have an issue with that.
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Old 03-16-2005, 08:10 PM   #15
Neil Mick
Dojo: Aikido of Santa Cruz
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Re: Moral issues about teachers agenda

Quote:
Anthony Towsley wrote:
I agree with Guy. Aikido training is not free and even though you may have a personal relationship with the sensei, they still need to pay the bills and support their families.
Just to respond to this general train of thought...

Sure. It takes a lot to run a dojo. Money is most definitely a concern. And, dealing with money-issues is a tough but necessary thing, for some Sensei's. The rent comes due, and the relationship might uncomfortably strain that line between practicing doka and being in debt.

I'm not saying that Aikido lessons ought to be free. I'm not talking about how much a Sensei charges for lessons. I'm talking about something a little more subtle, than that.

In the end, I'm talking less about what Sensei charges for his classes: and more about the reason why he's teaching.

Is he teaching to make money? Then, I repeat my earlier advice...run.
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Old 05-01-2005, 08:56 AM   #16
"aikiuniversalis"
IP Hash: 4f219908
Anonymous User
Re: Moral issues about teachers agenda

Thank you all for taking time to answer my "issue".

First of all...it was never about the cost. Money for me is irrelevant in this case! I simply would like to enjoy Aikido.

Second, I have decided to rejoin the dojo after this summer...if it still exists. If not, I have found another dojo which teaches Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu Kobudo, but also teaches Aikido. In any rate, I will pursue the path of Aikido, no matter where it brings me

again, thank you all for your help.
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