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Old 02-28-2005, 03:34 AM   #1
tiyler_durden
Location: Amsterdam
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Angry Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

Hey All,

Well I am usually not the one to gripe about things but I have chewed this over and cannot come to terms with it and maybe you can help me with it!
Well last week I was asked to bring in a pass port photo for my licence as grading was up and coming (This is where it starts).
Now I pay my Sensei 50 Euros a month for him to train me and to help pay for the dojo space etc...
Yet I also Pay around 80 Euros a year into the Shinkendo Federation! Yet also on top of that I have to pay from 20 - 35 Euros for grading, depending on what I grade for...

My question is Why? why do I have to pay into a federation when I get nothing in return for this! I still pay My sensei for the training yet I have to pay for my grading as well as into a "Federation"?

This kind of leaves me with a nasty taste in my mouth and also makes me think "WHY SHOULD I GRADE"? as I cannot afford this every 2 - 3 months....

What do you say?

Peace, love.

T_D

"Deal with the faults as gently a your own"
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Old 02-28-2005, 04:03 AM   #2
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

Quote:
Tiyler Durden wrote:
Hey All,

Well I am usually not the one to gripe about things but I have chewed this over and cannot come to terms with it and maybe you can help me with it!
Well last week I was asked to bring in a pass port photo for my licence as grading was up and coming (This is where it starts).
Now I pay my Sensei 50 Euros a month for him to train me and to help pay for the dojo space etc...
Yet I also Pay around 80 Euros a year into the Shinkendo Federation! Yet also on top of that I have to pay from 20 - 35 Euros for grading, depending on what I grade for...

My question is Why? why do I have to pay into a federation when I get nothing in return for this! I still pay My sensei for the training yet I have to pay for my grading as well as into a "Federation"?

This kind of leaves me with a nasty taste in my mouth and also makes me think "WHY SHOULD I GRADE"? as I cannot afford this every 2 - 3 months....

What do you say?

Peace, love.

T_D

"Osu" comes to mind.

"20-35 euros: wait til you get to Shodan" also comes to mind.

If it's a financial thing that you can't afford it, then maybe you can make some arrangement with your sensei.

If it's just "this is unfair", then get over it. It's the price of doing business. What if you go to another Shinkendo federation in another country? Your federation dues mean that your rank is at least recognised. That may mean something, or it may not: YMMV.

That, or join a dojo that doesn't grade.
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Old 02-28-2005, 06:34 AM   #3
tiyler_durden
Location: Amsterdam
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

Stuart,

I truly think you are completely missing the point here!
I am not saying that I cannot afford it, nor am I in financial difficulties!

What I am asking is WHY!!
Why should I pay into a federation that gives nothing in return?
Why do I pay into a federation and see nothing for that?

I truly do not care about "my rank being recognised" as I do not care about rank, belt or status!

I am asking if any other people here pay into a federation and what do they see for their money?

You seem caught up in some other mail as you never answered one of my questions.....

"then get over it" is not an answer...

T_D

"Deal with the faults as gently a your own"
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Old 02-28-2005, 06:45 AM   #4
Ed OConnor
 
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

Quote:
Tiyler Durden wrote:
This kind of leaves me with a nasty taste in my mouth and also makes me think "WHY SHOULD I GRADE"? as I cannot afford this every 2 - 3 months....

What do you say?
I'd say you're grading way too often. Shodan in 12-18 months?

There's another thread that's dicussing this type of issue:
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=96649

HTH.

Peace,
eD

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Old 02-28-2005, 07:03 AM   #5
Dazzler
Dojo: Templegate Dojo, bristol & Bristol North Aikido Dojo
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

Hmmm

Whats the going rate for teaching ikkyo? Whats it worth?

I find public financial quibbling over this a bit distasteful when the gifts that a top instructor can give are priceless.

This to me smacks of 'sports centre mentality' ...I dont see aikido this way.

I suggest you ask your Instructor why your club is in the Federation it is in.

Is he head of the federation...or does he take instruction from a technical adviser that is senior to him? If this is the case...theres your benefit! Access to instructors that can improve your instructor!

I've spent a lot of years with someone that refuses to take money for teaching since he then feels that he has to give something in return. He prefers to act as a guide and leaves the choice of whether to accept his gifts up to the student.

For this reason I find it hard to link money and aikido....but there are always bills to pay.


D
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Old 02-28-2005, 07:37 AM   #6
happysod
Dojo: Kiburn, London, UK
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

Tyler, as a veteran grade-dodger, I'm the last person who'd tell you to grade, but your claim of over-paying seems a bit strong. The annual federation fee will go towards several areas, including your insurance, your clubs insurance, instructors insurance and (hopefully) federation courses. While 80 euros is more than I'm used to, it doesn't sound too outrageous.

Now on to the grading fee, now that's a contentious issue and I've heard a lot on both sides.

1. Pros for fees. If several senior people are willing to make time to watch and critically mark your performance, some recompense is surely reasonable - if only to cover expenses and perhaps the odd beer as a thank you. Grading someone is not often loads of fun, you lose your feet from too much seiza, normally freeze bits you are really attached to and then face the prospect of causing genuine upset when you tell little timmy they need to do it again in a few months as they didn't quite manage it this time round.

2. Cons for fees: along the lines you intimated, you've already "paid" in annual and monthly dojo fees (plus hopefully blood and sweat on the mat) so what is the grading fee except a form of extortion?

Now I'm normally only with the cons when huge amounts for dan gradings are set (I've heard of hideous amounts being charged in these cases) - even then if the costs include flying someone in specially to grade people (normally with entourage) I can see a case being made.

However, from what you've written your fees aren't actually outrageous, you may find it useful to compare the charges for other activities. If you can't afford them, I'd agree with Ed, talk to your instructor, just be upfront and say "love to, but can't afford to".

[caveat - I'm assuming you pay one fee per grade, not grading attempt, which brings in a whole different dynamic]
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Old 02-28-2005, 04:02 PM   #7
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

Quote:
Tiyler Durden wrote:
Stuart,

I truly think you are completely missing the point here!
I am not saying that I cannot afford it, nor am I in financial difficulties!

What I am asking is WHY!!
I got it just fine.

I was allowing for the fact that it might have been due to personal financial difficulties, instead of just a drink often had with cheese.

It's for ranks being recognised elsewhere. As much as you don't care, most of your classmates probably do.
It's for having the connections to get instructors, coming out for seminars. Obata Sensei has enough affiliated schools to visit in a year, without coming to some whatever school that isn't even in his organisation.
It's for lots of stuff you don't see.

If you don't care about that that, find another dojo that doesn't belong to such an organisation. You might have trouble.

So once again, it is _literally_ the. cost. of. doing. business.
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Old 03-01-2005, 03:53 AM   #8
Dario Rosati
Dojo: Zanshin - Milan
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

Quote:
Tiyler Durden wrote:
Hey All,
My question is Why? why do I have to pay into a federation when I get nothing in return for this! I still pay My sensei for the training yet I have to pay for my grading as well as into a "Federation"?
All MA federations are like multilevel marketing companies, more or less, with the difference that no one can be laid off... degrading is not an option.
What changes is the percentage of money that goes reinvested in MA activities and student-related stuff (such as seminars and insurances) compared to the part that enters the pockets of the directors/instructors group.
You decide if the two percentages are reasonable for you, and act accordingly. Unfortunately, these datas are rarely clear
Personally, for example, I avoid people who stacks an outrageous number of people in a tiny mat, publicizing it as "the ultimate seminar" and telling bullshit like "many people in tiny spaces helps your training". It only helps their revenue; I don't care if their aikido is good or if they are te only local shihans, it's a matter of principle and respect, IMHO. When one earns 3000 for a two day "seminar" with 100 people in a 6x12 mat of his property underground, something stinks, compared to who earns the same sum for an entire week in a full featured sport center with a 50x30 mat. The first one will never see me again, no matter his name/rank/skill.

Quote:
This kind of leaves me with a nasty taste in my mouth and also makes me think "WHY SHOULD I GRADE"? as I cannot afford this every 2 - 3 months....
Sounds strange, unless you stay 8-10 hours a week on the mat.
I'm near the end of my second year of training (3h/week plus many seminars), and will grade for 5th kyu in may.
We only grade once a year in a fixed slot at the end of the course, which seems slooooow, but I understand the logic of the choice and I like it:

1) Passing by students with less commitment (who usually quits in half or one year) don't grade and don't waste a single euro in exams or Aikikai fees in the first year; they simply pay the gym/course fee, which is extremely low.
2) It is better to be a good 5th kyu, than a so-so 3rd. Moreover, being 6th kyu doesn't mean we don't train in koshi nage or juji-garame, or high falls.
3) You can capitalize the slowness in the first kyus later, for 2nd and 1st kyu since you 'll for sure meet at least the training time requirements and (after 6-7 year) have a solid kihon.
4) Since almost everyone says "rank doesn't matter", why the rush in some federations and why the slowness in others? Two words: marketing strategies, applied by sensei, dojos, fed or a combination of the three.

Bye!

--
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Old 03-01-2005, 05:13 AM   #9
GaiaM
Dojo: Bend Aiki Martial Arts
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

Tiyler,

I think you wlil find that compared to most martial arts, aikido fees are very reasonable and less often abused. I personally have no problem paying reasonable fees to my federation. Yeah, I get recognition of my rank, but more importantly, I know that I am supporting my teacher's teachers. These shihan are not wealthy... they do not drive fancy cars and own large houses because they are the most experienced aikidoists in the world. By inspiring and teaching my teacher they have given me aikido, and I am proud to support them (within reason). I don't know exactly why the annual dues and testing dues are set up the way they are, but the money basically goes the same place, in my understanding.

It is reasonable to ask why you should pay this money, but in my opinion the numbers you quoted are very reasonable (although your annual federation dues are a bit more than ours). I suggest that if you don't feel your teachers and their teachers and your overall training experience are worth this 700-800 euros per year that you find another place to train. My teachers are worth infinitely more than that.

Gaia

___________
Gaia Marrs
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Old 03-01-2005, 05:43 AM   #10
tiyler_durden
Location: Amsterdam
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

Ian Hurset,

Thanks for the reply and now I understand Thanks for the reply and explanation!much appreciated!

T_D

"Deal with the faults as gently a your own"
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Old 03-01-2005, 11:24 AM   #11
jonreading
 
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

I hear alot about students that "don't care about grading", and I understand their thought process, but Ian has a great point. You national dues goes towards many things. Insurance, exposure, compensation for shihan, national prgrams and political lobby. For example, in Georgia, the state legislature attempted to pass a bill that would lump martial arts into the same category as boxing, giving the boxing comission the right to run many martial arts programs and competitions. Because of the politial lobby many GA martial arts organizations had, this bill failed. But association money paid for the help to thwart it.
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Old 03-17-2005, 01:58 PM   #12
jester
 
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

Part of being in an organization is credability.
Sometimes that's all your paying for.
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Old 03-17-2005, 04:58 PM   #13
bcole23
Dojo: Eagle Rock Aikido, Ammon, ID
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

I still want to know how you're grading every 2-3 months. Does your dojo have purple polka-dotted belts with hello kitty danlges for the first 30 ranks?

Most dojos have 6 ranks before shodan and it takes around 4-8 years to get through those ranks.

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Old 03-17-2005, 05:26 PM   #14
Chris Li
 
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

Quote:
Brandon Cole wrote:
I still want to know how you're grading every 2-3 months. Does your dojo have purple polka-dotted belts with hello kitty danlges for the first 30 ranks?

Most dojos have 6 ranks before shodan and it takes around 4-8 years to get through those ranks.
Don't you think that kind of comment is uncalled for? At the Aikikai Hombu (with which your dojo is affiliated) it's possible to get to ni-dan in around 2 years. It's possible to get to ni-dan in four years at most Aikikai university clubs in Japan. Nary a polka-dotted belts or hello kitty dangle in site...

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-17-2005, 06:11 PM   #15
PeterR
 
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

We have grading every three months also - that does not mean you do grade every three months.

You are eligible to grade if you put in the hours so with my group the first three kyu grades can be done at each successive grading but after that every second. And you just might be advised to take some more time on top of that.

What this does mean though is that a beginner in the dojo is often overwhelmed a bit with cost especially after he has put out the initial cost of joining a dojo. It doesn't take long for things to be a bit more spread out and manageable.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-17-2005, 09:44 PM   #16
giriasis
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

I train at an Aikikai school and it took me about 8 months to reach 5th kyu, 8 to 4th, then 10 to 3rd. It took me two years to get to second but I had to take 9 months off to study for the Florida Bar (attorney certification exam for those that don't know). It's been a little over a year (13 months) since my 2nd kyu exam and I will probably test for 1st at the end of this year some time. So for us you test about once a year for the lower ranks then almost a year and half to two for upper kyu grades.

We have dues and registrations fees as well, and I don't have a problem with paying them. We pay a fee to test along with dues, dojo registration (initial sign up), an annual dojo registration fee to cover the dojo's dues to the national organization plus to cover things like insurance. We also have seminar fees, which are optional for the most part. For kyu exams you pay about 35-40 U.S. Dollars to test. This is to register your rank with the national organization (not Aikikai Hombu, though) and you receive a nice certificate in return. Essentially you are paying the registrations dues so you can affliate yourself with the USAF-ER (or whichever organization you school belongs), and have your rank recognized by other USAF dojos (or whichever organization you belong).

For the most part, the great majority of people test at our dojo. There are a minor two or three people who don't. But for my sensei testing is about bringing your aikido to another level rather than just pursuing rank just for the sake of just having that rank.

(P.S. We had a visitor from the Aikikai Hombu dojo, a sandan, and he was surprised that after 5 years at my present dojo that I'm still a kyu rank. He had been training for 13 -15 years if I remember correctly, and his aikido was excellent.)

Last edited by giriasis : 03-17-2005 at 09:48 PM.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 03-18-2005, 07:42 AM   #17
bcole23
Dojo: Eagle Rock Aikido, Ammon, ID
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
Don't you think that kind of comment is uncalled for? At the Aikikai Hombu (with which your dojo is affiliated) it's possible to get to ni-dan in around 2 years. It's possible to get to ni-dan in four years at most Aikikai university clubs in Japan. Nary a polka-dotted belts or hello kitty dangle in site...

Best,

Chris
I didn't mean it in a mean-spirited way, I was actually hoping for a bit of levity. It sounded as if it was a case of being made to grade every 2-3 months, which unless you're training a lot, is much too fast for the majority of people in my opinion. I've seen this in many McDojo's (tm), not Aikido mind you, and they grade more for the dues than anything else it seems. Please accept my humble apologies if I offended anyone, no harm was meant.

In my opinion, testing dues, dojo fees, and the like are well warranted, though they can be abused. In my dojo, it's actually the other way around. Our fees are next to nothing, comparitively, and for that I'm immeasurably grateful because it allows me to learn Aikido without having to hurt my family's finances. If I had to pay as much as the original poster a year, I couldn't take Aikido classes without resorting to bank robbery and the like, which is definitely not an aiki type of thing to do.

I also have great respect for soku Hello Kittie 「はろきちー」 /me bows low and slowly backs away....

Last edited by bcole23 : 03-18-2005 at 07:52 AM.

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Old 03-18-2005, 10:01 AM   #18
Fred Little
Dojo: NJIT Budokai
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
What this does mean though is that a beginner in the dojo is often overwhelmed a bit with cost especially after he has put out the initial cost of joining a dojo. It doesn't take long for things to be a bit more spread out and manageable.
Peter:

Could you explain this a bit, particularly the "initial cost of joining a dojo?"

I know this may be a bit of thread drift, but I'm curious just because I've seen a pretty wide range of initial fees and equipment expenses from dojo to dojo, both in the States and in Japan.

In one instance in Japan, a dojo I was visiting for a matter of days wanted a full membership registration fee, and it was a almost like renting an apartment in the states -- initial registration was first month's dues plus a one and a half month registration fee.

On the other hand, for someone on a student budget (which is the case with the club participants here at NJIT), even a $30/year registration fee, a couple of weekend seminars and three gradings in the first year could put a comparatively hefty ding in the account balance.

So I'm just hoping for a bit of perspective on what is "initial expense" in your dojo.

Best,

Fred Little
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Old 03-18-2005, 04:49 PM   #19
PeterR
 
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Re: Grading Issues and Questions

Hi Fred;

We have a joining fee of 6000 Yen plus insurance 1500 Yen
You are expected to buy a dogi 8-10,000 yen and of course the first months fee 8-10,000 Yen depending on how often you come.

After that it is a monthly fee and yearly insurance. Yudansha pay an extra 1500 Yen per year.

For that you can practice up to 7 days a week multiple times per day. I think it is totally reasonable.

University club members join through their university club - cheaper overall.

My group I just charge 500 Yen a lesson.

Hope that helps.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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