View Full Version : Starting a School
07-23-2007, 02:04 PM
I'm a freemason, and my lodge has a basement that's perfect for martial arts (high ceiling, tons of open space, and quiet). I pitched the idea to the master of the lodge, and he's very supportive of the idea of renting out the lodge. So now I'm kind of stuck. I have one contact I can start with (my old aikido sensei), but I'm looking for input on the best way to find people interested, and more importantly instructors who want a place to teach. I've never done anything like this before, and I know there's a lot of collective wisdom on this forum, so fire away. All opinions are appreciated.
Ideally, I'd want to get an Iaido class going, because that's something I want to learn myself, and there's nothing near me.
07-23-2007, 07:21 PM
Well, I suppose the first question is: Where are you located?
Judo, BJJ, aikido, taekwondo, and Japanese karate (e.g., Shotokan and similar schools) are generally not too hard to find. After that, it depends on who's in the neighborhood.
07-24-2007, 05:41 AM
Oh...Columbus, Ohio. I don't want to steal, or appear to be stealing, students from existing dojos. That's kind of why I thought of Iaido; there aren't any classes around here (that I'm aware of).
07-24-2007, 08:18 AM
I have been teaching in a local High School here in Houston as a part of the Kick Start program for the last decade and I am moving across town to open another Kick Start school. I have allot of students in the neighborhood who want me to keep teaching. They have been taking karate for free. We had a meeting with my upper class students and came up with a plan.
We are going to invite a group to be founders and ask for a commitment in writing to help pay the lease on a Warehouse/office space. We can start from there. The founding members will be posted in the dojo.
07-24-2007, 07:30 PM
Part of what you need is people in the area looking to teach their stuff. Thus, the question.
For iaido, check the kendo community. See http://www.kendo-usa.org/statedojolist.htm#OH .
In the Midwest, consider checking out what's happening in the Western MA community. ARMA has chapters in Ohio, and Ken Pfrenger does Irish cudgel training someplace in the state.
07-25-2007, 12:21 PM
If you are on the level ;) , You might take to placing those square pieces of paper under windshield wipers until you are plumb tuckered out!
Seriously though, fliering heavily would be a low-cost way to guage interest in the area. It's been awhile since I have been to Columbus and I don't know the location of the building off the top of my head. If you would be close to thos shopping malls, like the one where Dick Clark's restuarant is, those would be good places to start.
07-25-2007, 11:00 PM
Having been through the ordeal of starting a dojo myself in the past couple of years, and of trying to find other instructors to share space, the three things I would tell you are that initial enthusiasm means nothing, that the majority of people who want to teach will not succeed, and that even the ones who do will struggle for years to build a solid student base. I'm not trying to discourage you but to encourage you to be realistic. Everyone thinks that people will just flock to their classes when they open their doors, but the reality of retaining students over the long term is much different.
Martial arts are distinctly outside of the mainstream of society, and unless you want to run your dojo like the marketing professionals who write for the trade magazines (and in truth, most big martial arts organizations end up adopting a number of those strategies on a smaller scale just to survive, including the focus on rank and promotion) then you should be prepared for a hard road. Iaido especially is an art with a very limited audience, and even in Columbus I wouldn't expect more than a handful of people per year to trickle in.
There are a few existing options for iaido in Columbus that you would be competing with, however the ZNKR kendo dojo in Columbus is not one of them. Their kendo is very good but they don't do any iaido. Kotaka's classical kendo group does do iaido, although I don't know anything about it or if they allow people to practice that without the kendo. There is also a Suio-ryu practice group in the area, which I think is primarily iai, as well as some Korean haedong kumdo. You might want to check out one or more of these first, but if you are looking to have someone teach iaido in your space I might be interested. I'm teaching Muso Shinden-ryu in Lancaster on a very limited basis right now, but I'm in Columbus quite often and am considering moving there soon. If you want to get together sometime and discuss it send me a PM.
07-26-2007, 09:12 AM
Thanks for the advice everyone.
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