View Full Version : class size?

4th August 2004, 15:39
Hi guys, first post. I am interested in Iaido. I did try a class last week. And am going back for more. However thee were only 3 other students there. The sensei said this was a usual class size. Is this true? I'm used to a full Kenpo class myself. It just kinda struck me as odd. I don't want to say who is was in fear of haveing bad things said. I guess all I'm asking is what is a usual class size for Iaido?

Steve Iema

4th August 2004, 16:07
3 is good -- you'll make it 4; don't mistake quality for quantity!!

For the longest time we had 5 students at the Kenshinkan dojo -- which was almost too many for the small racquetball court that was being used. Even when there was a max of 8 students only about 4-5 showed up ... once in a while everybody showed at the same time and we had to volley the teaching, three groups of three students; while one group exercised kata, the other two groups waited.

In Japan we often had 20 people, but our teacher was famous. I just came back from a visit to Tsurumi and the number had dwindled (that night) to about 10.


4th August 2004, 16:48
Different dojo have different attendance levels. I found my current sensei by searching on the internet. The messages I found from him, on Iaido-L, were about him wondering about low attendance; he had had a long stretch where he was practicing alone, with no students. When there were other students, he had 3-4, and maybe 1 in 10 new students would stick with it (or less).

Few years later, we're in the 20-25 total students range, with maybe between 10-15 per class. Can't fit much more than that, or we'll have to move. I preferred it when we were less popular, we had more space to work in ;) So few students doesn't mean it's bad. You get more attention from sensei, too.

Sebastien Leclair

4th August 2004, 17:39
All depends on the time of year, usually between 1-15 students. Don't knock a small class, that's perfect, you get sensei,(almost), to yourself.

4th August 2004, 17:52
We have about 12 people total in our school. Generally these days we have about 8 in class at a time, and that's about perfect. Larger classes can work, but for most sword arts (I would exclude Kendo from this statement) smaller classes are not a warning sign. It's expensive and difficult and that will always limit the number of people you bring in. Doesn't help that we only train at 7am either, but it helps to auto-regulate who shows up in the first place.

Note: Please don't read into my above posts that I'm excluding Kendo from other JSA, it's just been my experience that Kendo dojos tend to be larger than Iai or Kenjutsu dojos. Nothing else was implied.

4th August 2004, 18:04
There's usually 8 people or so in my TSKSR class, same goes for Iaido which ends just before we begin.

Charles Mahan
4th August 2004, 18:21
Might also have something to do with the summer. For some reason, attendance usually dips in the summer for us. Lots of people taking their vacations with family and stuff I guess. I like it. More time with sensei for me :D Class sizes drop by 3 or 4 per class on average I'd guess. Lasts a few weeks then goes away. We get a similar drop around the holidays.

I agree with the others. Small attendance is not a warning sign. In fact, you will benefit greatly from having more of your instructors attention. Sword arts and Iaido in particular are very detail oriented, and it will help that your instructor will be able to spend more time correcting your specific mistakes.

5th August 2004, 17:22
I've been teaching Iai-do for around 20 years. Now have my biggest class ever (yippee) of 10 (5 regulars)

5th August 2004, 17:39
Steve, run, don't walk, to that iai-do class!

The personal attention you will get in a small class is infinitely better than when you have a lot of students. This is critical when you are first learning iai-do.

Our class has a grand total of 7 students, as it did when Maeda-Sensei started it a year ago. And although we've only just finished the MJER Seitei Gata, I feel we're all much better iaidoka than if we'd been in a larger class situation.

Just be sure to set aside a lot of time for practice at home (or wherever you can swing your iaito without harming your pets & scaring the neighbors). :D


Charles Mahan
5th August 2004, 19:09
Originally posted by Ken-Hawaii

Our class has a grand total of 7 students, as it did when Maeda-Sensei started it a year ago. And although we've only just finished the MJER Seitei Gata, I feel we're all much better iaidoka than if we'd been in a larger class situation.
without harming your pets & scaring the neighbors). :D


MJER Seitei Gata? Do you mean the ZNKR Seitei kata? Or do you mean the MJER Seiza kata?

5th August 2004, 19:28
I didn't mean to mix apples & tangerines, Charles, sorry.

We've certainly covered the MJER Seiza kata, & the rest of what I was told was the ZKNR Seitei Gata. Is that incorrect?


Charles Mahan
5th August 2004, 19:34
Ok. Just checking.

7th August 2004, 01:52
Thanks to everyone for the responses! Makes a lot of sense. I noticed that there isn't much of a warm up before class. Is this also usual? Again I'm used to a more American style art. I would probably warm up before class.
Again thanks guys.

7th August 2004, 02:00
We don't do the same kind of warm ups that would be common in Judo or Aikido dojos. Our warm-ups consist of 200 cuts with suburito or shinken and then 30-80 fumichigae or other miserably painful leg exercises. Then we do kihon for about 15 minutes. If you want to stretch (and if you want to do this for more than a few years, you better) you just have to get there early enough to do your own thing. I don't know how common this is however.

Charles Mahan
7th August 2004, 02:15
At our dojo, actual class time is almost 100% waza. Students are expected to arrive a bit early to do those warmups deemed necessary. Sensei is fond of saying that we should use the first few waza AS a warmup if we were unable to warmup before class.

Most do some pre-class warmup, some do a half hour or more of waza, suburi, general stretching, nukitsuke exercises, etc.

7th August 2004, 02:23
Good grief! And I thought our dojo's warm-up was intense! You'll either live forever, Chris, or fall over dead from overexertion! :D

Sensei warms up the kendo class with running & other exercises, but expects us iaidoka to do our own stretches & cuts. Linda & I are usually dumb enough to show up first, & so sweeping the dojo certainly counts towards warm-up (it's two basketball courts).

I've been reading a lot recently about how medical studies are finding that stretching really isn't necessary for a good warm-up. But I think those researchers & the doctors who hire them aren't out doing much cardio! :rolleyes: I'd like to see them go through our 90-minute waza to see if they still agree with their studies....

7th August 2004, 04:45
Well our dojo has about 9-10 people (not including 2 sensei) now but when I joined there were only about 5. I think small is the best. Of course, for the one on one interaction, and sensei can spend more time watching you for your inconsistancies, but also Iai takes up alot of space and 10 people plus 2 sensei can easily require a rather large hall just so you don't stab your fellow iaidoka in the back. I think the smaller sizes of Iai dojo's, at least here in the states, also has to do with the interest in the arts. (btw... anyone else notice more people coming to check out your dojo after kill bill and last samurai came out?) I aint complaining tho the more the merrier.

Oh and in regards to the not needing to stretch to have a good warmup... thats bull i tore my right bicep out the only time i rushed and skipped my stretching during a workout.

14th August 2004, 16:47
Hi all,

sorry for being late, but I have just caught up with my reading.

Our Dojo, Masamune, in Birmingham UK now has an average attendance of 18 students on Tuesday nights, and about 15 on Sunday mornings.
On a bad day this will rise to mid-twenties, with the associated problems of space, and the spread of experience accross the students present. This ranges from raw beginner to returning Sandan as well as the hard core of pre Kill Bill practitioners.

Prior to this we had about 6 practicing on a regular basis.

best regards


15th August 2004, 20:16
Those films arent necessarily a bad thing if they encourage someone who has been thinking about doing an MA to actively go out and look for one. Most of my recent students have come from a new class I am running at the local Uni. It's in a main hall where there are glass doors, so people look in and then come in for a try. Biggest class I had there in the summer when the Uni is shut was 14, and 2 regulars were missing!
I am starting to dread the start of the new Uni year, as a couple of my senior students are back off to their own university, so I could be left teaching an extremely large class by myself. Hopefully a lot will drop out after the first couple of sessions...;) Loads of beginners put shivers up my spine, you cant watch them all...:eek:
I suppose I can always get my shodan students to do do the absolute basics...

15th August 2004, 21:04
My dojo has exactly the same opportunity (or problem), Chikodan. We practice first iai-do & then kendo on an indoor basketball court -- actually two of them -- with glass doors, & right next to a weight room, all in a recreation center. We have at least 2-3 walk-ins each practice session.

As I'm the only iaidoka who doesn't also practice kendo, I get to be our "spokesman," & answer questions about just what "all those people are doing." :p I finally had the bright idea of creating handouts, a one-pager for kendo & another for iai-do to start, & now four-pagers for both. The merely interested get the short brief, while those who sit through an entire practice get the more detailed paper the next time they show up.

As mentioned, we've increased from 3 to 26 students over the past 2 years, so I guess the process is working. And Maeda-Sensei does have all shodan & nidan kenshi help out with the new students for the first half of the class. Seems to be working well, as we've never yet lost a student who started.

We'll have to see what happens when eight kendoka pass the ikkyu exam in November, & then have to start iai-do. I'm not sure if any of us have quite reached the exalted heights where we know enough about iai-do to help others.... :D A year isn't long enough for that, but we'll all do our best.

15th August 2004, 23:45
Sorry for the thread drift:

I've been reading a lot recently about how medical studies are finding that stretching really isn't necessary for a good warm-up.

This is not new, only new to Western researchers. The Eastern block nations of the former USSR had concluded that this was the case years ago. Warm-up should consist of movement and joint rotations, some dynamic flexibility excercises (leg lifts, more vigorous joint movements), slow practice of task specific moves (iaido:cuts, draws, etc), then the workout.

Cool down is where you stretch. Stretching induces a chemically driven relaxation response and makes people sleepy. The logic is that this will dull performance, and the studies did show some improvement in performance by eliminating the stretches at warmup.

Now, for some things, like Ballet this may not hold as well, but for running and contact sports, it does hold up under repeated research. Of course, here in the West we tend to be faddish about these things, throwing out everything we once did based on the new and improperly hyped science in the media. Don't stop stretching, maybe just examine when you do it in your workout. The magazines, newspapers, and tv almost always get this stuff wrong when they report it.

For further information check out Thomas Kurz's books and videos.

16th August 2004, 03:00
very interesting Mr. Manry, thank you

16th August 2004, 03:55
Hey, Glenn, where are you in Wyoming? We lived in Laramie for three years -- not many dojos out that way back in the mid-70s.


16th August 2004, 09:36
I have sent you a PM Ken.

Jonathan Webber
17th August 2004, 13:20
Our class sizes fluctuate as new students come and go theres usually about 6 to 8 of us on an indoor basketball court, though one night there was close to 14 :eek:

I enjoy small classes of 2-3 though

17th August 2004, 14:51
My iaido class is maximum 7 people. I love it!!!! My karate dojo even better, maximum 8 if other sensei came to shihan, but most of the time only 4 people. I learn better if not so many people in the dojo.