View Full Version : Need help...dojo in trouble

26th September 2005, 05:45
I am new to E-budo and thus far am very impressed by the wealth of knowledge I have found here, so I figured I would ask for help with my problem.

My instructor, who is a brilliant Judoka, just refuses to catch up with times. Our dojo is very close to closing its doors because of this. Myself and few and a few of our black belts are at our wits end because our sensei believes that we are the only ones responsible for recruiting and word of mouth is the only way he likes advertise, and it is the student job search out and instructor not for the instructor to find them. This is funny because he is a fulltime instructor. I have mentioned using a website, flyers, and demos as forms of advertisement, but he just says they donít work.. When I first joined the dojo, people were waiting on the mat to have go, but there is about 15 of us. :confused:

Do you have any suggestions?

26th September 2005, 10:22
My first JJ club died for the same reason.

I don't have any suggestions, unless you (the senior students) want to start footing the advertising bill yourselves.

26th September 2005, 11:17
Well, if one of you has some web skills, a web site can be had for less than $100 a year. Flyers are good.

Stick a small 'bookmark' type add in the martial arts books in the library, or check with the local book store and see if you can do it with their books.

Pass out flyers around martial arts movies.

Flyers and book marks can be created using Word easily enough.

26th September 2005, 12:55
Personally I think that bookmark adverts are very disrespectful unless they are in a book of the relevant art. An advert for a martial art which is not the topic of the book seems to me to be saying "our art is better, come to us" or "you dont want this rubbish, come see us instead".

Word of mouth is a fantastic way of advertising, if 15 people bring one friend each, you significantly increase your student population. There are other great ways to advertise, including posters at local halls/libraries/schools/general stores etc if they have a free message board.

Martial arts should not need to be forced upon people, they should come to you, this way they are more interested and more likely to be a good student.

Perhaps though your instructor wants to space himself from the mcdojo's which have promotional material galore. Perhaps he just wants a select few diehard students, which I think is a very good thing.

26th September 2005, 13:50
Disrespectful? Okay, if you want to take the negative spin on it, yeah, I guess you could say that. But I sure never thought of it like that.

To a certain extent, the person who is looking at the book may not have a clue as to the differences. And if the person has a foundation and is studying an art already, they are likely to ignore it. Or perhaps do some research into the other art.

26th September 2005, 17:02
We have actually been thinking of just going over his head and making the site and some flyers. Since we are mostly students we don't have a ton of monet to spare but I think something can be arranged. I don't think the book mark idea is disrespectful at all.

It is a students job to look for the teacher but what about those people who don't know they are looking. As a full time time instructor you have to have students to live.

I don't want to be direspectful to you know but sometimes I just want tell him to get with it.


Simon Ford-Powell
26th September 2005, 17:17
As an instructor myself, who doesn't advertise and who has a deliberately small group, maybe your instructor is "with it". Perhaps quality of training is more important to him than mass ranks of students, a lot of whom will probably waste his time and detract from other's training. I don't, however only earn my living teaching, so he may be needs to be a little more commercial sensable and I don't see a problem with having a website to that end.

27th September 2005, 00:09
As an instructor myself, who doesn't advertise and who has a deliberately small group, maybe your instructor is "with it". Perhaps quality of training is more important to him than mass ranks of students, a lot of whom will probably waste his time and detract from other's training. I don't, however only earn my living teaching, so he may be needs to be a little more commercial sensable and I don't see a problem with having a website to that end.

In our dojo training is paramont but he continues to tell us to recruit. I think I am just going to have one made. I talked with some of the other senior students and they agree with me.

28th September 2005, 06:26
Well we sat down with out instructor and talked with him about our ideas for increasing membership and he basicly said we were trying to bastardize the art. That hurt because we just what make sure the club exsists. where I am from this is the only dojo that is worth a d***. The rest of them are "McDojos"

Simon Ford-Powell
28th September 2005, 07:46
The man doesn't want to prostitute himself - he is old school and you may have a gem. Looks like you may have to work hard on the "word of mouth" thing

28th September 2005, 09:03
Word of mouth is the strongest advertising you will ever get. You can do a hell of a lot more personal selling than a tv, radio, book, newspaper ad can do combined.

Get yourselves in gear and sell what you are doing. Talk it up whenever the opportunity arises and you think someone will be interested. Don't tell it to everyone, just those who seem to be worth the time.

I'd say I agree with your instructor, putting ads on TV, fliers etc.. Is kind of bastardizing the art. Not only do fliers eliminate selective recruiting, they're not free, they're not easy to maintain and keep up to date and distribute, and they pollute the environment.

If anyone at your dojo does any other physical activity they should have plenty of opportunities to chat up your dojo and invite a few people to check things out.

Do your best, failure means the death of your dojo apparently.

Good luck!

28th September 2005, 22:31

At our non-profit school of Korean Karate and Self Defense, we do word of mouth only! Why... because that is the tradition of the school. The next Bruce Lee/Steven Seagal/Jet Li type of action star to have a big movie will bring them knocking at your door. I think it is better to keep it word of mouth only, as it keeps the ones you don't want, away.


28th September 2005, 22:52
For what it's worth....

I have to agree with the masses here also. Our school does the word of mouth or by doing demos at cancer walks and the like. We have a web-site and it has brought in nothing. Keep this in mind; folks that are likely to show up at your door are CLOSE by. The www is seen by everyone and the guy in California is on interested in going to a NY dojo. At least by word of mouth you will be recruiting folks that are in the vicinity and are likely to show up. One thing my instructor use to do is to keep business cards on hand, and while shopping recruit ones that look physically fit or a potential client. (Thatís how he got me) :) Currently our school has around 50-60 active members and seems like we are growing all the time. Also, as Tom stated, when a new movie or show hits your classes will grow also, keep in mind the different times of the year influence class enrolment.

An idea I have been kicking around is to offer some FREE self-defense classes to different groups. IeÖ womenís shelters, YMCA, things like that. Or do demos during events like the cancer walks we do each year or the county fair. Try to spread the word by showing the art. Keep in mind, if 100 people see what you are doing, half may think itís real cool and what to learn, half of those may have the drive to doing and seek you out and even if a few stay itís more than what you have now.

Trevor Johnson
29th September 2005, 01:40
I think that putting up a website is a good idea. We've done that, and put up things that we wanted people to know about us. If you keep it simple, tasteful, and not garishly McDojo, it could be ok. It might also help be a counter to those ghastly McDojo sites that we all see out there.

One thing that might help, actually, is putting up a website to educate others about the art you practice, and why you do what you do. Might change a few minds out there.

Keep in mind, btw, that if you invite the outside world to view you, there's always critics. We get those on the web, occasionally, but also during our yearly demo at St Louis's Japan Festival. Most of them are 16yr old "masters" or "ninjers" who think that their way is incredible and have no idea of the real art. Educating them is sometimes futile, but occasionally, it works.

29th September 2005, 11:24
Word of mouth also has lots of limitations:

The number of relevant people each of us is familiar with, is very limited. Of those, most already know of your hobby (in their eyes) and it is of no interest to them (at least my personal experience). New people do not enter your group too frequently, and most of your friends, are similar to you - same age group etc. If you are a veteran, many of them may consider themselves too old to join, Younger people are often more open to new experiences.


29th September 2005, 16:05
I know word of mouth is considered the best way by most people but like Amir said new people don't enter your group often. I personally have talked to all my friends and i have only had one join but didnt sick with it.

My instructor doesn't like demos he say they don't work. My idea about demos is that it is more about educating that recruiting. I think they are fun.

I don't think using the media is bastardizing the art but because my instuctor learned japan he think we don't need it beacuse people should be knocking down our door to learn. Please keep in mind I am from Mississippi and we are a state of homebodies(just lazy).

We don't test like other schools either, only once a year but we are in the process of changing that to quarterly mainly because of the USJI changing their bylaws or something like that. Personly I like the traditional belt system.

29th September 2005, 17:03
Where in Mississippi are you? I might be able to give you a bit of help.

30th September 2005, 03:53
The jackson area.

30th September 2005, 05:44
Really? I'm a Jackson native myself. What's your dojo name and how long have you been in operation? I might be able to help spread the word a little bit, though I don't get down there too often these days.

Dark Kendoka
3rd October 2005, 22:43
As for the advertisement, you can do it in the way of blogs and signitures in forums. For the word of mouth part, you can just make it publicly known that you practice your specific art. When they ask, that is when you answer any questions that are available to you.

I can see your sensei's point of view for advertising since, while it will bring in more people, you might get those that are only there to "look cool." Anyone would rather teach a dedicated few than many who aren't so serious.

But before you do any major advertising, I'd definately ask your sensei whether or not he will let you do that sort of thing on your own terms.

5th October 2005, 09:35
get your dojo listed in some yahoo groups or get yourselves a spot on the google 'martial arts' directory. then chat it up with everyone you know who would be interested. You gotta work for it, people aren't gonna just come to you. Got a male friend who's interested in asia or japan? Tell em about Judo.. don't mean to sound sexist but I've found it's hopeless to try to recruit women to a dojo, they just aren't interested most of the time. Try hard and you'll get results, but they won't be instant.