The Upside of My School Closing Down
by, 06-16-2010 at 08:23 (1311 Views)
Several of you have written posts about how your schools have weathered the economic downturn of the past few years, some even expanding and/or opening up new locations. This is wonderful, and I certainly hope such success continues!
Last year, our dojo wound up severely fiscally crippled like so many other businesses, and we closed up the location we’d called home for almost 20 years. The reality is that traditional Japanese jujutsu just isn't in and glitzy enough to compete with other martial arts in a town as in-and-glitz-driven as L.A. (you can maybe count the remaining legitimate commercial TJJ schools in the greater L.A. area on one hand).
Nonetheless, I’d like to say a big “thank you” to the members of the BudoSeek community, especially Robert Carver and Skip Koepke, who’ve been supportive of our school for a good part of that time. Rest assured, the dojo continues to thrive, and I’ve written a bit below about the positives that have come out of this situation.
The dojo currently resides in my sensei's front yard. Interesting things happen when you don’t have to deal with the burdens and conveniences of being a commercial school.
First of all, enrollment dropped off precipitously. I suppose that’s no surprise, but we lost some folks who I truly felt would stick with us through the transition.
Then people started looking for us. You folks who’ve been training for awhile know the types: the ones who’ve visited your school multiple times, swear up and down that this is what they want to study, but don’t commit; the ones who used to be dedicated students and now visit from time to time to tell you how much they miss training and plan to come back, someday. A few freaked out when they drove past the empty unit at the strip mall where we used to train. Some found the way to the new dojo-al fresco, and bowed onto the grass eager to make up for lost time. Others simply moved on to look for a school that has four walls and a roof.
Some of the students who left during the transition have since returned.
The students who remain now pay more attention to the physical training environment since they must persevere in spite of it during every class. The sun late in the day, and the shop lights rigged for night training, backlight the attackers and blind the defenders. Footwork and breakfalls are trickier on a lawn graded for drainage than over a level slab. Every repetition truly contains elements of reality-based training.
The venue may have changed, but the opportunity to learn is better than ever. Too bad the economy will likely recover some day and, hopefully, ruin all of this!