Monday, 5 September 2011

Spare any change?

We all know that were living in tough times. Unemployment is high, were supposed to be out of the worst of this recession but I‘m not too sure we are. Everywhere we look prices are rising, food and fuel, and the cost of living is going through the roof. Work is also hard, myself I’m feeling the pinch being self-employed and the amount of money left in people’s pocket at the end of the week / month after paying all the bills is decreasing.
How does this effect the regular martial artist trying to run a club? Some clubs ask for direct debits, high training / grading / membership fee’s, and it really is starting to be a luxury to be able to train, but should it be like this?
I know some people have to made a living from teaching but most clubs are happy to break even and when you start seeing numbers dropping from your class due to the amount it costs to train what should you do? I personally have had to give up one of my weekly training sessions, and the only reason is because I cannot afford to go. The class was excellent but Its not just the training fee, there was fuel to get there, the evening I miss from work, licence fees, grading fee’s ect ect.. so there must be others in the same situation.
Have the boom days of the 80’s and 90’s gone when dojo’s where full to the rafters, 4 classes a night with 50 pupils in each! I was speaking to a old friend about this and he said ‘in the 70’s martial arts were only for the die hard, people who wanted to train no matter what, then in the 80’s and 90’s every street corner had a karate class. This was the Karate Kid or Bruce Lee era but now were going back to how it used to be, just the hardcore martial artists who will train come rain or shine. Is this a good thing?
I’m a great believer in share and share alike. I teach not for the money but the sheer buzz of sharing an art which was around hundreds of years ago and keeping the arts alive. It’s the same reason I stand in line and learn with others who have the same passion. I believe this is what people in the past would have wanted from all the traditional styles. I have been learning and teaching with some very close friends recently and we’ve all been sharing information and I’ve loved every minute but what about if it is your occupation? If numbers are down in your lessons, what should you do? I personally would like to teach a class of 3 or 4 pupils who want to be there and learn rather than a class of 20 who don’t but I do know that its not my profession. I have had pupils in the past who are keen to train but been going through a bad time, just lost there job and I tell them not to worry about the money, just come and train. I don’t know many businesses on the high street can afford to do that!
I’m a martial artist full stop. Is it my profession? No. Is it my hobby? No. Its part of me. Its my passion and my life. If I cannot afford to train, I train at home. If I‘m injured I still visit the dojo if possible or read about the history of the arts. I visit other peoples dojo’s to keep in touch and support others. I look online at websites, look at clubs in different countries. Every day I’m either teaching, training or studying, and why do I do this? Because the arts are part of me but I am worried about how financial difficulties will effect us all. I know we’ll all get through this but its something to think about.

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