Being a member of a dojo is not just attending classes and learning to beat up bozos a martial art. It's a commitment that takes place on many levels. It starts with attending class regularly. Then it's practicing outside of class time. But it grows from there. It becomes the web of relationships you build with the other people in the school. Time spent volunteering to help maintain the building that houses the school. And then there is money.

If you're holding 3 or 4 classes a week in a small town, with a fairly small number of paying members, money will be the ongoing problem. There's rent, utility bills, and insurance just to keep the doors open. If you're saving for equipment, like building up money to eventually replace your mats or replace the jo staffs and bokkens, that is an additional expense. It's not just a problem for the person running the school. It is a problem for everyone who is a member. If the school is going to stay open, those expenses must be met.

We joke when someone misses class because they are out of town for work or vacation, "Well okay, but where's your commitment?" Things are usually funny because of the underlying truth. When it comes to money and your dojo, "Where's your commitment? takes on new meaning.

Here's what it takes in terms of money over the course of a year for an individual. Monthly dues, travel costs to get to class (mostly gasoline), fees and travel costs to attend camps, possibly fees for testing (not every year). Here's what that means to me personally. From my home, it's 16 miles to the dojo. In my vehicle, that is about a gallon of gas. Getting home is another gallon. 3 times a week. If gas is $3.50 a gallon, it's about eleven hundred dollars a year just to get to the dojo. Another thousand for dues, more or less. Summer camp is five hundred, plus travel cost and expenses. With some incidental costs, when it is added up, I am spending about three thousand dollars a year on Aikido.

It is simply part of the commitment.

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