Community Insights

We recently organized a survey to get to know the Aikido Journal community better. With over 1,000 respondents, we’ve been able to get a much clearer picture of the community and had the opportunity to get lots of great feedback and ideas. We’d like to share some of the survey data with the community, along with our preliminary conclusions, and questions that arose from reviewing the data.

I. About the Community

The community is large, with over 145,000 Facebook followers and a monthly reach that often exceeds 1 million individuals. Our community is international, spanning over 40 countries. The top five countries our community resides in are the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Italy. 

Styles

Experience

Conclusions and Questions

There is a significant deficit of newer aikido practitioners in the community. Only 16% have less than 3 years training. Almost 40% of the community are instructors or chief instructors. This means that there are only 1.5 students per instructor within the community. This data would seem to indicate one of two things (or probably a combination of the two):

  • Aikido Journal’s content has not been able to connect or engage with newer practitioners and primarily speaks to seasoned practitioners.
  • There is a lack of new students entering into, and growing in, the art of aikido.

It’s clear the site does not provide an easy or compelling entry point for beginners. We think it’s important that Aikido Journal become a resource for both advanced and beginning practitioners. Those new to the art could benefit tremendously from the community’s deep experience. We believe it would be worthwhile to improve content curation and organization and to do so in a way that benefits both novices and experts.  

However, if it is the case that the number of new students is dwindling among our community in a significant way, then we have some work to do. There are multiple indicators that this is happening. Stan Pranin wrote an extensive article on the subject in 2015 and lack of student growth and retention is listed as one of the top challenges by a statistically significant sample size of the Aikido Journal community. 

Another finding that we believe warrants both reflection and action is the lack of women present in the online community. We don’t know how this necessarily correlates to the gender demographics of aikido practitioners.  We know many dojos have thriving groups of women instructors and practitioners, but the gender disparity in our online community is striking. Aikido is a fantastic art for women and the martial arts community can benefit from having more women practitioners, instructors, and leaders join our online community. 

II. Strengths of Aikido Journal

The community loves many things about Aikido Journal and is in awe of the legacy left by Stan Pranin. The two stand-out strengths of the journal are:

  • Depth of Historical Information: Nearly every respondent acknowledged the tremendous value of the historical research and documentation that Stan Pranin built over lifetime, especially his interviews with the great masters and the priceless video library. 
  • Diversity of Perspective: The community loves the diversity of perspective represented in the journal. The articles, videos, and input from all branches of the aikido world are seen as a major strength of the journal.  Many comments also centered around benefits and insights gained from reading articles or watching videos of masters from other aikido styles and martial artists outside of the aikido world. The most popular video of all time on Aikido Journal with over 1 million views is  “Death by Disarm” with Jeff Imada, a kali expert.  Our most recent article sharing a BJJ black belt’s perspective on aikido has also generated massive interest.

Who were the Shapers of Postwar Aikido?

Nishio Sensei’s Irimi with Jujutsu Applications

Death by Disarm: Jeff Imada counters a disarm attempt by Josh Gold

Conclusions

We believe it should be a priority to make as much of the historical interviews and videos accessible as possible. We have ideas for this and will share soon in a follow-up post.

We also believe Aikido Journal should continue to embrace diversity of perspective and relevant new ideas. With community members hailing from different cultures and environments with a broad range of martial arts backgrounds, we can expect spirited discussions. As long as they are constructive, respectful, and have a sincere intent to elevate the art of aikido, we believe we should support and embrace this dynamic.  

III. Weaknesses of Aikido Journal

The following were the top weaknesses respondents identified about Aikido Journal. I agree with all of them and the deficiencies are pretty clear. It’s clearly a high priority to address them.

  • Website interface and user experience
  • Content curation (content is too hard to find and explore, not enough new content)
  • Products were recently marketed too aggressively / tied directly to too many articles

Conclusions

It’s clear the Aikido Journal site needs a redesign. It’s also clear the community wants a broader range of content exploring different facets of the aikido world. The form factor for Aikido Journal products and services should also be restructured to better serve the community. With guidance and input from our survey, we now have some ideas and will discuss plans in a future post.

IV. Greatest Challenges in the Aikido World

The community cited a number of challenges, but an overwhelming majority of responses were centered on these issues:

  • Finding and retaining students, especially young adults
  • Finding ways to improve technique quality and effectiveness of instruction / transmission of knowledge
  • Developing better ways to communicate effectively about the story, focus, and benefits or aikido 

Conclusions

These are important challenges. 40% of all survey respondents listed one or more of the above as their greatest challenge as an aikido practitioner or instructor. I believe the first step is to acknowledge the issues. On an individual level, not everyone may experience these challenges, but they are far and away the most predominant problems in our aikido community based on a statistically significant sample size. If this is the case, it seems that finding ways to explore and begin addressing these issues should be one of the priority topics the journal covers in its future content mix.

We think Aikido Journal may be able to help support improvement in these areas in some ways. With the community’s input, we’ve been thinking about resources we can build to better empower our dojos and help us all to tell the story of aikido. We look forward to sharing some ideas in the very near future.

We’d love to hear any feedback you may have on the survey data or our conclusions. We certainly don’t have all the answers and would like to hear if anyone has other ideas for ways we can improve Aikido Journal and help elevate the world of aikido. Thank you for being part of the community and contributing your passion, expertise, and insight. It’s an honor to help support such a group.

72 Comments On “Community Insights”

  1. I did not know, that Stanley Pranin had died. I knew he had cancer.

    I did not receive the survey, therefore, I could not respond to it.

    Reply

  2. Aiki News/Aikido Journal served to provide me with valuable information on Daito Ryu and Aikido since the 70’s. Stan and I use to correspond and he was always most helpful in providing historical information and perspectives which I grew to trust.
    I hope that whatever changes take place, that the Journal maintains their high level of informative integrity. I look forward to my continued reading AND buying the Aiki Journal

    Reply

    • Thank you Miguel. We are still working to get things stabilized and in order. It’s only a few days ago we were able to resurrect the email newsletter. For the last month or so, we’ve had to channel all communication through Facebook. We are still sorting out details with the AJ website, thus in the near term, we will need to post blog updates here on the Ikazuchi Dojo website.

      We appreciate the support and encouragement. No one can replace Stan and his depth of knowledge, but we will try our best to set a positive direction for Aikido Journal. It’s nice to meet you here.

      Reply

      • Josh,
        I very much appreciate your work. Stan left such a rich and valuable legacy and it would be a waste to let it go. I am curious as to what your relationship was with Stan Pranin and did he request of you (and others) to cary on his work?

        Reply

        • Hi Florian,

          Stan and I collaborated on a number of projects over the last few years and we were in communication almost every week. He was a good friend and a great source of information and wisdom. When Stan got sick he did entrust me with many of his materials and asked that I help. At least on an interim basis, I’m helping to get things organized at AJ and set up so it can best serve the aikido community in the future. We’ll have more updates in the near future on the longer term plan for AJ but for now, I’m just working on getting to know the community better and stabilizing and organizing the technical infrastructure.

          Reply

          • Hi Josh,
            A heavy mantle to carry on so hopefully it is one you are willing to accept and move forward with. Like all things in life change is ever present and Stan’s passing is just a part of this process and a part he knew was coming in the latter part of his life. Like all the old martial artists he faced this part of his life with clarity and dignity as befitting the life of a man devoted to enriching the lives of many others.
            On a personal level I have chatted online with Stan on a few occasions and he always made time to reply. AJ changed my Aikido life as it opened up the whole world of Aikido past, present and future. In the early days Stan used to have a section of upcoming seminars which was always a great way to connect people. This I know can be overwhelmed in our present climate but in a far simpler time it was a great way of meeting and training with people outside of the sphere of normal practice.
            I’m sure whatever happens and no matter which direction AJ goes from here it will be one of building on the past while looking to future just as Stan did.
            Good luck.
            Yours in Aiki
            Mike

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  4. J. Oliver Greaves

    I loved Aikido Journal as it was, but that doesn’t mean it can’t change for the better. I have missed the daily e-mails that reminded me of my practice, and got me to look at articles that answered questions I sometimes didn’t even know I had. I hope they come back! Best of luck to all of you.

    Reply

  5. lack of student growth and retention is listed as one of the top challenges

    retention has always been a problem. training isn’t easy. easier, softer, schools may have more retention, but have to confront the challenge of relevance. the Boomers, like me, were a huge factor in all sorts of physical activities “back when”. demographics is a challenge for all of those activities now.

    in my survey response i mentioned that there are more teachers/students with more seniority today than fifty years ago. that is both a challenge and a phenomenal opportunity.

    – cw
    http://www.charlesbwarren.com

    Reply

    • Chuck,

      Nice to meet you here. Very good points. We agree that the number of senior level practitioners is a huge asset to the aikido community. Hopefully we’ll be able to leverage that expertise to guide and inspire the next generation of practitioners. Thank you for your support!

      Reply

  6. Great work to get this survey done so quickly. Stanley would be proud! Some of the results are very powerful and no doubt can help guide future strategy. However the results are likely to be seriously biased towards the distribution of people shown in the survey i.e. longer term practitioners, and mainly male (myself included). While that is not to diminish the quality of the data, I wonder if there is a way you could create a second survey, or at least a sample, of younger, earlier stage students with a more even gender mix. A test marketing exercise, if you will, to see if and how the new strategy could capture a greater share of this important group. Just a thought.

    Reply

    • Hugh – This is a great idea. We’d love to do some more targeted surveys in the near future to get additional insights into certain segments of our group.

      Reply

  7. I would really like an affordable subscription (monthly or one-time) that gets me full access to all content. I don’t like the nickel and dime, version 1/version 2 (Zone Aikido) approach.

    Reply

    • You’re not alone. Many agree with you. We hope to have more news on this in the near future. Thanks so much for the honest and constructive feedback.

      Reply

  8. I also am a subscriber to Aikido Journal and did not receive a survey. I have wondered about continued access to content which i have paid for on the site; I seem to have purchased a number of products which I have not spent a lot of time perusing. RIP Stan Sensei, your presence is missed.

    Reply

    • Steve,

      Nice to meet you here. It’s only been this week that we were able to reactivate the newsletter. For the last month or two, the only way we’ve been able to reach the community was via social media. The AJ website is still live and all of your content should still be accessible. Thank you for your support!

      Reply

  9. I have been a member for several years and have several friends who are Master teachers in Aikido and I am in touch with them and share a lot. I teach at a Dojo in Wake Forest North Caroline.
    I have been blessed to have trained with some of the best teachers in several arts. for since 1965 with miny older Teachers in varies arts.
    I am 72 yrs old and still am learning and practicing my arts.

    Reply

  10. Thank you Stanley for all you did for Aikido and your excellent articles! I will surely miss your writing and hope that AJ will continue in your spirit. I never met you in person and only now found out you have passed away, I feel I have known you for a long time though. Thank you, Alexander

    Reply

  11. So sad that Stanley passed, dearly missed even though i had never met him, i should imagine he was a fantastic person to know so much experience and advice.

    Also the regular emails were a great source of information. But understand that if there are changes needed then i would fully support this.
    Excellent idea of the survey and feed back.
    Please send my condolences to the family.

    Reply

  12. Thank you for this sharing of data, as I’ve been wondering about the status of Aikido Journal and its community for a while now, and was not aware of Stanley-sensei’s passing.

    I am a young adult of 25 living in Canada and am one of the beginners or newcomers that discovered Aikido Journal while looking for a good online resources. I believe part of the reason the percentage of younger practicioners and beginners as part of the community is, as has already been stated, the amount of prire knowledge needed to start joining the discussion, heck, even to start reading articles and understand more than 10-20% of what is being read or watched. In many ways, this is a similar feeling to that which I get from many of my Japanese ESL students feel when learning English as a second language. It’s akin to being asked to read a university graduate’s 10 page essay when you know the alphabet, but no clue about vocabulary or gramatical knowledge required to understand the paper you are reading.

    To my thinking, there should be a section, or resource, specifically aimed toward to those who are starting out. Or at least, bringing the resources currently available to a level that is more relevant to those like myself who are not as knowledgeable as higher level students or instructors. Many of the analytical texts I read are fascinating to me, but nowhere do I find any sort of way to link it to my current level of experience and practice.

    I believe there is also a set of common questions that all beginners will ask, regardless of dojo or background. Questions like “Why do so many people scoff at Aikido for being inaffective, and what are some well thought out responses?”, “What should my training possibly look like after x amount of time?”, “When can I start seeing success with my techniques if I cross train or spar experimentally in another art?” and others that I probably haven’t thought of, but which plague me consistently as a beginner, and as someone who trains in a very traditional Japanese style dojo, are not always possible to ask.

    I love Aikido. I have been enthusiastic about it since I started training, and will likely be with it for a long time, hopefully lifelong. but I do see the data shared regarding lack of younger practicioners, even in my own dojo, and the fact that the AJ content has been very hard to connect with in any deeper way than a passing read, from personal experience. I love it for the approach to self defense I’ve never thought of, for the constant reminder to be more patient and the great sense of community I get, and that’s just scratching the surface.. I could go on and on about the things I enjoy. But it also saddens me to hear, even from the Japanese international students I work with, that aikido is little more than a name there, among young adults… because it is not publicized, or “cool”, as more publically visible arts like Kendo and Judo. And this, I believe, is also why Aikido is less relevant to young people in the west… people in their teens and 20s don’t think any martial art is worth practicing if it doesn’t make you a “badass” or if it isn’t as flashy as what is seen in film and television. I would love to see Aikido Journal and its community find ways to reach out to more young people, to show that Aikido is still relevant even to my generation of aspiring martial artists. Will do anything I can to help in that effort!

    Clement.
    P.S.: One benefit tto reading Aikido Journal that I am sure few people think about… the use of words to describe and analyze certain techniques and Aikido martial concepts os more useful than I can say, because though I am an Aikidoka, I also happening to be totally blind… which makes indepth descriptions a huge blessing, even if I don’t completely understand all of it!

    Reply

    • I actually think having a kihon level area would be very well received indeed. If you create such a thing, and it is worthwhile, I would be willing to require my dojo to sign up for it (if it is free of course).

      Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help this endeavor.

      Reply

      • Clement and Charlie,

        Thanks for the excellent insights and feedback. They are noted and will be factored into a plan for moving forward with AJ. I’ll be sure and let you know if there’s something you can do to help. We really appreciate the offer.

        Reply

  13. I wasn’t aware there was a survey available to provide input.
    The results appear to confirm my perceptions.
    My main comment would have been there was too much bias to Morihiro Saito.
    I agree that the website needs an overhaul.

    Reply

  14. Stanley will be missed. His devotion to the art was inspirational.

    Reply

  15. it is incumbent upon those of us who have enjoyed the blessing of an Aikido journey to try and share the opportunities with others. Stanley was a talented man in that respect, few could have done more to encourage aikido as a way of life than he.For whatever reason there are few out there who see any value in learning aikido and quite often any other martial art. And believe me, I have tried !!! well done for taking up the torch and it looks like you will make a difference. Best wishes, Richard

    Reply

  16. Somehow I missed your survey as well, otherwise I might have answered and been a statistically huge portion of your female responders!
    I agree with all your conclusions, and I’m looking forward to what you do next.

    Reply

    • Laura, thank you for responding! It will be particularly interesting for me to learn about any experiences of sexism that you have encountered in your Aikido journey.

      Reply

  17. Thanks, it is really nice to see a report like this. As a female practitioner who is also active in helping manage the dojo web-presence, these are very significant concerns that you point out, and ones that I’m sure we all would like to find solutions to. One of our top concerns is attracting and retaining new students. Thanks for sharing this info and hope the aikido community can support each other keep up this dialogue with your help.

    Best, Saki

    Reply

    • Hello Saki, good to see another female aikidoka respndant here! I am interedted in learning how your dojo handles the wearing of hakama for females and males. Is there equality in this regard? Do females have an option to wear the hakama before males are allowed to at your dojo? Thank you in adcance for your important input!

      Sincerely,

      Chridtine Sells

      Reply

  18. 1,000 or so responses out of a Facebook following of 145,000 is a teeny percentage. The data tells you something, of course, but it’s more of a casual snapshot rather than a detailed portrait. The people willing to respond to online surveys might share different traits than followers as a whole. Perhaps you might conduct shorter, targeted surveys more frequently to collect data.

    Reply

    • Yes, this is a good idea. Thank you for the input!

      Reply

    • Yes, I was traveling in Japan when the survey was sent out and could not complete the survey while there. When I tried to participate in the survey after my return to the US, I learned that it was too late. Getting a larger sample that is representative of Aikido Journal readers would be ideal in the future.

      Reply

  19. Well done on such a rapid follow up. Stanley would be very happy. Some of the results are very powerful and no doubt can help guide future strategy. However the results are likely to be seriously biased towards the distribution of people shown in the survey i.e. longer term practitioners, and mainly male (myself included). While that is not to diminish the quality of the data, I wonder if there is a way you could create a second survey, or at least a sample, of younger, earlier stage students with a more even gender mix. A test marketing exercise, if you will, to see if and how the new strategy could capture a greater share of this important group. Just a thought.

    Reply

    • Hugh,

      Great idea on a more targeted survey for beginners. We will likely do something like this in the near future. Hopefully the beginners that participated in this survey would be willing to give us more guidance if it will help create a better experience for them on AJ.

      Reply

  20. There was only one Stanley Pranin!
    The legacy he left behind is a wonderful tool for the upcoming generations of young Aikidoka.
    It is with great hope that someone will pick up the reins and produce the usual high quality information, both spiritually and martially. This is a great opportunity for you to help to unite Aikido as Pranin Sensei did, follow your hearts!
    Looking forward !

    Reply

  21. Stanley’s passing was very hard for me as he and I have had e-mail back and forth for many years, more frequently in his last days with us. I suspect that, judging by these results, his legacy has been left in competent hands.
    I regret that I did not receive the survey. All the best with your efforts!

    Reply

  22. Great report. I did not get a chance to respond to survey but my feedback would have been in line with this. It will be a terrible shame if the fantastic historical research Stan did does not remain available to the Aikido community and other interested persons.

    Reply

  23. To the author of this “article”. Although I no longer practice regularly, Aikido has been a part of my life for slightly more than 25 years. My primary experience (21 years) was with a single instructor who continually reminded us that “traditional” Aikido, was the only path to enlightenment.
    The challenge for a group of us who began training together was preparing for the next “test”. We practiced hard and achieved what we believed to be a meaningful level of proficiency.
    After considerable reflection and training with friends in other styles and arts, it became evident that achieving rank in one art or style is notable only within the confines of a single institution.
    I also believe the Aikido community is dysfunctional in that like my original instructor too many instructors isolate themselves from the larger martial arts community and fail to avail their students of relevant self protection concepts and techniques. I’ve gleaned form Aikido Journal and other sources that most if not all of O’Sensei’s senior students were true martial artists and not proponents of the one size fits all anomaly.
    Pranin Sensei was continually encouraging the Aikido community to reacquaint itself with the lifestyle and training history of the Founder. I’d like to think his intent was to inspire a change in the way we train.

    The derogatory comments about Aikido’s efficacy as a “Martial Art” are many. Unless Aikido returns to its roots attracting and retaining students who seek the path of true Budo and the ability to protect themselves it will probably fade into obscurity or become more of a social club.
    It’s been noted that people join Aikido for diverse reasons, maybe it would be prudent to design/offer classes that meet their several needs. I would not forego the martial aspect of Aikido for any level or age group but would look to impart relevant and suitable skills for all students.

    Your recent articles indicate a proactive approach to mitigating the issue.
    All the best to Ikazuchi Dojo and staff.

    Reply

  24. First of all, I think your survey is surprisingly accurate. Bravo! I think you are absolutely right that Aikido student numbers are down. It is no longer en vogue perhaps. One very positive note is that Aikido-ka of all styles look favorably upon Aikido Journal. Stan had the clout to speak his mind on may issues that would be taboo to just about anyone else. I hope that AJ can stay “above the fray” as it were, and remain an independent voice in Aikido. Thank you very much for keeping it going, and please let me know how I can help.

    Reply

  25. I have been a subscriber to Aikido Journal for many years and had many conversations with Stanley over the years. I have been practicing Aikido for over 30+ years. One thing that needs to be addressed is that the journal focused way too much of Saito Sensei. I realize that Saito Sensei was Stanely’s teacher but to be a responsible journalist of the art I think a better balance should be a goal. Let me know if I can assist. The Journal is a good source all the best in creating a new face. Stanley saw a great need and filled it – rest well Stanley.

    I am also a subscriber of your newsletter and online site – tv.

    Reply

  26. Perhaps one of the most important things we can do is the keep the conversation going/open … Sensei Pranin would want that …

    Reply

  27. I an curious about the percentage of subscribers / respondents from Japan. In my own dojo we have a large number of children, of elementary school age (from six years years old: Japan has a 6-3-3 year school system), most of whom practice with their parents and older siblings.

    Aikido training here is firmly rooted culturally in the wider community, as a ‘peaceful’ budo, which means that protecting oneself from open attacks on the street is not a high priority. However, aikido — and really I mean the Aikikai — is virtually silent on the various social issues affecting the community here: various types of discrimination, especially against Korean residents and other Asians. Of course, no one is against ‘peace’ especially in Hiroshima, but Morihei Ueshiba’s religious theories are not part of the general religious culture here — and in any case they are not generally understood.

    Reply

    • Hi Sensei:

      The Aikido Journal online community is largely comprised of members in North America, South America, and Europe. Only 1% of our community (at least as measured by Facebook followers) is from Japan. I can certainly imagine that the aikido related challenges are quite different in Japan than in the Western world (such as the issues you point out in your comment).

      It’s an honor to have you as a member of the Aikido Journal community. We can all benefit from your unique perspective and wisdom. Plus, it’s nice to have someone with great English writing skill representing that 1% 🙂

      Reply

    • Great insights and points, Peter. I also hope there’ll be more representation from members practicing in Japan and the completely different issues there culturally and as a community. It’s great to see so much representation from the Western Aikido world, but I feel that these days the native country of this art is much too underrepresented. It would be fascinating to get an idea from the home country of this martial art as to its evolution, efficacy, etc. Though as you said, Aikido in Japan nowadays is viewed much more in the way of piece and self improvement, with defending one self from an attack in the street lower on the priority list. Would love to hear more and chat with other folks who have either lived in Japan or have an active connection with a large Japanese community in which to put this martial art into a whole different context and viewpoint.

      Reply

  28. So, the question I want answered is, if the new young students aren’t studying Aikido as much anymore, what are they studying? Is there a decline in martial arts study overall? Is it just Aikido that’s falling out of fashion disproportionately? If it is, what changes are instructors prepared to make to what they teach to draw in new enthusiasts? Would love to dig in to those answers. I think the research will have to go wider though.

    Reply

    • Chris,

      This is a great question and a difficult one to answer. It would be really useful to get this kind of data but because the martial arts “industry” in general is small, it’s hard to find external research on this stuff. If you look at technology, automotive, media and entertainment, etc. it’s pretty easy to find great research data. I’ve yet to find anything like that focusing on the martial arts world. We’ll keep looking for data sources to see if we can get better visibility into what’s happening on a macro level, but we also plan on just seeing what small actions we can take based on the data we have to make things better.

      Reply

      • Wouldn’t it be cool if we could organise a comprehensive survey with publicly accessible data and circulated it online to every dojo in the world, irrespective of art (or language)?! And see what data comes in? Call it the #GreatMartialArtsCensus perhaps (or the alt language equivalent) and get it trending across social media. I bet lots of younger students who are just as passionate about their art would fill in such a survey. If it’s raw data we need let’s not wait for someone else to organise it, the tools we need are online. It just depends on framing, how we shape the survey with the help of other MA groups/organisations. A bit of unity across the ‘industry’. That’s an idea I’ll throw out there! Forgive my enthusiasm 🙂

        Reply

        • Chris, this is an ambitious idea but a great one. The technology infrastructure certainly is available to do it. I believe the two things we’d need to make it happen would be the help of an experienced data scientist to help craft the survey questions to be maximally effective, and then we’d need to have the reach to be able to make a large number of people in the marital arts world aware of the survey. Ideally, in the near future we can get some more experience doing smaller scope surveys and improving our abilities in this space and then we can look to do something larger scale. I do indeed think it would be insightful and beneficial for the community.

          Reply

    • In regards to what is being practiced by young people, of course, as Josh said, that’s a very hard question to answer. but from my perspective as a young adult male in his 20s surrounded by people of a similar age, I’m noticing that at least here in Canada, martial arts are only interesting if:
      A: They’re competetive EG: some forms of karate, Taekwondo, Judo, etc.
      B: If they make you a badass… which for a lot of young men means getting a blackbelt and knockouts or wins in competition.
      C: If, as in the case of arts like Krav Maga, kali, etc, they know it’s effective on the streets if they get into a fight as soon as they see it or experience it once, as opposed to Aikido where that judgment is very hard to make, especially because some sensei don’t make that a priority.

      That at least seems to be the impression I get from anyone I know who does martial arts and happens to be from my generation. Of course, there are exceptions, but at least in the west, I feel that martial arts have degenerated to simply being seen as either an alternative type of sport (the combat sport), or something that will make you feel like a tough guy who can handle himself in the streets, and that is where the problem is. And, sadly, many of my Japanese students have the same sentiments. Many of them did Judo or Kendo, but as part of their high school coriculum… this is generalization, of course, but not many young people practice martial arts for a lot of the philosophical or internal reasons, which is why Aikido doesn’t hold much appeal. There’s no short term goal that’s obviously visible, and unfortunately people from my generation mostly care about the immediate and visible future. Aikido isn’t competetive, nor can one get a blackbelt in a year or two, and in most dojo, especially more traditional ones, freestyle and sparring practice isn’t something that is done a lot by anyone who is considered a beginner or of a lower rank.

      All this is speculation and rambling, but that is the perspective of at least one young adult male who reads Aikido Journal. I know that this doesn’t answer Chris’s question… but it hopefully at least sheds some light on one of the possible problems!

      Reply

  29. I have believed from the outset of my training in Aikido in 1989 that this is a wonderful martial art for women, technically speaking. Within the political sphere of Aikido (micro-dojo & macro-international community), however, there has been a different experience regarding equality for women and men. Those of us females who have remained as aikidoka over many years have important stories to tell. Why haven’t there been more responses by women in general to the Aikido Journal survey? What is the link?

    The burning question for me is: How can the current, international socio-political atmosphere of Aikido address equality of the genders? As the larger global community finds the value in equality and mutual respect between all peoples, how will the socio-political culture of Aikido keep up with the times to attract, retain and represent a balanced presence regarding gender in Aikido at all levels and leadership?

    Reply

    • Hi Christine,

      Great points worthy of examination. One detail I want to point out though related to the data- we really don’t know how many women vs. men responded to this survey as we didn’t have a gender question on the survey. Our gender demographic data comes not from the survey but from Facebook analytics, which includes information on all of the 145,000+ people connected to AJ on that platform. It seems likely the gender distribution would be similar but we really don’t know for sure. 🙂

      Reply

  30. I too missed the survey, but it looks like that’s because I missed hitting “like” on the Facebook page (fixed now!).

    I fall in the Aikikai, male, with 4-9 years demographic. Specifically, I’m 4 years, 9 months in, so I’m not too far off from the complete newbie demographic and the newbie memories are still fairly fresh.

    Prior to Aikido, I had 2 years prior experience in a striking art (that ended merely because I had to move away) and decided to give my next art at least 3 years.

    For about the first two years I was still trying to figure out if Aikido was really for me. It wasn’t until sometime after those two years, that I felt a need to actively educate myself in Aikido outside the dojo (less a seminar or two). This was also only after I built up enough waza recognition and vocabulary that I could get passed videos or articled without feeling confused.

    It was yet another year, with some particular educational objectives, that I ran into Aikido Journal.

    These are my personal anecdotes; I suspect they are not that far removed from the experience of other Aikido newbies, and are part of the explanation of the demographic gap.

    As for my dojo, we’re in a military town, so we have some fluctation in membership just to service members and their families moving in and out. 1:4 to 1:3 of our “trial” newbies stick around for some time. Of those who stick around until their first exam, we mainly lose members to major life changes, rarely for other reasons. Finally, probably about 20% of our members are female.

    Reply

  31. I also did not receive the survey. I am happy to do it if the extra data is needed.

    Reply

  32. I had not heard that Stan Pranin had died, and I did not receive the survey. I am all in favor of revamping the web site and making it more accessible to newer practitioners…

    Reply

  33. I have been following Aikdo Journal and Stanley’s advice since I started Aikido 3 years ago. I consider myself a beginner even though I have made rapid advancements. I would like to see a much better UI and web design to make it easier to track, trace or evaluate certain articles or videos. I am in favour of a subscription model, but it depends on the monthly fee,otherwise I prefer to purchase specific courses which are relevant to me. I believe a beginners section, intermediate and advanced section would make for an easier web experience. Keep up the great works which the late and revered Stanley Pranin established and good to see you are taking up the baton for the next phase of AJ. Wishing you all the best and look forward to new updates as and when they occur.

    Reply

  34. Hi Josh.I think Aikido Journal should have a mini series about Matduoka Sensei’s amazing martial career from Osaka to right now would generate enormous interest in Aikido Journal.

    Reply

  35. Sensei Roy Dempsey

    Having been a subscriber to Aikido journal and a purchaser of many AJ products I was very disappointed not to be included in your survey, please ensure if you can that in future all people who have supported AJ with their finances and who’s email address you still hold are contacted re any future survey. I feel that as a practitioner for 45 years my opinion has some merit and would have liked to contribute.
    p.s. has anyone voiced the idea of a permanent memorial to Stan, after a lifetime of service to Aikido and its community surly he deserves one.

    Reply

    • Roy,

      Nice to meet you here. The survey went out about two weeks ago via Facebook, which at the time was one of the only AJ communication channels we had access to. It wasn’t until just a few days ago that we were able to regain access to the AJ mailing list. As soon as we were able to get access, we migrated the list over to a new platform and sent the email that you received.

      If you can send us an email (link/ icon at the bottom of this website), I’d be happy to get you the survey questions so we can get your input. We’d love to have it!

      No one has voiced the idea of a permanent memorial to Stan, but it sounds interesting. Let me know what you were thinking…

      Thank you and I apologize again for the lack of communication over the last couple months. While Stan was ill he was not sending out the newsletter and we simply didn’t have the technical ability to access the list until earlier this week.

      Reply

    • Sensei Roy Dempsey

      Dear Josh
      Thank You for your reply re the survey, like many others I would wish to Thank You for taking up the reins of Aikido Journal. In regard to a permanent memorial for Stan, perhaps something like a “Stanley Pranin Memorial Lecture” given perhaps once a year on the anniversary of Stan’s birthday by an established Master of Aikido or some other traditional martial art might be a fitting commemoration of his life’s work, as, of course, is the continuation of Aikido Journal for which again I give you thanks. I hope this idea gives food for thought and, of course, I look forward to reading other worthy suggestions of a way to commemorate Stan.

      Reply

      • Roy,

        Thank you for the kind words and support. Your idea is a good one. Once we get everything stabilized with Aikido Journal, let’s brainstorm around your idea a bit and see what we can come up with!

        Reply

  36. Thank you, Gold Sensei. I know this must be a tremendous responsibility and burden. Please know that we all feel for you having this thrust into your daily life. We appreciate anything you can do in regards to preserving and even furthering Aikido Journal. Prannin Sensei lived aikido. It would be a shame to lose all he has amassed. I can only imagine the pressure you are under. Just remember, we are all behind you 100%. Thanks again.

    Reply

  37. For years I have enjoyed the depth of historical information that AJ offers and the passion with wish Stanley delivered it.
    I’m perhaps biased since I have known Josh Gold for over 25 years, but I could not be happier of his relationship with Stanley and the work hi is doing to maintain the integrity as well as transcend AJ and Aikido development in the generations to come. This work is sorely needed to find ways to keep the essence and spirit of Aikido growing in the generations to come. Aikido instruction and approach needs to evolve in order to keep the message and vision of O’Sensei alive. It is my beliave that Josh and our teacher Haruo Matsuoka Sensei share in the same seaking spirit that is necessary to pave the way future generations. Thanks Josh!

    Reply

  38. Hi Josh,
    My condolences on the passing of your friend Stan. I spoke to Stan a couple of times, he was a wonderful person. I sent you an email just now. Let me know how can I help.

    Cheers,
    Beto

    Reply

  39. There are plausible answers and solutions to some of the issues. I did not wish to offend Stanley Pranin or anyone else. So, some of us chose to stay mum.

    Reply

  40. Hi Josh,

    I was a little shocked to read of Stan’s passing. I knew he was sick but also that he was trying alternative therapy.

    I was also a sometime past subscriber of the hardcopy of Aiki News. I do not know how the survey e mail missed me and was in fact wondering about the eerie silence from Aiki Journal when your e mail came.

    Stan did an incredible job of documenting inter alia, Aikido history, an onerous and not very enviable task because what he discovered
    debunked myths and caused no undue discomfiture to some of those who had attempted to alter history to suit “their” version of events.

    He unearthed hidden facts, exposed frauds and probably ended some careers built on falsehoods.

    I hope that you / your group will do your utmost to preserve the integrity of Stan’s research results as I am sure there will be some who would not stop at the chance to tamper with the facts of Aikido history if it suits them.

    Above all, preserving the integrity of his work will help to ensure that it will be accessible to future generations of Aikidokas.

    Sincerely yours,

    Raymond Kwok
    8.4.17

    Reply

  41. Hey Josh,
    Awesome recap and detailed article. i always appreciate how inclusive and clear you are.

    First. More Video content. Inspire Dojos to video and post on sm… pics/vids of students. 5-10 sec vids that are short quick eduactional inspiring clips by everyday practintioners. Daily posts 3x/day plus actaul personal experiences of sensei/students in life and in dojo. short quick and easy.

    Second. Average 12 plus demos at grade schools, high schools, colleges per year.

    Third. talk todays lingo. for example, and especially in Social media… long dialogues or 12 min videos attracts a demographic in their 50s and up… teenagers and 20s and maybe even 30s don’t give a shit about that, won’t look at it, won’t read it. thereof your content, namely what you put out there, has to be cool, quick and inspiring.

    for example if i were to text you my response to your article in today’s vernacular and pace it’d look like this

    [JG, +Pics +Vids. do demos]

    and that’s it. the longer it is the less attraction it has on SM.

    anyway that’s what i got…
    what you’ve started at ikazuchi as far as sm,outreach, and the like is a phenomenal template for others to start from.

    from my own exp at orange theory and teaching yoga the more you can be present in a very direct and real way online with people, with posts, with encouragement…. the more people show up for training 3 or 4 times a week. the more their friends see those conversations, so on and so forth… more people get inspired to get on the mat.

    Reply

    • Christian,

      Thanks for the great feedback. I agree with you 100% that we need other form factors for digital media communications if we want to connect with a younger audience. This is important because these people will become a future generation of aikido masters.

      Nice to meet you here. It’s great to have you joining the conversation.

      Reply

  42. I, for one, did not think that the products on AJ were marketed too aggressively, but rather just right. I was able to find the articles and information I wanted and any bit of promotion by Stan I simply saw as a means to keep the web site going. Someone’s got to pay for the web site!

    To that end, I paid for a fair number of items and all of it was very useful knowledge, well worth the price paid.

    Reply

    • Claire,

      Thanks so much for your feedback and for supporting Aikido Journal. Aj definitely requires revenue to operate, make new content, and provide tools and support for the community. We’re glad you’ve found value in the journal’s products and services. I know I have as well!

      Reply

  43. Hi Sensei,
    My condoiences on the passing of our great sensei late Stanley Pranin.

    Reply

  44. Same issue in Australia and Japan! Lack of students and women on the mat. I am in Japan every year and all my teachers (youngest 75 yrs old) tell me the same ,numbers are dropping . Last year November grading about 60 students,three years ago 120 ! Here in Australia (small population) we have small (intimate classes, more instructors than students!)

    Reply

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