Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Keeping Members

Originally, I wanted to give some advice about how to retain members in the club, based on my own personal experiences.  But as I keep pondering on how to go about doing that, I'm slowly beginning to realize that, in most cases, there's very little anyone can do to try to make people stick around.

The biggest thing that gets in the way of retention is the sequence of progression.  People tend to drop out after the honeymoon period of doing Kendo is over several weeks or months after starting and after the moment bogu is worn.  At these points, they see what Kendo is all about and then figure out whether or not Kendo might be for them.  Of course, there are other reasons why someone might quit, but going in depth with that could fill up a blog post.

The one thing that could be done is to create a sense of community around the club by doing things outside of Kendo together.  It could be as simple as gathering somewhere after practice, traveling together for tournaments if that is available to everyone or holding parties throughout the year.  Giving someone a place where people feel they belong is very beneficial to allow people to stay.  An examination of teaching style might be beneficial as well.  Something like incorporating new teaching styles, techniques or even different facets of the techniques they already know.  Repetition is very important in Kendo, but sometimes it might become overkill to people to the point of boredom that they might not be able to handle.

Despite all that, it's important to remember that there is no magic bullet to keep people coming.  Sometimes, it's almost like rolling dice where, some years, you get a lot of hangers-on.  Then, the following year, the total amount of people that stay till bogu is like zero.  Despite that, it shouldn't hurt to see how the club is going and examine what works and what doesn't and continue on based on what you see and hear.


Chris said...

Very nice post! We just started a new dojo in the valley here, and we regularly do what we have affectionately referred to as "Hu Hot Training," where we go out to Hu Hot (a Mongolian Grill, if you are not familiar) as a group and have dinner together, usually on nights where practice has been canceled for some reason. The Sensei have also had dinners at their house (potluck style) to watch Kendo videos, or to go over things like shinai maintenance. I think this has gone a long way in keeping and cultivating the brand new members that came in at the beginning. The dojo is only 6 months old, and all of the original members are still there.

Christopher George said...

Glad you like the post! Your response touches on the fact that a sense of community is very important for a good Kendo atmosphere. We all like to have that group that we feel we belong in, and doing activities together outside of practice is a great way to accomplish that.

One thing that could possibly be explored are the differences between different types of clubs. College clubs have different needs than clubs that cater to children, adults or mixed groups, thus, probably would need different tactics to attracting and keeping members. It is something to look at...

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