Applying for Membership
We request potential students make an appointment to observe training, prior to applying for admission to the dojo. Visitors are asked to arrive at the dojo no later than 15 minutes prior to the start of practice, in order to allow time for introductions and a quick explanation of what they will be watching. At the conclusion of practice, there is adequate time to discuss the class more completely, and to conduct an admission interview, should the guest decide to apply for membership. The interview is intended to ensure that the expectations of the dojo and the prospective student are in harmony. Questions are encouraged.
We expect candidates for membership to treat the interview as they would a job interview, and to dress accordingly. We realize that most people coming to watch a practice are unfamiliar with traditional Japanese etiquette and dojo protocols. These are things members of the dojo learn naturally, over time, and not something about which visitors should worry. If you approach the dojo with simple courtesy and respect, and sincere interest, you’ll do just fine during your visit and application interview. Should you wish to gain some advance insight to etiquette and the manner in which a traditional dojo functions, we strongly recommend obtaining and reading carefully the book, In the Dojo, by Dave Lowry.
In some traditional dojo, discussion of financial considerations tends to be avoided whenever possible. This practice derives from the fact the samurai regarded money with contempt. Of course, the samurai could afford to take that attitude, since they essentially owned the entire country of Japan and everyone in it... We prefer that potential members of the dojo have a clear understanding of what to expect.
Students of a traditional dojo recognize that membership dues support the existence of the dojo, and are not simple payments in exchange for instruction. An individual membership is $125 per month, while a family membership — which can include a spouse and dependents over the age of 14 years — is $195 per month. Discounted rates are available for commuting students more than a 45-minute drive from the dojo and able to train at no more than half the available practices, and for full-time college students. New students can commence training at any time, with the first month’s dues prorated to the point of the month the member begins training. New members must also designate a bank account from which subsequent dues will be submitted by means of Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). We do not use contracts. EFT arrangements can be changed or stopped at any time, provided written notice is submitted to the dojo prior to the 25th of the month, in order to effect changes for the subsequent month.
Fees are paid for yudansha (black-belt) grade promotions in aikijutsu, and for licenses in kenjutsu.
Required Training Equipment
• Aikijutsu: New members of the aikikai need only a judo-style uniform and a pair of zori (Japanese sandals), both of which are available through the dojo for a total of $100 to $125, depending on size.
• Kenjutsu: The uniform and bokken (wooden swords) required for training cost about $375 for Itto Tenshin-ryu. A shinken (a sharpened, steel sword) can be obtained from a variety of suppliers — it’s possible to obtain a real sword, entirely suitable for training, for as little as $150.
Itten Dojo regularly hosts senior instructors to present seminars for our members (and sometimes outside guests). When we schedule one of these events, attendees of the training may be asked to contribute a fee — usually about $75 to $150 — to help defray the costs of the instructor’s expenses and honorarium.