The first and most important thing you must ask yourself “Why do I want to teach Aikido?”  There are many potential answers:

  • I am a great Aikidoist and I want to impress many people
  • I am a good teacher and I want to educate many people
  • I am a good businessperson and I want to earn money doing Aikido
  • My teacher left town and if I want to continue training I must recruit new students
  • My teacher has asked me to expand our home Dojo’s program and teach a weekly class at a local community center
  • I found this great location and it just demands to be filled with Aikido
  • I am bored and need a challenge in my life
  • Like O-Sensei, I am divinely inspired (or as the Blues Brothers said “I am on a mission from god”)
  • Aikido is too good be kept a secret

When you join as a member, refer back to your answer to this question.  We will refer to your answer as your “motivation”.  Different motivations are advanced by different methods.  There is no “right” answer.  You should be mindful of your answer and periodically ask yourself if your activities are supporting your motivation or if you have just gotten on the treadmill.  The treadmill tends to speed up and steepen in slope so if there is no reason for you to stay at that level you can dial it down at any time.  Being mindful of your motivation will not only enhance your success as a teacher or leader, it will also enhance your own well-being.

Saito Morihiro Shihan used to say that the best learning in Aikido comes over a period of time.  In order to sustain that learning one needs a balance between three things: work (or school), family, and aikido training.  The same applies to teaching or running a dojo.  If you consider the three things as the points on a triangle if too much energy is spent on one of the points or not enough energy is spent on the other points, the triangle tilts and eventually will collapse.

Now, it is entirely possible and okay for your motivation to change over time.  You might start out teaching simply as a method to maintain training for yourself and eventually develop to be a good teacher and genuinely want to educate others.  That could be a natural path.  However, let it be a conscious path.  It is good to ask yourself what your motivation is periodically, say once a year, for example in January at your annual New Year’s Day training.  Then you can re-evaluate if the methods you are using are in alignment with your motivation.