How long do students stay on average?

Discussion in 'School Management' started by Fenta, Feb 1, 2018.

  1. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Master Black Belt

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    Veru true, and I hope to never ever get to that point (again that is..). That is, to train with some obligation of 'well I've come this far I may as well...'. I would just have to be completely honest, do some deep soulsearching and ask myself why I am training. I spent too many years training just out of obligation and fear of leaving until I finally summoned up the courage to ask "Why?".

    It's amazing how many tend to prize that mindset, of just finishing off what you started even if your heart is just clearly not in it one iota... Whilst there are benefits in terms of discipline, and especially if it's training through difficult periods if it's something you're truly wanting to aim for, but I'm referring moreso to those who are going because they believe that they 'should'. It's really soul-crushing to keep that up and not listen to what's screaming out within you..

    It's sort of cool that people are putting themselves out there and trying out martial arts, finding that it isn't for them, and then moving on. It definitely isn't just laziness for sure. I feel as though if you keep pushing yourself through class when you're just hating it in order to achieve some arbitrary goal (believing that everything will change when I get that...) you'll probably feel just as empty as you did before you got it..

    Just some ramblings from my experience haha :)
     
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  2. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    Good point, Simon. I do see a lot of folks (not just in MA) sticking to things because they "should". We so often use trite phrases like "quitters never win and winners never quit", then we refer to stopping something as "quitting". "Quitter" becomes an epithet.

    In reality, priorities sometimes change, and doing what's right for yourself isn't quitting, it's just changing. And sometimes something we start doesn't turn out to be what we though it was for us (which changes the priority). As an instructor, I'm always disappointed when someone quits, but rarely am I disappointed in them or for them - I'm just disappointed because I lose a playmate. I know MA is much more important to me than to most people. I don't want people to stay so they won't disappoint me - I want them to stay because it's important enough to them for the time and energy commitment. If it isn't, it's better that they move on to a higher priority.

    For me, a lot of it (now) is that it's just fun. Fun things should be among our priorities. If it ain't fun (and you don't have another strong motivator for it), I can't see why it'd be worth "not quitting".
     
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  3. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Master Black Belt

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    Well said, and props to you as an incredibly understanding instructor. Mine was the same when I decided to leave, sad to see me go, but understood why I had to move on. As sure as I was about it, it was still truly so heartbreaking for me to leave, and it wasn't a light decision at all.. the emotions that I went through and had to process were staggering, but knew it was for the best.

    Yeah that whole 'quitters' label/attitude is so damaging, especially to younger people, such a failure connotation attached to it ay...
     
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  4. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Sadly our students, adults and children stay on average two to three years then move on, literally, as they or parents are posted out to a new camp. We've never had anyone progressing all the way from white to black belt but on the other hand we've had students with a wide experience of different styles and clubs. It's the same with our Guiding, we have leaders posted in with new ideas and ways of doing things which freshen things up even if they can't stay for too long, the girls come and go but always have something familiar wherever they go. The same with martial arts, they might move to TKD, Judo or boxing etc next depending on what is available at their new posting but they have the basic ideas of martial arts so it's never entirely foreign to them.
     
  5. Prostar

    Prostar Orange Belt

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    I used to welcome all my new black belts to the 2% club. When they thought about it, they could see that 98 people came and went during their journey.
     
  6. dvcochran

    dvcochran Master Black Belt

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    I thought about the same group of folks that never leave. I do think the numbers are more skewed by the higher group of really short timers. Like @gpseymour, if I average it over a large sampling it works out to just over 7 months. The initial attrition rate can be deceiving though.
     
  7. dvcochran

    dvcochran Master Black Belt

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    I think this is one of those dynamics that have the a lot to do with the school/system. If there is not much to look forward to after reaching BB I can see that increasing or speeding up the attrition. Or, if reaching 1st Dan is presented as the end all/be all, I can see that doing the same.
     
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  8. MetalBoar

    MetalBoar Orange Belt

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    Well, when I think back on the reasons for all the times I've left schools there's a lot of variation and this doesn't include those I eliminated through a phone call, viewing or taking a trial class. I just had a couple of people ask me to tell them about my background so I've already written it up. For those who're interested in ~ 27 years of off and on training and why none of it has lasted forever (yet):

    Iwama Aikido - 2 years. Quit when I dropped out of college and moved to a different state.
    Fencing - 2 years. Quit when I dropped out of college and moved to a different state.
    If I'd stayed in the area I expect I'd still be fencing. I might still be doing Aikido, it's a little hard to say.

    Fencing was what I was passionate about at the time, but I couldn't find a fencing school after I moved to Washington (poor timing on my part - a world class school fully opened up about a year later but I'd given up looking until years later). There was a ton of Aikido in Seattle but I wasn't excited by anything I could attend with my work schedule, etc. And so...

    Tracy's Kenpo and Tai Chi (with martial applications) - 9 months to a year??
    I started Kenpo in Washington because a friend of mine who moved here about the same time had been doing a different flavor of Kenpo before he moved and loved it. We joined a Tracy's School together. I left because the kenpo instructor we'd been working with quit and I wasn't very happy with his replacement, plus my work schedule had changed and made it a lot harder to get to class, but mainly, the instruction wasn't what it had been. Knowing what I know now I'd have stayed for the Tai Chi, it was great, but I wanted something harder at the time.

    Hapkido - about 5 years. School closed for financial reasons so I had no choice. I loved this place and would probably still be there if it hadn't closed.

    Yoshinkan Aikido - 6-9 months. It wasn't really what I was looking for at the time. I felt like it wasn't as fun as the larger, more flowing Aikido I'd done previously and yet wasn't as practical and effective as the Hapkido I'd just had to quit. I might have stayed with this longer if the head instructor taught more of the classes. He was quite good, but he traveled a lot for work and his #1 student that taught in his absence was..... not what I was looking for.

    About this time MMA was taking over a lot of mind share in the martial arts world and it felt like all the commercial schools were either MMA/BJJ schools, kid oriented, or Tai Chi for health and I wasn't interested in MMA/BJJ at that time and I've never been interested in Tai Chi sans applications. I did about a decade of more off than on garage training in a number of arts including:

    Historical Fencing (Rapier) - 3 months? Good school. I could afford the classes but not the equipment (.com bust) and it wasn't quite what I was looking for at the time so I didn't really WANT to figure out how to pay for the equipment.

    Kali and Silat - 6-9 months? Instructor was having health issues and it was a long drive through rush hour traffic to make class. I was also trying to start my business at this time. The combo made it hard to continue.

    Sport fencing (again) - ~ 3 months? - This was 12 or maybe 14 years after I'd quit fencing the first time. I found that it didn't inspire me the way it had the first time and I was SO bad at it in comparison to where I was when I quit that it was a real let down. I think a lot of it was that the school had a lot of students trying to compete at the national level and then hobbyists that were completely ho hum about things. I didn't really mesh with either group. I guess if I'd stuck with it at that time I might have been pretty good just in time to start competing in the old person divisions, but that in itself was kind of demotivating at the time... Now that I AM old, well, I might give it another try at some point.

    Boxing for ~3 months of private lessons - I wanted the skills but wasn't interested in participating in boxing as a sport, the instructor wanted to teach it exactly like he'd learned it and was only interested in it as a sport (and strictly as boxing, not even as a component of MMA). He was a pretty good teacher but we weren't a good match.

    ~ 3 months - A really great combo of Muay Thai, mixed grappling (influenced by JJJ, Judo, wrestling, etc.), boxing and bits and pieces of other traditional martial arts. The instructor's life situation changed and he stopped teaching out of a garage and started teaching strictly Muay Thai out of an MMA gym. I couldn't easily make the new place and time fit into my schedule and I wasn't particularly interested in that school's program. I also kept expecting the instructor to pick the garage training back up, but it hasn't happened yet.

    Aikido (yet a different style, the name escapes me at the moment) for ~6 months. This was a really good instructor. As it was not commercial training it was tough to get access to mats and a safe and appropriate place to practice. I also took a job on top of my business during this time and was working 60-70 hours a week so I just sort of burned out.

    So, here I am, it's been about 4 years since I last trained in anything and a lot longer than that since I've done enough of anything to get good at it. I'm looking at schools and trying to find something that's a good match for me. It's complicated by the fact that I'm not sure how long I'll be in Seattle, but I'm currently guessing at least another couple of years so I want to make the best of them.
     
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  9. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Master Black Belt

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    Thanks for posting that MetalBoar :). I love reading peoples' training histories, and also really interesting to see there are just so many different reasons why people move on. It's definitely not just a case of the person was 'lazy' :).
     
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  10. dvcochran

    dvcochran Master Black Belt

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    A thorough history. I am amazed you had that many choices in training. The variety of styles is incredible. In our location there are about 10 styles/schools I am aware of in a 100 mile radius so the choices are pretty limited for a regular working adult lifestyle. Good post.
     
  11. Christopher Adamchek

    Christopher Adamchek Yellow Belt

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    Our karate classes
    kids tend to get dis interested after a few years
    teens typically quit once they get their first dan
    adults a year or two due changing family routines

    Our self defense classes
    mostly women who stay for a few months and leave when they feel more confident
     
  12. MetalBoar

    MetalBoar Orange Belt

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    I've lived in some large cities, everything on this list is from 3 that have metropolitan area populations ranging from just over 1 million to over 4 million. I've done most of my training in Seattle. I think we do have more than the usual number of schools here and it's also a big place, when you add in the surrounding cities it's got almost 4 million people. The Phoenix area is even bigger and they also have a fantastic variety of martial arts schools.

    I do feel pretty lucky, just off the top of my head, within reasonable walking distance of my house there's a new MMA gym that I haven't checked out , 2 Kenpo schools at least one that has some other arts too, 2 karate schools, a place that teaches Chinese internal MA including some hard to find stuff, and probably some other places I'm forgetting. A very short drive or bus ride opens up at least that many schools again.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018
  13. dvcochran

    dvcochran Master Black Belt

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    I thought I would follow @MetalBoar 's lead and write down my training history. I have never lived in an area with the breadth of different style as he (she?) has. Unless I was traveling for work which did not allow a lot of leisure time.
    I trained MDK TKD for 10 years until work and travel got in the way. I continued training, finding schools of any style in the towns I traveled to for work. The exposure to other styles was fantastic.
    A friend invited me to a Kali class he was taking. I practiced 4 hours/week for 6 years getting to 1st Dan. Master Tuan went back home to the Philippines so that ended.
    I dabbled in Kung Fu to green sash. It was interesting but never stuck with me. Partly personal preference, part the instruction I suppose. A great instructor, but just a bad person in and out of class so that made it hard to stay.
    I had to take a big break in the early 2000's after a bad accident.
    I have been able to work back to 1-2 classes at our main school for the last several years.
    For most regular people on this forum, I doubt my training is remarkable, but I know that was not the OP's question. Back when I really kept up with such data, 4-6 months was a very consistent average. As other have suggested, drilling down in to age ranges would be more valuable information I think. This should help understand where, if any, your school has gaps in classes/teaching. You may find you style is just not conducive to certain age ranges.
    I did some checking to be more accurate; 12 schools in a 50 mile radius. Get pretty rural past that and only goes up to 16 in a 100 mile radius.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018
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  14. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    Agreed. In mainline NGA (and even more so in my offshoot), BB (shodan) is pretty much the end of new stuff. There's a smattering of new material for nidan (the last technical rank) in mainline, but IMO it's a pretty clunky add-on that doesn't really tie to the rest of the system. There's actually no new curriculum after brown in mainline, and they have instructor prep as the main progressive training before black. For me, there's no "dan" ranking (though I'd have no problem ranking some guys named Dan), and BB really is the end of the technical curriculum. At that point, it's play time. For folks who want something to progress on, it's probably time for them to go train another art, honestly. If they stay in NGA, they're mostly working to get better - and a lot of us have fun getting into tinkering at that point.
     
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  15. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    That's a bit thinner even than the places I've lived, but a similar experience. I wonder if that affects student longevity significantly...
     

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