What is a club ? The answer its the people who practice there. A club needs people without them then quite simply - "no club"! No club means no practise! No clubs means no Association!
So every one is vital to the development of Aikido both at club and at association level. A small club can be very cliquey this could put off beginners. A welcoming attitude is therefore very important from club members and the instructor.
A beginner will find the martial arts approach strange and awkward. Here the regular club members know what to do, why, and what is expected whereas a beginner has no idea where to sit, what exercises are coming and where to put their two left feet. He feels very conspicuous. This can turn to embarrassment and then lead to a feeling on not belonging. This is an infusion of negative ki; it must be displaced with positive ki or else the beginner will give up.
Beginners are important as they bring new life into the club. The pairing of a club member with a beginner produces rewards. The beginner can be guided directly and thus succeeds quicker and feels less awkward and receives/generates positive feelings and the club member can see whether their body movements control the incoming attacker. Both benefit - yin - yang.
It is important for a club to establish a pyramid structure of grades the higher Kyu grades at the top and beginners at the base. This symbolises the numbers also. It is no good having a club with only high grades. It will rarely retain beginners because they feel so out of place.
So how do you retain beginners :-
Why ? It comes back full circle to the question first posed. Think of a flowering shrub. If you cut off the source of water the shrub will wither. New members are the water which will enable the club and its aikido to mature.
Andrew Baird Published 1994