After six months of spending time with the community, listening, learning, and observing, we’ve formulated a plan for the future. We’re now ready to begin rebuilding Aikido Journal to best serve the community. This post outlines our vision for Aikido Journal, touches on elements of our high level strategy, and finally, outlines a short-term execution plan that reveals what’s coming next.
We’re especially excited to share this with you, as the strategy was forged directly by the aikido community.
A Vision for the Future
The Aikido Journal community is unique. Tied together digitally, we transcend differences in geography, culture, political affiliation, and technical style. We are a self-selecting tribe of individuals united in our love and pursuit of aikido.
Almost everyone in the community made it clear they want to improve – to make things better. Whether you believe aikido is in a good place or that it needs to be revitalized in some way, almost everyone aspires to improve themselves and strengthen the art. There are many different visions for what this means and how it should be accomplished. Aikido Journal understands there are many viable paths that can lead us to elevate ourselves and the art of aikido.
We believe that the many great teachers, practitioners, leaders, pioneers, and researchers of aikido should be empowered to best realize their own visions, efforts, and expressions of aikido, and to maximize the benefit of their work for others.
To this end, we want Aikido Journal to do three things:
- Be rocket fuel that propels our individual and collective growth. We want to help empower students, instructors, dojos, and organizations to succeed and realize their own best expressions of aikido.
- Facilitate the flow of information so we can efficiently learn from each others’ mistakes and contribute our best ideas into others’ unique expressions of aikido.
- Tell the story of aikido in powerful ways. Aikido is beautiful, inspirational, and transformative. We want to create and share stories that reflect that in an authentic and impactful way.
If we’re successful in these three priorities, we believe we can build stronger friendships, and both preserve and evolve the art of aikido in the most positive and meaningful way.
The Next Step
In parallel with our efforts to stabilize existing systems, we’re now focusing on two key initiatives. They’re both designed to maximize the reach and impact of the Aikido Journal collection. We view it as a strategic asset that can benefit the aikido world in many ways. It can help drive our culture and serve as a platform for technical, organizational, and historical research. We’re making it a top priority to improve the way the community can access the collection. We’ve now begun initiatives to:
- Make all of Stan’s interviews and articles freely accessible to the community. We’ll release the 650+ that are now only available behind the member paywall.
- Get the entire video collection online and accessible on-demand via a streaming video service.
Stan’s life’s work is now complete and we want to ensure everyone has the opportunity to benefit from it. I believe Stan would want this and that it has the potential to benefit and empower our community. Below we’ve outlined some details about the two initiatives we’re undertaking to make this happen.
Aikido Journal Website
We’ll soon turn our focus to rebuilding the journal’s website. The redesign will be home to both Aikido Journal’s existing library of articles, as well as new content. The new site will include:
- Blog articles: We’ll move over the journal’s public articles so they’re all available on the new site.
- Members Site Content: Before his passing, Stan told me that eventually he wanted all of his interviews with the great masters to be made available to everyone. After launching the new website, we will bring forward and publish these amazing interviews (now only found behind the members site paywall) for all to read. For those who are or have been subscribers of the Aikido Journal members site – we sincerely thank you for your support of the journal. Without you, Stan would not have been able to dedicate himself to his research and publishing efforts. The information and stories that can now more widely serve the aikido world couldn’t have been created without your support. When we open up currently restricted members’ content, we will issue active members’ site subscribers a credit that can be used for AikidoJournal.TV or other future Aikido Journal products. We’ll outline the details as we get closer to launch.
- New Content: We will be seeking to expand coverage to include not only historical and technical information, but also stories of current leaders and practitioners in today’s world of aikido. We’ll continue to engage in a wider dialogue with the community about our art and how we can most positively impact our future. We’re putting together a content plan and are in the beginning stages of assembling team members and partners to support this effort.
- A Platform for New Tools: The new website will be built to accommodate future expansion. After getting our new foundation in place (website, on-demand video service, and core business operational functions), we’ll look to develop new tools and content that can serve the aikido world. Our ongoing dialogue with the community has led us to many ideas worthy of exploration and testing. We’re excited about this stuff, but don’t want to get too distracted by it now. Our top priority is getting Aikido Journal’s existing content library restructured and accessible, as well as building a sustainable team and production pipeline for creating new content.
Until the new website is live, we will continue to use the Ikazuchi website to post news and articles. While we now have full access to the Aikido Journal websites, they have many interconnected systems and plug-ins that make use of them as a publishing platform for new content cumbersome. With limited resources, we believe it’s better to direct all of our efforts towards getting a new site online, instead of spending time untangling a set of systems that will be soon retired. Thank you for your understanding and patience.
Aikido Journal has one of the world’s most extensive video collections of footage of the great masters of aikido. Over the years, well over 100 different products were created from material in the collection. In an effort to make these videos easily accessible to the community, we’re building AikidoJournal.TV, a streaming video service that will provide access to the journal’s complete video collection. When we surveyed the community about a month after Stan passed away, I was a bit startled to find that of the 1,000+ respondents, a vast majority told us they would prefer to access Aikido Journal videos on a subscription basis, with almost 90% indicating interest in a Netflix-style offering.
This will be the first of our efforts to launch (even before a redesigned website/blog). We’re doing this for two reasons:
- It’s an easier project for us to build a new streaming video service from the ground up than it is to organize and migrate all of the journal’s written content to a new website. With limited resources, we believe it makes sense to tackle the easier project first.
- AikidoJournal.TV will provide us with a recurring revenue stream that will fuel the journal’s operations, including the extensive redesign of the website/blog, creation of new content, and development of other important initiatives that support our strategy. The sooner we can turn on a revenue stream, the faster we can move.
The service will be subscription based and priced low enough to facilitate wide access to one the world’s most extensive library and media collections.
For those who have provided critical support for Aikido Journal in the past by purchasing video products, we plan to keep legacy streaming products online and available until we are able to provide you with an updated version of your product or issue a credit towards other Aikido Journal products and services. We’ll have more details on this after we’ve completed an assessment of the catalog of existing streaming products. For those of you who prefer to continue purchasing products in other form factors (buy videos, PPV, etc.), we will be looking into making content available in other ways in the future. If there’s something you really want, please tell us about it.
Unlocking the Power of the Aikido Journal Collection
We believe reshaping the existing Aikido Journal content collection in this way will have the greatest impact for the community. It also establishes a robust and flexible content and product architecture as we enter a new phase in Aikido Journal’s life.
It’s clear from our survey results that many in the community envisioned this as a great way to interact with the collection. I intuitively felt this was right, but I wanted to explore the idea more deeply.
Immediately after seeing the survey results, I hacked together a clunky but functional system that gave me on-demand access to the full archive. I’ve effectively been beta testing a raw prototype for the last six months. I’ve found it to be a potent learning tool that allowed me to find answers, avoid mistakes, and build a deeper and more meaningful connection with the art.
I’ve purchased Aikido Journal video products in the past and gone through some in detail. However, with access to the entire collection, I feel I gain exponentially greater value. I use it more often for shorter periods of time. I use it both to navigate fascinating paths of discovery and to find specific things quickly. For instance, if I’m having a problem with a technique, I can quickly look and see the varying approaches and solutions employed by Ueshiba, Saito, Nishio, Tohei, and many others. I can then get the answers I need (or at least a path to explore) and get back on the mat to test them. If I want to learn about a specific time period, teacher, style, or location, I can quickly find pointers that get me an answer and often find a fascinating story along the way. Sometimes, when I miss Stan, I’ll watch a few minutes of one of his lectures on my phone.
- AikidoJournal.TV: We plan to be online in 60 days.
- AikidoJournal.com: TBD. Ideally within 90 days, but we don’t yet know how difficult it will be to migrate over and organize all of the content from the member site and the blog.
Our Plan is Flawed
The only thing we’re certain about in regards to our strategy is that it’s wrong in some way. We also know we’ll encounter execution missteps along the way. We believe we need to commit to a strategy, start executing on that path, and then make informed changes and course corrections as we learn. We hope you’ll join us in our transformation and that you’ll help us steer the ship in the right direction.
Join Us for a Live Q&A
If you have any questions, feedback, or ideas you’d like to share about our strategy, content, and product plans, please join us on Sunday September 24th at 3pm PDT (UTC-7) on Facebook Live for a Q&A session. As always, we’d love to hear from you.
We will always remember Stanley Pranin.