I once read an article by a Canadian coach who quoted his old sensei's comments about the heavy churn of players in judo clubs:
“Building judo clubs is like building sandcastles. You build them up, and they get washed away. Then you rebuild.”
Although this sounds brutal, if you look at the group photo of any club from say, five years ago, you’ll notice that most of the people in that picture are no longer with the club.
Sometimes when the chips are down and the membership has dwindled, it is easy to succumb to the fallacy that it is only your judo club that suffers from this. But this is a problem almost all judo clubs face.
There are many challenges in building up a judo club. You need to find the right location, you need to get the right equipment, you need to get the right instructors but the most challenging of all is getting people to sign up for judo, and sticking with it.
There are many reasons why people quit judo. Injury is a common one. If a newcomer gets injured early on, you can be sure they will quit judo. That's why it's important to have a culture of safety in the club.
Impatience is another. That one is harder to mitigate because it really depends on a person's psychology. When I was a beginner, the fact that everybody was throwing me around served as motivation for me to train harder. In other words, defeat motivated me. But not everyone is made up that way psychologically. For some people, defeat doesn’t motivate them. It demoralizes them. And some quit because of it.
Then, there are those who go away for studies or for work purposes. They may be keen and active members but they've decided to pursue certain things that will take them far away.
The harsh reality is that judo clubs have revolving doors. People come in and then they go out. Some end up staying for a long time but many will stay for only a while.
You can't lament the fact that only a few members will end up sticking around for the long run though. The best that you can do is make the most of the time you have with them. If you think about it, this reflects life itself.