Recently I was talking with some of the parents at the dojo and the topic of what I charge for classes came up. Here I am expecting them to say I am over priced or something of that nature but they didn’t. They stated that I don’t charge enough. I was curious so I asked them why since they both had their kids in other programs in my area before coming to mine. Here is what they said:
Parent A “That other place was double what we pay you but they always wanted more money. You’ve been training longer than any of them by at least 10 years. Here it is simple. We pay our tuition, pay low cost belt fees and if we need something you order it for us and don’t even charge us shipping. The training is more detailed and our kids really have to improve to earn their next belt. It is clear you love what you do so we were in shock when we found out how much your charge.”
Parent B “Our kids learned more here in the last 6 months than in the entire two years of training at the other school. You really teach them and work with them instead of just catering to a few that have lots of money. We like that we always know what it will cost us up front and your belt fees are super low. You’ve been a black belt longer than most of the people in our area have even been training.”
This was an interesting conversation and, by all standards, they are correct that I don’t charge enough. With the average tuition for martial arts classes in our area being $125 per month for a single I am sure it comes to a shock that when I tell them mine is $69 per month. The average belt exam fee ranges from $50 to $100 too and some schools have students testing every other month. In my dojo it is $40-$65 and you only test when you are ready and have fulfilled the training curriculum. But guess what? I make a modest living at teaching Karate and love what I do!
When I began teaching my goal was to offer the absolute best and top notch professional Karate training at an affordable price. I wanted everyone to be able to train who truly desired to learn as well as to make a modest living off of teaching so I could focus on what I love instead of wasting my life with some corporate boss. Over the years I have barely raised my prices. I began teaching in 1991 at $40 a month. In 1995 it was $50 a month. Today it is $69 a month. So even by inflation standards I am way behind ($40 in 1991 equals $79.75 in 2017).
The truth is that, without sounding full of myself, I am a lot more qualified than most teaching in my area. Over the years I have competed all over the world, trained with legendary martial artists and, unlike many, I train every single day and have for 38 years now. The number of seminars and martial arts systems I have studied has developed a strong curriculum at my dojo that covers every single aspect of martial arts combatives from the ground to stand up including weapons defense and use. It has been an incredible life learning the martial arts and I am still a student to this day often traveling to train with my Sensei and attend seminars as well as summer camps. I even spend the money to make sure I get to Okinawa each year so I can know what I am teaching is 100% accurate and correct! So, in nutshell, yes I am very much more qualified than many of the others teaching in my area…but that still doesn’t mean that martial arts classes should be expensive.
My goal is to teach anyone who walks through my doors that truly wants to learn and teach them PROPERLY. I don’t sugar coat things. I don’t hit them up for more money or upgrades. My program is simple. You go through a beginner course, you enter basic class, you move into intermediate and advanced classes and if you are good enough, train hard enough and improve enough you earn black belt…AND THEN I CAN REALLY TEACH YOU all the great things that are in martial arts. It is that simple and it should be. No Black Belt Clubs, no Master Clubs, no “Sparring Programs”…quite simply you get the training for your level for one price…the way it should be. I understand why all those other schools want the “upgrades” but as I see it that does a disservice to your students. You should be teaching them Karate (or whatever your art is). You shouldn’t be nickle and diming them. My program is worth 10x more than I charge I know this…but had I charged that $125 a month I would have missed out on helping hundreds of students over the years…all people I am very proud to call my students.
When people go looking for a martial arts school they should get all the prices up front! One school in our area will sucker you in with a low price program that is heavily watered down and then hit you up to join their Black Belt Club or Leadership program for big bucks. You shouldn’t have to pay extra for that…you should get top level, professional and authentic martial arts instruction for an affordable price. It doesn’t need to be a cheap price but an adequate one. A price that takes care of your Sensei, the dojo and provides quality for the students. Flash and mirrors, fancy uniforms, clubs and upgrade programs are nothing if you can’t learn martial arts properly…and that, my friends, is exactly what you get from me for a decent price…top quality, professional and authentic martial arts training with no fluff, no hidden agendas or fees. Just great KARATE at a great price.