Being a martial arts instructor I get to travel a lot to seminars, tournaments and events where many of the area’s top school owners often are in attendance. Recently I had one of them ask me how I can keep a school going and teach full time in such a small, out of the way and rural area as Bryan, Ohio. To be quite honest it has been a challenge many times over the years but I always find a way. Small rural towns like the one I live in deserve a good, top quality martial arts program. There is no question about that being true. The hardest part is that people often fail to perceive the proper value of what we do because of many reasons.
When I moved my dojo to Bryan in 2001 I was employed full time and only taught in my basement. Although I have only lived here since then I grew up in this area all my life. Over the years Bryan has had many martial arts schools. They were part time schools and most of them were taught in rundown buildings, old buildings or at the YMCA. There is nothing wrong with that but apart time school is just a hobby for the instructor most of the time and when it isn’t panning out the way they want it to soon that school is found shutdown with little or no warning. This happened to me as well. I spent four years training at school I really liked only to have the Sensei close up shop and move away for better job prospects. It was hard on me and I had to change to a different school and different martial art all together.
The other issue is most people think that quality and professional martial arts instruction is cheap or not worth much. The main reason for this is they have no idea about how long it takes to become a qualified instructor, the amount of sweat, tears, blood and more that goes into learning how to teach others…not to mention one’s own training. Most martial artists train as a hobby but for the professional ones it is a way of life that invest in constantly to grow their education and improve their ability to help others through quality teaching. Finding an excellent and qualified martial arts instructor is not common place even though there are schools everywhere. Not all schools teach quality martial arts nor are professional. People are often in shock when I explain that I have spent more money on my martial arts education than most Doctors or Lawyers do for theirs. The investment that is put into becoming a top notch martial arts instructor is NOT cheap but people seem to think it should be when they want to pay for classes. This, to me, is rude and disrespectful to the trade as well as demeaning to the teacher.Quality martial arts training doesn’t have to be super expensive but it won’t be super cheap either. Those top school owners I mentioned earlier all yell at me constantly when I tell them I only charge $69 a month for beginners to learn at my dojo. They all know me and my abilities so I get the “You should be charging $125 plus a month minimum” comeback from them. While I realize that in the bigger cities that may be possible I just don’t think rural towns like Bryan can handle those prices. I also want everyone who truly would like to learn a martial art to be able to do so. This is why my pricing is at a perfect point. It is not so low that Bryan, Ohio cannot have a top level professional martial arts program but it is not so high that people cannot afford it either.Recently we had a parent who was inquiring about classes at the dojo. When he was asked why he wanted to enroll his child his response was “for something to do”. This really bothered me because that meant this parent had absolutely no idea all the incredible life benefits children gain from martial arts training nor what martial arts was about to begin with. When given the pricing this parent kept pushing for a discount and complaining but yet they were driving a brand new truck and it was apparent they could afford it easily. Needless to say they didn’t get a discount, we never do that. They also never signed up because they wanted the membership on their terms and I don’t do that either, ever. To me this was rude, disrespectful behavior but I can’t blame the parent for it…I have to blame the fact that they have no idea what martial arts is about to begin with. No matter how much we try to educate a potential student on the incredible value of the training they are getting for $69 a month sometimes you just have to walk away from them and let it go. Not everyone needs to be in my dojo either as there is a harmony that takes place during the training I am not willing to sacrifice to please a few over the good of the group. Over the years I have cancelled student’s memberships and asked them to find someplace else to train too. Why? Because it was apparent they had serious self-centered issues and no matter how much I tried to help them they were never going to change. It is really sad when I have had to do so because of the parents having bad attitudes as well…which I have done.So what is the value of martial arts then? Well, quite simply, there is NOTHING out there like a good martial arts program. Our program can take the quite, shy kid who is bullied and turn them into a successful college graduate with a bright future. It can take the weak, skinny kid with no athletic ability and turn them into a top star on the football,basketball, baseball or other teams. It can take the loud, ego filled jerk and humble them to learn how to treat others and grow as a person. Our program can help people of all ages gain health benefits that they would have to pay 10 other programs to get all in one setting. It will take that person who has quit everything in their life and help them understand the meaning of commitment. There is nothing out there that can offer the inner peace of mind, body and spirit like martial arts training either. So in short the training we offer is INVALUABLE, that means you can’t put a price on it in reality so for $69 a month they are getting something PRICELESS!I was that shy kid. I had no athletic ability. The martial arts made me a star athlete. It made me confident and I excelled at everything I tried to do because I learned the power of indomitable spirit and the value of self discipline. The martial arts training I have received is stellar. It was not some broke down hobby training in a dump of a school where the instructor showed up sometimes. It was professional, top notch and I sought out the most qualified to learn from. It was not cheap but was worth every single penny and sacrifice I made. My students deserve the absolute best in martial arts so I have always been willing to make that sacrifice and spend what was needed to make sure they get it. It is the same as being a parent…we make the sacrifices to make our kid’s lives better…being a martial arts instructor is no different.So the next time someone comes into my dojo and scoffs at the $69 per month fee I am going to hand them this and asked them to read it because, in all honesty, I am tired of people thinking they know better than me on the value of what I teach and do. I know the value and so have over 2,000 people I have been blessed with teaching. Guess they will just miss out on it because they are cheap…but then again isn’t that always the case with those people? Yes…it is.