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  1. doninha is offline

    Registered Member

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    Dec 2004
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    Alexandria, VA
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    Posted On:
    4/13/2007 1:34pm


     Style: Capoeira, MMA

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Running a Martial Arts School

    Some numbers for all the kids in the audience. I've seen some people complaining about the practices of some well run martial arts schools... Some of the more common complaints:

    1. The school uses contracts - You have to commit to a year long agreement to train.
    2. The school charges $100-$150 per month to train.
    3. The school has different programs, ie Black Belt Clubs that costs more than regular tuition.
    4. Students have to buy uniforms and weapons.
    5. Students have to pay for testing.

    Here are some numbers to consider:

    Average monthly lease for a 1,200-2,000 sqft space in Northern Virginia (from my own research)
    $5,000

    Annual Liability Insurance (depending on number of students, company, etc.)
    $600 - $2,000

    Monthly Overhead (Advertising, Maintainance, etc.)
    $500 per month, on the super-light side

    How many students do you need to maintain the school if you charge $100 per month?
    ~61 full time students

    How many students do you need to maintain the school and pay 1 employee (perhaps yourself) just above minimum wage?
    ~71 full time students

    What if you actually want to make enough money to live off of (middle-class wages, buy a house, small family, etc.)?
    At least 100 students

    1. Contracts- How many schools do you know that don't use them? I haven't seen many schools that run without them... Those that I've seen are non-profits or are operating out of a fitness facility.

    2. Charging $100-$150 per month- Look at the numbers above. Anything less than $100 is damn near impossible.

    3. Different programs- This is a McDojo tactic. Upselling the customer and all that jazz... I don't agree with this.

    4. Having to purchase equipment- Should it be given away?

    5. Paying for testing- All things considered, I don't see why this is unreasonable, especially if there are invited guests or seminars that need to be paid for.

    And one final note, and I'd like other instructors here to chime in too... Why are people so against martial arts instructors making a decent living, and *gasp* not having to work another job to make ends meet? Yes, there are many, many shools that go overboard on the whole profitability thing. But schools that charge as much as $150 per month for good hard training and running a good clean facility should be automatically labeled McDojo? Unless everyone here works their jobs for free...

    Doninha
  2. KhanomTom is offline

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    Apr 2007
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    Posted On:
    4/13/2007 1:51pm


     Style: Muay Thai / Tae Kwon-Do

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Also, if you train in an art like TKD, Karate, Judo etc.. The paying for testing covers the cost of the new belt, certificate, and jugdes.
  3. Ronin.74 is offline

    霍氏八极拳徒弟

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    Posted On:
    4/13/2007 1:57pm


     Style: CMA,Muay Thai ,Yudo,TKD

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I understand that running an MA school is a business. If it is primary source of income a lot of what you mentioned above becomes necessary (not matter how much you don't want it to be).

    To be honest I don't care if all of the schools are run like this, if they are producing capable martial artists. It's when the school charges all of that money for subpar instruction while leading students to believe that they are receiving top notch instruction, that's when I disagree with how they're running things.
  4. doninha is offline

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    Posted On:
    4/13/2007 2:07pm


     Style: Capoeira, MMA

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Damn, I couldn't have said it better myself...
  5. PirateJon is offline
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    and good morning to you too

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    Posted On:
    4/13/2007 2:10pm

    supporting member
     Style: MT/BJJ

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    First off there is a difference between charging a very high rate and people applying the 'mcdojo' lable. For example no one would call a high level pro a "mcdojo-ist" even if they charged $4000 an hour for privates. But they would hopefully question the value of that lesson. It's only when "making a living" interferes or comes before the instruction or you deny students a choice in order to make money off them.

    Since I'm no instructor I can only speak to a few of your questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by doninha
    1. Contracts- How many schools do you know that don't use them? I haven't seen many schools that run without them... Those that I've seen are non-profits or are operating out of a fitness facility.

    4. Having to purchase equipment- Should it be given away?

    5. Paying for testing- All things considered, I don't see why this is unreasonable, especially if there are invited guests or seminars that need to be paid for.
    1) Contracts. here I would say that if you need contracts to keep students coming, you need to look at the value you're providing. I know plenty of school in my area that don't require them. They are also quality places to train. I know plenty of schools that do require them. They are typically poor schools. The aikido place near me REQUIRED you sign a contract with no escape clause before you could even try a class. Thats preposterous.

    At my current school they charge me a premium for not having contract and I think that's perfectly fair as well - it is extra work for them to collect cash monthly.

    4) There is a difference between requiring students to "buy gear through you" and requiring them to "buy gear". I'm sure you can see that. My school offers a gear pack to students but all that's required is that you have wraps and gloves.

    5) Again, I see a difference between "hey, neat seminar! pay $100 if you want to come" and "You're required to pay $100 in one month for a special seminar if you want to advance (and learn anything new)"

    Hopefully that can clear up some of your questions and make it a bit clearer to others on here that do toss around labels without thinking them through.
    Last edited by PirateJon; 4/13/2007 2:20pm at .
    You can't make people smarter. You can expose them to information, but your responsibility stops there.
  6. doninha is offline

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    Posted On:
    4/13/2007 2:21pm


     Style: Capoeira, MMA

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I agree with everything you said, except the contract part. You can have quality instruction, but the students just end up being flakey. You usually have a nice core group of students that are super serious, then you have those that come and go... I think not having an escape clause ina contract is ludicrous as well, but so is teaching a class and not having a commitment from the students that decide to join. It's fine when you have a hundred students and you can afford to lose some here and there, not so much when you are a small school. When you pay tuition at trade schools and such, you pay for the course and it's up to you to attend. If you don't show up, you don't get that money back. Not exactly the same as a contract, but the idea is the same...
  7. Slipster is offline

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    in ur boatz, subbin ur genz
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    Posted On:
    4/13/2007 2:27pm


     Style: BJJ n00b

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by PirateJon
    I know plenty of schools that do require them. They are typically poor schools.
    Do you mean poor as in financially, or poor in instruction quality?
  8. Ronin.74 is offline

    霍氏八极拳徒弟

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    Posted On:
    4/13/2007 2:33pm


     Style: CMA,Muay Thai ,Yudo,TKD

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by doninha
    I agree with everything you said, except the contract part. You can have quality instruction, but the students just end up being flakey. You usually have a nice core group of students that are super serious, then you have those that come and go... I think not having an escape clause ina contract is ludicrous as well, but so is teaching a class and not having a commitment from the students that decide to join. It's fine when you have a hundred students and you can afford to lose some here and there, not so much when you are a small school. When you pay tuition at trade schools and such, you pay for the course and it's up to you to attend. If you don't show up, you don't get that money back. Not exactly the same as a contract, but the idea is the same...
    The place I train at offers top notch instruction and requires everyone to sign a 1 year contract when they join up. They will let you out of the contract if something comes up and you are no longer capable of attending classes. (move away, debilitating injury etc.) After the first year is up you do not have to sign a new contract, you can just keep attending classes at the same rate you were paying before. If you take time off, that's cool just let them know up front and give them an idea of when you'll be back.

    I think that this contract method works pretty well, after the 1st year everyone pretty much has an idea if they want to stay or not. It's long term contracts that I think should be done away with.(i.e. 3+ year contracts).
  9. PirateJon is offline
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    and good morning to you too

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    Posted On:
    4/13/2007 2:46pm

    supporting member
     Style: MT/BJJ

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Slipster
    Do you mean poor as in financially, or poor in instruction quality?
    Poor instruction. One that i went to even had the stereotypical fat krotty master that yelled about bowing and make me call him "sensi dan(?)" the first time I met him.

    Some examples from when I was looking for the right school:

    No contract:
    Judo
    Boxing
    MT *surcharge*
    BJJ *surcharge*
    "grappling" (judo and BJJ)

    Contract:
    Karate
    TKD
    Kung-fu *also required 1 year tai-chi or BBC membership to "prove you were serious"*
    You can't make people smarter. You can expose them to information, but your responsibility stops there.
  10. Ming Loyalist is offline
    Ming Loyalist's Avatar

    solves problems with violence

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    Jun 2004
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    NYC
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    4,290

    Posted On:
    4/13/2007 4:03pm

    supporting member
     Style: Judo, Hung Family Boxing

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    my school has no contracts, allows people free trials, requires gear but we don't pressure anyone to buy from us (in fact because gloves are on sale at ringside now, and i am busy at work, i recently had a couple students order their own gloves cause i couldn't get them a better price than the sale price)

    we only charge from $85-$95/month and we're in brooklyn ny, where rents are high. you should be able to rent a good space in virginia for less than what i pay in new york. but maybe you have different needs.

    we offer a discount to go on automatic billing cause it makes life easier for us, but if a student wants to they can pay month to month or pay a mat fee every time they come and train.

    we do require the young kids (3-6) to pay for a semester's worth of classes up front, but that's because the kids are a huge pain in the ass, and the classes fill up, so we don't want to turn away a student due to lack of space and then end up with an empty spot cause a kid stopped coming the 3rd class. having the parents pay up front for the whole semester has an amazing effect on attendance.

    all this has resulted in the school not being a significant source of income for either me or my partner, but it's a good place to train, the students learn a lot, and have fun.

    what's my point? i dunno. yes it's hard to run a school, and contracts, etc. make it a lot easier, but i still resist those options as i find them distasteful. i just want to run a good school. i have a day job to pay the bills, i teach kung fu for fun.
    "Face punches are an essential character building part of a martial art. You don't truly love your children unless you allow them to get punched in the face." - chi-conspiricy
    "When I was a little boy, I had a sailor suit, but it didn't mean I was in the Navy." - Mtripp on the subject of a 5 year old karate black belt
    "Without actual qualifications to be a Zen teacher, your instructor is just another roundeye raping Asian culture for a buck." - Errant108
    "Seriously, who gives a **** what you or Errant think? You're Asian males, everyone just ignores you, unless you're in a krotty movie." - new2bjj
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