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The Juggernoob
6/12/2011 12:06am,
It is my understanding that in the U.S, it is the standard to pay for MA using contracts, or yearly/ monthly payments.

Some gyms/ schools work on this principal, most notably MMA gyms but most MA classes run on pay on the day principal.

Is this because U.S instructors are more often than not full time instructors, whereas most UK instructors have day jobs?

Anyone have any insight, economy, culture?

No.1_Son
6/12/2011 2:27am,
I think it depends heavily on the type of MA place you're talking about. I've trained in various MA's at a handful of schools. There was a "black belt club" thing at one place that the head guy pressured us kids into pressuring our parents into, where a large amount (over $1000) was put down in advance, and the guarantee was that as many classes as it took before I got my black belt were considered pre-paid. I ended up leaving that place for the last time at brown belt. Aside from that I've always done the month-to-month thing, until I got to the BJJ place I'm at now. Here it's contracts with automatic deductions for a set amount of time, no changing your mind. It makes sense in a way considering how long it takes to get belts in BJJ, there would probably be alot more white belt turnover otherwise.

TEA
6/12/2011 3:15am,
Mike, the contract thing is a business/marketing scheme that developed in the US in conjunction with the entire McDojo-ism of MA. It ensures that even if one is teaching crap and a student wakes up and smells the coffee two months into training that the McDojo still gets another 10 months of payment afterwards. If you read a lot of old (sometimes really old) threads on this site, you'll know that contracts are usually the first sign of a McDojo. There are magazines that focus on MA as a business that tout this as THE cornerstone to running a MA school as a successful business (emphasis on business over MA).

Most quality MA schools offer a month to month payment program. However, because many use billing services or offer a deep discount for direct draft from your bank account, they do require some period of prior notification to stop billing (i.e. you can't just show up two days before the billing cycle and announce your intention to leave the school). This has unfortunately lead to some instances on this forum of accusations of fraud and abuse when in reality the accuser didn't fully understand the basic mechanics of the billing cycle.

So, in synopsis of multiple threads on this topic: if the school REQUIRES a contract - run away; if a school has an OPTION for a multi month or yearly contract at a discounted price over a month by month arrangement - go for the month by month until you are sure they are worth the commitment.

TEA
6/12/2011 3:26am,
P.S. on the economics and culture issue - even if an instructor has a day job and is teaching either out of pure love of the art, to get extra income, or a combination of the two, he/she still has to pay rent for the facility, utility bills and insurance (a major cost in the US). In order to keep a school running, whether for love or money, the school needs a predictable and steady flow of income. This is why contracts are touted so heavily by the magazines and organizations that focus on the business side of martial arts. We shouldn't demonize them per se because of this advocacy, but be aware of the realities that drive this position and the abuses that it spawns. We should also be cognizant of the risk that our MA instructors incur by not submitting to the siren song of the contract.

Cullion
6/12/2011 3:31am,
It is my understanding that in the U.S, it is the standard to pay for MA using contracts, or yearly/ monthly payments.

Some gyms/ schools work on this principal, most notably MMA gyms but most MA classes run on pay on the day principal.

Is this because U.S instructors are more often than not full time instructors, whereas most UK instructors have day jobs?

Anyone have any insight, economy, culture?

In the UK it's common for an MMA gym to offer you a choice between paying by the lesson, or in small blocks of lessons (at a higher rate) or signing up for an annual contract.

MMA is enjoying a wave of popularity akin to the Bruce Lee craze of the 70s. That means instructors are more willing to chance their arm making it their full time job.

Making it a full time job means they employ the same business practices other parts of the the health industry do. Ordinary mass market gyms like David Lloyd in the UK use contracts. The instructors are just doing that.

The MMA gym I train at has all the same kind of facitilities to maintain that an ordinary gym does, and I suspect they have higher insurance premiums because they're letting people engage in contact sports on the premises.

I don't have a problem with them using business practices which are the same as mainstream gyms (it's a business. People are paying their mortgages with this), but I do think some contract terms are more or less reasonable than others. I always check that the contract can be broken if I lose my job and produce proof like a redundancy letter, for example.

Evergrey
6/12/2011 3:58am,
Pfft, I wouldn't sign a contract. Screw that.

The person who owns our dojo says "contract? Why would I make them sign a contract? Why not teach them what they want to learn instead?"

CheeksWWAC
6/12/2011 7:31am,
Mike, the contract thing is a business/marketing scheme that developed in the US in conjunction with the entire McDojo-ism of MA.

I read your entire post and what youre saying is 95% true, but saying that a contract is a sign of Mcdojoism is a little misleading. Maybe it was started by Mcdojo's but its currently employed by most BJJ and MMA Gyms I have inquired about where I live. Personally I see nothing wrong with asking for a contract as long as it is fair and can be broken in times of hardship. 24 Hour Fitness requires a contract, does it make it a bad place to lift weights?

I know that you know how high the attrition rate is for BJJ in the first 6 months of training, I imagine the plan is to give a financial incentive to the Newb so they dont quit once they realize that training is actually hard and hopefiully they will actually keep coming since theyre paying for it anyway.

I will definitely say that a school that doesn't allow you a couple of weeks/months of 'pay as you go' to see if it the respective MA is right for you before they make you sign a contract, very well might be trying to con you into paying for substandard product and should be looked at closely.

judoka_uk
6/12/2011 7:54am,
What gets me is being asked to pay a lump sum up front for 'insurance'.

The few occasions its happened I've responded by asking to see the policy document and details of which insurance company the policy is with.

This is usually met with a surprised silence.

Then I offer to pay for the month and the issue of the 'insurance' doesn't come up again.

MrGalt
6/12/2011 9:43am,
I once did a pre-paid contract and got kicked out for reviewing the school on Bullshido with two months to go on the contract. They kept my money. I'll be wary of joining another dojo with contracts when I return to the US next year.

Here in Japan everybody does contracts with automatic electronic funds transfer and a big lump sum "registration fee" and a few months paid in advance. When I got here I immediately thought, "Oh, hell no," but it's just the way we do it.

The downside is in America the legal system seems to be slanted toward protecting the business while in Japan the legal system seems to be slanted toward protecting the customer. I once had to pay $200 to get out of my father's American cell phone contract despite showing up to the office with his death certificate in hand. Here in Japan I could quit karate and the gym tomorrow without a problem, contract or not.

Cullion
6/12/2011 10:42am,
I know that you know how high the attrition rate is for BJJ in the first 6 months of training, I imagine the plan is to give a financial incentive to the Newb so they dont quit once they realize that training is actually hard and hopefiully they will actually keep coming since theyre paying for it anyway.


In most mainstream cardio/weights gyms the people who actually train for most of the year are substantially subsidised by the people who sign up in January and never show up again by the end of February.

The Juggernoob
6/12/2011 1:43pm,
In most mainstream cardio/weights gyms the people who actually train for most of the year are substantially subsidised by the people who sign up in January and never show up again by the end of February.

So true. Most gyms make the majority of their yearly intake in Jan/Feb

Omega Supreme
6/12/2011 1:49pm,
You guys are all full of ****. Try running a gym first, walk a mile in the business owners shoes and then come back to this thread.

The Juggernoob
6/12/2011 1:55pm,
You guys are all full of ****. Try running a gym first, walk a mile in the business owners shoes and then come back to this thread.

Does that include me? I was just curious. I meant no offense.

Omega Supreme
6/12/2011 1:57pm,
No, I'm talking about the respondents

The Juggernoob
6/12/2011 1:59pm,
Ahh, ok.

Omega Supreme
6/12/2011 2:01pm,
UGH...I've got to take it back. I didn't fully read TEA's response. Maybe not full of **** but you should really try to walk this mile before you judge.