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#381251 - 02/01/08 11:14 AM "Black Belt Clubs"
Itami Offline
Newbie

Registered: 01/20/08
Posts: 14
I was wondering how many of you have seen/been a part of Black Belt Clubs, and what most are like out there?

From what I've read here, a lot are accelerated or 'fast track' paths to black belt by allowing students to come to more training sessions. I never really thought of it in a bad view like 'fast tracking' until I noticed people saying it cost more, often a substantial more, to be a part of BBC.

This got me really curious, because at my school we offer a BBC, which allows you to come to more training sessions a week and a 'special' class a month just for BBC members, but we don't charge a dime extra. Our biggest requirement is that you show you're dedicated with your actions, write a letter saying why you want to be a black belt and what your goals are in getting there, and for juniors we look at grades and have a talk with mom and dad about how little Jimmy is behaving at home.

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#381252 - 02/01/08 11:49 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: Itami]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
Itami

Kinda depends on how its used.

Many times such "clubs" are used to reduce "churn" or people quiting the school--if you can get them in a "black belt club" you stand a better chance of them sticking with training ie longer term student ie more $$$$$$$$-----at least that is the theory.

That your guys don't chage a penny for it is a really GOOD sign BTW.

As such "clubs" also often serve as another way to generate revenue.
Many such clubs have you buy "special" patchs/uniforms/belts etc as a sign that they are in such a "club."
Club members often get asked to attend "special" seminars that are "closed" to non-members---with a fee involved of course
Sometimes they are allowed to start weapons training---with the weapons needing to be purchased from the school.

Sometimes they spin the whole "leadership" angle on the "black belt club" and tell proseptive members ESP the parents,that such clubs teach "leadership" skills---which is all to often code for "were going to make you work for us for free while you pay us for training."

"Extra classes"--bascially the cost to an owner month to month is a sunk/fixed cost--its going to cost them the basically same if the doors are open every day of not.

(sure the extra hours of lights/heat/ac whatever are going to cost "more" but usually not that much.)

Such "extra" black belt club classes are a cheap way to get more use out of the the fixed costs.
Plus, presuming that classes are in some fashion visable to the public---can be really good advertising.

A buddy of mine let an aikido group use his school on Sundays for nearly free---just a "mat fee" and he had to be added to his insurence policy-the extra cost paid for by the aikido teacher.
Only asked 2 things.

1-That HIS students be allowed to cross train in aikido for a reduced cost.
Any NEW students the aikido guy picked up would have to pay a little more then the group he brought in with him.

2-If anybody came in to see what was going on---that the teacher got their names/contact info so he could call them and see if they wanted to come by and check out clasess in general.

Guy came up with a nearly free way to get some revenue generating use out of a building that was just sitting their empty anyway.

Anytime the doors are closed--your losing potential revenue.

I think its a good plan BTW--nothing at all wrong with it.

BTW don't mean to sound so cynical----but as I am---why fight it????

Again, that sound like 180 degrees from what your school is like.


Edited by cxt (02/01/08 12:00 PM)
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#381253 - 02/01/08 11:52 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: Itami]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3113
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Itami:

What possible value would this "club" be? Train period... why on earth need a seperate group for doing what you are supposed to do normally?

Jeff

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#381254 - 02/02/08 12:06 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: Ronin1966]
Itami Offline
Newbie

Registered: 01/20/08
Posts: 14
Quote:

Hello Itami:

What possible value would this "club" be? Train period... why on earth need a seperate group for doing what you are supposed to do normally?

Jeff




Honestly, I've never questioned it. It's always been there and always used, so I don't know if it has some special intended purpose that's laid out somewhere.

It ends up being a status thing, I think (though I doubt this is it's purpose). You stand out if you're in BBC; it's supposed to show you've made your decision that you really like your experience with martial arts and have set a goal to become a black belt. We usually hold those people to a higher standard (mainly attitude and behavior, especially juniors with school grades and home attitude - they let it slip, we try and help them get back on track... after so long, they're off of BBC). I personally didn't know if I liked martial arts that much for my first 2 1/2 years, though I was never excluded or felt inferior because of my decision.

It's part of the school culture now as it is. 25 years ago when they first started, they might have done it differently, I don't know - I've only been in the game for about a decade. Good question.

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#381255 - 02/05/08 09:22 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: cxt]
SNieves Offline
Member

Registered: 12/13/07
Posts: 76
I was an enrollment director at a school that had BBC's. I didn't like them then, I don't like them now. I am of the mind that special clubs and what not only segregate people instead of bringing them together. "Oh look, I got this BBC patch, I am better than you!" What does that foster in some folks? People should be mature enough to know you don't have to be a part of a specific group to be special, but we know that's not how it works. A shame that's not how it's taught either.

Schools create "cliques" so people can feel good/better about themselves and be more motivated to achieve excellence in their training? So the regular training curriculum isn't good enough? *sniff* Smells like McDojo selling McPheal Good Burgers and Shakes. Feeling good about yourself should come through hard work, effort and achievement (getting stars on your uniform doesn't count imo). Not from being a part of a special club. I thought being part of the martial arts community was special in and of itself.

I am of the mind that the goal is the training and what it can do for you. The rank will come with time and effort. Black belt should come whether you're in the special "clique" or not. If you have to be in a BBC to achieve black belt level training, then you are in the wrong school IMNSHO.

I don't like demonstration teams, BBC teams, etc. Every student in your school should be good enough to be on a demo team or in a BBC club. If they aren't, then something is wrong with the training and the instructor needs to revaluate how he does things (IMNSHO). Of course, I am not looking at this from a business perspective. I am looking at it from a real martial arts perspective.

Would you like Fries with that McShake?

Osu.

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#381256 - 02/05/08 10:10 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: SNieves]
JAMJTX Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/01/02
Posts: 585
Loc: Fort Wayne, IN
I am concerned about the McDojo version of the "black belt club", which is usually a way to pre-sell black belt courses and get extra money. I was just reading a spam email that came from an American Kenpo teacher that said that when you sigh up for his course you will be given all the requirements and know the exact day you will get your black belt.

But there are some good schools who offer regular classes, where they know most people will be there for "fun and fitness" and be there only 3 months on average and that 98% will drop out with out ever making Shodan. And that's ok, as long as the teacher is honest about things. These types of schools will have to offer extra training in order to make it possible for those serious students to make thier goal. If that means having a "black belt club" that meets for an extra hour after regular class or for intensive weekend training then that's ok.

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#381257 - 02/05/08 01:35 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: JAMJTX]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
While not a "black belt club" we have special training for our "hit team" high intensity training team. It's an extra twenty bucks a month if you want to attend, and is geared towards the sport aspect of TKD, extra patterns and sparring practice for tournament competition.

While hit team participation does not necessarily affect the speed at which students are promoted, those students that choose to attend are typically more motivated than those that only attend the regular classes. Not to mention, the extra hours they spend training makes a big difference in how quickly they improve.

We have something we call a black belt club, however it's intention is strictly motivational. Typically when a student reaches red belt, a parent or other family member, pays for the students membership in the black belt club. For 30 bucks, the student gets their embroidered black belt which sits on a display shelf in the dojang as an incentive to help them through their next year or more of training.

Frankly, I don't see a problem with providing different opportunities of training, and asking that students pay for those extras. If the instructor is going to take more of their time to teach them, they should get paid more.

Oh I'm sorry, I keep forgetting that MA instructors are not allowed to make a living teaching, unlike every other kind of instructor in our society. How silly of me.

Laura

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#381258 - 02/05/08 02:15 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: tkd_high_green]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
TKD

Putting on my devils advocate hat for momment...and just for a momment, PLEASE remember that I more or less agree with you here.

Are you saying that those that pay good money for training BUT can't afford to pay extra--or can't afford the time--get LESS quality training/instuction???

In business, those that can't afford to pay for the "top drawer" package get varying levels of service.

Like I said prior one of the problems with a business model for things like martial arts etc is that its framed as "all business" when it comes to students paying their dues/fees etc.
But its an "art with traditions" when it comes to pretty much any other aspect of training.

They are "customers" when it comes to paying their dues on time, but they are "students" that should be respectful and attentive otherwise.

Would you be cool with a student refusing to spar or break for testing??
Why should PAYING customers have to risk injury just because their "hired help" say the should???

What if paying customers refuse to do their forms for testing?
If I hate forms and I pay good money to take lessons why should I have to do stuff I hate??
I'm the customer after all.

Why should a paying customer wear a uniform?--If I'm paying for time and instruction then why does the "help" get to dictate to me what I have to wear???

Why should I show up on time? As a paying customer, presumably with a contract that entitles me to training--surely I can show up pretty much any time the doors are open and get instruction?

If I have work to do and only show up the last 15 min of class--since I pay for my lessons just like everyone else--I can show up when I like and you'll be ready and willing to teach me?

And as a customer, if I find your service to be lacking--I can simply quit and use someone else and not have your collections agents calling me and harrassing me?

If as a customer I feel that your spending "too much time" working with others and not enough with me/on my account--I pay my money just like everyone else--and I DEMAND the same level of service.....are you going to provide it?

What if I don't want to bow and call people "master/sabunim etc"--why can't I call the "help" Bill or Jane?
Lets not forget whom works for who here.

What if I suck? I pay good money to be taught and if I'm not improving--is the business ready and willing to refund my monies?
If an ad agency claims that I'll double my lead flow by using their service and it does not work----you bet you behind I'll be looking for a discount/refund.
In the business world if a product or service fails to perform as promised then you generally don't get to keep chargeing people for the service/product----in fact you often get SUED.

If little Steve goes to an open tournament and finds himself seriously outclassed for his belt rank--maybe shows up with a black eye--are you going refund ALL his money?
What if they show up with a attorney and deamnd that you not only refund the money but pay damages for failing to teach him up to "standard?"

What if I hate the teacher?
If I hate the dude that services the computers in my business--I make a call--and the company sends over a NEW guy.
Is the school ready to do that?

If I go check out another school and I like what they do--are you ready and willing to make substanive changes in YOUR school to meet my changeing needs?
Happens all the time in business---a client hears about a perks or a new wrinkle that someone else offers and wants to make changes in their account---and to an extent--business often comply---are you ready to do so?

What if the teacher sucks?
If I sign up to train with "expert X" why should I have to endure the lower quality instruction of "black belt in training Steve?"
In business if I contract with an expert in say Global Econ to teach me what I need--I kinda expect THAT PERSON to teach---someone that works for her is is NOT what I contracted for.
So any class NOT directly taught by whomever the top person might be is free then??????

Just off the top of my head.

Sure teachers should get paid---and paid WELL--if they are any good.

But embracing the busness model also means dragging a lot of stuff into your practce that most folks have maybe didn't consider at first.

I seriously don't think many people/schools would be ready if their customers fully embraced the busness model to the extent that they do.

I'm pretty demanding with those that want my busines in real life---I have a LOT of choices--I expect to get what pay for and my level of expectations are pretty high.
If my paperboy keeps throwing my paper into a deep snowdrift--I call the newspaper and they strighten him out.
A client of mine gets upset with me and they call my boss then my boss strightens ME out

IMO fully embraceing the business model would mean a LOT of changes.





Edited by cxt (02/05/08 02:48 PM)
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#381259 - 02/05/08 04:09 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: cxt]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
Quote:

Are you saying that those that pay good money for training BUT can't afford to pay extra--or can't afford the time--get LESS quality training/instuction???




(playing devils advocate) why not? Is it any different than buying an economy car vs a luxury car? Both will get you to your destination, one will get you their with heated seats. If you are willing to pay for more and you can pay for more, shouldn't you get more?

We keep our prices low so that most people can afford everything. At 50 bucks a month, our tuition is quite reasonable, if not downright cheap, and 20 bucks extra a month is really not that much more. If you are really interested in tournament training, cut out a trip to the movies each month. Thats our business model.

Frankly, I don't agree that everyone SHOULD necessarily be treated the same way. Should I give the same treatment to the student that comes to every class over the student that only comes occasionally? Shouldn't training be tailored to each individual student? Is it my fault if one student learns faster than another?

I look at it this way, you pay x amount of money for the privilege of walking in the door each month. I agree to teach x number of hours for that month. If I'm not a good teacher, you won't come back next month. If I am or you find value in the time spent, then you will be back next month. It's as simple as that. If you like what I have to teach, and you want more of my time, great, it'll cost you extra. My time is just as valuable as your time.

Laura

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#381260 - 02/05/08 05:38 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: tkd_high_green]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
TKD

"Why not?"

Personally---I can't think of a reason. I have about 3 tiers of plan for just about everything/everyone we do business with--there is a really high end plan that covers just about everything, a upper end plan, a pretty decent plan and one that is "competent" but that is about all.

With the devils advocate hat on however, the pressure to compete with folks that offer more for their levels than the "other" guy sees a lot people jumping ship....market forces have serious effect here.

When your viewed as little more than a number by the people your doing business with its EASY to quit.

"Should I give the same treatment to the student that comes to every class over the student that only comes occalsioal?"

Do they pay the same per month????
If so, and your following a business model--Yes.
Think of it like this---do you expect to be ill-treated by a store you only shop at every now and then?
Of course not---you have money to spend and you expect to be treated just like everyone else buying bath mats and laundry soap.

"Is it my fault that one student learns faster than another?"

Nope, but as a paid teacher your expected to be able to improve the quality of the student.
If I hire a cleaning company--I may have to pay a little more than the office next door if I generate more mess---but I damn well better be just as clean when they are done.

Its one of the problems with a business model in this kind of situaton---your stuck with whatever the customer brings to the table in ADDITION to what you bring.
You can't be responsible for thier lack of effort-----but but by the same token---if you can't get the job done--then you need to fire them as a customer and return any monies not already spent.

"My time is just a valuable as your time"

Personally I'd agree.

The business model however says that your essentially "selling" them your time....you fixed a price---and your time is LESS valuable than theirs at that price.
As long as that price is being met then no customer is worth more than another (you can play with this one) and/or since they paid for TIME, your required to be there--remember your get paid for that time even if no-one shows up and you spend the hour reading a book or doing Sudoku.

"if I'm not a good teacher, you wont be back next month"

If you have that option---but contracts--not market forces--often force people to keep coming back to "NON-good teachers."

Remember the Devils Advocate hat is on --are Black Belt Clubs part of "good teaching??"
Or are they essentially social programs to keep people interested in classes they would otherwise quit--REGARDLESS of the quality of instrution?????
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#381261 - 02/05/08 08:43 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: cxt]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Time=money. I have a question. People pay, say $50/month for basic membership/training. Assuming they can come as often as they like, but probably no more than 3 times/week, and the classes are generally about 1 hr long. That equals 156 hrs of training for $600, or $3.84/hr for the instructor.

Now...what can I buy, or what should I expect for less than $4 in the way of personal training in that hour? An hour that is, by the way, shared by an entire class of individuals?

So... in order for the intructor to pay the bills for one hour it takes classes of 10, 20 or more to keep the dojo running. But...the larger the classes...the less time one gets with the instructor.

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#381262 - 02/05/08 08:50 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: Itami]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
Based on your definition, a "black belt club" must be a long term contract, and any long term contract is open for debate.

But, what if you take the same program, cover the same material, but charge on a month by month basis? Without the stigma of being forced to pay for the training if you don't want to, then the training on it's own is where the value comes in. Is that training worth paying for on a month by month basis?

Laura

PS? Where's the devils advocate hat?

or or perhaps?

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#381263 - 02/05/08 10:58 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: tkd_high_green]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
Quote:

While not a "black belt club" we have special training for our "hit team" high intensity training team.




You could call it Super High Intensity Training.

S.H.I.T. team.
_________________________
The2nd ammendment, it makes all the others possible. <///<




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#381264 - 02/05/08 11:01 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: tkd_high_green]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
In my experience the school is LESS valuable once politics and money is integrated with martial arts.
BBC's and and team S>H>I>T> is just marketing.
_________________________
The2nd ammendment, it makes all the others possible. <///<




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#381265 - 02/05/08 11:16 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: BrianS]
SNieves Offline
Member

Registered: 12/13/07
Posts: 76
Excuse me while I scramble things around a bit so my response will better ďflowĒ.

Quote:

Oh I'm sorry, I keep forgetting that MA instructors are not allowed to make a living teaching, unlike every other kind of instructor in our society. How silly of me.

Laura




Ah sarcasm. Love it. I thought about saying something about small minds, but that wouldíve made me the smaller person. By the way, I have NO illusions that academic teachers in our country are underpaid. I donít pretend to be an academic instructor, thatís not my function and wonít make an invalid comparison for the sake of an argument.

I donít begrudge anyone their wanting to make money. All are entitled to earning as much as they can. But under what pretenses? Letís put this in perspective for you.

I am a black belt (I am a Sandan now) and have been training since I was 16 (roughly 21 years). I also have my own dojo and approximately 30 students that attend regularly whose ages range from 6-40. I see from your name and what you have written in the past that you are not a black belt yet and havenít been training for very long. So my perspective is one of a teacher that runs a dojo and has a traditional mindset when it comes to martial arts training.

I have been in 2 MA schools whose focus was the business side of things and not the art. Both were focused on making money any way they can. They created whatever elitist clubs they could to make people feel better about themselves. They lost sight of the fact that the this type of physical training by a good instructor is designed to help one do that as is. I always knew there was more to what I was doing than shouting ďWE ARE A BLACK BELT SCHOOL!Ē Thankfully I am with an instructor that is showing me what true martial arts training is about. In the 20+ years I have been training I have learned more in these last 4+ years with him. But thatís a different topic and I digress.

Quote:

While not a "black belt club" we have special training for our "hit team" high intensity training team. It's an extra twenty bucks a month if you want to attend, and is geared towards the sport aspect of TKD, extra patterns and sparring practice for tournament competition.




Our dojoís philosophy about demo teams is this: Every single student should be good enough to be on any demonstration team we put together. There are no cliques. Every single one of our students are expected to be quality practitioners. Period. Dot.

Quote:

While hit team participation does not necessarily affect the speed at which students are promoted, those students that choose to attend are typically more motivated than those that only attend the regular classes. Not to mention, the extra hours they spend training makes a big difference in how quickly they improve.




I see. So students have to pay more to be better motivated or in other words, get more motivating instruction? Interesting concept. I figured instructors would be good enough to motivate students without making them pay extra.

Quote:

We have something we call a black belt club, however it's intention is strictly motivational. Typically when a student reaches red belt, a parent or other family member, pays for the students membership in the black belt club. For 30 bucks, the student gets their embroidered black belt which sits on a display shelf in the dojang as an incentive to help them through their next year or more of training.




I would disagree that itís strictly motivational. If it was STRICTLY motivational, there would be no price tag associated with it. This is about making a few extra dollars, which, as you said, you donít see a problem with. I also see this as a false motivator. The motivator should already be inherent in the training. One would want to train for the sake of training not for the sake of a piece of cloth on the wall. That is the problem with todayís trainees. They are focused on being rewarded for their effort when sometimes completing the hard work is the reward in and of itself. Training pays its own rewards. In todayís American Martial Arts arena itís all about ďmake me feel good because I did it! Oh! Recognize me because of this accomplishment!Ē For example, Johnny gets an A in school. Awesome, wonderful. You earned the A. What, I need to give you a Star on your uniform because you got an A in class? Um, no. Thatís creating a reward mentality that is not realistic. It creates a precedent where it then becomes expected that because I complete a task that is EXPECTED of me (doing well in school) I am supposed to get an additional reward? Not. No different than completing your job at work: you were hired to do a good job. You shouldnít have to have some crazy recognition program for doing a good job. Again, itís what you were hired to do in the first place.

Something else I see in todayís Martial Arts practitioners: too many do not understand that a black belt is not an end but the beginning of a journey. A black belt is an expert of basics, most certainly not a master. A 1st degree black belt is one that is now ready for the true path of learning. It took me 20 months of intense study (after already having trained for over 12 years) to dedicate myself to achieve my 1st degree. At the time I thought wow, I am here. I have been a black-belt for 7 years now. I have learned more about martial arts (and myself) from 1st to 3rd degree than in any of the previous 14 years I trained or even the ~3 years I was already a 1st degree (most of that is, again, thanks to the good instructor I have now).

Quote:

Frankly, I don't see a problem with providing different opportunities of training, and asking that students pay for those extras. If the instructor is going to take more of their time to teach them, they should get paid more.




Again I have a problem with this. The curriculum should be complete without having to pay for extras. Yes, my time is precious to me and is worth something to me, but why force students to pay for what they should already get through the program? What? Itís not good enough as is? They are already paying you for the privilege of teaching them. Why make them pay more?

What I see here is a person who has bought into the notion that paying more for what they should already be getting is better. If you donít have a problem with it, great, wonderful, go for it. Itís your dime. My students pay through sweat and hard word. Their effort is reward enough. I am going to put out quality martial arts and be the best teacher I can be WITHOUT asking my students to pay more for what they should get out of the curriculum as is.

Feel free to agree to disagree.

Hasta.


Edited by SNieves (02/05/08 11:20 PM)

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#381266 - 02/05/08 11:26 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: SNieves]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
Quote:

I am a black belt (I am a Sandan now) and have been training since I was 16 (roughly 21 years). I also have my own dojo and approximately 30 students that attend regularly whose ages range from 6-40. I see from your name and what you have written in the past that you are not a black belt yet and havenít been training for very long. So my perspective is one of a teacher that runs a dojo and has a traditional mindset when it comes to martial arts training.





Laura is a blackbelt and instructor. I believe she's been training 4yrs now!!

Quote:

I have been in 2 MA schools whose focus was the business side of things and not the art. Both were focused on making money any way they can. They created whatever elitist clubs they could to make people feel better about themselves. They lost sight of the fact that the this type of physical training by a good instructor is designed to help one do that as is. I always knew there was more to what I was doing than shouting ďWE ARE A BLACK BELT SCHOOL!Ē Thankfully I am with an instructor that is showing me what true martial arts training is about. In the 20+ years I have been training I have learned more in these last 4+ years with him. But thatís a different topic and I digress.





Man I'm with you there! Can I come join?


Quote:

I see. So students have to pay more to be better motivated or in other words, get more motivating instruction? Interesting concept. I figured instructors would be good enough to motivate students without making them pay extra.





Nope, see first reply.

I really enjoyed your post! We are likeminded indeed! I have been training in Goju for 17yrs(Nidan) We have our own place to train now, no clicks, no price tags on good instruction, no phonu gradings, no contracts, etc.. Just good training.

All of this motivational money making scheems lead to the watering down of the arts we have today. We mass produce blackbelts that can't fight their way out of a wet paper bag, they have no perseverance, lazy, bad attitudes, etc....

Okay, I'm getting off track here,lol.
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#381267 - 02/06/08 01:19 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: harlan]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
harlan

And it gets worse---in order to have "larger classes" you need more space--which translates to more overhead--which means you need need more customers--which means you need more space........

Its can be a self defeating cycle.

The market places the value of MA instruction pretty low all things considered....its a shame...but its generally true.

Its another unintended consequnce of the way things have been marketed for the last 40 years--esp the last 25 or so.

Things that drive the price are the same as in any other business--more or less.

That is another problem with the business model.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#381268 - 02/06/08 08:22 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: cxt]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
I think that most commercially 'successful' martial arts schools are either 'on the edge' or are 'subsidized' by other means. The 'pay for the extras', like clubs, special training, etc. is one way to bring more cash in. Running the facility as a gym during the day, or subletting is another. Often, the business is 'subsidized' by students teaching for free, cleaning the dojo for free, etc. And the biggie....defaulted contracts. Referring for a moment to another thread...those defaulted contracts that bring in cash to the dojo...are another subsidy.

As for 'black belt clubs'. Seems to me, that if one has so many students that it becomes appropriate to have a special time for 'bb and above training'...that it shouldn't cost any more. Unless, of course, one is using a space that requires payment for that hour. I think a class of 10 BB's could probably cough up...what $40??...between them for an hour of 'BB training'.

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#381269 - 02/06/08 08:50 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: harlan]
SNieves Offline
Member

Registered: 12/13/07
Posts: 76
Quote:

Laura is a blackbelt and instructor. I believe she's been training 4yrs now!!




Apologies, I stand corrected. I stand behind everything else I said. Or as in the McDojo Contract world: "although something in the above is found to be invalid, everything else is still binding".

Osu.


Edited by SNieves (02/06/08 08:51 AM)

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#381270 - 02/06/08 10:18 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: SNieves]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
Quote:

As for 'black belt clubs'. Seems to me, that if one has so many students that it becomes appropriate to have a special time for 'bb and above training'...that it shouldn't cost any more. Unless, of course, one is using a space that requires payment for that hour. I think a class of 10 BB's could probably cough up...what $40??...between them for an hour of 'BB training'.





So by your example, if you were one of the 10 BB's in that special class, that an hour of your instructors time, teaching you advanced material, is only worth $4 an hour to you? Wow, what a deal! I can't get group ski lessons for that price. For that matter, I can't even get a Big Mac for that price.
Is that what our instructors are really worth?

Laura

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#381271 - 02/06/08 10:39 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: tkd_high_green]
SNieves Offline
Member

Registered: 12/13/07
Posts: 76
Quote:

So by your example, if you were one of the 10 BB's in that special class, that an hour of your instructors time, teaching you advanced material, is only worth $4 an hour to you? Wow, what a deal! I can't get group ski lessons for that price. For that matter, I can't even get a Big Mac for that price.
Is that what our instructors are really worth?

Laura




What someone's time is worth is relative to the person and the circumstance they are in. If you feel you can charge $40 per person and the next person only wants to charge $4, what's the problem with that? Everyone is entitled to charge what they want. Doesn't mean we have to agree with it and, utlimately, it's up to the consumer to want to spend the money.

My time IS valuable to me. I told 4 of my students last night if they can not behave and do what's expected of them in class, they can leave. I am not here to babysit or have mine or the other student's time wasted. I didn't mince words or say things like: "now, you know that's not appropriate behavior, let's try again and be happy, shall we??" Nope. I actually kicked one out of class and told him to come back with a better attitude. If he doesn't come back, his loss, not mine. The focus is learning our system. Not charging an extra $30 a month fee for a $2 patch.

Osu.

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#381272 - 02/06/08 10:48 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: tkd_high_green]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
I only used the $4 base already built into the previous example. In that example, the teacher gets $40 total for that hour of training with other BB's. And make no mistake, at the level of BB...the teacher is also getting the opportunity to work on his skills with his advanced students. The learning is mutual at that point.

I don't know about anybody else's teachers, and I don't judge. As for what I think my instructor is worth...I think his time is beyond price. He only asks that one show up and practice. No money. If you don't practice, he'll know and tell you straight up, 'Don't waste my time.' Because he can, he teaches for free, and I don't know how I could compensate him for what I have learned.

Quote:

Quote:

As for 'black belt clubs'. Seems to me, that if one has so many students that it becomes appropriate to have a special time for 'bb and above training'...that it shouldn't cost any more. Unless, of course, one is using a space that requires payment for that hour. I think a class of 10 BB's could probably cough up...what $40??...between them for an hour of 'BB training'.





So by your example, if you were one of the 10 BB's in that special class, that an hour of your instructors time, teaching you advanced material, is only worth $4 an hour to you? Wow, what a deal! I can't get group ski lessons for that price. For that matter, I can't even get a Big Mac for that price.
Is that what our instructors are really worth?

Laura



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#381273 - 02/07/08 08:57 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: harlan]
SNieves Offline
Member

Registered: 12/13/07
Posts: 76
In conclusion:

Some feel the BBC is useful in motivating students and creating a new line of a cash for a Martial Arts business.

Others feel the BBC is all about the cash and doesn't add any real value to the martial arts program since that program should be adequate in and of itself.

That sound about right?

Osu

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#381274 - 02/07/08 09:13 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: SNieves]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
*whsipers* Just a reminder: the question only matters within the confines of systems that place emphasis on rank/use belt systems.

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#381275 - 02/07/08 09:49 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: harlan]
oldman Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5884
H,
Not entirely. The question is in part how one identifies oneself and membership within a social construct. If you think about other clubs, i.e

Country club, Bridge club, Elks club, High Rollers club...

Each has attributes or experiences they value or deride. Each has different costs to belong and each has the potential to allow ourselves the opportunity to feel special by being a "part" of the group or less "special" by being "apart" from the group. What is the old Groucho Marx quote? "I would n't what anything to do with a club that would have me as a member".

Even if the only cost to belong is sincerity and hard work some can't afford or are unwilling or unable to pay their dues.
_________________________
www.prairiemartialarts.com

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#381276 - 02/07/08 09:56 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: oldman]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
True. But it's about 'BB clubs'. Nobody seems to want to join the 'green belt' club.

One can always expand the idea of 'clubs' to elitism within the martial arts.

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#381277 - 02/08/08 11:27 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: Itami]
sigung Offline
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Registered: 02/08/08
Posts: 2
Loc: Las Vegas, Nevada
A little bit of a traditional view of Black Belt Clubs. These are merely upgrade programs that require a bit more commitment on the part of both the student and the instructor. In truly traditional Chinese schools, there are those that are "paying customers" so to speak and those that are "initiate" students or life students of the Master. There are also students that are "initiate disciples." The difference between the initiate student and disciple is that the student is still a student, although VERY committed to the teacher and his teachings. The disciple is FAMILY to the instructor and to the student. The disciple owns the art because he will pass it to the next generation. In many circumstances, the disciple even gets to pick the various aspects of the art to study. (in consultation with the teacher).
I view Black Belt Clubs in the same context. The student commits for a longer period of time and they receive concrete benefits for doing so in my kwoon. We call it the Black Belt Training Program which I think is more indicative of what it really is, then there is Warrior Spirit Society training (Master's Club in many schools) this is yet another level of training which the students may pursue. For those that wish to seek more traditional levels of training, then I also offer the initiate experience. But selection for this training has nothing to do with the business side and more to do with my desire to work on the deepest levels with these students. I have more than 150 students at my school yet only 20 are initiate with 5 of those being disciples.








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#381278 - 02/08/08 12:09 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: sigung]
SNieves Offline
Member

Registered: 12/13/07
Posts: 76
Quote:

A little bit of a traditional view of Black Belt Clubs. These are merely upgrade programs that require a bit more commitment on the part of both the student and the instructor. In truly traditional Chinese schools, there are those that are "paying customers" so to speak and those that are "initiate" students or life students of the Master. There are also students that are "initiate disciples." The difference between the initiate student and disciple is that the student is still a student, although VERY committed to the teacher and his teachings. The disciple is FAMILY to the instructor and to the student. The disciple owns the art because he will pass it to the next generation. In many circumstances, the disciple even gets to pick the various aspects of the art to study. (in consultation with the teacher).
I view Black Belt Clubs in the same context. The student commits for a longer period of time and they receive concrete benefits for doing so in my kwoon. We call it the Black Belt Training Program which I think is more indicative of what it really is, then there is Warrior Spirit Society training (Master's Club in many schools) this is yet another level of training which the students may pursue. For those that wish to seek more traditional levels of training, then I also offer the initiate experience. But selection for this training has nothing to do with the business side and more to do with my desire to work on the deepest levels with these students. I have more than 150 students at my school yet only 20 are initiate with 5 of those being disciples.






So how much more does it cost to be an initiate, disciple or get into the master's program?

I know of a Matsumara Orthodox instructor in Yauco, Puerto Rico that has 2 disciples. I don't believe he charged them any different than the regular fee for the rest of his school. These were merely students that were exceptional and he asked to attend different classes for the additional training.

Osu.

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#381279 - 02/08/08 12:14 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: sigung]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5822
Loc: USA
sigung

Interesting example.

And playing Devils Advoctate here---if I can borrow the hat from TKD for a minute.

Tell me though---can I become an "initiate disciple" and become part of the Masters "FAMILY" simply by paying him/her some extra money????

Should such a relationship be for sale?????

Or viewed another way---does a student that pays the extra fees and joins the Black Black Training Program have any reason to be upset or any recourse if they are NOT selcted to become "initiate" or "disciples" of the art by the Master?

Just to be curious---what are the "concrete benefits" of being in the "Black Belt Training Program?"

Or to view it another way---what would just a "normal" student be missing out on if they could not affrod to join the "Black Belt Training Program?"

No trying to offend anyone---just asking and were just talking here.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#381280 - 02/08/08 07:10 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: cxt]
Itami Offline
Newbie

Registered: 01/20/08
Posts: 14
This is a very interesting discussion, it's nice to see all these different views.

-If- we were to charge extra for BBC, I'm wondering if people would complain about it. I don't honestly think I'd feel good if I joined a martial arts school for $X/month, then find out if I want the 'complete package' it'd cost $X+$Y/month. But I'm betting this is just because I've been a part of it where it is free.

Now that I think about it, from a business perspective, I bet most people would just accept the extra cost as how the business works.

To go along with the discussion though, I don't know if I see it as unfair. Some of the local gyms offer an introductory price with restricted hours, and it limits the number of times you can come a week. For more a month, you can come anytime and as much as you want. And while there are people there to help you, it'll cost even more a month for personal training.

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#381281 - 02/08/08 10:01 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: Itami]
SNieves Offline
Member

Registered: 12/13/07
Posts: 76
Itami: Here is my problem with the BBC scenario. If a person joins a school and sees all the cool black belts, what do you think the person wants? A black belt. So he joins and after a time is told: "well, if you want to show a dedication of your training, pay me $X more for this BBC program! It will get you on your way? Er, but wait, then what did I sign up for?? I thought I was already on my way to being a BB????"

Osu.


Edited by SNieves (02/08/08 10:01 PM)

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#423618 - 11/20/09 12:31 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: SNieves]
integrityma Offline
Newbie

Registered: 11/17/09
Posts: 10
Loc: US
Some people WANT different things as a customer though. For instance, I've never super sized a value meal....or eaten one for that matter. But in the case of my students... if my students want to come and train, flat rate. But what if some of my students want more?

say my students need an extra day per week, so i have to open on sundays. What if some people are looking for more intense workouts? I cant have my students who are more casual, like the environment, want to learn a little, and just enjoy my company- thrown in with my full contact fighters. the fighters would get held back, and everyone else would be getting sick and dehydrated. I have to work harder to have more options.

the bottom line is, i can be a capitalist. everyone pays 80 a month. but for those who want to go balls to the wall and require more from me, can pay 100 per month. the extra cost is taken care of by those paying for it.

or i can be a socialist. everyones tuition will be 90 a month and the casual students will pay for the students with extra needs.

if i was going to do it that way, i could lump the total cost of instruction, gear, patches(i dont sell those) testings, seminars, (what else do schools charge for these days? foam nunchuck thingies?) into one sum, add on my rent and desired salary, and divide that by my number of students and wham...there's your number.

but if jimmy needs to replace his uniform more than other students, jimmy pays for it. and if my guys are going to need extra time in, they have to pay for it.

We do not live in 16th century japan. martial arts were from father to son. and the training facility was called 'outside'

i believe its pretty much the decent thing to do when i work fourteen hours a day and continue to teach and learn under several instructors, that if someone wants to train in my airconditioned matted facility, they pretty much have to pay for me not being able to have a job so i can teach them.

a fair bbc would just be for those who want more. and its not really elitest. im not better than the guy behind me at the drive thru because i can supersize my big mac. even if he's hungrier than me, he really isnt going to get that super size if he cant pay for the extra fries.
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#426356 - 04/06/10 01:08 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: Itami]
ScottBolinger Offline
Newbie

Registered: 05/23/07
Posts: 13
Originally Posted By: Itami
I was wondering how many of you have seen/been a part of Black Belt Clubs, and what most are like out there?

From what I've read here, a lot are accelerated or 'fast track' paths to black belt by allowing students to come to more training sessions. I never really thought of it in a bad view like 'fast tracking' until I noticed people saying it cost more, often a substantial more, to be a part of BBC.

This got me really curious, because at my school we offer a BBC, which allows you to come to more training sessions a week and a 'special' class a month just for BBC members, but we don't charge a dime extra. Our biggest requirement is that you show you're dedicated with your actions, write a letter saying why you want to be a black belt and what your goals are in getting there, and for juniors we look at grades and have a talk with mom and dad about how little Jimmy is behaving at home.



I've just been part of one black belt club and that was when I was in Germany. And the way they had it set up, is at each training session, they'd switch off who teaches the class that way were all learning something from each art.
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#427334 - 05/23/10 09:52 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: cxt]
Jeff_G Offline
Member

Registered: 04/15/06
Posts: 222
Loc: Midwest
Originally Posted By: cxt
TKD

Like I said prior one of the problems with a business model for things like martial arts etc is that its framed as "all business" when it comes to students paying their dues/fees etc.
But its an "art with traditions" when it comes to pretty much any other aspect of training.

They are "customers" when it comes to paying their dues on time, but they are "students" that should be respectful and attentive otherwise.



As a SCUBA instructor I come across somewhat of a similar quandary from time to time. The bottom line is that I am paid to train you, not to sign your card. You don't do the required skills, you don't get the card/belt.

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#427340 - 05/24/10 11:35 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: Jeff_G]
TaekwonDoFan Offline
Member

Registered: 01/23/10
Posts: 271
I've been to several schools, but I've never seen a BB club. I do think, however, that, if you accelerate your training by going to more classes, you should pay more. That is only fair. That said, I honestly don't see anyone being so talented that he can get a real black belt in one year, no matter how hard he trains. Skill, like life, takes time.

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#427344 - 05/24/10 03:38 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: TaekwonDoFan]
JasonM Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 2502
I don't think extra practice should equate to extra money. Why should it? If I choose to attend my gym 7 days a week should I pay more? If I choose to attend my martial art school every day they have class why should I pay more?
_________________________
90 percent of good abs is your nutrition

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#427374 - 05/26/10 12:02 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: JasonM]
TaekwonDoFan Offline
Member

Registered: 01/23/10
Posts: 271
Originally Posted By: JasonM
I don't think extra practice should equate to extra money. Why should it? If I choose to attend my gym 7 days a week should I pay more? If I choose to attend my martial art school every day they have class why should I pay more?


Of course you should, because you're using up more of the instructor's time. And, if you take showers after every class, then you're using up more of the facilities.

A weight-lifting gym may be different, because there's no instructor. Or, to put it another way, if you had a personal trainer, and you used him more often, shouldn't you pay him more?

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#427383 - 05/26/10 06:38 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: TaekwonDoFan]
JasonM Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 2502
sorry, I came from old school or a small one where it wasn't always about the money and shower facilities in the dojo? really? Never had one...

Also, most gyms offer tons of additional classes that aren't extra. For example, in my gym you can take jujitsu, pilates, Spin, Zumba, Yoga, water aerobics, and those were to just name a few. They have tons more. And each of those classes has an instructor. At my gym, i pay 90 bucks a months and that includes my family, which is six strong. If I had to pay extra for my family and those classes I would go broke. Thank gawd my gym has some sense and not crazy like some dojos that charge to breather air in their classes.

Private lessons, are using up more of the instructors time, not necessarily groups classes. The class would be going on with or without you so why charge extra if someone decides to goto each group class offered?
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#427419 - 05/27/10 05:11 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: JasonM]
WarblyDoo Offline
Newbie

Registered: 03/15/06
Posts: 24
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Hello All

First let me preface this post with the fact that I worked it out and I made enough money teaching last year to cover the cost of my gas to classes every night. I am not making a living at it. My tiered pricing is purely for the benefit of my students.

I run a dojo through a local Uni which used to have a fixed price. We trained twice a week for 2 hours each class at a price of $23cad a month (this is less than half of what the local dojos charge for one hour classes, more than reasonable by any standard). Since I teach at a university my students school schedules would often include evening classes and I kept losing students because they suddenly had an evening class interfering with one of our evenings. Even though our classes are so cheap that they were getting their money's worth with one evening a week they would stop altogether. So I introduced a one day a week option to allow those people to continue training. So you see my higher price is not an attempt to milk people for more money, my lower price is an attempt to better accomodate my students needs.

The same argument can be made for a school which has an advanced class, or a come whenever you want option versus an X classes a week option.

People are wired to not want to pay for something if they can't take full advantage of it no matter how good the deal is. So by offering tiered pricing you allow people to pay for what is right for them without feeing guilty that they are missing out on something they paid for.

Though it sounds capitalistic to draw the comparison, how would you feel if you only watched basic cable but had to pay the same amount as the person who watches every channel (even if it meant you could have all those channels you never watch), or if you only used you cell for 30 minutes a month and had to pay the same as the guy who spends all day everyday surfing the web on his smartphone phone.

I know that people are going to say that martial arts is not like the cable company, or the cell company but your students/customers don't see that. People are trained by the world we live in to want to customize what they are paying for to their own needs and when the martial arts virgin first walks into your dojo they have no sense of that tradition which everyone here touts so highly so you need to bend to that need.

At the risk of the ensuing McDojo references. If McDonalds only offered the Big Mac for sale people would never go there. Some folks want only a cheeseburger and some folks want the Big Mac, others want the full meal deal. BTW I still never go there because it all tastes like cardboard, that's why you still need quality.

It's a matter of economics and psychology.

Bring on the flame.

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#430909 - 11/15/10 07:24 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: cxt]
E.V. Offline
Newbie

Registered: 11/15/10
Posts: 8
With ours you are allowed to come to more sessions but it's not extra money it's one fee to get in to the club and for the club uniform/patch but it actually gives you a discount on everything else from yearly payments and equipment purchases along with testing fees. So far in my school and those schools nation wide there has not been a student who did not eventually join the black belt club, it's simply logic join and save money lol.

Oh and you really couldn't accelerate how fast you get a belt. You could expand how much you learn but there are months spent training qualifications from belt to belt. It's also a full commitment to getting a black belt and is discouraged if one is not serious. You have to b at least green belt in my school to join.

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#430918 - 11/16/10 08:39 PM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: JasonM]
JMWcorwin Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 07/13/07
Posts: 731
Loc: SoCal, USA
JasonM,
If your gym offers all those things, trust me, they are not free. You don't notice it because it's rolled into your tuition or the gym would go bankrupt. If they're paying so much rent, so many instructors so much money, the rent, etc, then they take that into account when making the price. This would be the socialist rates that were mentioned before. They have to get enough money from you and every other member to pay for those things. If they wanted to add another instructor/different class, they'd have to charge for it, recruit enough new signups to cover it, raise current members' rates, or wait until there's already enough above that magic number to run the business before employing that instructor. But, they have to get that person's salary paid somehow. It's not just cuz they think you're cool, right?


If your martial arts school has group classes 6 days a week, then you do pay for that, whether you see it or not. If there's no test fees, or uniforms are "free", then they are getting the money from the tuition. It's just straight forward economics. You have to take into account the bills to keep the doors open however many days/hours per week you're going to be open, add in the salary you need to take out of the business to feed your own family and you have a target number to keep the business going. If I need $5000 to pay for all that and only have 10 students, I would need to find a way for them to each pay $500/mo to cover it. If I could maintain 50 students, then it would only require $100/mo. If nobody will pay that much where I plan to run my school, I'll have to get it some other way. Maybe I charge everyone $60/mo and make the rest up in test fees, association fees, whatever you work out.

And no, the classes wouldn't be going on whether or not you are there. It seems that way, but your fees are part of what enables those classes to be open. If the cost of being open those extra hours or days isn't covered by the tuition of your current students, you have to either get more students or charge your current ones more money. The amount of money brought in by the total of the students alows x number of classes. It's not cost effective to have 10 classes a day with 2 people in each...unless they're each paying through the nose. If there aren't enough students or tuition to allow for those clases, there wouldn't be as many. 7-11 isn't always open because you might show up one day and buy a candy bar. It's open 24/7 because they have enough clientelle at those times to cover the cost.

To keep a viable martial arts business going as a functional business, you have to appeal to enough people and keep them interested enough, long enough to pay the bills. Some students will keep paying you every month for the rest of their life to come in and just exercise a little, learn a little, but not have to go home with all the bumps and bruises. Some martial arts students want more traditional/harder style training. It's only smart to try and offer something to both markets. Some schools do this with black belt clubs or other type programs. So, as said earlier, the full contact fighters get waht they want and the soccer moms looking to exercise with the family can co-exist in the same gym...just not with the same training. So, you charge a minimal rate for those who need minimal attention and charge more to those that require more. Or, you raise the rates on everyone to cover the extras. There's no other way to do it. One way or another, the $$$ has to come from the students, if you need to have a martial arts BUSINESS. Whether you admit it or like it, there's only so many viriables to work here: tuition, # of students paying, amount students are paying, cost for the owner to run x number of classes. That's about it.

Balck belt clubs can be a way to offer something more to those students that want it without rolling that extra cost into the fees of the others that are happy with the current level of training. They are abused by some schools, no doubt. But, then again, your product is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it; no more, no less. The rest is an ar

If you'r lucky enough to be financially independant and decide to teach purely because you enjoy it, then you would be in a position to do otherwise. I would love to be there. I'll stop on that note cuz I've gotta get to my class. wink
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#430922 - 11/17/10 03:34 AM Re: "Black Belt Clubs" [Re: JMWcorwin]
Shi Ronglang Offline
石榮狼
Member

Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 91
Loc: Samarobriva, Gallia
Interesting... I had never heard of such "black belt clubs" before. I guess they must be more popular on the other side of the Atlantic; I don't think we have them over here.
Among the "schools" I've attended over the seven short years my martial instruction has been going on for, the current one is probably the one with the closest thing to a "BB club".

With my very first instructor (Japanese), there was zero fee involved. He taught for the sake of it, and classes would take place in a public park.

My second instructor's dojo ((British) would offer the choice of paying on a per class basis (the choice I had to go with, not knowing for how long I'd be staying in town) or through an annual fee. It was pretty McDojo-ish (expensive, lots of extras to be had for a fee, belt-mill-like superfast gradings and the obviously-lacking black belts that come with it, birthday parties for kids, etc.) but the instructor was extremely competent and I loved what I learnt there. I still practice some of it to this day, even though I no longer do jujutsu.

My iaido instructor teaches for the sake of the art. The annual fee is approximately $40, which is but the price of the federation license stamp. The training facility is kindly lent by the city.

My Chinese instructor in Tianjin (a highly traditional type) would charge a fixed fee (can't recall how much that was) for a 20-class package. The student was absolutely free to make those 20 tuitions last three weeks by showing up every day (I did), half a year by showing up once a week, or twenty years by showing up once a year if he so desired. The fee was for the instructor's time, as training would take place in a public park (pretty common practice over there), but he was definitely not stingy with the said time: although classes were meant to end at 6 PM, they would often stretch to 8 or more if the students were willing to go on (I was). One last detail: that fee only applied to European barbarians. Chinese could be instructed for free, and Japanese devils would be barred from it altogether. That's China for you! grin

My current instructor (Chinese-Vietnamese) charges an annual fee. The fee varies depending on whether you choose to attend one class a week, two classes a week, or all weekly classes. The club doesn't own the training facility but rents it on a per-hour basis, so the charging system makes sense. Yet I guess you could call the one-class-a-week program a "basic" package while calling the higher intensity ones "black belt clubs", it's a mere matter of vocabulary here.
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