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

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.

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

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5836
Loc: USA

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.

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

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3117
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?


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

Registered: 01/20/08
Posts: 14

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?


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.

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

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?


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

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.

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

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.


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

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5836
Loc: USA

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.

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

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

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.


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

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5836
Loc: USA

"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 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 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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