$ Charging black belt students $

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by hoshin1600, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    charging your black belt students a monthly tuition, is it a good idea?
    i know for myself i would really like to go back to some of the styles and schools i hold black belts in and do some training. so whats the hold up? the requirement of monthly tuition and contracts.

    i know some students who stay and continue to train year after year, rank upon rank after they receive their black belt but they are very rare. i think a larger portion go off to train in other styles. i think it would be more beneficial for schools not to charge (or charge very little) for their black belt students. first they bring value and energy to the classes. there is value in having them attend classes. it also allows them to bring knowledge and skills back to the dojo from cross training.
    i did try to go back to my original kempo teacher and mentioned about stopping in for a class once in awhile. his response was that its not possible without continuous training, signing the yearly contract and paying the tuition. however he did agree for me to teach a class on swordsmanship (where im sure he charged the students a small sum that i never saw a penny of).
    this is not a case of a single greedy instructor. there is an expectation that students always sign that darn contract. i really think schools are doing themselves a disservice for looking at the short term $$$ rather than the long term value of having experienced people on the floor.
    for me and i know many others studying in a single style is financially difficult not to mention more than one style. in my area the average tuition is $100. a month
    i am not complaining about the price. its needed to pay the constant increases in expenses but i see many schools that promote a lot of black belts that leave and never return. i cant help but think if these students were allowed to come in a couple times a month or even more without the tuition, the dojo floor would have a lot of experienced students who continue in their training.
     
  2. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    If they teach then they shouldn't be charged but if they're just there to train then yes they should be charged just like anyone else.
     
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  3. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

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    I think this depends on how often the black belt is coming in for class, what a black belt means in the style, and if the person is actually helping others to train, or is just practicing for themselves.
     
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  4. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    I can see both sides of the charging black belts monthly dues, or choosing to not do so. Both sides come with pros and cons.
     
  5. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    Yep I mean I've just started a new place and I wouldn't even dream of expecting to get in for free simply because of my rank that would be totally unfair to everyone else who trains there and pays
     
  6. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    but im not talking about somewhere new. im talking about somewhere that you constantly trained at for say 10 years. but now you are doing a different style like say BJJ. and you want to keep up with your training at your old school so you want to pop in once a month, not take 2 or 3 classes a week.
     
  7. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    It's all up to the instructor. If he wants to agree to those terms then that's fine but he has no obligation to do so. His school, his rules if he only charges monthly rates then that's what he charges
     
  8. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I agree with Headhunter, The instructor's school, his rules. Can't really be any other way. Have to keep the dojo open and running.

    That being said, I never charged my Black Belts. If they made it that far, they deserve everything I can help them with. For old students who come back, be it for a good while, temporary or here and there, same deal - get in class, keep your hands up and train your butt off, no charge. Visiting Black Belts were on a case to case basis. But usually it was either free or five bucks a month.

    Kind of a payback for how fortunate I've been. Outside of a couple Jiu-jitsu fees, which were minor, I haven't paid a cent in tuition for forty years. Not even for most seminars.

    But, again. Chief Instructor - his dojo, his rules.
     
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  9. Anarax

    Anarax Black Belt

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    It depends on the black belt's role at the school. If they teach and have an active role in the school, then I would agree charging them less maybe nothing is more understandable. However; schools that charge more for being a black belt is disgraceful. Some schools have a "black belt club", which is just a way of charging black belts more.
     
  10. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    The way I look at it, if you train, you pay. The doors need to stay open, the lights need to stay on, etc.; and it takes more than just being a nice guy to do that.

    I used to help teach, taught a few classes on my own, and filled in whenever my former sensei needed someone during my first stint. I did other things around the dojo for him too. For that, he gave me a significant discount on tuition. No one was taking advantage of the other.

    My current school has at most 50 students, with about 30 being kids. Of the 20 adults, I’m one of 5 that ISN’T a black belt. No way the doors would stay open if he didn’t charge black belts.

    Every school needs to make money to stay open. If the head honcho isn’t charging black belts, then he/she’s got to jack up the prices elsewhere - colored belt tuition, promotion/testing fees, etc. Charge too much for those, and no one new joins up.

    It’s like “free” healthcare. It’s definitely not free. Where’s the money coming from to pay for it? Taxes. Where’s the money going to come from to allow black belts to train for free? Everyone else’s tuition.

    If someone’s coming in once or twice a month at most, then yeah, pay per class. For some schools, it’s not worth the time to do that though. There’s no one size fits all here.
     
  11. skribs

    skribs 3rd Black Belt

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    At my school, we have 2 classes devoted entirely to black belts. We have a "black belt club" but the tuition isn't more than the colored belts. We charge tuition because that's how we pay for those classes. We have a rather large school, with easily over 150 active students, split over 10 classes based on age and belt rank.

    Our 1st keub belts and our black belts are expected to volunteer in the lower belt classes as part of their leadership training for Dan ranks. They are still charged tuition.

    I am one of the only qualified instructors at my school (as opposed to the volunteers, who are assistant instructors), and I am paid for my work. I am still charged tuition, but I come out ahead. There was a time when I was a colored belt, but was going through an internship to be an instructor, where I was working volunteer for a year.

    As to your particular situation Hoshin, as others have said - it's up to the school's owner. If he wants to make a per-class rate for you, great. If not, then it's his school, his rules. What makes you so special he should change the rules for you?
     
  12. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Depends on how the school is structured. If they're teaching then they should be charged less (including no fee at all) with the discount being based on how much of their time they spend teaching vs training. The more that ratio is skewed towards teaching, the less they should be charged.
    We keep it simple. Black Belts are expected to do as much teaching as needed. That may be taking the class (or part of it, in classes with a wide disparity of experience levels) for a while, or it may be running things while senior people are gone. They're paid nothing, but they pay nothing.
     
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  13. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    maybe i didnt represent my thoughts well.
    i am not saying i am special. i am not talking about black belts who teach, although i agree with what everyone has said on that. of course teachers CAN AND WILL do what ever they want. i am not implying otherwise.
    what i was trying to get across was that in the past it was common that students payed the teacher directly and often if you were not a full time student there was a "mat fee" to train for a single night. but these practices are disappearing. now students no longer pay their tuition to the school or teacher direct, they go thru a funding company that bills them direct thru their checking account automatically and whether they attend or quit doesnt matter the company takes that money out because there is a contract that usually only can be canceled for medical reasons.
    i feel this contract mentality has done away with the days of "mat fees" and part time students. and i think it is an unfortunate situation for the schools because many schools could benefit from part time attendance from their prior students who have attained black belt but who no long train on a regular basis. i am proposing that many black belts do not train anymore SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE OF CONTRACTS. my point is that i would still stop by from time to time and get on the dojo floor but i have no interest in training full time there anymore. so i can assume every school out there has many students who would like to drop in once in awhile but dont because the expectation is an all or nothing deal,,,,, with a contract.

    i am not saying i am special, i am lamenting the fact that some schools have promoted many many black belts over the years and never see them anymore ...ever... because the expectation is they should sign a contract and train full time.

    EDIT: its not about the money, its about the year long (or longer) commitment.
    i would gladly pay a $20 or $30 mat fee which would be more per hour than the normal monthly rate. i would even pay a full months tuition if i thought i might train 4 times in that month,,,,but i have no interest in year long contracts...and if i feel that way, i am sure there are many others out there who also feel that way.

    i am not whining about myself...i am putting this out there for other dojo owners to think about, for their own business practices and how they may be losing out on the value of prior senior students
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
  14. skribs

    skribs 3rd Black Belt

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    Our black belts are required to have contracts just like our colored belts. Our black belt class got so big recently that we had to split it into two classes. The class that I'm in usually has enough 2nd degree black belts that we can work 1-on-1 or 1-on-2 with the 1st degrees. So if it's just contracts, I don't see that as the issue.

    I think the bigger reason that people might quit AT black belt is they feel they've accomplished their goal. Others fade away for the same reasons colored belts do - inability to continue due to time or funds, moved away, or lost interest (whether just got bored of it or gained other interests and transitioned to those).

    Just curious, are you talking about black belts leading classes, or just helping out with class? Because at my school there's a big difference between someone who will lead stretching and then help out those who are struggling, and someone who leads the entire class from start to finish.
     
  15. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    my experience is that there are usually very few black belts in a school. but i have been to schools with a ton of black belts.

    i didnt really address why they leave, but yes, they may have met their goal but some also keep training just in other styles.

    i am not addressing either. all i am talking about is the ability to show up once in a while without having to sign a year long commitment. if someone is already a 4th dan in style A and leaves to go train in BJJ. many schools will not allow him back in the dojo without re signing a year long commitment. i do not know many people who would do that.
     
  16. skribs

    skribs 3rd Black Belt

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    Maybe find a different school in that style.
     
  17. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    i may be mistaken but it seems to me there is a lot of short time training and exchange with MMA type schools. if a fighter wants to go over to American Top team for a short time to work on some aspect of his game, he can do that. then come back to his regular camp. i cant imagine them saying "well you can only train here if your a permenant student and sign this one year contract"
    i think the exchange of skills is invaluable. but yet more traditional schools push it away all the time.
     
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  18. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    I use mat fees, and have paid them when visiting my old school and others. I like the idea of students (any rank, especially those who reached BB) coming back to visit from time to time, whether they are still training (but somewhere else), running their own program, training in a different art, or whatever. Mat fees are an easy way to make that happen when they only want to visit occasionally. If they guest teach or something like that, they should (at least) not have to pay to be there, and should probably get free beer while hanging out with folks after class.

    And, personally, I don't have a problem saying it is about the money. If I'm not attending more than a class or two a month, why would I be paying a full month's fee? The contract you mention only makes that worse.
     
  19. WaterGal

    WaterGal Master Black Belt

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    A full-time school can't afford to have a lot of "part time students" who drop in to brush up on their skills a few times a year for $20. They have rent, utilities, taxes, liability insurance, payroll, etc, that they have to pay no matter what, and they need students who are going to sign up as a regular student & pay them reliably every month, on time, and come in every week for months or years.

    Also: no matter what belt a student has, they still require instructor attention, curriculum, lesson planning, mat space, heat/AC, liability coverage, etc. That all has value, and that value doesn't decrease just because the person has a black belt.
     
  20. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    Having those part-time/drop-in students doesn't have much marginal impact on costs, and brings in more money than not having them. Having too many could be disruptive to the flow of a curriculum, but if they are not too awfully rusty when they come in, one or two at a time shouldn't much change the plan.
     

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