Fleecing black belts

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by Rumy73, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. Kong Soo Do

    Kong Soo Do IKSDA Director

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  2. msmitht

    msmitht 2nd Black Belt

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    At a school down the street they offer 4different programs that their black belts can train in after 1st Dan. Black belt classes are free with tuition. Weapons class is 25 extra per month. Xma is another 25. MMA class requires another uniform and is another 25 per month. I believe that there are also instructor classes where they have to memorize previous forms and test on that knowledge(again, more $).
    Seems OK but the dues keel piling up. Guess that's why I get a lot of business from them. Their black belts don't like dropping rank but seem to be OK once they realize that there are different standards/rules/poomsae...etc. one parent insisted on keeping rank. A trip to watch state championship changed her mind.
    No problem with making money but some schools seem to be only about that. Sad really. It puts a bad taste in their mouths that might never go away.
     
  3. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    It depends on the art--in some cases that's essentially the end of new material but in other arts there may be significant new material up to 3rd or even 5th degree black belt.

    These between-dan grades sound silly and money-grubbing to me in any event. But one reason colored belts initially took hold, I've been told, is that kids couldn't stay on track if the system was just white-black or white-green-brown-black. They needed more continuous reinforcement and shorter-term goals. Of course now it's done for money but if you have an 11 year old 3rd degree black belt then maybe you still need these cheap tricks to keep them coming back instead of switching to soccer.
     
  4. Jaeimseu

    Jaeimseu 3rd Black Belt

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    This may be controversial, but I don't see anything wrong with creative ways to increase profitability, as long as the student perceives some value in it.

    You can say that extra tests or belts are just a money grab and extra motivation shouldn't be needed, but I would say that you (general you) are maybe out of touch with the reality of most students these days.

    Sent from my SHV-E210K using Tapatalk 2
     
  5. RTKDCMB

    RTKDCMB Senior Master

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    There is always a balance between what the instructor believes the students need and what the students actually want and since they are students they don't always know whats best for them. The only thing the instructor can do is to lead by example and to guide them along their journey.
     
  6. Kong Soo Do

    Kong Soo Do IKSDA Director

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    In the following rant the term 'you' is meant as a general 'you' and not specific.

    Creative ways to increase profitability? So now charging a reasonable fee for the instruction itself isn't enough anymore? Charging ridiculous amounts of money for a piece of paper and a piece of cloth isn't enough anymore? We now need to hold their Dan certification hostage by charging 'recert' fees and 'in-between' grade fees? And that is exactly what it is...holding the Dan cert hostage. What happens if they don't/can't continue to pay the scam-fees? Does their knowledge and experience suddenly fly out of their heads? Do they suddenly forget how to do a form? No, but it will affect whether or not they receive the promotion they've earned or the next one. Or do we now rescind the Dan cert if they don't cough up the additional funds?

    I'm going to call it for exactly what it is...a SCAM. It is bilking even more money out of the student than has already, unfortunately, become the accepted norm. If you have to hold a students Dan cert for any length of time to keep them coming to class (and paying tuition) or if you have to charge 'recert' or 'in-between' fees then what you're teaching in-and-of-itself isn't enough to hold the interest of the student. Which speaks very poorly of what you teach.

    But I'll add this into the mix. I can't really blame ANY student of TKD for splitting after they've reached Dan grade. In almost every segment of TKD I've seen there is very little to no new information to learn. Yes, there may be new forms for each Dan grade but it is nothing more than a remix of the same material that was learned as a yellow belt. How many forms do you need to throw a punch or kick? I'd say.....one. I don't mean to piss anyone off, but I'm sure I've already gone and done it so I'll forge ahead and say that most modern TKD is very shallow in-and-of-itself which is why it doesn't hold many people's attention after the first Dan. And I formed this opinion years ago after quite a lengthy discussion with a 7th Dan in a certain TKD organization that is, shall we say, rather large. He stated he had trained under the same Korean GM for 30 years but hadn't learned a single 'new' thing in the last 23 years of the 30. Not because he wasn't motivated, just there wasn't anything new to learn. Just a rehash of colored belt material. And this is a perfect example of block/punch/kick methodology vs. advanced techniques in the forms. Like it or not, there are two views that exist. One is learn a new form for every single colored and black belt level where the forms are just the same type of stuff b/p/k rehashed. The other is to take a single form and learn every piece of information it contains. Many that don't know this information will scoff and put down this methodology. Oh...it doesn't exist. Oh...there is nothing in the forms. Oh...you're reverse engineering.

    Whatever

    I can...and have taken a SINGLE form and taught every aspect of it for years on end to students who just couldn't get enough and kept coming back for more. And I didn't charge belt testing fees. I didn't charge recert fees. I didn't charge for a Dan test. I didn't hold up their cert to keep them coming back. And these students learned not only b/p/k but also locks, throws, chokes, cavity pressing, misplacing the bone/tendon etc off of ONE form.

    So I'll end the rant with just this; if you have to have creative tricks to keep them coming back...maybe you need to examine what you're teaching instead. EVERY instructor should have continuing education. Sadly, most don't hence the creative tricks and scams.

    Again, generic 'you' and not intended towards anyone specific here on the board or anywhere.
     
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  7. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    The conundrum is that if you raise your tuition, people will leave because they see an immediately measurable difference in what they pay. If you increase the number of tests, the fees for testing, or have a fee that escalates with the grade, it doesn't register as a more expensive school. Even with a 500.00 first dan test, it is viewed as this nebulous thing far off in the future.

    I think creative ways to increase profitability are just fine. But there is a fine line between increasing profitability and just plain gouging. The problem that I have with some of that stuff after first dan is that you're hammering a smaller number of students who have already bled for you and who have already absorbed two or more years of creative profit generation and are now at a point where their presence in the school benefits other students and the school on your behalf.

    Black belt students are usually assigned greater responsibility and are often asked to lead classes, especially in taekwondo schools. Last week, due to a family emergency, one of my first dan kendo students took the class for me. That is something that a kyu grade student couldn't have done; it was not a beginner class and required someone with a strong enough knowledge of the material to be able to teach it. In my case, this is a rare exception; I have never handed my teaching duties to a yudansha prior, but many TKD schools have first through third dan students teaching regularly.

    No value judgement on teaching ildans, but I think that handing these students more responsibilities and then charging them even more for the privlidge of having them is just wrong. And I have seen it done more times than I would like to.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  8. Kong Soo Do

    Kong Soo Do IKSDA Director

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    +1
     
  9. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    I'm going to add to my previous statement that charging people to be on the demo team is another thing that I consider to be pure price gouging. Even making them buy their own demo uniforms; as a business owner, these things can be deducted as business expenses.

    Want creative ways to increase profitability? Here are a few that don't involve, to quote the title of the thread, fleecing black belts:

    Special clubs (BBC, leadership, masters, etc.). So long as membership in such clubs isn't required for promotion or to learn important parts of the syllabus.
    Daycare, after school programs, summer camps. I'm not a huge fan of these, but done well, they can keep the lights on and keep tuition at a reasonable rate.
    Events. Special events held at the school with an at the door fee; perhaps students are free and guests are charged or students are charged a lower rate than guests. Movie nights, potluck, etc.
    Birthday parties. I list this separate from events even though it technically is an event. Birthday parties usually command a greater fee than a movie night.
    Fund raising. Hold fund raising events, get people to sponsor students in some endeavor to raise money for the school, etc.
    Pro shop. So long as you don't require students to buy from you, overcharge to your hearts content. Or price yourself competitively and establish a retail presence.

    These are just a few things that I came up with off the top of my head that don't necessitate gouging your students with tests or crazy tuition.
     
  10. Jaeimseu

    Jaeimseu 3rd Black Belt

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    I happen to agree that price gouging and other similar practices are not good. However, I happen to think that just like nearly anything else, a fair price is what the market will bear. Why do name brands cost more than non name brands if not because of perceived value? If an instructor is savvy enough (not dishonest) to create a perception of high value, I say more power to them.

    As for recertification fees, these are not unique to Taekwondo or even MA. I was a certified teacher. Because I didn't take the classes/refresher courses set out by the state (I no longer live in the state), I'm no longer a certified teacher in that state. The state basically holds teachers' certifications hostage. Even better, the requirements change over time. I'm sure there are plenty of examples from other fields, as well.

    To be extra clear, I'm not advocating hidden costs or unethical business practices, just saying that I think some people are a little touchy about MA as a business.

    Sent from my SHV-E210K using Tapatalk 2
     
  11. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    I'm not touchy about it personally, but there are a lot of monkey games that are not played in other businesses. In fact, one of the justifications for Toyota's higher cost is that you'll pay less as you drive the car and will get paid back when you sell the car. MA businesses already charge a fairly high monthly rate and the longer you drive, the more you pay.

    Tuition rates are already set at what the market will bear in most places. Thus the extra fees. Testing fees, be they a set rate per test or escalating fees as students advance are also fairly consistent from school to school. The addition of interval tests with extra fees between dan grades is something I began to see only within the past five years and is a practice that I just cannot get behind.

    Now, if you're tuition rate is next to nothing, then I'm much more forgiving of weird testing fees. But schools that do this with test fees are never charging low tuition rates.
     
  12. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    Some are cheesier than others. :)

    Another common practice in my area is to charge different rates for attendence 2x a week vs. 3x vs. unlimited classes. It is understood that the students on the higher packages will advance faster in great deal due to the more frequent instruction and repetition received. As a result, the majority of the students are enrolled in at least the middle package even if they sometimes come in only 1x or 2x a week.

    I supplement my school earnings with corporate contracts but I understand not everyone has that "luxury".
     
  13. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    I like a lot of what you say, but the facts are the facts. There's no way I could make my living from martial arts instruction as I currently do if I taught TKD in this way. It's not just theory either - I've seen it with my own eyes. I also teach Goju-ryu which has a slow, enstill it in the bones pedagogy. There is very little crossover between my TKD and Goju students even though I encourage both groups to train with each other and waive any additional fees if they're already training in one art. The Goju guys occasionally take the TKD classes because of the increased opportunities for sparring and kicking & pad practice. Meanwhile, the TKD people for the most part find Goju-ryu very, very hard to get into because of the foundational hojo undo and sanchin exercises.
     
  14. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    Oh, absolutely! And some of them have cheese Whiz spread on top of the cheese too! :D

    I don't personally endorse them, but they can be done without inflicting financial hardship on the students, particularly those who've already paid heavily into your school.
     
  15. Kong Soo Do

    Kong Soo Do IKSDA Director

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    To be clear, none of my 'rant' was directed at you or anyone. Just a rant. I wanted to clarify this as I used you're quote as a spring board ;)

    As for the post above that I've quoted, I understand what you're saying as far as a teacher's recert. And I can understand this as I have to have recert/continuing education/logged teaching hours for some of my LEO instructor certs. And I support this as new material may be added to the outline to be passed on to the student. Or material may have been taken away if found to be ineffectual or something better has replaced it. I have annual recert training on everything from firearms to CPR to defensive tactics. This is as a Deputy, but more often than not I'm teaching the class which satisfies both in-service as well as instructor recert in one shot. So I can see recert for teachers. I can't see it for students though. If new material has been added to the art, or a different yet better way to do something then simply add it in or make it a criteria for a new Dan level. This in and of itself supplies a motivational goal for the student.

    I could see something like: white to black belt is the b/p/k stuff. First Dan to second Dan is the beginning of locks. Second to third Dan introduces throws and sweeps. Third to fourth Dan gets into weapons etc. This is just an example, but just as yellow to green (or whatever) introduces new concepts to train in (and/or master) the Dan ranks could do the same thing. Thus keeping the attention of the student and supplying a boat load of motivational goals.

    If some instructors don't have additional material beyond the first Dan (or whatever level) then that is motivation for the instructor to him/herself gain additional knowledge. Yes, it takes time and effort. But it is part of being the very best instructor you can be and offering the most you can possibly offer to the student.

    Some of my continuing education in the arts has been 'are you frigging kidding me this hurts' painful. But it was time and energy well spent and I learned material that I can now pass on to students.

    I just think there are better ways to motivate a student while at the same time providing a service worthy of what is being charged for the venue.

    I'll second Daniels suggestions as well as being excellent motivational tools that enhance interest while keeping the doors open and food on the table.
     
  16. Kong Soo Do

    Kong Soo Do IKSDA Director

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    I can fully understand what you're saying. I've seen TKD folks (not picking on TKD folks) come to me and doing stuff like hard-body training (sanchin) and seeing their eyes go wide. 'What do you mean you're going to be punching and kicking and pounding on me while I'm doing a form'?!? 'What do you mean I've got to whack my shin with a bowling pin'?!?

    What I'm talking about it what can be taken out of a single form. You've got the b/p/k stuff to train on. But you've also got a lot of throwing, locking etc stuff that just leads to so much other stuff that one can train on for quite a long time. Yes, the TKD would look more like Hapkido just as Karate would look more like AJJ. And yes, I understand that not everyone can and/or would do this OR the focus of the school isn't geared towards this type of training (in otherwords a sport oriented school would not need this type of training as it wouldn't help them in their specific pursuit). So in some ways, my argument can not be applied to some schools with any validity. I fully recognize and understand that. But for those schools I really think other things (like others have suggested) are a much better path for student motivation/retention.
    :)
     
  17. Jaeimseu

    Jaeimseu 3rd Black Belt

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    Don't worry, I didn't take it personally.

    Also, I want to clarify, asking a student to re-certify a dan grade (with the exception of someone who has been out for a long time and needs major refreshing) is not something I agree with. I was thinking re-certification for instructors. But I don't have an issue with adding check-up tests between dans if the instructor thinks it helps motivation, and I think using this kind of motivation says a lot more about society than it does about the quality, or lack thereof, of the training.

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  18. Kong Soo Do

    Kong Soo Do IKSDA Director

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    This is something that I would find appropriate. It allows someone the goal of getting back up to snuff without making them start from scratch (assuming that they haven't lost everything). Case-by-case basis.
     
  19. Gorilla

    Gorilla Master of Arts

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    Training at a commercial school...would be impossible for us!!! We train at odd hours and with specific trainers for different things!!!!

    i have been reading this thread and the whole idea of a commercial school just would not work in a serious sport environment!

    During the very demanding parts of our training period a lot of people drop out or don't attend regularly!!! There are basically only a 4 athlete group that trains together!

    They have been running regularly on their own for years!!!! We just started running with endurance athlete that is going to teach them how to run properly and periodization before meets and tournaments! Just so many different type of way to train in martial arts!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  20. Gwai Lo Dan

    Gwai Lo Dan 2nd Black Belt

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    The problem is that the school is PRESUMING that the student sees value in it. My examples of things that add profitability but don't add value for me personally:

    1) Mandatory uniform with the school's name printed on it. A standard TKD uniform is not allowed, which would otherwise let you move between schools more easily. The printing probably adds $15-20, and of course the cost is passed along.
    2) Mandatory tournaments.
    3) Plaques, photos, embroidered belts, etc.. at Black Belt Testing. And of course, with the black belt, you need another new uniform with the school's name on it!
    3) Mandatory equipment purchase from the school, under the guise of ensuring the right equipment is purchased. (You cannot purchase WTF-approved equipment from elswhere).

    All of the above are under the guise of adding value, but it is really just passing more costs to the student while PRESUMING the student wants these things.123
     

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