Overlooked instructors...

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by geezer, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    This thread is sort of the flip side to another I just started about an instructor I know who is really down because he can't make any money after teaching for nearly 40 years. Today I spent the afternoon training FMA at a friend's house. His style is different than mine and he lives a long ways away, so I don't get out to train with him often, Still, he is quite good and has never charged me a dime. And it's not like we are really old friends, either. I met him on one of these forums about a year ago. Now, I've known my regular FMA instructor for nearly 25 years, and he's exceptional...I'd say a master. He's not charging me either...so I try to help out any way I can. My Wing Tsun instructor charges me $50 a month. but he only teaches three of us, so every class is a semi-private lesson, and actually, what we are "paying" is just enough to cover his expenses. So, as far as I'm concerned that's darned near free too. I also teach for almost nothing. If a student is broke, they can always work something out. The interesting thing about all of us, is that most students don't stick with it. The currency we value most, ...and that we see the least of is dedication. I read posts by a lot of folks who are unable to afford training. I sympathize, since I've been there. Still, after looking around, I'd say that money isn't the biggest problem. Any thoughts?
     
  2. terryl965

    terryl965 <center><font size="2"><B>Martial Talk Ultimate<BR

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    commitment is a big issue, people will start but few will stay long enough to really learn. For me I stuggle every month to cover bill, but yet these big old chain school that deliver water down patches covering every inch of a uniform will have students come in and stay in the thousands. I guess it is just like those big old fitness center, not tp many real body builders just those that need it for a status symbol.
     
  3. Pacificshore

    Pacificshore Purple Belt

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    It is a long time debate on whether to charge someone for MA training if you are an instructor that trains outta their garage for example. My buddy who now owns his own commercial school setting did teach from his garage for many years. His p.o.v. is that you should always charge something otherwise, if you don't then students tend to just take their training for granted, and view it as not losing anything of value if they miss a training session here and there. Once that happens then it is so much easier to miss a month and then 2 months, so on.
     
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  4. Hyper_Shadow

    Hyper_Shadow Green Belt

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    I been broke for a long time, but I worked too damn hard to get where I am to give up. I worked something out with my instructor. He leaves it to me to prep the dojo and ensure that all of our equipment is in accounted for and in good woking order. Dedication is the easiest currency to use; I think it's just a matter of people becoming complacent. If they're not paying for a service, so to speak, then they are naturally going to have a lower level of dedication with it to begion with (they won't feel obliged to attend and train). Unfortunately (or fortunately in my own opinion) that is where martial arts needs to stem from. Your own willingness to sacrifice those little comforts and that bit of spare time in order to dedicat your time to yourself and the other students who you train with.
    To be honest I'm really against people making money from martial arts in general. As far as I'm concerned, the doors to any place of learning should be open to everyone, not just those that can afford it. Not to mention that nowadays people are charging all manner of extortionate fees just to start training to begin with.
    Example: My dojo charges flat rate lesson fee of a few pound per lesson. That is used to cover the cost of hiring our room. Any money left over is used to purchase new equipment for the club. My instructor even went as far as taking from his own pocket just to purchase new matts for us to train on. We ask folks to get insured with us (so we don't get sued if anything ever goes wrong) and also ask them to buy a suit to train in, though if they have their own we're not fussed as long as it'll stand up to the rigors of training.
    A commercial MA business was set up recently near where I live. They charge somehwhere in the region of forty pounds upwards just to join. Then they charge for insurance and lesson fees on top of that. Even worse, they insist on the students paying extortionate prices for training suits that are specific to that school.

    I just don't understand it. If I could spend the rest of my days just training I would, but I wouldn't want peoples money to learn. As far as I'm concerned it's a better measure of character when you're doing it for yourself and not because your wallet's obliged to it.
     
  5. Kacey

    Kacey Sr. Grandmaster

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    Here's the way I was raised: dues cover the cost of the dojang, the instructor's expenses in getting to and from the dojang, supplies, utilities, etc. The real cost of training is in loyalty - and loyalty, like respect, must be earned, not bought and sold. This is a concept that is very specific to more traditional viewpoints on MA - any McDojang you step into will tell you that training is paid for with money, right along with everything else they sell you.

    From Sajuji Do (the Student/Instructor Relationship):
    "2. A good student must be willing to sacrifice for his art and instructor. Many students feel that their training is a commodity bought with monthly dues, and are unwilling to take part in demonstrations, teaching and working around the dojang. An instructor can afford to lose this type of student."

    However, this is decidely not a commercial viewpoint - nor, I think, is it nearly as common in the business world as it used to be; there was a time when someone would work their whole lives for the same employer out of loyalty - now, people hop jobs for personal advantage on a regular basis, with little or no regard for the business and employer they leave behind, and it is considered normal, and good business practice, to do so.
     
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  6. mook jong man

    mook jong man Senior Master

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    I only paid fees for the first couple of years Wing Chun training and then i became an instructor and instead of paying fees i taught a lot of classes and ran the office on Saturdays and Sundays for my Sifu.

    Another instructor that helped me on Sundays used to clean the place , polish mirrors , vacuuming and that is what he did in lieu of paying fees. There was always something that could be worked out if you showed dedication but was short on cash.

    The only free training i ever got was from old Wing Chun buddies who had gone into shootfighting . Now i train FMA I have to pay quite a bit because it is almost like private lessons.

    I think the reason people don't stick with it is because like exercise ,you have to make an effort and there is discomfort involved and there are long plateaus with out any improvement which in todays society of instant gratification is not going to be popular .

    But i would teach people for free and have done so in the past just because i enjoy teaching.
     
  7. Brian S

    Brian S Purple Belt

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    I think business and good martial arts just don't mix.

    I've seen martial arts businesses doing good,but the art suffers. Look what commercialism did for tkd.

    We can thank business for mcdojo's, blackbelt factories, and little kids with blackbelts. None of that sets well with me,but I know others feel different.
     
  8. rmclain

    rmclain Black Belt

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    I think that his situation is not very uncommon. I think many of the good instructors are never heard about in America. Same thing happened in Korea as well - and in most places, I suspect.

    Terry, you're doing good if you are able to cover your monthly expenses these days. Most schools that open are never able to do that and close their doors. So, please pat yourself on the back for keeping things going. I had to learn this lesson myself after watching (seemingly) successful schools close their doors, yet mine was still cranking along. I've never done much better than break-even myself, but the school is still here. :)

    If students only understood the sacrifices instructors go through to bring some of these arts to them, they might train more regularly and for longer durations of their lives. Many of we (instructors), don't know what it is like to have the simple luxury of having dinner or going to a movie with the family because we are teaching classes in the evenings. On top of keeping our own training up, we have to worry about the finances of a business and the stresses it brings - and could bring to the entire family. Much of this is as a volunteer (no pay). It is easy to simply train yourself. But, adding the responsibility of training others and running the financial aspect of it all can be a burden. You really have to love helping others and training for it to be worth it.

    R. McLain
     
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  9. harlan

    harlan 2nd Black Belt

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    Committment. Loyalty. Dedication. Unpopular words in our culture...and too easily bashed. Many of the folks that openly suggest MA isn't complete without it, are also the most obsessed, obnoxious and narrowminded representatives of their art. What's the saying? 'Those that know don't talk about it.'

    Overlooked instructors are just the way it is. They don't go looking for students to support themselves...they are on their own journey after all. I find it sad to look around and realize I'm the only student...but I think water seeks it's own level. Those that want that kind of training have to be willing to look a little harder to find it.
     
  10. kidswarrior

    kidswarrior Senior Master

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    I wonder if it's just that they go through so many numbers of people, that we don't notice how many are really passing through the front door and out the back. In other words, maybe they have the same problem as the smaller school, where the teacher is really dedicated to the art and students, but due to shameless self-promotion and slick marketing, these McDojos keep the numbers higher through sheer intake of new people? I'd like to think so, anyway.
     
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  11. bowser666

    bowser666 2nd Black Belt

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    I think the McDojo's are able to keep their numbers high because they spend the $$$ on marketing and advertising. ALot of smaller schools would benefit from advertising more if they want to increase their student base. It really is simple Business 101. If you aren't concerned with increasing your student base then expect low or no income :) You just need to decide which way to go with your own school.
     
  12. tshadowchaser

    tshadowchaser Sr. Grandmaster

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    I have always preferred higher quality personal instruction to large group instruction where the individual is often overlooked.
    Sure a large group can learn a form at one time but a few people can learn it and perhaps get a better understanding of that form or technique faster.
    I have always taught for little or nothing but always had a small class where as those down the street charge exurbanite fees and have large classes. I have never figured that out except for the fact I demand a more physical workout and do not promote based on time and money paid in but on other things
     
  13. marlon

    marlon Master Black Belt

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    There are so many things of value that people feel they should not be charged for and imo, this is wrong. the only problem with commercialism is a shddy product. there is absolutely nothing wrong with making money. give a good product and good service and you should earn something of your worth after expenses...period. Take note of how many good instructors cannot teach consistently in good settings b/c of lack of funds...look at Prof. chow who died poor and collecting bottles, yet how many of us owe our learning to him! Even more than that if you are worrying about the bills each month it is harder toi help out someone who does not have the funds to pay the regular fee. charge what you are worth and more importantly be worth more than you charge. i may get slammed for it but i am sick of so many crap 'masters' pulling in students left right and center and the good instructors always worrying about closing the doors. BTW I way undercharge according to everyone i have spoken to,yet i still feel guilty about my prices. Then i get sick with worry about the students not having somewhere to train if i close!!! ther is no real SK options in my area at all. i have some people who I make allowances for b/c they canot afford it all the time. Yet how many nights have i spent sleepl;ess worrying about what wuld happen if I closed. i had a school close one me and it sucks! Make the money and earn it is the best way all around. Unfortunately i am still waiting to meet that student who i can share everything with, who i feel is sop dedicated that i am inspired..but then again perhaps it i myself who has not inspired such a student...
    back to learning and growing and hopefully doing some good as an instructor.

    End of rant

    Respectfully,
    Marlon
     
  14. teekin

    teekin 3rd Black Belt

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    I am coming at this from 2 different angles, one as an instructor and one as a student.
    The very good instructors seem to end up with a small core group dedicated students/friends who stay for years and slowly rise to equal or better the instructor's skill level. The instructor becomes a mentor to those dedicated and focused enough to learn what is offered. Around them come and go a myriad of floatasm, some stay for a few weeks , months or not at all. If there is a financial or other problem however the core group will pull together and carry their instructor for however long is needed. The same is extended to any member of the core group. This kind of respect, loyalty and semper fi can not be bought or contracted for. :asian:

    The "Academy" I hesitate to use the word instructor or teacher, repeats the same tired formula over and over, not truly understanding the material so not able to break it down and rearrage the parts to suit different learning styles. Because the teacher (shudder) doesn't understand what they are teaching the students will not either. The foundation is shaky. This is a house of cards being built. The theory is soft, the application will be messy and will, under pressure, unravel. The students will become frustrated, go to the teacher for answers, be given either the wrong or inadequate one and the application will not get any better. The drop out rate at this Academy will be high but the students will never know why they failed. They do not have sufficient knowledge to know they were shafted from the get go. The Academy keeps sucking in new students, and keeps them for the first while by blowing sunshine up their arses. Once they sign a long tem contract however see process above.:barf:
    The students have no loyalty to the school, if the Academy closes, ehhh, go down the street. This is a place of cliques and gossip, the in crowd and the outs. Favorites and fast promotion. Money talks. What they offer is cheap and shallow and that's what they get in return. Fitting isn't it.:D

    Lori M
     
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  15. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I enjoy small numbers of small dedicated students. I think this in the end allows you to ensure quality control and also pass on the core components of your system. [​IMG]

    Some of the best instructors that I have personally ever met have been local and relatively unknown except to a small select few. They had small core groups that they trained and some even only trained private lessons.

    Bottom line there are allot of over looked instructors out there who are simply fantastic! [​IMG]
     
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