Biggest Issue When You Started A School

pdg

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The only shame is that my instructor is currently overseas, so there's no way for me to test or promote

Really?

The entire advancement protocol is reliant on the physical presence of one single person?

What do you study, Bob-fu-jitsu? Is your school motto "best of all, worst of none"?
 
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martialartsnerd

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Really?

The entire advancement protocol is reliant on the physical presence of one single person?

What do you study, Bob-fu-jitsu? Is your school motto "best of all, worst of none"?

Joke went over my head, but it's Balintawak I study, and my instructor's been implementing a business model similar to what I was discussing. Not completely identical, but very similar.
 
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martialartsnerd

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Oh, actually...

There's another thing too.

So there's this place charging what I consider huge amounts, who don't consider me to have sufficient commitment because I can't afford their services.

I'm nothing if not a bit belligerent.

I'll go down the street to the cheaper place that the high income school classes a mcdojo, the one that's surely worse because it's cheaper.

Then I'll work my **** off - much like I already do - but I'll have the extra incentive of being able to show up the rich bunch, of being able to decimate them, of proving they're utterly wrong.

Brilliant, that'll be fun actually - I hope you succeed because then so can I ;)

It's the fact that you're thinking in an I-O kinda mentality that's trapping you, and it's understandable that you'd think that way. The idea's more "How can I afford it?" rather than "I can't afford it."

I'm certain someone with your work ethic would have the resourcefulness to be able to undertake instruction from a school that uses the business model I propose. Am I wrong?

EDIT: Besides, I never said it'd be 4 figures per month. There's ways to play around with a payment system that can work beyond just sheer monthly profit margins.
 

JR 137

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So many different conversations going on in this thread. But in a good way.

Regarding word of mouth...
I have several friends, ranging from close friends to friends who are a little more than acquaintancess who send their kids to a few different McDojo chains. I’ve also had parents of my (academic) students who send their kids to those places, and a few people ask me about where I train.

I’ve told them all about where I train, what we do, how it’s different than the McDojos they’re at, and how much it costs. None of it was initiated by me, none of it was bashing their McDojos, none of it was me trying to sell anyone anything. In fact, I’ve said a few times that “I don’t have anything to gain by referring you there.” It was all pleasant conversation.

I’ve talked to family members about it. Some asked me directly, some indirectly.

I’ve given everyone who’s asked all pertinent information without sounding like a salesman, hounding them, etc.

Not a single person has called, let alone shown up. I’ve told just about all of them that my CI lets anyone try a few classes for free if they’re interested in joining.

The McDojo goers are quite happy with everything they get, apparently. It’s more than just a MA school; they do so many other things like movie night, homework club, etc. Of course none of that’s free and it costs extra in addition to their tuition. Several of the conversations started with them complaining about the cost and all the nickel and diming. And telling them about a school that teaches actual karate, is less than half the price, without hidden fees and up sells, and they still refuse to check it out. Even after telling them my CI would gladly let them take a few classes for free if they’re unsure.

For the kids, it’s all about frills - flashy uniforms, cool patches on their uniforms, impractical learning of weapons like nunchucks, more dancing and acrobatics than actual MA, movie night, field trips to the kids’ indoor parks, etc. Again, all of that costs extra. Maybe my word of mouth reference would carry more weight if our dojo did this stuff?

For the adults, all I can assume is they’re in love with the idea of training, but once it’s a reality it’s too much work. Even if they can try it out free.

Then there’s two guys I used to train with back in the day at my former dojo. One’s a cop who wants to get back into it (our former teacher moved). He’s more in love with the idea of training again than actually training again, I guess. The other guy’s teacher just closed her dojo due to her declining health (Parkinson’s). Our dojo has a relatively similar curriculum, is closer to his house, is cheaper, and he knows of and truly respects my CI. I told him he should stop by and talk to my CI. I told him my CI has let people train a handful of times for free if they’re undecided. 7 months later and nothing. He’s trained a few times with our former teacher who’s about an hour away. Even our former teacher told him he should definitely check out my dojo; he trained under my current CI when he was coming up through the ranks. Again, nothing.

Word of mouth, huh?
 

pdg

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It's the fact that you're thinking in an I-O kinda mentality that's trapping you, and it's understandable that you'd think that way. The idea's more "How can I afford it?" rather than "I can't afford it."

I'm certain someone with your work ethic would have the resourcefulness to be able to undertake instruction from a school that uses the business model I propose. Am I wrong?

EDIT: Besides, I never said it'd be 4 figures per month. There's ways to play around with a payment system that can work beyond just sheer monthly profit margins.

Well, you've got to realise something.

I have 2 kids, a wife, a house and a variety of animals to support - anything that is strictly for me comes after all those financially.

If I do some extra work and get some extra money, chances are that'll go towards something for them first, because they are my absolute priority.

There is absolutely nothing about any training regime that would put me into the "how can I afford it" mindset, because it would mean forcing sacrifices upon them for my own selfish ends.

Personal sacrifice is one thing, but expecting those who are dependent upon me to sacrifice for my fun? Not happening. No way.

So the real question is, why would I want to undertake tuition from a school running your business model?
 
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martialartsnerd

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So many different conversations going on in this thread. But in a good way.

Regarding word of mouth...
I have several friends, ranging from close friends to friends who are a little more than acquaintancess who send their kids to a few different McDojo chains. I’ve also had parents of my (academic) students who send their kids to those places, and a few people ask me about where I train.

I’ve told them all about where I train, what we do, how it’s different than the McDojos they’re at, and how much it costs. None of it was initiated by me, none of it was bashing their McDojos, none of it was me trying to sell anyone anything. In fact, I’ve said a few times that “I don’t have anything to gain by referring you there.” It was all pleasant conversation.

I’ve talked to family members about it. Some asked me directly, some indirectly.

I’ve given everyone who’s asked all pertinent information without sounding like a salesman, hounding them, etc.

Not a single person has called, let alone shown up. I’ve told just about all of them that my CI lets anyone try a few classes for free if they’re interested in joining.

The McDojo goers are quite happy with everything they get, apparently. It’s more than just a MA school; they do so many other things like movie night, homework club, etc. Of course none of that’s free and it costs extra in addition to their tuition. Several of the conversations started with them complaining about the cost and all the nickel and diming. And telling them about a school that teaches actual karate, is less than half the price, without hidden fees and up sells, and they still refuse to check it out. Even after telling them my CI would gladly let them take a few classes for free if they’re unsure.

For the kids, it’s all about frills - flashy uniforms, cool patches on their uniforms, impractical learning of weapons like nunchucks, more dancing and acrobatics than actual MA, movie night, field trips to the kids’ indoor parks, etc. Again, all of that costs extra. Maybe my word of mouth reference would carry more weight if our dojo did this stuff?

For the adults, all I can assume is they’re in love with the idea of training, but once it’s a reality it’s too much work. Even if they can try it out free.

Then there’s two guys I used to train with back in the day at my former dojo. One’s a cop who wants to get back into it (our former teacher moved). He’s more in love with the idea of training again than actually training again, I guess. The other guy’s teacher just closed her dojo due to her declining health (Parkinson’s). Our dojo has a relatively similar curriculum, is closer to his house, is cheaper, and he knows of and truly respects my CI. I told him he should stop by and talk to my CI. I told him my CI has let people train a handful of times for free if they’re undecided. 7 months later and nothing. He’s trained a few times with our former teacher who’s about an hour away. Even our former teacher told him he should definitely check out my dojo; he trained under my current CI when he was coming up through the ranks. Again, nothing.

Word of mouth, huh?

Yeah, it's why I'm hell-bent on becoming the go-to marketer for martial arts instructors. And I'm actually constructing a freebie for instructors to use, too. But there IS a certain amount of salesmanship required, and great salesmanship is its own skill. The plus side? It's actually a fairly quick skill to learn and the principles are fairly easy to integrate to martial arts.

Handling resistance? Common ground there.
Redirecting their objections (attacks)? Common ground there.
Listening their points (observing their attacks)? Common ground there.
Closing them on your offer (delivering the decisive attack)? Common ground there.
 
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martialartsnerd

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Well, you've got to realise something.

I have 2 kids, a wife, a house and a variety of animals to support - anything that is strictly for me comes after all those financially.

If I do some extra work and get some extra money, chances are that'll go towards something for them first, because they are my absolute priority.

There is absolutely nothing about any training regime that would put me into the "how can I afford it" mindset, because it would mean forcing sacrifices upon them for my own selfish ends.

Personal sacrifice is one thing, but expecting those who are dependent upon me to sacrifice for my fun? Not happening. No way.

So the real question is, why would I want to undertake tuition from a school running your business model?

Hmm, I don't know. What would you expect if you did?
 

pdg

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So many different conversations going on in this thread. But in a good way.

Regarding word of mouth...
I have several friends, ranging from close friends to friends who are a little more than acquaintancess who send their kids to a few different McDojo chains. I’ve also had parents of my (academic) students who send their kids to those places, and a few people ask me about where I train.

I’ve told them all about where I train, what we do, how it’s different than the McDojos they’re at, and how much it costs. None of it was initiated by me, none of it was bashing their McDojos, none of it was me trying to sell anyone anything. In fact, I’ve said a few times that “I don’t have anything to gain by referring you there.” It was all pleasant conversation.

I’ve talked to family members about it. Some asked me directly, some indirectly.

I’ve given everyone who’s asked all pertinent information without sounding like a salesman, hounding them, etc.

Not a single person has called, let alone shown up. I’ve told just about all of them that my CI lets anyone try a few classes for free if they’re interested in joining.

The McDojo goers are quite happy with everything they get, apparently. It’s more than just a MA school; they do so many other things like movie night, homework club, etc. Of course none of that’s free and it costs extra in addition to their tuition. Several of the conversations started with them complaining about the cost and all the nickel and diming. And telling them about a school that teaches actual karate, is less than half the price, without hidden fees and up sells, and they still refuse to check it out. Even after telling them my CI would gladly let them take a few classes for free if they’re unsure.

For the kids, it’s all about frills - flashy uniforms, cool patches on their uniforms, impractical learning of weapons like nunchucks, more dancing and acrobatics than actual MA, movie night, field trips to the kids’ indoor parks, etc. Again, all of that costs extra. Maybe my word of mouth reference would carry more weight if our dojo did this stuff?

For the adults, all I can assume is they’re in love with the idea of training, but once it’s a reality it’s too much work. Even if they can try it out free.

Then there’s two guys I used to train with back in the day at my former dojo. One’s a cop who wants to get back into it (our former teacher moved). He’s more in love with the idea of training again than actually training again, I guess. The other guy’s teacher just closed her dojo due to her declining health (Parkinson’s). Our dojo has a relatively similar curriculum, is closer to his house, is cheaper, and he knows of and truly respects my CI. I told him he should stop by and talk to my CI. I told him my CI has let people train a handful of times for free if they’re undecided. 7 months later and nothing. He’s trained a few times with our former teacher who’s about an hour away. Even our former teacher told him he should definitely check out my dojo; he trained under my current CI when he was coming up through the ranks. Again, nothing.

Word of mouth, huh?

Word of mouth works very well indeed.

But, it only attracts those who are actually attracted...

Just about all of my work I get through w.o.m. - almost everything is based on recommendations. But someone telling a friend I do a good job isn't going to get me any work if they don't require my services.

Likewise, you telling someone your dojo is great will only work if they want to train, and train in that fashion.

Telling someone who does cardio kickboxing that they can get better sparring at your place is unlikely to attract them if they don't want to spar.
 

pdg

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Hmm, I don't know. What would you expect if you did?

That's your job as the marketeer to tell me.

How does your business model equate to better training?

Why are 10 high priced push-ups at your place better than the 10 cheap ones I get down the road?

How does me paying more money automatically make me want to spend more time studying and researching?
 

JR 137

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I had two showers in the men's changing room and one in the women's. It was mostly used for day classes for people going to or back to work. I would estimate the % of students who used them were less than 20%. However, it is a positive seller when people are looking at your Dojo.
I really like that last line. I think that’s where it’s at. Seeing an actual locker room and actual showers is probably more of an overall, I don’t know, ambience? thing. It gives the feeling of it being a professional and well run place.

When my former teacher moved into the gym, we hated it at first. After a few weeks, we loved it. We weren’t crammed into a changing room the size of a walk-in closet that was overrun by the kids who were getting done with their class before ours started. We weren’t piling our clothes on the floor and hoping they wouldn’t get trampled on and tripped over by the next group, etc. We didn’t have to wait in line to use the bathroom and worry about getting yelled at for leaving the toilet seat up ( :) ) and stuff like that. I don’t think anyone showered after class, at least no one did consistently because we pretty much all lived a few minutes away. And we didn’t have mid-day classes at the time. But knowing we could if we wanted to went a long way. And knowing we could use the whirlpool and sauna did too, even though we didn’t use them either.

I think there’s a lot to be said for walking into a dojo and seeing a clean and ample spaced locker room and showers. While I’m not hung up on it, it could easily sway the average prospective student.

And it could also sway an outside teacher of different stuff looking for space. If you’re subletting to a yoga instructor during off hours, they’d probably be more attracted to that too, as it’s something they can in turn offer their students.

But again, is the cost worth it? If you’re already established and in a good place, is it worth the investment and taking away floor space you may not have? I guess that’s more of a shopping around for a new place thing.

I’m not a dojo nor other business owner, so I don’t have the answers. I’m just relaying my previous experience and theories. All I know for certain is my previous teacher enrolled far more adults during the period he had these amenities. And it wasn’t intentional/premeditated.
 
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martialartsnerd

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That's your job as the marketeer to tell me.

How does your business model equate to better training?

Why are 10 high priced push-ups at your place better than the 10 cheap ones I get down the road?

How does me paying more money automatically make me want to spend more time studying and researching?

Good questions all, and I'm quite glad we're having this discussion so that I can actually turn this all into an idea lab, of sorts.

But say you ended up going the high-priced option, and say it was... $2500 for 5 months, structured with three weekly training sessions for 2 hours that you can set, and you'd get more of the instructor's attention because it was you and maybe one other student. (This hypothetical supposes that you went for the personal training). What kind of results do you think you can expect from that?

As for the push-up analogy, if you're the only one doing push-ups versus a dozen others doing push-ups, where's the instructor's focus gonna be?

And as for you paying more money, why wouldn't you? What benefit would it be to make an uninformed purchase when it's a high-ticket purchase?
 

JR 137

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Word of mouth works very well indeed.

But, it only attracts those who are actually attracted...

Just about all of my work I get through w.o.m. - almost everything is based on recommendations. But someone telling a friend I do a good job isn't going to get me any work if they don't require my services.

Likewise, you telling someone your dojo is great will only work if they want to train, and train in that fashion.

Telling someone who does cardio kickboxing that they can get better sparring at your place is unlikely to attract them if they don't want to spar.
Funny thing is they were all interested in one way or another. They all brought it up. The only ones I’ve ever brought it up to are my brothers. They were saying they wanted to get in shape, so I brought up karate as a way.

The rest asked me about where I trained, or how much it costs, or complained about their place, etc. I’m not out there like a Jehovah’s Witness proverbially knocking on people’s doors. People ask, I tell them. I don’t get into a long drawn out conversation. It’s usually a minute or two ‘this is what we do, where we are, and how much it is’ kind of thing. If they ask more, I answer. If they don’t, I leave it alone. I don’t want people telling me where I should go, so I don’t do that to them.
 

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I really like that last line. I think that’s where it’s at. Seeing an actual locker room and actual showers is probably more of an overall, I don’t know, ambience? thing. It gives the feeling of it being a professional and well run place.

When my former teacher moved into the gym, we hated it at first. After a few weeks, we loved it. We weren’t crammed into a changing room the size of a walk-in closet that was overrun by the kids who were getting done with their class before ours started. We weren’t piling our clothes on the floor and hoping they wouldn’t get trampled on and tripped over by the next group, etc. We didn’t have to wait in line to use the bathroom and worry about getting yelled at for leaving the toilet seat up ( :) ) and stuff like that. I don’t think anyone showered after class, at least no one did consistently because we pretty much all lived a few minutes away. And we didn’t have mid-day classes at the time. But knowing we could if we wanted to went a long way. And knowing we could use the whirlpool and sauna did too, even though we didn’t use them either.

I think there’s a lot to be said for walking into a dojo and seeing a clean and ample spaced locker room and showers. While I’m not hung up on it, it could easily sway the average prospective student.

And it could also sway an outside teacher of different stuff looking for space. If you’re subletting to a yoga instructor during off hours, they’d probably be more attracted to that too, as it’s someth they can in turn offer their students.

But again, is the cost worth it? If you’re already established and in a good place, is it authentic investment and taking away floor space you may not have? I guess that’s more of a shopping around for a new place thing.

I’m not a dojo nor other business owner, so I don’t have the answers. I’m just relaying my previous experience and theories. All I know for certain is my previous teacher enrolled far more adults during the period he had these amenities. And it wasn’t intentional/premeditated.

Your question about cost is valid. If I had to choose between workout space and showers I would take the former. That said, I think every school needs ample changing rooms with lockers. I picked ours up from a public school remodel for free. Paid a families classes for a couple months to re-spray them.
 

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Funny thing is they were all interested in one way or another. They all brought it up. The only ones I’ve ever brought it up to are my brothers. They were saying they wanted to get in shape, so I brought up karate as a way.

The rest asked me about where I trained, or how much it costs, or complained about their place, etc. I’m not out there like a Jehovah’s Witness proverbially knocking on people’s doors. People ask, I tell them. I don’t get into a long drawn out conversation. It’s usually a minute or two ‘this is what we do, where we are, and how much it is’ kind of thing. If they ask more, I answer. If they don’t, I leave it alone. I don’t want people telling me where I should go, so I don’t do that to them.
I think of word of mouth more wholly. Even the faces people see at tournaments or demos are word or mouth to me. The satisfaction on their faces is priceless.
 

JR 137

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Your question about cost is valid. If I had to choose between workout space and showers I would take the former. That said, I think every school needs ample changing rooms with lockers. I picked ours up from a public school remodel for free. Paid a families classes for a couple months to re-spray them.
Our changing room is pretty much a walk-in closet. We’ve got hooks on the walls, and 4 adults getting changed at the same time starts to get a bit cramped. The women’s changing room is identical. We’ve got one bathroom. At least everything’s clean and in good repair. I’d imagine those things have probably turned off a few prospective students though. People get weird about being all up-close when they’re changing. I usually do too, but I easily tolerate it because the training’s worth it.
 

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I think of word of mouth more wholly. Even the faces people see at tournaments or demos are word or mouth to me. The satisfaction on their faces is priceless.
I haven’t thought of that. We don’t do public demos nor compete outside of a few of us going to NYC (3 hours away) for our organization’s annual tournament.

Is that more of a market presence/visibility thing than pure word of mouth? Either way, you bring up a good point.
 
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martialartsnerd

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I really like that last line. I think that’s where it’s at. Seeing an actual locker room and actual showers is probably more of an overall, I don’t know, ambience? thing. It gives the feeling of it being a professional and well run place.

When my former teacher moved into the gym, we hated it at first. After a few weeks, we loved it. We weren’t crammed into a changing room the size of a walk-in closet that was overrun by the kids who were getting done with their class before ours started. We weren’t piling our clothes on the floor and hoping they wouldn’t get trampled on and tripped over by the next group, etc. We didn’t have to wait in line to use the bathroom and worry about getting yelled at for leaving the toilet seat up ( :) ) and stuff like that. I don’t think anyone showered after class, at least no one did consistently because we pretty much all lived a few minutes away. And we didn’t have mid-day classes at the time. But knowing we could if we wanted to went a long way. And knowing we could use the whirlpool and sauna did too, even though we didn’t use them either.

I think there’s a lot to be said for walking into a dojo and seeing a clean and ample spaced locker room and showers. While I’m not hung up on it, it could easily sway the average prospective student.

And it could also sway an outside teacher of different stuff looking for space. If you’re subletting to a yoga instructor during off hours, they’d probably be more attracted to that too, as it’s something they can in turn offer their students.

But again, is the cost worth it? If you’re already established and in a good place, is it worth the investment and taking away floor space you may not have? I guess that’s more of a shopping around for a new place thing.

I’m not a dojo nor other business owner, so I don’t have the answers. I’m just relaying my previous experience and theories. All I know for certain is my previous teacher enrolled far more adults during the period he had these amenities. And it wasn’t intentional/premeditated.

While options and amenities are never a bad thing, the fact that the students who came came ONLY for martial arts should tell us something, and regardless of whether or not the marketing was intentional, there's something to be said for the POSITIONING of the school, which is interesting. A similar prospect worked for the club I was in in University when we reserved a spot in the school's gym. While I may not know what exactly affected the attraction at your old dojo, it's VERY definitely worth a look for its success rate.
 
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martialartsnerd

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I think of word of mouth more wholly. Even the faces people see at tournaments or demos are word or mouth to me. The satisfaction on their faces is priceless.

Word of mouth is undefeatable, but it's not the most predictable, which is why it's not often most businesses' go-to's.
 

pdg

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But say you ended up going the high-priced option, and say it was... $2500 for 5 months, structured with three weekly training sessions for 2 hours that you can set, and you'd get more of the instructor's attention because it was you and maybe one other student. (This hypothetical supposes that you went for the personal training). What kind of results do you think you can expect from that?

Well, that's roughly 4 times what I'm currently paying now (and that's for me and both of my kids).

It's roughly the same hours as I usually do now, and slightly less than I have access to for the fee I pay.

I don't consider myself unique, but I'm not average - I'll explain what I mean...

For patterns (forms/Kata/whatever) the standard practice at my school is the instructor will teach you a few moves in each class and you work on them, it can take weeks to learn a pattern that way. I can't work like that, I research at home and get the whole thing in my head, then the instructor helps with tweaking moves and transitions.

Being micro managed through it wouldn't necessarily make me better at it, or learn it faster.

What about application, say through sparring? If I only have one opponent (the other student) that's only going to prepare me to face them. In my current school I can have 20 different opponents with 20 different methodologies and 20 different skill levels in one night.




From the perspective of me setting the timing - that can surely only work to a limited extent. What if I want to do 6-8 but there's already 2 people in that slot? If I get put with a different instructor then that undermines the premise of your model. If I get told I can only have 4-6 instead, that negates the whole being able to set the timing.
 
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martialartsnerd

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Well, that's roughly 4 times what I'm currently paying now (and that's for me and both of my kids).

It's roughly the same hours as I usually do now, and slightly less than I have access to for the fee I pay.

I don't consider myself unique, but I'm not average - I'll explain what I mean...

For patterns (forms/Kata/whatever) the standard practice at my school is the instructor will teach you a few moves in each class and you work on them, it can take weeks to learn a pattern that way. I can't work like that, I research at home and get the whole thing in my head, then the instructor helps with tweaking moves and transitions.

Being micro managed through it wouldn't necessarily make me better at it, or learn it faster.

What about application, say through sparring? If I only have one opponent (the other student) that's only going to prepare me to face them. In my current school I can have 20 different opponents with 20 different methodologies and 20 different skill levels in one night.




From the perspective of me setting the timing - that can surely only work to a limited extent. What if I want to do 6-8 but there's already 2 people in that slot? If I get put with a different instructor then that undermines the premise of your model. If I get told I can only have 4-6 instead, that negates the whole being able to set the timing.

That's a very fair point, especially if students and instructors pre-schedule things in advance. And you're right that diversity of opponents IS a must in martial arts, regardless of which combative purpose they train for, whether that's self-defense or for competition. Definitely something for me to think about, and thank you for taking that opening! I'll have to think of an answer.

EDIT: It wouldn't be a case of being micromanaged. The instructor's job, as anywhere else, is to iron out any bad habits you may have, and it's predominantly personal training, but you're right in that I need to rethink the funnel.
 
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