CONTROVERSY: Free Martial Arts!!!

Shadowstar MMA

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My name is George Jackson-Kowatch. I am the Instructor for Shadowstar MMA, a FREE Martial Arts school located in Anniston, Alabama.
People ask me "why don't you charge for classes?"
My answer is simply this: Some people play softball, watch Nascar, or buy lottery tickets. I teach.

Equipment for the school is limited, but the training is there. Shadowstar MMA is NOT a tournament martial art, so Association fees and annual dues are not needed. Eevn the facility I teach out of is donated.

Many Instructors and school owners have a skewed look on martial arts. . . . too many think about the money. What about the people who cannot afford a monthly due or mat fee?

It's not the full-time martial artists that are being attacked and have to defend themselves. It's the people who just can't afford the time or the money to practice.
 

terryl965

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Evan though I agree with what you are saying remember alot of instuctor have cost and they must be paid and we are not Millionaires.
 
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Shadowstar MMA

Shadowstar MMA

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And just as a personal note, I believe that anyone trying to make Martial Arts a "lucrative" business like some of these associations is WRONG.
I understand that an owner has to keep the doors open. I understand that equipment, rent, utilities and insurance cost money. Beyond this, the money collected is used to line pockets. The bigger the association, the more money.
Greed is something that is becoming more and more of an issue, and in the end, IT'S THE STUDENTS THAT ARE HAVING TO PAY IN MORE THEN ONE WAY!

Students that NEED to learn self-defense in a world that requires it!
 

CoryKS

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I'm not sure I understand what the controversy is. There are a lot of MA practitioners with a variety of payment schemes. Some are full time instructors who need to draw a paycheck, and some, like yourself, do it as an after-hours activity (I presume you have a primary source of income that makes this possible). This isn't limited to MA, either. Software developers can make good money but some of them donate their time and skill to developing free code such as Linux and other open-source projects. Lawyers and doctors have been known to volunteer their services to the needy as well.
 

Xue Sheng

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Did you come to MT to start a fight or is it just sort of going that way by accident?

If you can teach for free, that's great, I applaud your efforts. I don't teach at the moment and if I did I would likely never make any money at to and frankly for me it is not about money.

But most teachers out there have expenses and have not been afforded the perks (donated space) that you have and they need to charge to have a school and to be able to teach and if you live in the Northern part of North America teaching without a space could be rather difficult come February although I do know of a Bagua sifu that teaches outside year around in New England but he is not teaching children either.

You teach for free and that is great but harassing a teacher because he charges is, IMO, wrong.

However if the teacher is mass producing students and the cost of quality and real training in order to make money then I agree they should not be teaching.
 

Stac3y

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My organization pays instructors a tiny pittance, a portion of fees collected. Tuition is $50 for each 3 month session, plus $25(kids)/$35(adults) for belt testing and $25(kids)/$35(adults) for mandatory tournaments (1 per session). There are no contracts involved. All of our instructors are otherwise employed (or have spouses who are the main breadwinners); teaching karate is a passion and a sideline, not their main income. Even the head honcho has other business interests to help keep him afloat, though the organization is his primary source of income.

I am absolutely thrilled to be able to pay so little for such excellent instruction, and to have the opportunity to associate with a bunch of great people. That being said, instructors who teach MA for a living deserve to make a living, just like other professionals. I don't think it's in any way wrong for them to charge enough to provide for themselves and their families. And I might add that a great many of the "for profit" schools offer scholarships for students who are unable to pay, or use sliding scales.
 
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Shadowstar MMA

Shadowstar MMA

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Your last comment is precisely my point.
I'm not here to start a fight. . . maybe I'm projecting myself wrong.
What I'm trying to find out is if there are others who view money and martial arts the same as I do.
As far as making money, everyone needs to. I understand this.
I'm talking about some of these studios that are charging OUTRAGIOUS fees. . . some of them to simply watch!
That's what I consider wrong. Not making money for the purpose of keeping the school doors open and making a place for students to train.

My apologies for coming off rude, but this is really getting under my skin.
 

Xue Sheng

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Your last comment is precisely my point.
I'm not here to start a fight. . . maybe I'm projecting myself wrong.
What I'm trying to find out is if there are others who view money and martial arts the same as I do.
As far as making money, everyone needs to. I understand this.
I'm talking about some of these studios that are charging OUTRAGIOUS fees. . . some of them to simply watch!
That's what I consider wrong. Not making money for the purpose of keeping the school doors open and making a place for students to train.

My apologies for coming off rude, but this is really getting under my skin.

No worries but in the future you should know that using larger font and typing in capitals can be interpreted as yelling on the Wild and Whacky World of the World Wide Web
 

jarrod

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cool man, i taught for free for years until the expenses got on top of me.

also, my students started training more regularly once they were paying. funny world.

best of luck,

jf
 

jks9199

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And just as a personal note, I believe that anyone trying to make Martial Arts a "lucrative" business like some of these associations is WRONG.
I understand that an owner has to keep the doors open. I understand that equipment, rent, utilities and insurance cost money. Beyond this, the money collected is used to line pockets. The bigger the association, the more money.
Greed is something that is becoming more and more of an issue, and in the end, IT'S THE STUDENTS THAT ARE HAVING TO PAY IN MORE THEN ONE WAY!

Students that NEED to learn self-defense in a world that requires it!
Welcome; this is a great topic. Why don't you start a new thread in General Martial Arts about whether martial arts should be a business?
 

Brian R. VanCise

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cool man, i taught for free for years until the expenses got on top of me.

also, my students started training more regularly once they were paying. funny world.

best of luck,

jf


Hey Jarrod,

It is funny how that works. I like you, taught for free or a small fee for years as well. Eventually I set a price that I believe is reasonable for my area. All of the dues go to Training Hall equipment and that is why we have an incredibly well stocked facility. I do sell quite a few of my books, dvd's, etc. and those help me to do research and reinvest to do more and also a repayment for my time and effort.

The martial skills that we have are absolutely precious. (priceless in my opinion) I feel that is nothing wrong with teaching for free or teaching to cover costs and make a profit. Each individual has to search their soul to find out what is right for them. Myself I go out of my way that anyone who wants to train will have that opportunity.
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However, like Jarrod said above when people are paying they attend more regularly. That is a fact.

Should people be ripping other people off when teaching!
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Absolutely not! If your goal in teaching is to make money and it is run like a well oiled snake oil business then that in my opinion is wrong. If your goal on the other hand is to provide a great public service and promote people's skills then that is great! There is nothing wrong with charging to cover costs, etc. when your goal is to help other people learn a life saving skill set. Trust me if you wanted to learn another life saving skill set it would probably cost you quite a bit. (ie. firearm training, swimming, etc.)

In the end people have to make their choice in how they run things. This choice will effect their students as well as their family. So make your choice work for you.
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Tez3

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And just as a personal note, I believe that anyone trying to make Martial Arts a "lucrative" business like some of these associations is WRONG.
I understand that an owner has to keep the doors open. I understand that equipment, rent, utilities and insurance cost money. Beyond this, the money collected is used to line pockets. The bigger the association, the more money.
Greed is something that is becoming more and more of an issue, and in the end, IT'S THE STUDENTS THAT ARE HAVING TO PAY IN MORE THEN ONE WAY!

Students that NEED to learn self-defense in a world that requires it!

Please don't 'shout' at us!
there's nothing wrong in martial arts instructors earning a living at teaching martial arts, if they give value for money what's the problem?
 

Tez3

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Welcome to MT.
I am confused though why you call it MMA and say it's not a competitive art but a fighting one? MMA is a fighting art and is for competitions.
Are you using the name MMA to get students in the door?
I ask because you have children shown on your website and children in MMA is a constroversial subject, the media, local authorities etc associate MMA, rightly, with what we do in fights and really we are having a hard time trying to rid people of misconceptions as it is with out a martial arts school advertising itself as MMA when it's a cross training school.
 

Xue Sheng

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Welcome to MT.
I am confused though why you call it MMA and say it's not a competitive art but a fighting one? MMA is a fighting art and is for competitions.
Are you using the name MMA to get students in the door?
I ask because you have children shown on your website and children in MMA is a constroversial subject, the media, local authorities etc associate MMA, rightly, with what we do in fights and really we are having a hard time trying to rid people of misconceptions as it is with out a martial arts school advertising itself as MMA when it's a cross training school.

After going to the website I too am a bit confused

From the site
BLEND OF GRAPPLING, TRADITIONAL KUNG FU, KICKBOXING, AND JUDO.

If I may ask, and I mean no disrespect, what is your MA background?

Your profile has Black/Purple Sash written under your name, what is that in?
 

kailat

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Hello, this is a great topic. Id like to add some great insight to this.

In the world of martial arts there are two ways to look at this. Do you want to project your training and teaching methods to the "dojo" for lack of a better word towards children to learn as a sport and teach them great discipline and respect, etc.. etc.. etc...? If this is an after school type ordeal where the predominant students are children and u can throw a little self defense in there I think you can charge a fee and get a pretty good turnout! Youth, Pre-teen, Teenagers even early 20's seem to understand they want to do something like Karate or TKD or a "traditinal martial art" to earn a black belt and will pay the fee or the parents will for thier children who may not be interested in playing softball or basketball or any other sport. I know for me when I was younger my parents invested thousands of dollars into my brother and I in a karate program to the rank of Black belt.

After that for many years I taught Karate and TKD in after school programs where the school would cut me a check once ever six weeks or so. It was a great program, and you should be compensated for teaching children for it takes alot out of you as an instructor to teach and discipline other parents children thru martial arts. Teaching them is a job.

After many years of doing this i started teaching adults and only adults and found out no matter what fee I set they would come and go. Due to family, job, or just didn't have the time to continue training on a regular basis.. each class would be anywhere from 2 students to 15 students...I charged a small fee and for some I'd even let them just pay me what they felt was fair.. $5, $10, $20 even $25 per session.. whatever they could afford and even that fell short!! From all of this I have about 4 solid students (all adults) who I have had over the years who have stuck by my side. Now today were just a training group anymore. I don't charge a dime to these guys. We all just train and teach each other. were each others motivation. Although Im still critiquing them and bringing new stuff to the table for them.. I refuse to take a penny from them anymore.. they have stuck w/ me thru thick and thin and my own personal issues and we have all befriended one another to a level to where we don't look at each other as student-teacher anymore.. were just a group of friends w/ the same passion to learn and help..

Just last week i had a couple of new guys come in and want to train, i invited them in told them the fee would be whatever they felt comfortable with. At the end of the class they both came up to me and offered me $$ for training.. I said consider this one free if u liked it i'll see u again.. it's been 2 weeks and i've not heard from them...LOL.. so as for me it's not about the money.. if they feel they are getting something then if they can make a donation for the training and my time.. If it's something u didn't like keep your money and I just enjoyed spending my time working out and training..

I'm done spending money anymore for martial arts myself.. as for me im on a personal adventure and i've had alot of ups and downs training over the years..and its just something i enjoy doing. After 25 + years in the arts i've seen the Money thing really disapoint many who cant afford training including myself.

I am going and have been going thru a rough time financially for the past year or so now, w/ my job and layoffs and i will not ask for a penny teaching!! I have had to turn down several great seminars and workshops over the past year or so because i just can't afford them anymore. The fee's are outrageous, plus the 2 days 8hrs each day and travel expensive its become just a mere too much for me anymore..

so those that teach and make a living fantastic.. those that don't kudos.. i feel ya brothers..
 

Ken Morgan

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When $$ trumps the MA itself, then we have controversy.

Most of the MA teachers I know do not make $$ off any of the arts they teach, some ask for nothing, others ask for expenses only. I know a few who make a living out of it, and honestly? Good for them. The teachers of old collected $$, or other things in order to survive too. Asking to be paid to teach a MA does not necessarily make you, your art or you abilities inferior to those who do not get paid. You are not morally superior because you do not get paid. In an ideal world we would give to others because it makes the world a better place, but Marx and Engels were wrong about mankind.

For the last 20 years or so my Sensei, (who charges nothing for class), has been bringing high ranking sensei over from Japan to teach at a 4 day seminar and charges for it. I&#8217;ve heard folks complain about the cost and I just want to smack them sometimes. He pays for their airfare, their food and lodgings, rents a van, tours them around, rents the space we need for 150 plus people, insurance etc, etc. There is no $$ made on this, but some begrudge paying $200- $300 for the seminar.

Lets be honest, who wouldn&#8217;t love to make a living teaching what you love to do? If the MA were more popular we would all be charging for it and making it our livelihood.
 

Tensei85

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Actually I think it can both ways:

Its great that you are in a position to provide quality M.A. instruction without charging for your time & effort.

But at the same time its important for the student to understand that there is a value to the "Quality M.A." training that is provided. And the student should show some type of respect for that, so for the most of m.a. practitioners we do that in a form of tuition or even Lai Si. But there are several variable involved, given most schools are businesses with needs.
Utilities, Instructor needs to eat & provide for his/her family, insurance (given your an MMA school I'm sure you have insurance...), taxes, etc...

Each of these have to be taken in to account, but I have to agree with you. Personally I'm not in it for the money either, but in the past I have taught for free to probably over the years at least a 100+ students and almost none of them appreciated any of it. I guess sometimes psychologically we all place value on what is being presented so given it was free they treated it accordingly. But that's just my experience, if you've found an audience that appreciates what your sharing than kudo's to your efforts and time.

All the best,
 

Touch Of Death

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My name is George Jackson-Kowatch. I am the Instructor for Shadowstar MMA, a FREE Martial Arts school located in Anniston, Alabama.
People ask me "why don't you charge for classes?"
My answer is simply this: Some people play softball, watch Nascar, or buy lottery tickets. I teach.

Equipment for the school is limited, but the training is there. Shadowstar MMA is NOT a tournament martial art, so Association fees and annual dues are not needed. Eevn the facility I teach out of is donated.

Many Instructors and school owners have a skewed look on martial arts. . . . too many think about the money. What about the people who cannot afford a monthly due or mat fee?

It's not the full-time martial artists that are being attacked and have to defend themselves. It's the people who just can't afford the time or the money to practice.
I hope you don't accept just anyone.
Sean
 

JadecloudAlchemist

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Before I charged nothing to teach Qigong noone took it very serious.

When I started charging better believe people came and paided more attention.

I was not after money but money can be a motivation tool for commitment.

I had one teacher who wanted to be paided in donations and food.

I had another one who taught it as a business and it was his bread and butter to pay his bills.

I agree some people are greedy but the majority in my experience are just trying to get by,pay bills,and maybe make a small profit if any.
 

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