karate for kids?

wildcat91

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The Black Belt Club idea itself to me is not an issue it's how it's executed in some clubs. I've seen places where they're asking students after they receive their first belt if they want to join the "Black Belt Club" which you pay for in return can take an extra class or weapons training. In others, I've seen it happen when the students reach the advanced class, In this case I think it's OK, the intstructor is going to be commiting a lopt of extra time in preparing the student and having the affirmation that they are commited as well as covering the extra costs makes sense. At this point expectations and goals can get set, etc, etc.
 

Mark Lynn

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The danger and problems come when there's a Black Belt club... and you only get certain training if you're a member. Then there's the Leadership Club, with more "special training opportunities"... and so on. (I am not automatically including private lessons here.) In other words, when the quest for the dollar trumps the desire to teach and train and share the art. When the idea of adding a hot chocolate or espresso machine to the waiting area to suck a few extra bucks out of the parents comes ahead of buying a few extra pads or a new set of mats for the training hall, if I may be permitted to steal something from another thread.

I disagree with you here, the danger is not in the black belt club or in an upgrade program it is in how it is administered and what material is taught.

The BBC, or leadership team, demo team or whatever are all up grades that are designed to bring more income to the school (owner) and what is wrong with that. Bringing more money in can allow the school to stay open, provide more upscale equipment, a better training environment, more qualified or dedicated teachers or staff. The upgrade programs are a business principle; and if the school is run for profit, if it isn't taught for free then money is changing hands and the school owner needs to run things as a business with business principles in mind. Like serving the customer (the student), and making sure they provide services for which they have received money for.

As for upgrades, you pay for them everyday; first class or economy, "do you want to up size your combo #1 with a large fries or drink?, try and buy a car and there are a ton of up grades to choose from. The point is you pay for it and you don't get it for free. Why should this be any different in the martial arts? Upgrade programs bring different levels of training to the students and different services. I get the feeling that some people here think they should get the all of the instructors knowledge (in the form of what systems or arts he/she might know) for their monthly dues. I'll use myself as an example because last summer I was seriously looking into opening a stand alone dojo apart from the Rec. center where I currently teach.

Currently I teach two programs a Modern Arnis program for adults and a American TKD/Karate program for kids 5/6-16 year olds. I have instructor ranks in 5 systems but I teach these two and blend in the traditional weapons training (bo sai tonfa etc. etc.) into the TKD/Karate program to my brown belt teenagers. Looking into opening a stand alone school meant I had to re think how I could maximize profits in order to keep the doors open, yet still keep students. Separating out the weapons from the base TKD/Karate program was one way, allowing the student to cross train from the TKD/Karate to the Modern Arnis (or vice a versa) is another way, allowing the student to cross train in all three would be another method. Adding special classes whether it is on bullying, extra or specialized self defense training, or a stronger character development program or leadership training is another. Any of these the student would be getting extra training set apart from the base student and paying extra for it, it is an upgrade. But considering that it cost me a lot of money to go and learn Modern Arnis, and years of study in TKD/Karate, along with the tradtional weapons why should that be held back from the students who would want to learn it and would be willing to pay for it.

In regards to my current students I added these things into my program to retain students (by offering a different product) and to help me to continue to grow in my study of these arts. I currently allow my students to cross train and if I set up an upgrade program in a stand alone school then they would have all been grandfathered into my highest upgrade, I would not have just said "Oops sorry you can't learn that anymore unless you pay me this". Plus these would have been my seed students for the new school and the new programs. But a new student coming into the program they would be getting a good core Modern Arnis or TKD program and be offered the chance to upgrade later on.

Now the difference is what type of training are you getting for the upgrade? I know a co-worker who attends a school and is part of an upgrade BBC program. He gets extra training on weapons one class a week on one weapon a month. Compare that to having a program where (like my students) it is one class per week on one weapon and they have been working on that weapon for close to a year (well actually some have worked on a 2nd weapon now, and are starting their 3rd in January) point is they are much more adept with a weapon after training with one for a longer time then 4 quick lessons in a month. I had a parent call me about classes for her son who is 7 and was from a ATA school, been practicing for 2 years and knew all sorts of weapons; bo, sai, nunchakus and kamas. She didn't know the names of the weapons but she could describe them to me and I believe those were them. OK what does a 7 year old learn working with kamas (sickles), I doubt much. But the parent thought the child knew those weapons.

I actually attended (observed) a class at a professionally run stand alone school, the cost of the upgrade programs I knew going into the class and each upgraded student was differentiated from the other upgrade programs and the base program on the floor. In that room on the mat the upgraded students out numbered the base students 10 -1, and the leadership team (the highest upgrade) outnumbered the BBC (2nd tier) 5 -1. The class represented more in a month's dues that I make teaching at a Rec. Center for a full year. The had a real robust LT curriculum, robust BBC program, but what I saw on the floor teaching wise wasn't anything special, in fact it was mediocre. So I believe it is not that the concepts or business practices behind the upgraded programs that are bad, it is how the taught or administered from my perspective.
 

Mark Lynn

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We recently enrolled our 5 year old sonin the Tiny Tigers program with "Karate for Kids" with theATA. We pay $80 a month and the instructor is very good with thekids. My son loves him and the in the last couple of months, we havereally seen our son's confidence level go up. They work the kidshard and I can tell it's a good workout for him too.

The ATA is a nationally run chain of martial art schools, with a centralized program, meaning what is offered here will be very close to what is offered elsewhere. From articles that I have read about the ATA, it seems they have instructor training programs (to help the instructors teach the different courses and to advance in their studies etc. etc. and also help in how to run their schools etc. etc.). So that being said it is a pretty solid organization business wise.

Paying $80.00 a month is not unheard of and in fact in some areas can be considered quite low. However I take it it is the kids program and if upgraded to another program expect the cost to go up significantly.

Be realistic for what you are paying. Your 5 year son probably isn't going to be defeating a grown man, but he might be learning skills (such as calling 911 or yelling for help instead of freezing) that might end up saving his life and what would be that be worth to you? You said your sons confidence level has gone up, so how much is that worth to you? He's getting a good workout so how much is that worth? I take it he is learning to obey, the concepts of working hard to achieve something, that setting a goal and achieving it is worth value because then you get to learn more stuff you get to help lead or move up in the line etc. etc. (as in earning more rank you get more privileges and more responsibilities). These are life skills that for a 5 year old is real hard to explain but here in his class he gets to experience it first hand. This will be an area that you can always bring him back to to help reinforce those concepts later on in life "remember when you were in class and.....".

Using his hands and feet he is improving his coordination, his focus and concentration. He is learning how to obey, the concepts of authority etc. etc. This is so much more than just punching and kicking and learning to defend yourself.

As an example a teller at my credit union knows I teach "karate" (we've talked off and on for several months about her son) and she had enrolled her son in a TKD school who is 4 or 5. So I talked with her about my teaching kids in the 5-6 yr old range and some learning issues etc. etc. A couple of weeks ago I asked her how her son was doing and she told me they recently upgraded him in the BBC club, immediately alarm bells went off, but then she almost came to tears that her son is now getting mat chats (character improvement), he is doing better in school, his confidence has come up, he is obeying her etc. etc. and he loves going to class. So who am I to tell her that that program is designed to try and suck more money out of her. I mean she is so happy she is tearing up telling me of the change in her child and how much that means to her. She is gladly paying the tuition because of the change in her son. Again who am I to say he isn't learning anything or that she is paying to much.

However, I recently stumbled upon theterm, "McDojo" and feel fairly certain we are at one. There are upgraded classes like the Leadership program or the BlackBelt Club, etc.

I really wouldn't worry about terms. Just because there are classes like the leadership program or black belt clubs means you have more options for your son to train in. However just be realistic about the outcomes of the programs and what they contain. Will your son at 5, or at 7, or at 12, get the same value by taking a leadership or weapons course as an adult? Will they be able to understand the use of the weapon, are they using real weapons, or are they toys? It's kind of like the claim I heard from one of the mother of a student (who was relocating to a different state) who was looking at different MA schools. This school is supposed to be good cause the owner (insert instructor) was a ___________ Champion. What good is that? If he is a Champion (in say Olympic TKD) does that mean my kid will be one too? Do I want that for my kid? Will I make the sacrifices nessecary for my kid to compete at that level etc. etc.? JUst because the person was a champion doesn't mean that is what I'm looking for. Likewise if you are looking for real weapons training then someone who offers a different weapon each month course probably isn't the course to take, likewise a course that teaches 5-7 yr olds with foam Kamas (sickles) might not be the course either.

However at an open tournament a few years back I talked with a mother who's son was ranked 3rd in the state in blue belt weapons division. He did a very flashy kata (form) with a graphite toothpick bo that he made up himself. The mom was so proud of her son for making up that kata and for all of the hard work that went into it, and it showed he was ranked 3rd in the state. Now to me it was utterly worthless, I mean it had no combative merits to it at all. It was pure gymnastic art with a martial toy. But who am I to tell her that what her son created was worthless to me? She got what she paid for for her son's lessons, his achievements far outweighed what she paid for the classes and my opinion.

The kids move up in belt rank aboutevery 2 months. I think an 8 year old kid could be a black belteasily. This never seemed quite right to me even before I learnedabout McDojos.

If you don't agree with this practice you can either quit, or be realistic that an 8 yr old shouldn't be a black belt and not be not be put off by it. Nothing says your son must be or will be a black belt by the time he is 8. Also there is no magical thing about being a black belt, your son's (potential) black belt is really only recognized in another ATA school. But if your school's standards are; if a kid is ready they can promote that early fine, that doesn't mean any other school would honor it and give him the same rank, priveledges, and responsibilities as your school would. A 8 yr old isn't going to have to register his hands as deadly weapons :). All the black belt means is that in your school your son passed a test, he learned a body of techniques, and did them at a certain level and was tested for it. If my son was in a program and he passed the test I would celebrate it, maybe stop by the ice cream store on the way down to the police station.

They had belt testing last night andevery kid passed. Even the ones who laid there like a slug. Now Ican SORT OF understand in the Tiny Tigers program - maybe movingeveryone up to build confidence or something. I'm not sure when thekids are moved to the next program if the testing is harder. I hopeso.


So, in the Tiny Tigers, there are whitebelts and green belts and "camo belts??" all learning thesame moves for testing. Again, I hope this is not what olderstudents do. Wouldn't a higher belt want/need to be learningdifferent things than a lower belt student?

They DO do sparing and do kick pads and bags.

I don't agree with this practice but like another poster said the kids pass the test prior to stepping out on the floor, they earned it by their attendance in class and by their hard work. In my classes it is more of a demonstration and a rite of passage than a "pass fial test". In my school the students tests are progressively harder as they advance, but what I expect a child to do and what I expect a teen/adult to do are two different things. I don't even allow my students to "coast" prior to testing, if they want to coast they stay at their current rank, if they work hard they learn more and test. Tuition and rank are not tied together.

The belts are to mark advancement, some schools use tips, some use belts. Again what is a tip in one school could be a belt in another so you can't say a green belt is the same in one system or school as in any other school. But generally though in a large organization (such as the ATA) I would believe that a green belt in one shcool will have similar skills and time in grading as another ATA school.

We actually love the school. As Isaid, the instructor is great with the kids and they are learning. Ithink just like in regular school, the kids who have parents who pushthem to do well, will do well. The kids who's parents allow them tojust lay there won't get much out of it.


But.... maybe this is fine for our 5year old son. It's getting him active and building confidence andit's fun. Are we going to regret it when he's older and reallydoesn't actually KNOW martial arts?


What age will a good school evenaccept a student? Is 5 too young?


What are your thoughts on this?
Thanks so much!

It sounds to me like your current school is a good fit for you and your son, you have spoken positively about how it has benifited your son, you have spoken positively about the instructor. I think you might have some confusion, hesitation, loss of confidence in it hearing about the term Mc Dojo, but really who cares what we think on a forum. If it has helped your son that is what matters in the long run, not whether someone who isn't there and not involved with that school thinks.

In closing I normally take students who are 6 yrs. old, however I have taken them as young as 5 if they behave. Your son is not to young to benift from martial arts practice.
 

shesulsa

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Black belt club. Upgrades. Pay for them every day.

Know what I think about that? I think it's a ripoff.

I treat every one of my students as a potential black belt.

When my students bow to me, they are promising to listen to what I tell them, to follow my guidance and trust that I will do the right thing by them. When I bow back, I accept this responsibility and thank them for the opportunity. Upgrade? **** that. They will get the best of what I can give because that is what their parents are buying ... from me, anyway.
 

jks9199

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I disagree with you here, the danger is not in the black belt club or in an upgrade program it is in how it is administered and what material is taught.

The BBC, or leadership team, demo team or whatever are all up grades that are designed to bring more income to the school (owner) and what is wrong with that. Bringing more money in can allow the school to stay open, provide more upscale equipment, a better training environment, more qualified or dedicated teachers or staff. The upgrade programs are a business principle; and if the school is run for profit, if it isn't taught for free then money is changing hands and the school owner needs to run things as a business with business principles in mind. Like serving the customer (the student), and making sure they provide services for which they have received money for.

As for upgrades, you pay for them everyday; first class or economy, "do you want to up size your combo #1 with a large fries or drink?, try and buy a car and there are a ton of up grades to choose from. The point is you pay for it and you don't get it for free. Why should this be any different in the martial arts? Upgrade programs bring different levels of training to the students and different services. I get the feeling that some people here think they should get the all of the instructors knowledge (in the form of what systems or arts he/she might know) for their monthly dues. I'll use myself as an example because last summer I was seriously looking into opening a stand alone dojo apart from the Rec. center where I currently teach.

I've said many times that I don't have problem with someone earning a nice living teaching martial arts. But I do have a problem with the black belt clubs and leadership clubs and weapons training club become PRIMARILY a means of income. As I said -- when the quest for the dollar trumps the quest for teaching and sharing the arts.

Martial arts instruction is in a weird place in the commercial spectrum. If I take a course in basket weaving, I expect to pay the same price as everyone else in the class, right? And to reach the end of the program, I expect the costs to be the same for everyone in the class. College tuition is the same (in theory -- but that's another discussion) for each and every student. You aren't supposed to have to float the professor an extra $50 every month if you actually want to graduate, right? (I'm deliberately omitting licensing/certification exams which often have separate costs, just like belt testings.) Sure, if I go into a restaurant, and want something extra, I expect to pay for it. I expect a 60 piece set of tools to cost a bit more than a 30 piece set. But commercial martial arts instruction? People accept that if they really want to make black belt in some schools, they have to join the black belt club and leadership club and weapons club and what not...

Then there's the issue of testing fees. A lot depends on how that's handled. Reasonable fees calculated to the cost of the exam -- no problem. Along with reasonable testing and promotion. Just like Microsoft or ACE certifications, or even the bar exam and medical boards. The cost of those tests or certifications is linked to the value in offering the test, as well as the value that certification is going to be to the person's career. So how does a $3000 black belt exam figure in, to cite an example discussed on this forum?

Again, I'm not at all trying to say that black belt clubs or even martial arts day care is automatically a sign of questionable instruction or selling out the art for the dollars. But when the focus shifts from teaching and training fairly in return for the payment rendered to selling the profit margin packages... That's a problem.
 

kbarrett

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My only feeling on this subject is this, true martial arts of any kind were never ment for kids, under the age 13yrs., a lot of Karate, TKD, TSD, schools and other across the country teach kids as young as 3yrs. it's more about money than anything else and this is why there as been such a down fall with Karate, TKD, TSD and many other, because the public see these MA's as being for children which they are not, so with that being said the day's of old like when I started are long but gone. (my personal feelings only)
Ken
 

Mark Lynn

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Black belt club. Upgrades. Pay for them every day.

Know what I think about that? I think it's a ripoff.

I treat every one of my students as a potential black belt.

When my students bow to me, they are promising to listen to what I tell them, to follow my guidance and trust that I will do the right thing by them. When I bow back, I accept this responsibility and thank them for the opportunity. Upgrade? **** that. They will get the best of what I can give because that is what their parents are buying ... from me, anyway.

So is everyone supposed to be equal? We all drive the same car? We all live in the same size house, in the same type of neighborhood, in the same looking city etc. etc.? No you have a choice if you want a higher education in a higher level college (such as an Ivy league school) you pay for it, likewise if you can't afford that you can go to a trade school or a junior college, some people go to work straight out of high school. Essentially this is what an upgrade is. A higher education, first class instead of coach, a LX module instead of the DX module, larger fries instead of medium, the $200,000 home instead of the $100,000 home, the gated community instead of the neighborhood off of the highway.

For me the concept that any upgrade program is a ripoff or that they are automatically doing the students a disservice is barking up the wrong tree. Is there value in the upgrade program that warrants the increase in funds? If I fly first class I expect a much nicer seat that being squished in economy class, I expect a much nicer meal than having to pay for pretzels and a coke in economy class, I expect personal service, a less used bathroom, personalized TV, heck on international flights you expect to be able to lie back. For some people who fly there is a bigger value in flying first class than coach, and they will pay for it (through the nose really). But ultimately everyone in coach, business, and 1st class get to their intended destination. They all had different experiences, they all paid different amounts, but they all got there safe and secure.

When my students bow to me they trust me to do the same thing, "the right thing by them". When I looked at the possibility of opening a stand alone school I had to do the right thing as in set up a business model to where I could devote my most attention to teaching my students and keeping the doors open. So I ask as a general question. Which would be better? Set up a business model where I could potentially quit my full time day job to run a successful school; provide my students (future and current) with a nice training facility, good training equipment, hopefully a paid teaching staff, etc. etc. Or set up a business model where I have to work a day job then teach at night, rely on volunteer staff to help teach (or none at all), maybe have equipment (if I can afford it), maybe the training hall will be in a safe part of town etc. etc. All so I can feel proud that I've done right by my students and charge them a low payment.

To me it is irresponsible of the owner instructor (or husband or wife) to set up a business model just so they can charge low prices and maybe make it maybe not. Running a school for profit is hard enough, much less teaching martial arts (even as I do in a Rec.Center) on a daily basis while working a full time job and having a family. Setting up a sound dojo with good business practices (whether or not they include a upgrade program) is doing the right thing for your school and your students, running a school on a fly, always barely scrapping by is doing your students wrong.

A couple of students of mine tell me about an former instructor of theirs, great martial artist, highly skilled, kept cats in the dojo, so they always smelled cat pee, was late a bunch of times to class, ran his students off because of his business methods and all. But hey he taught them great martial arts. I trained (started) at a school which was run by a famous kickboxer; great guy, highly skilled, had a hot tub in the back of the dojo never worked. Both instructors taught great martial arts; always barely scrapping by but they was doing what they loved. I wanted to do what I love doing (teaching) and if I ever do decide to teach full time, I will try and set up something that can allow me to teach and be successful at it. I would seriously consider having a upgrade program to be able to do that.
 

Mark Lynn

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I've said many times that I don't have problem with someone earning a nice living teaching martial arts. But I do have a problem with the black belt clubs and leadership clubs and weapons training club become PRIMARILY a means of income. As I said -- when the quest for the dollar trumps the quest for teaching and sharing the arts.

BBC or Leadership Teams, Demo teams, Composition Teams, extra weapons training are all about the extra $$$ in an upgrade business model. I believe they should be. The Key here in the above statement is when they are in a upgrade business model. This is different than "when the quest for the dollar trumps the quest for teaching and sharing the arts ". Having a sound or robust business model and setting up an upgraded program such as weapons training, cross training in other arts taught at the school, private instruction, with the instructor, leadership training, etc. etc. is in fact about teaching and sharing the arts.

The quest for the all mighty dollar to me is setting up programs where the instructor is teaching something and charging a premium for it but they really don't have the expertise to teach it. If I go to a Modern Arnis camp or two, or a JKD camp, BJJ camp and come back to my dojo and start saying I'm teaching ____________ (insert art here) as part of my upgrade program, pay me an extra $$$ a month, then to me that is a rip off and I'm just trying to make a quick buck. To me this is the same thing as school that charge an extra $$$ a month to learn a weapon a month club. Because how much can you really learn about a weapon in a month or 4 one hour classes. But if you are running a school and say you teach 2-3 arts or you have instructors there that teach those arts, than upgrading a student to cross train is not a bad thing. Charging for Leadership training and it only be an extra 5 minute mat chat is wrong but extra classes devoted to a leadership curriculum, that is different. IMHO.

Martial arts instruction is in a weird place in the commercial spectrum. If I take a course in basket weaving, I expect to pay the same price as everyone else in the class, right? And to reach the end of the program, I expect the costs to be the same for everyone in the class. College tuition is the same (in theory -- but that's another discussion) for each and every student. You aren't supposed to have to float the professor an extra $50 every month if you actually want to graduate, right? (I'm deliberately omitting licensing/certification exams which often have separate costs, just like belt testings.) Sure, if I go into a restaurant, and want something extra, I expect to pay for it. I expect a 60 piece set of tools to cost a bit more than a 30 piece set. But commercial martial arts instruction? People accept that if they really want to make black belt in some schools, they have to join the black belt club and leadership club and weapons club and what not...

I have heard of a business model where the student must join the BBC to pass onto black belt. I don't agree with this business model, but in this model it is laid out to the student that at this point in your martial arts training you will have to meet these requirements and one of them is joining the BBC and this is what it costs. If this is done at sign up....then let the buyer beware. But hey they knew that going into the program.

If the extra weapons training is part of the BB requirements and they must upgrade then again this should be laid out at sign up, if they must have this leadership training then this too should be laid out at sign up and let the buyer beware. When I looked at setting up a business model with upgrades I would take out Kobudo training, or the Modern Arnis training from the karate program, so that the student could just take the Karate/TKD program, likewise if they wanted Modern Anris training they wouldn't be in the karate program unless they wanted to upgrade to it. I don't agree with taking a student to brown belt and then upgrading them to BBC in order for them to pass onto BB or they hit the door.

Then there's the issue of testing fees. A lot depends on how that's handled. Reasonable fees calculated to the cost of the exam -- no problem. Along with reasonable testing and promotion. Just like Microsoft or ACE certifications, or even the bar exam and medical boards. The cost of those tests or certifications is linked to the value in offering the test, as well as the value that certification is going to be to the person's career. So how does a $3000 black belt exam figure in, to cite an example discussed on this forum?

Again there are those business models in upgrades where the testing fees are included in the upgraded price of instruction. Nothing wrong with that as far as I'm concerned. Likewise if you aren't in the upgraded program then you are expected to pay for each test. Again let the buyer beware. I mean if the business model is to charge higher and higher test fees and make the student test more often in order to drive the parent/student to the upgraded program (so those costs are covered) than again I disagree, but .... let the buyer beware. Personally I disagree with the practice of using higher and higher testing fees as a way (business model) to generate income for the school. I would rather keep all of the test fees at a decent set price and charge a little more each month or have an viable upgrade program to generate income.

Again, I'm not at all trying to say that black belt clubs or even martial arts day care is automatically a sign of questionable instruction or selling out the art for the dollars. But when the focus shifts from teaching and training fairly in return for the payment rendered to selling the profit margin packages... That's a problem.

I totally agree. Not sure of the "profit margin packages"(?) But I agree with you it is not that a up grade business model is evil, it is what the upgrade contains, and how and when it is presented, if it holds the student hostage prior to earning their BB etc. etc. The model is not evil rather it's the people behind it who can be (who created it).

However I think the thread needs to go back to the poster's original concerns. I didn't mean to get off track of the thread.
 

shesulsa

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I have a relatively new student who has been to other studios and who came to me unable to understand why other students at those places wore nicer uniforms, got special patches and more attention, more time. When I explained the business model those places were using to him, he was appalled.

Boar Man, you asked "are we all supposed to be equal, drive the same car," etcetera.

We are to each have equal opportunity, especially in an environment where ... well *some* of us ... wish to breed benevolence.

Look - I emphasize with every single person I talk to about martial arts, everyone I sell to, everyone I teach that THEIR JOURNEY IS THEIR OWN. They cannot - MUST NOT - benchmark themselves against someone else unless their desire is to compete in the art or actively fight. Observation, sharing, effort are emphasized. I think the greatest gift I can give them is an environment where they can learn to self-observe, celebrate their individual success and celebrate the success of others; to learn how to inspire and be inspired, recognize their own talents and utilize all they have to grow, learn, improve.

They EACH have a chance to try everything.

How do YOU know that if you don't give one of your not-upgraded clients a shot at higher learning that you won't find a natural talent that could pull that student up and fire the spark that gets them *going?*

What about the student who isn't terribly talented but just LOVES what they do in your class?

I'd rather charge more across the board for equal-opportunity instruction than have "coach" "business class" and "first class."

Shame on you. Really.
 

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I have a relatively new student who has been to other studios and who came to me unable to understand why other students at those places wore nicer uniforms, got special patches and more attention, more time. When I explained the business model those places were using to him, he was appalled.

Boar Man, you asked "are we all supposed to be equal, drive the same car," etcetera.

We are to each have equal opportunity, especially in an environment where ... well *some* of us ... wish to breed benevolence.

Look - I emphasize with every single person I talk to about martial arts, everyone I sell to, everyone I teach that THEIR JOURNEY IS THEIR OWN. They cannot - MUST NOT - benchmark themselves against someone else unless their desire is to compete in the art or actively fight. Observation, sharing, effort are emphasized. I think the greatest gift I can give them is an environment where they can learn to self-observe, celebrate their individual success and celebrate the success of others; to learn how to inspire and be inspired, recognize their own talents and utilize all they have to grow, learn, improve.

They EACH have a chance to try everything.

How do YOU know that if you don't give one of your not-upgraded clients a shot at higher learning that you won't find a natural talent that could pull that student up and fire the spark that gets them *going?*

What about the student who isn't terribly talented but just LOVES what they do in your class?

I'd rather charge more across the board for equal-opportunity instruction than have "coach" "business class" and "first class."

Shame on you. Really.


I really agree with this, for most of us martial arts isn't a 'product' that is bought and sold like a car or house. It's not even like a school where you can pay more for your children's education if you wish, it's something different. I think Shesulsa is correct when she says it's a journey, and it's a personal one. I would hate to see a child left out because their parents couldn't afford the extras like a better uniform, badges etc, we need to give children all an equal opportunity to enjoy and grow within martial arts. I think too that these 'extras' send the wrong signals to children, that if you pay you can get gradings etc easier. I'm afraid that to me the Boar Man's post came over as being mercenary at the expense of children's development.
 

decepticon

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I think it is a fine line between providing a good, solid, basic MA class and offering additional learning opportunties for a fee to only those students who are interested in the special topic, vs offering a weak, incomplete, basic product which must be supplemented with additional instruction at an additional price just to reach an acceptable level of competence and normal progression.

The school I attend offers everything you are qualified to take for one price. One exception is private lessons, which are available for those who want exclusive attention, are on the fast track for some reason, or who are having difficulty with some particular aspect that cannot be solved during normal. Another exception is when we occasionally have a guest come in and provide a special seminar on some particular topic. There is a fee for testing, but testing is not required if a person wants to continue to learn but has no interest in belts.

It certainly feels like we are all getting the same quality of attention. I rarely attend the seminars, but then I'm a beginner and have felt that I would barely be able to follow the more advanced material being presented. So far from being offended, I like being able to save money by not paying for (or having the extra price built in to my basic tuition) seminars that I am not yet ready for or not that interested in. But it is nice to know that my lack of seminar attendance will have little bearing on my movement through the normal belt progression.
 

Black Belt Jedi

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I don't think that 5 years of age is too young IMO. In my school the minimum age to start training in Karate is 4 years of age. On the suspicions of your school being a black belt mill or McDojo, there are things that you need to look for from a broad sort of questions such as, is this dojo a good atmosphere? Are the membership fees and grading fees too high? Is the instructor greedy about money? Is there a requirement to wear more than one Karate uniform for specific programs and events? Are the black belt members too young to be black belts (7years of age to 15 years of age)? Are the same group of kids being graded every 2 or 3 months (it can happen when you are white, yellow and sometimes orange belt, but no big deal)? These are things that you need to look for.

If this school doesn't sit well with you to have your son train in, then find a better school.

I wish your son luck on his journey.
 

MJS

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I agree with The Boar Man. Alot of the schools I've been a part of, have had the BB club, but as it was said, its how and whats taught. As for a fee...well, I've seen some high fees...lol. But again, IMHO, it should be for the benefit of the student, not to have cash on the brain.
 

MJS

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I don't think that 5 years of age is too young IMO. In my school the minimum age to start training in Karate is 4 years of age. On the suspicions of your school being a black belt mill or McDojo, there are things that you need to look for from a broad sort of questions such as, is this dojo a good atmosphere? Are the membership fees and grading fees too high? Is the instructor greedy about money? Is there a requirement to wear more than one Karate uniform for specific programs and events? Are the black belt members too young to be black belts (7years of age to 15 years of age)? Are the same group of kids being graded every 2 or 3 months (it can happen when you are white, yellow and sometimes orange belt, but no big deal)? These are things that you need to look for.

If this school doesn't sit well with you to have your son train in, then find a better school.

I wish your son luck on his journey.

Out of curiosity....out of all of the kids that're training at your school that're 4 or 5, how many of them are really getting something out of it? What I mean by that is, lets say you have 12 kids in class. Out of that 12, how many are really focused on you? How many times do you have to stop to tell them to pay attention, to fix something, etc? If you show them something, will they remember it in 5min or will they have forgot?
 

Black Belt Jedi

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Out of curiosity....out of all of the kids that're training at your school that're 4 or 5, how many of them are really getting something out of it? What I mean by that is, lets say you have 12 kids in class. Out of that 12, how many are really focused on you? How many times do you have to stop to tell them to pay attention, to fix something, etc? If you show them something, will they remember it in 5min or will they have forgot?

In fact, a strong number of students are getting a lot out of it and are focused on me. There are some that pick things up and others that are a little bit slow picking things up. Only a few I had to harp on them on paying attention or correct this and that. It does happen that I will get a few students that are lazy. With this age group I try to condense the training part to 20-25 minutes, since their attention spans are not long like teens and adults. I have them play a game at a beginning of class, then Karate in the middle of class and a game at an end of class.
 

Mark Lynn

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I have a relatively new student who has been to other studios and who came to me unable to understand why other students at those places wore nicer uniforms, got special patches and more attention, more time. When I explained the business model those places were using to him, he was appalled.

Again I think the whole discussion about the patches, more attention, nicer uniforms etc.etc. are barking up the wrong tree. Really who cares if someone has the money to purchase a nicer uniform, or if someone got special patches (Did you explain to him that these might have been motivational or a merit badge program? Do you know for sure what they were? If not how can you can you explain the business model to him?), or more attention?

What type of upgrade program the different schools have varies so much that it is like comparing apples to oranges, instead of apples to apples. For instance some upgrade models have different class times; Normal class time is 30 minutes, BBC might be 45 min, Leadership Team (LT) is 1 hour. Others have added classes days like base classes are 2 days a week, BBC maybe 3 days a week, and LT is say 4 days or a added special class for leadership training; or maybe they add in demo team, or competition team, or weapons classes etc. etc. all of which takes up more time of the instructors limited time as it is. Maybe they throw in test fees, or private lessons, or like the one poster said they get access to special seminars or a reduced price for an entrance fee. Maybe they give one level a 10% drop in price on the pro shop or equipment sales and the higher level they give a 25% drop. Who knows. My basic point is the concept of the upgrade is not wrong, how it is administered what value they have is totally different from one school to the next and to paint them all with a broad brush is wrong.

Boar Man, you asked "are we all supposed to be equal, drive the same car," etcetera.

We are to each have equal opportunity, especially in an environment where ... well *some* of us ... wish to breed benevolence.

How am I not promoting equal opportunity? Anyone has the opportunity to purchase the product (MA classes), the buyer also has the choice of which product level they want to purchase, again what is wrong with that. Now if I were espousing that well only the white people could go to this class or only females can attend these classes and others are held out of those classes than that is wrong. But I have never advocated that view.

Look did you get the same cell phone as everyone else? Do you have the same car? No you bought what you could afford, you still get the same service just not all of the bells and whistles that some one might get with a higher end phone? I don't see the issue. If I take my daughter to gymnastics class or dance class, if I want her to go more often I pay for it, why should this not apply to teaching or training in the martial arts?

Look - I emphasize with every single person I talk to about martial arts, everyone I sell to, everyone I teach that THEIR JOURNEY IS THEIR OWN. They cannot - MUST NOT - benchmark themselves against someone else unless their desire is to compete in the art or actively fight. Observation, sharing, effort are emphasized. I think the greatest gift I can give them is an environment where they can learn to self-observe, celebrate their individual success and celebrate the success of others; to learn how to inspire and be inspired, recognize their own talents and utilize all they have to grow, learn, improve.

They EACH have a chance to try everything.

When have I said they shouldn't have the chance to try everything? How am I espousing holding anyone back? I don't get where you think your views are so different than mine and what I provide to my students. For instance I teach two martial arts in a Rec. Center; I have a few students cross train between them (2-3 maybe), I charge everyone the same, MOST students only have time to do 1 art but I offer the opportunity to everyone (my teens and adult students). If I had a stand alone school and I chose to make cross training an upgrade, how am I doing anyone wrong? Only 2-3 people over a course of a year do the 2nd art and that is my senior students over the summer (when they aren't in school) and they are iffy at best, right now everyone I give the same opportunity to and I'm telling you it's two different markets.

Now I'll tell you something which is more important than having a wide variety of arts to teach. That is being a good teacher, having a good business (customer service good business ethics etc. etc.), good assistants and a good training environment (safe and all). I reinvest in my business by way of providing good training equipment, I cut my parents and students on equipment prices, I'm on time and I teach good classes. But I'm in a safe environment at a Rec. Center, so things apply to me differently than a stand alone school. But I would be irresponsible not to set up a business as a stand alone school with business practices that hinder me from keeping my doors open and providing a quality product to my students.

How do YOU know that if you don't give one of your not-upgraded clients a shot at higher learning that you won't find a natural talent that could pull that student up and fire the spark that gets them *going?*

What about the student who isn't terribly talented but just LOVES what they do in your class?

I used the concept of higher learning in relationship to schools (education) not in martial art schools. There are martial schools that don't allow the student to become a black belt unless they join the BBC as a upgrade program, I never said I support that business model, just that some schools do that. The upgraded business model I used as an example that I was considering (IF I OPENED A STAND ALONE SCHOOL) was one of charging a premium for cross training in another martial art, or possibly for weapons training (as in bo, sai, tonfa, jo, etc. etc.) as separate arts. How am I holding a not upgraded student back? As I said in the above paragraph out of 30-40 students in my program I have 2-3 (out of 5 years) during the summer when school is out who cross train from TKD to Arnis. I'm not holding anyone back, I currently offer it free right now, the kids generally don't do it because they rely on their parents for rides to class.

Believe me I hold nothing back from any of my students, my TKD students are taught a very robust curriculum and yes all of the older ones in TKD get some cross training in techniques from the Arnis program including locking, take downs, drills, and empty hand vs. weapons defense.

My students who aren't the most talented get a lot of my time. But again how does this relate to an up grade business model?

I'd rather charge more across the board for equal-opportunity instruction than have "coach" "business class" and "first class."

Shame on you. Really.

Relax, you don't know me, you don't know how I treat my students. While you believe in charging more for people to have services they won't use or don't want, I believe in giving them a choice and I believe if they choose more instruction options then they should pay for it just like dance classes, cell phones, Burger King, Gymnastics, college etc. etc.

If you charge more for everyone just so you can offer a few students (who might accept or use the added services) a lower price, then...... your like the pot calling the kettle black. Shame on me?
 

Mark Lynn

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I really agree with this, for most of us martial arts isn't a 'product' that is bought and sold like a car or house. It's not even like a school where you can pay more for your children's education if you wish, it's something different.

I'm glad to hear that martial arts isn't a product that is bought and sold for you like a car or a house. Right you sell a house or a car and you have sold a tangible object, something you don't have anymore. You had a car and now someone else owns it, you use to live in a house you sold it and now you don't. It doesn't relate to the martial arts at all. Because even if you stop taking classes today, youstill have what you learned inside of you, you still have alll of the experiences and training you went through, and though over time you skills can and will diminish you still earned something (your rank).

However it is like school. You can choose to go to public, private, church, or even a voucher type of a school. The choice is yours and it is up to you to do the research to see which one fits your needs. As a parent if I want my son/daughter to go to a school I can sacrifice to afford to pay for that education, but I don't have a "right" to send my child anywhere I want even if I can't pay for this services. I'm not entitled to an education at a charter, or a religious, or a private school. But if I want to send my child there, I need to meet their requirements to have him/her attend there. I don't have the right to dictate my views on them.

I think Shesulsa is correct when she says it's a journey, and it's a personal one.

I agree it is a personal journey, one that each person takes and everyone gets different outcomes from.

I would hate to see a child left out because their parents couldn't afford the extras like a better uniform, badges etc,

So why should a parent hold their child back from a program or a school if they can afford to send their child to a more expensive school (or enroll them in a more expensive program)? If an instructor could offer a program such as a character development, but it will cost them X amount perr month to implement, is it right for the instructor to bear that whole program on their own, or should they only charge the people more who will use it? Or should the owner/instructor just not offer it because someone might not be able to afford it?

Or lets just say that the instructor needs to order weapons for a weapons class, if one student can't afford "good" quality weapons, should the instructor opt for the cheaper weapons so everyone feels equal? What happens if the student can't afford the class, should everyone else have their fees raised to cover the one student, or maybe you could do what Shesulsa advocated and spread the pain around to everyone and just charge everyone more, or how about not offering it at all. Better yet just have the instructor foot the whole bill for everything.

IMHO when you start down this road you start dumming down the whole process. We should be talking about instruction, not better uniforms or badges, and the child isn't left behind since they are still in class studying the art. Who cares if their belt has a black stripe on it or not (generally denoting BBC). In regards to the weapons, I took this mentality with my students, I opted out of the quality weapons and figured kids wouldn't hit hard so I bought cheaper ones, guess what we BROKE them. It is a safety factor! When we were going to start tonfa, I explained to all of the parents in my advanced class that we are going to get "good" quality weapons since we broke the other cheaper bo. (Oh and I footed the bill to buy more of a different type of bo which we broke again) (this is what happens when you don't teach baton twirling, oh I mean bo twirling). But you know what everyone agreed and they had no problem with it, none, it was for the safety of their kids, they'll come up with the funds and get them. No if ans or buts about it.

we need to give children all an equal opportunity to enjoy and grow within martial arts.

Agreed but that doesn't mean that you bring your program down to a lower level because someone doesn't get to participate in one aspect of the program. I'm sorry but often times we as martial artists throw our pearls before the swine, on some misguided notion that in order to be a true martial artist we need to be like Caine on Kung Ku wandering the desert never valuing what we have to offer. Of maybe we need to be like Mr. Myagi in the karate kid or something. If you charge you are like the evil instructor form Cobra Kia. Give me a break. If I offer a new or better program, higher quality instruction, etc. etc. than what is wrong with charging for it. I'm spending my money to learn the program or to earn the rank to teach it, I'm taking more time away from my family adding the different classes etc. etc. IMHO I am providing the child more opportunities to train and grow in the martial arts. Believe me if they want to grow they will.

I think too that these 'extras' send the wrong signals to children, that if you pay you can get gradings etc easier.

The extras aren't the problem, it is the grading or the testing, or even the examiners. But extras like different uniforms, badges, etc. don't take the tests for you. The student does. If they are getting an easier test that is the examiners fault not the uniform.

I'm afraid that to me the Boar Man's post came over as being mercenary at the expense of children's development.

I'm sorry that my post(s) seem mercenary to you, I wasn't trying to send the message that I'm all about money. I'm not really. Everyone is concerned about "Upgrades" and yet not a word was mentioned about a mother calling me about her 7 year old learning Kamas. No one seems out raged that a kid who (was) ranked 3rd in the state in weapons kata (intermediate level) made his own form up which had no martial value at all, and it was a gymnastic routine. Not a word was said about instructors offering weapons of the month classes and yet we are concerned with extras such as uniforms and badges.

It's not the upgrades that are bad it is the instructors who abuse them that is what is wrong. It is the instructors who convince a mother than little Johnny should learn to use the kamas, or the foam Nunchakus, or the tooth pick bo. It is the instructors who tell the parent that little Suzy can be a qualified BB in a couple of years when she is eight, or that she can train with a Pan American Champion in Olympic TKD and maybe qualify for the nationals OOOOH. Not a word about instructors not being qualified to teach a weapon much less a separate art, but passing themselves off as doing just that and charging fees for it.

No it is all about everyone being equal and no child left behind and it's all the DAMN UPGRADES fault.
 

shesulsa

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A local (and very popular) Tae Kwon Do school nearby offers 3 45-minute sessions per week plus a weapons upgrade plus a black belt club upgrade for $200 per month.

I offer 3 1-hour classes per week with occasional weapons training and as far as I'm concerned they're all in a black belt club for $100 per month. Not everyone gets weapons training - even if they're willing to pay extra (which I don't charge).

I teach a comprehensive art, have regular discussions on character development, real life application, self-defense. When the time comes to order training weapons, we will obtain quality items.

You run a business. That's clearly your priority. And you have really made my case for me.

I don't think that everyone should train with weapons just because they pay for it. I don't think it's right to classify some students as better than or worth more than others based on what their parents can afford. My students vary in talent and fitness and they all train together. If I know a student is able to grasp concepts more easily than others then I discuss those concepts with the entire class, not just the one. And I don't charge extra.

If you don't think equality is important in your business model ... I have absolutely nothing to discuss with you further.
 

MJS

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In fact, a strong number of students are getting a lot out of it and are focused on me. There are some that pick things up and others that are a little bit slow picking things up. Only a few I had to harp on them on paying attention or correct this and that. It does happen that I will get a few students that are lazy. With this age group I try to condense the training part to 20-25 minutes, since their attention spans are not long like teens and adults. I have them play a game at a beginning of class, then Karate in the middle of class and a game at an end of class.

The classes that I'd teach, with that age group were 30min long. Likewise, I had some that were quick to pick things up, and others no so much. I've found that keeping the attention is a key, because once you lose it, its hard to get back. I would also incorporate "games" that would be martial arts related, but at the same time, make it fun, which of course, aids in keeping attention.

However, personally, I'd rather see them wait a bit longer. IMO, I think everyone would get more out of it, if they were a bit older. Again, thats just my opinion. :)
 

Indie12

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Isn't the ATA organisation TKD not karate?

Yes, ATA in general stands for American TaeKwonDo Association.

Mcdojos are a huge concern for all of us Instructors! Not only do they give our reputation for quality Instruction a bad name and hard to find. They also underline in general Martial Arts ranking.

Then again, I'd also add that if your child enjoys it, and is benefiting from it, then ask yourself, is this "what's best for my child at the moment?"
 
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