Martial Arts Goals and Obstacles

Damien

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Hi all,

I'm interested to know what your goals are in training martials arts, whether you are a relative beginner or a seasoned vet. If the latter, do you remember why you started training?

Also what are some of the big obstacles you have faced/do face in reaching those goals? Access to a good club/instructor? Time to train? Irregular schedule? Fitness or injury? etc.

I'm trying to build an approach to training that allows people to achieve their goals and overcome the things that get in the way, and the first step to do that is get a wider pool of ideas on what these are than just myself and my students. We're all different, but get enough people in the room and I expect there are quite a lot of commonalities.

Feel free to wax lyrical with a reply, or chuck a quick response on this Google Forms survey:

Cheers
 

Buka

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Did the survey. I hope you get a lot of responses if it will help you.

I think most have certain common obstacles......not enough time in the day being the biggest.

Or access to good training. And probably money, I have no idea what Martial classes cost now.

But if a person is determined in something, really determined.....nothing should stop you.
 
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Damien

Damien

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Did the survey. I hope you get a lot of responses if it will help you.

I think most have certain common obstacles......not enough time in the day being the biggest.

Or access to good training. And probably money, I have no idea what Martial classes cost now.

But if a person is determined in something, really determined.....nothing should stop you.
Cheers Buka. Yeah my thinking is the same, time and quality training. I guess money is very dependent on the individual and local economy, But you know what they say about assumptions!

It's been my experience, but I'm sure there are others out there, so wanted to get a broader view on things, see if I might be missing something.
 

Buka

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Cheers Buka. Yeah my thinking is the same, time and quality training. I guess money is very dependent on the individual and local economy, But you know what they say about assumptions!

It's been my experience, but I'm sure there are others out there, so wanted to get a broader view on things, see if I might be missing something.
It's a long road, this Martial thing, but it sure is fun. Different people are into different things, different hobbies, sports, whatever. But in Martial Arts there's just so many different ways to train, so many arts, and differences in them according to different schools.

Man, there's just so much out there. But again, it's just so much fun. I'm pretty sure a person has to be really enjoying Martial Arts to stay with it. :)
 

isshinryuronin

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I have no idea what Martial classes cost now.
That's probably a good thing. It's not like the good ole days when any karate bum could scrape up a few dollars for classes, teach a little, or even clean the dojo in return for lessons. When I started, a purple belt course (about 1 yr) was $220 for 2 lessons/wk. A little math makes that about $18/mo.!!! My parents paid for that year (1966,) and I have never paid ANY money for karate after that.

I was privileged to also work privately (gratis) with a former Olympic fencing coach for a year. I did pay $28/mo for 3 yrs. of Iaido from one of the top instructors in the USA. I was, and still am, very fortunate to have had non-monetary oriented (yet the best) sensei. Respect to the memory of all these great, generous and honorable men who have passed.

It's a shame that today's economics makes the cost of MA lessons prohibitive for many. From what I gather, the current range at a privately owned school is commonly $80 - $150/mo. Not many middle class families can afford $1200/year for their kid, nor can many college-age kids. Thus is the price of progress in this modern age. For those schools that couldn't survive the Covid closure, my condolences.
 

isshinryuronin

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it's just so much fun. I'm pretty sure a person has to be really enjoying Martial Arts to stay with it.
FUN???? Teaching is fun, but working out is sweat, physical punishment, bruises, muscle aches, heavy breathing, exhaustion, having your ego handed to you on a plate, and a bunch of other negative things.

Well, I guess it was fun and exciting as a young guy. Now, it's like being married for 40 years - it's work, maybe not "fun," but still, a deeply satisfying relationship you'd not trade for anything.
 

MetalBoar

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That's probably a good thing. It's not like the good ole days when any karate bum could scrape up a few dollars for classes, teach a little, or even clean the dojo in return for lessons. When I started, a purple belt course (about 1 yr) was $220 for 2 lessons/wk. A little math makes that about $18/mo.!!! My parents paid for that year (1966,) and I have never paid ANY money for karate after that.

I was privileged to also work privately (gratis) with a former Olympic fencing coach for a year. I did pay $28/mo for 3 yrs. of Iaido from one of the top instructors in the USA. I was, and still am, very fortunate to have had non-monetary oriented (yet the best) sensei. Respect to the memory of all these great, generous and honorable men who have passed.

It's a shame that today's economics makes the cost of MA lessons prohibitive for many. From what I gather, the current range at a privately owned school is commonly $80 - $150/mo. Not many middle class families can afford $1200/year for their kid, nor can many college-age kids. Thus is the price of progress in this modern age. For those schools that couldn't survive the Covid closure, my condolences.
It's funny, I feel like (at least in Seattle) martial arts prices haven't changed a lot in the last 25-30 years, especially when you consider how much more expensive everything else has gotten. When I moved to Seattle in the early 90's I was taking Tracy's Kenpo for ~$60/mo. for unlimited classes, which was about as cheap as it got even back then. The place I trained in Hapkido a couple of years later was ~$90/mo. (again, unlimited classes) which was about average. When I was looking at schools in Seattle a couple of years ago it seemed like prices were maybe 30% higher, so $70-90/month would be pretty cheap for unlimited classes and $100-130 might be kind of middle of the road. Sure, there is still some fantastic garage training out there for free, or close to it, and there are some gyms that change a lot more than $130/mo., but the overall price structure has just shifted up across the board.

Now, look at operating expenses. I don't teach martial arts but I do operate a small gym that fits in basically the same kind of space. I was originally thinking about starting my business back in about 2003 or 2004, so 10 years after my Kenpo training, and I'm sure commercial real estate was pricier than a decade before. At that time I was looking at renting a nice space for ~$750/mo. for my gym and I was renting a completely mediocre 2 bedroom apartment for ~$900/mo. The gym space I was renting in 2016 was over $2200/mo. and that building got redeveloped out of existence and the cheapest alternative was more than $3000/month for a pretty crappy space. A mediocre 2 bedroom apartment similar to the one I had in 2003 would be over $2000/mo. now. So, assuming I didn't change my lifestyle, just in rent on my place of business and my apartment my monthly expenses would have increased from $1650/mo. to >$6000/mo. From that perspective I think MA training is a lot cheaper than it was 25 years ago, though I don't think the average family's income has kept up so it may still be effectively less affordable.

All that being said, I've had some fantastic training for free or near free over the years. I took private fencing lessons from an ex Olympic coach for $5, which also covered the charge for the group lesson and the guest fee to participate in the open fencing afterwards. The gentleman was an amazing coach and only charged anything at all because it was required by the school's owner. I've also taken first rate FMA/Silat classes for free out of a garage, Muay Thai and a variety of MMA related arts for ~$20/mo. from an ex-pro, really great Tai Chi at a community center for about $15/month, private Aikido lessons in exchange for strength training sessions, private boxing lessons from a successful, ex K-1 competitor in exchange for strength training, and more that I'm not thinking of right now. Outside of my Hapkido instructor all the great instruction I've gotten has been almost free and my Hapkido instructor was barely charging enough to keep the lights on, he wasn't making any money for himself.

The primary obstacle I've faced in my training is an interest in relatively obscure arts combined with the fact that since my instructors haven't been doing it as a business they have tended to go out of business. I've also moved a fair number of times and that means starting over too. That might not be such a big deal if I was really into TKD or BJJ but finding a good Tai Chi instructor or a good Hapkido instructor isn't so easy. Even in cities as big as Seattle or Phoenix there might be between zero and 1 of either that I wanted to train with.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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That's probably a good thing. It's not like the good ole days when any karate bum could scrape up a few dollars for classes, teach a little, or even clean the dojo in return for lessons. When I started, a purple belt course (about 1 yr) was $220 for 2 lessons/wk. A little math makes that about $18/mo.!!! My parents paid for that year (1966,) and I have never paid ANY money for karate after that.

I was privileged to also work privately (gratis) with a former Olympic fencing coach for a year. I did pay $28/mo for 3 yrs. of Iaido from one of the top instructors in the USA. I was, and still am, very fortunate to have had non-monetary oriented (yet the best) sensei. Respect to the memory of all these great, generous and honorable men who have passed.

It's a shame that today's economics makes the cost of MA lessons prohibitive for many. From what I gather, the current range at a privately owned school is commonly $80 - $150/mo. Not many middle class families can afford $1200/year for their kid, nor can many college-age kids. Thus is the price of progress in this modern age. For those schools that couldn't survive the Covid closure, my condolences.
Out of curiosity, I put $18 from 1966 in an inflation calendar and it came out to $149.50. Basically what schools in my area charge. So really it's just that the price of everything has gone up, not just karate.
 

Hudson69

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Hola,

My interest in martial arts training is for the martial aspect of it. Combat or survival type situations. I have been doing this since I was about sixteen and I am now past 50. This has not been consistent however and have not had the luxury of being able to stick to one system as long as I would have liked. The reason I started initially was due to my interest in Bruce Lee/Chuck Norris films (and others) compounded with two other factors. I wasn't really into sports and I was pretty scrawny as a kid, and thought this would help.

I can't say I have reached my end goals within the martial arts but I am relatively content with the level I attained. My biggest obstacles in martial training has been time and money. I've never been set on just one school as my "I have to progress in this one system" which has helped. Overall it has mostly been the cost of going to a school and finding the time.

After I got out of High School I joined the military. That didn't pay a whole lot and when I added a family, my expenses were spread even thinner. That and my free time all but disappeared. After leaving active duty and going into law enforcement free training was available but time was still an issue.

What helped me were a couple of things. These would not be applicable to most. I'm still in law enforcement so seeking out free defensive tactics training is easy. There are even untold numbers of free to LE classes and videos. LE attracts more than enough martial artists that finding someone to train with is also relatively easy.

Most of this would not help a traditional martial artist. The majority of the training is going to be focused around whatever system the agency allows: FBI, PPCT, KOGA (not the ninjutsu system), LE Krav Maga, etc... DT schools are limited to LE just as Combatives are limited to the military. The training videos are normally to restricted to LE and the free training is also restricted.

In order to become more proficient and gain skills I had to be flexible. I took what was available. My first system was Wun Hop Kuen Do. After I joined the military I found an Ed Parker Kenpo school but dabbled in Budo Taijutsu (back when it was still called Bujinkan Ninjutsu). Now it is DT.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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FUN???? Teaching is fun, but working out is sweat, physical punishment, bruises, muscle aches, heavy breathing, exhaustion, having your ego handed to you on a plate, and a bunch of other negative things.

Well, I guess it was fun and exciting as a young guy. Now, it's like being married for 40 years - it's work, maybe not "fun," but still, a deeply satisfying relationship you'd not trade for anything.
When your opponent throws 20 punches at you and you can dodge and block all his punches, you will smile in your dream for the next 3 days. Even money won't be able to buy this kind of fun for you.

The fun part of your MA training is to see your MA skill is getting better and better everyday.
 
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Damien

Damien

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It's funny, I feel like (at least in Seattle) martial arts prices haven't changed a lot in the last 25-30 years, especially when you consider how much more expensive everything else has gotten. When I moved to Seattle in the early 90's I was taking Tracy's Kenpo for ~$60/mo. for unlimited classes, which was about as cheap as it got even back then. The place I trained in Hapkido a couple of years later was ~$90/mo. (again, unlimited classes) which was about average. When I was looking at schools in Seattle a couple of years ago it seemed like prices were maybe 30% higher, so $70-90/month would be pretty cheap for unlimited classes and $100-130 might be kind of middle of the road. Sure, there is still some fantastic garage training out there for free, or close to it, and there are some gyms that change a lot more than $130/mo., but the overall price structure has just shifted up across the board.

Now, look at operating expenses. I don't teach martial arts but I do operate a small gym that fits in basically the same kind of space. I was originally thinking about starting my business back in about 2003 or 2004, so 10 years after my Kenpo training, and I'm sure commercial real estate was pricier than a decade before. At that time I was looking at renting a nice space for ~$750/mo. for my gym and I was renting a completely mediocre 2 bedroom apartment for ~$900/mo. The gym space I was renting in 2016 was over $2200/mo. and that building got redeveloped out of existence and the cheapest alternative was more than $3000/month for a pretty crappy space. A mediocre 2 bedroom apartment similar to the one I had in 2003 would be over $2000/mo. now. So, assuming I didn't change my lifestyle, just in rent on my place of business and my apartment my monthly expenses would have increased from $1650/mo. to >$6000/mo. From that perspective I think MA training is a lot cheaper than it was 25 years ago, though I don't think the average family's income has kept up so it may still be effectively less affordable.

All that being said, I've had some fantastic training for free or near free over the years. I took private fencing lessons from an ex Olympic coach for $5, which also covered the charge for the group lesson and the guest fee to participate in the open fencing afterwards. The gentleman was an amazing coach and only charged anything at all because it was required by the school's owner. I've also taken first rate FMA/Silat classes for free out of a garage, Muay Thai and a variety of MMA related arts for ~$20/mo. from an ex-pro, really great Tai Chi at a community center for about $15/month, private Aikido lessons in exchange for strength training sessions, private boxing lessons from a successful, ex K-1 competitor in exchange for strength training, and more that I'm not thinking of right now. Outside of my Hapkido instructor all the great instruction I've gotten has been almost free and my Hapkido instructor was barely charging enough to keep the lights on, he wasn't making any money for himself.

The primary obstacle I've faced in my training is an interest in relatively obscure arts combined with the fact that since my instructors haven't been doing it as a business they have tended to go out of business. I've also moved a fair number of times and that means starting over too. That might not be such a big deal if I was really into TKD or BJJ but finding a good Tai Chi instructor or a good Hapkido instructor isn't so easy. Even in cities as big as Seattle or Phoenix there might be between zero and 1 of either that I wanted to train with.
It's interesting that cost of training can be a barrier to entry, but at the same time keeping schools/dojos going can be difficult because of the costs of even having a place to train. I've seen a number of teachers not do very well because they don't really get business.

It's a shame, because being a great martial arts instructor is a completely different skillset to being successful in business, but to have the opportunity to teach widely requires a successful business. Sure you can teach for free, but you're not likely to impact as many people as you could, and let's be honest, everyone needs to make a living, so one couldn't give it the attention they might like.

I feel like real estate costs are the big factor in it all. Prices continue to go up and up. I guess you just need to force yourself to be successful enough to ride the wave/have other income. Or already own a nice chunk of land!

Some interesting thoughts here guys, keep them coming :)
 
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Damien

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FUN???? Teaching is fun, but working out is sweat, physical punishment, bruises, muscle aches, heavy breathing, exhaustion, having your ego handed to you on a plate, and a bunch of other negative things.

Well, I guess it was fun and exciting as a young guy. Now, it's like being married for 40 years - it's work, maybe not "fun," but still, a deeply satisfying relationship you'd not trade for anything.
You've got to learn to find fun in the pain! In a non-dodgy way ;)
 
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Damien

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Hola,

My interest in martial arts training is for the martial aspect of it. Combat or survival type situations. I have been doing this since I was about sixteen and I am now past 50. This has not been consistent however and have not had the luxury of being able to stick to one system as long as I would have liked. The reason I started initially was due to my interest in Bruce Lee/Chuck Norris films (and others) compounded with two other factors. I wasn't really into sports and I was pretty scrawny as a kid, and thought this would help.

I can't say I have reached my end goals within the martial arts but I am relatively content with the level I attained. My biggest obstacles in martial training has been time and money. I've never been set on just one school as my "I have to progress in this one system" which has helped. Overall it has mostly been the cost of going to a school and finding the time.

After I got out of High School I joined the military. That didn't pay a whole lot and when I added a family, my expenses were spread even thinner. That and my free time all but disappeared. After leaving active duty and going into law enforcement free training was available but time was still an issue.

What helped me were a couple of things. These would not be applicable to most. I'm still in law enforcement so seeking out free defensive tactics training is easy. There are even untold numbers of free to LE classes and videos. LE attracts more than enough martial artists that finding someone to train with is also relatively easy.

Most of this would not help a traditional martial artist. The majority of the training is going to be focused around whatever system the agency allows: FBI, PPCT, KOGA (not the ninjutsu system), LE Krav Maga, etc... DT schools are limited to LE just as Combatives are limited to the military. The training videos are normally to restricted to LE and the free training is also restricted.

In order to become more proficient and gain skills I had to be flexible. I took what was available. My first system was Wun Hop Kuen Do. After I joined the military I found an Ed Parker Kenpo school but dabbled in Budo Taijutsu (back when it was still called Bujinkan Ninjutsu). Now it is DT.
Seems to be a pretty common thing, used to have time to train, then adult life happened! There are some that will say you can always make time if it's important enough, but lets be real, work family, chores, all of that is important and you can't let it slide. Plus sometimes you just need to rest! 😂

Do you think shorter classes, courses divided into bite-sized bits you could do a your own pace, or even just not having to travel somewhere else to train would help on the time front?
 

Gyakuto

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I’m lucky to be involved in a MA in which making money not allowed by our governing body. We only need to cover the cost of hiring a hall and all teaching is free so a 2hr class is £5 ($6.97).

My initial goals in MA, as a 12 yr old boy was to ‘look cool’, learn to keep the school bullies at bay and develop superhuman abilities. I have no idea what my goals are now although my current ability to fly is very useful. I‘m as obsessed with MA now, after 40yrs, as I was as child enrolling to the local council-run Karate class. My biggest obstacle is probably age-related and is laziness/motivation to actually train especially at 5am on a cold, damp winter’s morning or worse a hot humid summer’s evening. But most of the time, I do manage to don my dogi, unpack my sword and give kaso teki a hard time. What I need to be successful is unlimited motivation, unlimited strength, unlimited flexibility and unlimited compassion (for kaso teki).
 

Gyakuto

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Having read everyone’s responses, it seems clear the greatest obstacle to martial excellence are having a family! :oops: Why ruin your MA lives with such a shackle?🔗 None of the great martial warriors had families to hold them back so I’d suggest putting your children up for adoption, ditch your partner and plough the resources you have saved, both financial and emotional, into your art. You’ll die pitifully and alone but you’re likely to anyway…;)
 

Tez3

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Having read everyone’s responses, it seems clear the greatest obstacle to martial excellence are having a family! :oops: Why ruin your MA lives with such a shackle?🔗 None of the great martial warriors had families to hold them back so I’d suggest putting your children up for adoption, ditch your partner and plough the resources you have saved, both financial and emotional, into your art. You’ll die pitifully and alone but you’re likely to anyway…;)

Couldn't you just send your children and partner out to work to support you? 😁
 

Gyakuto

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Couldn't you just send your children and partner out to work to support you? 😁
Yeah…they see through that rouse, very quickly unless they are educationally-challenged and/or love you dearly. 🤔 The former is easier to find, in my experience. We have child-labour laws over here.👶Who knows why because I heard they loved sweeping chimneys and ‘picking a pocket or two’….you’ve seen Oliver, I’m sure…..they love it!
 

Tez3

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Yeah…they see through that rouse, very quickly unless they are educationally-challenged and/or love you dearly. 🤔 The former is easier to find, in my experience. We have child-labour laws over here.👶Who knows why because I heard they loved sweeping chimneys and ‘picking a pocket or two’….you’ve seen Oliver, I’m sure…..they love it!
Yeah, I'm in the UK as well, I live just down the road from the family in the Yorkshire farm programme, Amanda gets her kids working even the littlest 😂. Nice family though.
 

Gyakuto

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Yeah, I'm in the UK as well, I live just down the road from the family in the Yorkshire farm programme, Amanda gets her kids working even the littlest 😂. Nice family though.
Do you really? Oh I admire her and her attitudes very much. Her kids are so well-adjusted. ‘Devices’ are the issu, or rather unrestricted, unsupervised access to them. I used to live in Yorkshire until last December…
 
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