New Student: when will you quit?

geezer

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My first-lesson dropout rate was really low. But that's mostly because I rarely had new students. My availability and visibility meant by the time someone found me, they'd gone through some trouble. At that point, they're likely to last a few months. When I did seminars to generate interest and new students, the first-lesson droupout rate was higher.
This is similar to my experience. When I was still teaching publicly, like Gerry, I found that if I had to recruit and "sell" the art, I got more people in the door ....who would only drop out when they found that we taught slowly, more or less in the traditional way my sifu had taught me.

Now, I consider myself retired and teach an even smaller, private group. I still get a few calls, but I tell them up front that "what we do isn't for everyone". I give them a location and time to try a class . Very few show up.

Works for me. Training beginners can really drain your energy and time.
 

Hot Lunch

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DAY ONE QUITTERS:

For example, we spend at least 30 minutes of our 2-hour training session doing calisthenics and stretching exercises. We understand if you are not in good physical condition or if you have physical limitations that prevent you from doing everything we do; but do ask you to do what you can. We do pushups, we do jumping jacks, we do crunchers and situps and we skip rope. If you are able to keep pace, you will be breathing hard and sweating by the time we're ready to start any kind of actual training. We do this because it is important to prepare the body and the mind for the activity that is to come. We have found that some new students did not expect to have to do hard physical exercise, and that's not what they want to do.
So... I wasn't a quitter, least of all a day one quitter. I stopped after about three and a half years at my last dojo, and looked for a new home elsewhere.

The calisthenics being somewhat of an issue for me. For one thing, I wanted to go to class more often than I did, but couldn't because my body was still sore from the day(s) before. If I wanted to start a gym routine, I wouldn't be able to because the calisthenics in class would mess with any gains I would've been trying to get.

Then came the promotion tests. They were pure hell. Bad enough for the lower kyu ranks, but once you start testing for 6th through 1st kyu, the tests were 8 hours long. The test would start with an hour of brutal calisthenics, then going outside and doing knuckle pushups on the asphalt in the parking lot, a 5 mile run broken up by sprints with more knuckle pushups on concrete and asphalt, every kata twice up to your belt rank (15 of them by 6th kyu [out of 13 kyu ranks]). Half hour lunch at the dojo, and then come all kicking and punching drills all the way up to your belt rank, self defense techniques, all katas twice again, sparring, etc, etc. AND, you're still doing calisthenics throughout the whole test (if you mess up a kata, etc). Oh, and when you're up for black belt, it's 500 pushups, 500 situps, and 1000 kicks - on top of all the calisthenics and kicking you've been doing throughout the rest of the test.

After doing that 8 hour test one time (and being sick for three days after because of it), I started doing some research to see if all dojos are like this, and found that that's not the case. Hence my move to my curent dojo. I'm not doing karate to be a "tough guy."
 
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Bill Mattocks

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So... I wasn't a quitter, least of all a day one quitter. I stopped after about three and a half years at my last dojo, and looked for a new home elsewhere.

The calisthenics being somewhat of an issue for me. For one thing, I wanted to go to class more often than I did, but couldn't because my body was still sore from the day(s) before. If I wanted to start a gym routine, I wouldn't be able to because the calisthenics in class would mess with any gains I would've been trying to get.

Then came the promotion tests. They were pure hell. Bad enough for the lower kyu ranks, but once you start testing for 6th through 1st kyu, the tests were 8 hours long. The test would start with an hour of brutal calisthenics, then going outside and doing knuckle pushups on the asphalt in the parking lot, a 5 mile run broken up by sprints with more knuckle pushups on concrete and asphalt, every kata twice up to your belt rank (15 of them by 6th kyu [out of 13 kyu ranks]). Half hour lunch at the dojo, and then come all kicking and punching drills all the way up to your belt rank, self defense techniques, all katas twice again, sparring, etc, etc. AND, you're still doing calisthenics throughout the whole test (if you mess up a kata, etc). Oh, and when you're up for black belt, it's 500 pushups, 500 situps, and 1000 kicks - on top of all the calisthenics and kicking you've been doing throughout the rest of the test.

After doing that 8 hour test one time (and being sick for three days after because of it), I started doing some research to see if all dojos are like this, and found that that's not the case. Hence my move to my curent dojo. I'm not doing karate to be a "tough guy."
One thing I think I failed to say back when I first wrote this is that there is NOTHING WRONG with quitting. Literally nothing. If I had to go through what you did, I might have quit also. I made it through Marine Corps boot camp, but I was 18 years old!

We don't do anything like that for promotions. We've had a recent discussion about promotion requirements on MT though, and I'm not going to say that what you went through is right or wrong; just that some dojos do that kind of thing and some do not.

I quit things all the time if they don't turn out to be something I am interested in. There's no reason to 'tough it out' to prove I can. I joined a veterans group at work. Turned out they were into stuff I was not - like going out after work and doing paintball and lasertag. Not my thing, so I quit.

Best of luck in all your martial arts endeavors!
 

Hot Lunch

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We've had a recent discussion about promotion requirements on MT though, and I'm not going to say that what you went through is right or wrong; just that some dojos do that kind of thing and some do not.
I'm with you on that, but I kind of do wish that there was some warning up front. Something along the lines of "we're an exceptionally tough and physically demanding dojo that asks things of you that most dojos don't. For example, this, that, etc. Are you sure you want to sign up here?"

And then from there, I could have made an informed decision on where to start.

As you said, it's not right or wrong because there are plenty of people out that really do want that kind of thing. I don't think that's the majority of the students there, because those of us who had signed up with no previous martial arts training were none the wiser at the time (and yes, that includes some black belts).

I live in a metropolitan area that has almost nothing but Shorin-ryu (Nakazato lineage) and Shito-ryu, and I found that all the Shorin-ryu dojos around here are like that (maybe not to the same extent, but still). The closest non Shorin-ryu art to my house is a Soo Bahk Do dojang, and the closest non Shorin-ryu karate dojo was a Shotokan dojo, so I went with the latter. Totally different environment, I tell you. Very peaceful, the way I had always imagined karate would be like before I had ever set foot into a dojo.
 

Flying Crane

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I'm with you on that, but I kind of do wish that there was some warning up front. Something along the lines of "we're an exceptionally tough and physically demanding dojo that asks things of you that most dojos don't. For example, this, that, etc. Are you sure you want to sign up here?"

And then from there, I could have made an informed decision on where to start.

As you said, it's not right or wrong because there are plenty of people out that really do want that kind of thing. I don't think that's the majority of the students there, because those of us who had signed up with no previous martial arts training were none the wiser at the time (and yes, that includes some black belts).

I live in a metropolitan area that has almost nothing but Shorin-ryu (Nakazato lineage) and Shito-ryu, and I found that all the Shorin-ryu dojos around here are like that (maybe not to the same extent, but still). The closest non Shorin-ryu art to my house is a Soo Bahk Do dojang, and the closest non Shorin-ryu karate dojo was a Shotokan dojo, so I went with the latter. Totally different environment, I tell you. Very peaceful, the way I had always imagined karate would be like before I had ever set foot into a dojo.
Do they allow you to watch a class or two, and even take a class or two for free before you sign up? In my opinion, that would be standard practice for a new student. A good way to assess whether you want to train there. I would be hesitant to sign up and pay some money without at least being able to watch some classes.
 

Hot Lunch

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Do they allow you to watch a class or two, and even take a class or two for free before you sign up? In my opinion, that would be standard practice for a new student. A good way to assess whether you want to train there. I would be hesitant to sign up and pay some money without at least being able to watch some classes.
Yes, but that only helps if you know what other dojos are like. When I signed up, I went three years thinking this was normal. Until I started talking with others on social media about the test I went through.
 

Yokozuna514

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I'm with you on that, but I kind of do wish that there was some warning up front. Something along the lines of "we're an exceptionally tough and physically demanding dojo that asks things of you that most dojos don't. For example, this, that, etc. Are you sure you want to sign up here?"

And then from there, I could have made an informed decision on where to start.

As you said, it's not right or wrong because there are plenty of people out that really do want that kind of thing. I don't think that's the majority of the students there, because those of us who had signed up with no previous martial arts training were none the wiser at the time (and yes, that includes some black belts).

I live in a metropolitan area that has almost nothing but Shorin-ryu (Nakazato lineage) and Shito-ryu, and I found that all the Shorin-ryu dojos around here are like that (maybe not to the same extent, but still). The closest non Shorin-ryu art to my house is a Soo Bahk Do dojang, and the closest non Shorin-ryu karate dojo was a Shotokan dojo, so I went with the latter. Totally different environment, I tell you. Very peaceful, the way I had always imagined karate would be like before I had ever set foot into a dojo.
I would be interested in hearing more about which city has Shorin Ryu karate like this. In my area of Quebec we have a few Shorin Ryu and Shito Ryu dojos but their training or grading is nothing like you described. I took a few classes in the Shorin Ryu dojo where they do Bogu kumite. I was training in Kyokushin at the time but was looking at checking out other styles to complement my training. I found this club who advertised Gracie Combative training so thats the main reason I went. The Shorin Ryu was an afterthought that I may as well try as I was already there.

The first class I tried I was paired up with a rather large (in all aspects) Sempai. We were to practice mae geri and were asked to wear Bogu shields that were rather thick and made of a plastic core with a canvas covering. It would definitely protect the wearer against any impact however there were not enough to go around so I offered not to wear a shield as we train our core quite extensively and are routinely kicked in the abs. The comment I received from the Sempai was that I needed a shield because if he kicked me full force (with his 250 plus frame) he would send me through the wall and to the hospital. I assured him that I would be fine so we did a few test kicks. We both learned something that day .

The class after was the Gracie Combative class where we continued to pair up but apparently I was not as compliant a partner as I could have been so after the first roll I got switched to another Sempai who was much younger and more nimble for the rest of the class. Unfortunately for him I outweighed him by 50 lbs so many of the techniques he was trying to apply would just not work. Granted they were perhaps not necessarily experts in rolling but the methods of training were also a bit too compliant in my opinion. Most of their karate training consisted of a little kihon followed by one steps and then three steps. My understanding is that the Bogu kumite was reserved for tournaments mostly.

I would be interested in hearing more about this Shorin Ryu place as it seems like a place that would be extremely challenging to keep up with especially if they do 8 hour gradings for kyu ranks. Im surprised that they wouldnt tell you that when you first stepped into the place. We welcome everyone to try a class at our dojo but we also let them know what they are in for and that it is not for everyone.
 

Hot Lunch

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I would be interested in hearing more about which city has Shorin Ryu karate like this. In my area of Quebec we have a few Shorin Ryu and Shito Ryu dojos but their training or grading is nothing like you described. I took a few classes in the Shorin Ryu dojo where they do Bogu kumite. I was training in Kyokushin at the time but was looking at checking out other styles to complement my training. I found this club who advertised Gracie Combative training so thats the main reason I went. The Shorin Ryu was an afterthought that I may as well try as I was already there.

The first class I tried I was paired up with a rather large (in all aspects) Sempai. We were to practice mae geri and were asked to wear Bogu shields that were rather thick and made of a plastic core with a canvas covering. It would definitely protect the wearer against any impact however there were not enough to go around so I offered not to wear a shield as we train our core quite extensively and are routinely kicked in the abs. The comment I received from the Sempai was that I needed a shield because if he kicked me full force (with his 250 plus frame) he would send me through the wall and to the hospital. I assured him that I would be fine so we did a few test kicks. We both learned something that day .

The class after was the Gracie Combative class where we continued to pair up but apparently I was not as compliant a partner as I could have been so after the first roll I got switched to another Sempai who was much younger and more nimble for the rest of the class. Unfortunately for him I outweighed him by 50 lbs so many of the techniques he was trying to apply would just not work. Granted they were perhaps not necessarily experts in rolling but the methods of training were also a bit too compliant in my opinion. Most of their karate training consisted of a little kihon followed by one steps and then three steps. My understanding is that the Bogu kumite was reserved for tournaments mostly.

I would be interested in hearing more about this Shorin Ryu place as it seems like a place that would be extremely challenging to keep up with especially if they do 8 hour gradings for kyu ranks. Im surprised that they wouldnt tell you that when you first stepped into the place. We welcome everyone to try a class at our dojo but we also let them know what they are in for and that it is not for everyone.
I just inboxed you.
 

Gerry Seymour

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One thing I think I failed to say back when I first wrote this is that there is NOTHING WRONG with quitting. Literally nothing. If I had to go through what you did, I might have quit also. I made it through Marine Corps boot camp, but I was 18 years old!

We don't do anything like that for promotions. We've had a recent discussion about promotion requirements on MT though, and I'm not going to say that what you went through is right or wrong; just that some dojos do that kind of thing and some do not.

I quit things all the time if they don't turn out to be something I am interested in. There's no reason to 'tough it out' to prove I can. I joined a veterans group at work. Turned out they were into stuff I was not - like going out after work and doing paintball and lasertag. Not my thing, so I quit.

Best of luck in all your martial arts endeavors!
Amen.

Quitting is a good thing if its done to better meet your needs or priorities.
 

Buka

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Do they allow you to watch a class or two, and even take a class or two for free before you sign up? In my opinion, that would be standard practice for a new student. A good way to assess whether you want to train there. I would be hesitant to sign up and pay some money without at least being able to watch some classes.
I used to let any new student take a month of free classes to see if they'd like the place. Interesting (at least to me) was about sixty percent of them didn't take advantage of that. Go figure.

One thing I'd never allow is someone to start training without watching at lease two classes. And some folks didn't want to do that. Again, go figure.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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I used to let any new student take a month of free classes to see if they'd like the place. Interesting (at least to me) was about sixty percent of them didn't take advantage of that. Go figure.

One thing I'd never allow is someone to start training without watching at lease two classes. And some folks didn't want to do that. Again, go figure.
This might be biased as an experienced martial artist, but it wouldn't take me a month to figure out if I like it. 1-2 weeks of classes, and I'd know. And I'd feel guilty attending for the extra 3-4 weeks for free, knowing I'd planned on staying either way.
 

Buka

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This might be biased as an experienced martial artist, but it wouldn't take me a month to figure out if I like it. 1-2 weeks of classes, and I'd know. And I'd feel guilty attending for the extra 3-4 weeks for free, knowing I'd planned on staying either way.
I agree. I'm of the opinion that an experienced Martial Artist can, in about fifteen minutes, know all he/she needs to know about a dojo from watching what's taking place.

As I've said before, I've been very fortunate. Had a guy come in that was friends with one of the students. He owned and ran a successful glass company. He watched a class and said to me "I'll make a deal with you. I'll mirror that entire wall for you, for free, in exchange for a lifetime membership."

It was an enormous wall, I jumped at the chance. He did a beautiful, high quality job of it. Trained for about a year, then got married and I never saw him again. Best deal I ever made.

On the flip side of that, had two guys come in, they watched a class. Afterwards they wanted to know what a lifetime membership would cost for the two of them. I asked them to take a month of classes, free, and we'd discuss it. They said they didn't need to, they knew what they liked. I explained to them that the class they watched was one of the easiest classes we've had in a year. They didn't care because they were athletes. (they apparently had no idea what an athlete was. Looking at them they looked like cupcakes.)

So I said. "Okay, I'll give the two of you a lifetime membership for three hundred bucks combined. We'll draw up a contract BUT when you quit in a month I'm not going to give you any of the three hundred back." They accepted.

Three weeks later they decided it was too much work for them, they wanted their money back. I said no. They said they'd sue.
Among the students that night were four long timers, three Attorneys and one Judge. I told them to go speak to one of them. They spoke to one of the Attorneys, then apologized and left.

The guy they spoke to asked them, "Do you own a house?" They said they did. He then asked them if he was going to have to paint the interior when he moved in because that's how long he was going to keep them in court."

It sure would have been easier if they just took a feee month of classes. And the way I always looked at it - if someone doesn't have the patience to watch multiple classes, they sure as hell ain't going to have the patience to train.

Last thing. We never advertised, or even thought of, "lifetime memberships." Clients brought the subject up. I thought of them as clients until they were there for a while, then as students.
 

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I agree. I'm of the opinion that an experienced Martial Artist can, in about fifteen minutes, know all he/she needs to know about a dojo from watching what's taking place.

As I've said before, I've been very fortunate. Had a guy come in that was friends with one of the students. He owned and ran a successful glass company. He watched a class and said to me "I'll make a deal with you. I'll mirror that entire wall for you, for free, in exchange for a lifetime membership."

It was an enormous wall, I jumped at the chance. He did a beautiful, high quality job of it. Trained for about a year, then got married and I never saw him again. Best deal I ever made.

On the flip side of that, had two guys come in, they watched a class. Afterwards they wanted to know what a lifetime membership would cost for the two of them. I asked them to take a month of classes, free, and we'd discuss it. They said they didn't need to, they knew what they liked. I explained to them that the class they watched was one of the easiest classes we've had in a year. They didn't care because they were athletes. (they apparently had no idea what an athlete was. Looking at them they looked like cupcakes.)

So I said. "Okay, I'll give the two of you a lifetime membership for three hundred bucks combined. We'll draw up a contract BUT when you quit in a month I'm not going to give you any of the three hundred back." They accepted.

Three weeks later they decided it was too much work for them, they wanted their money back. I said no. They said they'd sue.
Among the students that night were four long timers, three Attorneys and one Judge. I told them to go speak to one of them. They spoke to one of the Attorneys, then apologized and left.

The guy they spoke to asked them, "Do you own a house?" They said they did. He then asked them if he was going to have to paint the interior when he moved in because that's how long he was going to keep them in court."

It sure would have been easier if they just took a feee month of classes. And the way I always looked at it - if someone doesn't have the patience to watch multiple classes, they sure as hell ain't going to have the patience to train.

Last thing. We never advertised, or even thought of, "lifetime memberships." Clients brought the subject up. I thought of them as clients until they were there for a while, then as students.
Three hundred bucks for a lifetime membership? This must have been a loooooong time ago. Around here, that often wont get you two months for a single person.
 

Buka

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Three hundred bucks for a lifetime membership? This must have been a loooooong time ago. Around here, that often wont get you two months for a single person.
It was a looooong time ago. Late eighties. Let me ask you, do most places have "lifetime memberships?" I had never heard of them before, or since, when I think about it.

When you think about how many dojos all of us here have seen come and go, many of them in less that a year, it's kind of a crazy concept.

Heck, in my career when a black belt from somewhere else joined up, I wouldn't charge them anything. Just had them sign a waiver, told them to keep their hands up, always have a mouthpiece with you, have fun and go train. Easy peasy.
 

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It was a looooong time ago. Late eighties. Let me ask you, do most places have "lifetime memberships?" I had never heard of them before, or since, when I think about it.

When you think about how many dojos all of us here have seen come and go, many of them in less that a year, it's kind of a crazy concept.

Heck, in my career when a black belt from somewhere else joined up, I wouldn't charge them anything. Just had them sign a waiver, told them to keep their hands up, always have a mouthpiece with you, have fun and go train. Easy peasy.
The concept of a year contract took me by surprise when I first heard of it. Especially for a beginner who might not stick with it beyond a month, it made no sense even at a significant discount. It might make sense and offer significant savings for an established student who had a reasonable expectation to still be training there a year from now. But as a selling point to new students, it feels very scammy.

In my first school, once you made black belt I believe he didnt charge you anymore. That was a long time ago, I dont remember exactly.
 

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Not everyone makes a good student. Martial arts clubs suit certain mentalities. The grading system and the promise of the fabled black-belt keeps a fair number training. Lots fall by the wayside during the journey - A big percentage of students who achieve the black-belt leave on reaching their goal.

We can only wonder why?

Leaders require followers. Individuals are lost in the mass of forms. Remember the scene of Enter the Dragon where the players arrive at Han's island - flocks of martial artists are lined up, going through the forms in a robotic fashion. Sure, it was only a movie but it was an influential one.

Back then, most schools and dojos followed suit.

If nobody drops out, if no student ever quits, if every student becomes a black-belt - then who would lead, who would the students aspire toward?

A few thoughts which came after reading this thread :)
 
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Gerry Seymour

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It was a looooong time ago. Late eighties. Let me ask you, do most places have "lifetime memberships?" I had never heard of them before, or since, when I think about it.

When you think about how many dojos all of us here have seen come and go, many of them in less that a year, it's kind of a crazy concept.

Heck, in my career when a black belt from somewhere else joined up, I wouldn't charge them anything. Just had them sign a waiver, told them to keep their hands up, always have a mouthpiece with you, have fun and go train. Easy peasy.
I've never heard of anyone offering them, though I expect there's a chain system out there somewhere that promotes them for brand new members. I wish I'd had that option when I was training a lot. I was always going through financial cycles (project business with no salary), so I'd have loved to pay my instructor one big check and never have to pay again. Even if it ended up being a bad deal (maybe I move before it pays for itself), it'd have been worth not having that bill when I hadn't had any significant work for 6 months.

I always offered a couple of free classes. I literally never had anyone take them. When I'd get a short-time visitor (had a couple of people with related experience train with me while doing internships in the area), I just didn't charge them anything. Of course, I also never made even broke even with my program. I'm so jealous of what you were able to do, brother.
 

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The concept of a year contract took me by surprise when I first heard of it. Especially for a beginner who might not stick with it beyond a month, it made no sense even at a significant discount. It might make sense and offer significant savings for an established student who had a reasonable expectation to still be training there a year from now. But as a selling point to new students, it feels very scammy.

In my first school, once you made black belt I believe he didnt charge you anymore. That was a long time ago, I dont remember exactly.
I put together 3/6/12-month prices, just to have a number if someone wanted it. I only ever had one person request a 3-month payment. It was a good discount, but they didn't stay long enough for it to pay for itself. I also let students pay by the class (at a price where 4 classes cost the same as a month), since some had work schedules that made attendance unpredictable.
 
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Bill Mattocks

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We have a (formerly) non-talented student who has been a brown belt for nearly 10 years. He advances VERY slowly. On the other hand, he DOES advance, and not because anyone is taking pity on him. And over time, he's become quite a dangerous customer. I would not want to be hit by one of his full force kicks. He may make black belt soon. When he came in, I would not have predicted that he would stay or that he would advance. But...he keeps coming back.
 

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I've never heard of anyone offering them, though I expect there's a chain system out there somewhere that promotes them for brand new members. I wish I'd had that option when I was training a lot. I was always going through financial cycles (project business with no salary), so I'd have loved to pay my instructor one big check and never have to pay again. Even if it ended up being a bad deal (maybe I move before it pays for itself), it'd have been worth not having that bill when I hadn't had any significant work for 6 months.

I always offered a couple of free classes. I literally never had anyone take them. When I'd get a short-time visitor (had a couple of people with related experience train with me while doing internships in the area), I just didn't charge them anything. Of course, I also never made even broke even with my program. I'm so jealous of what you were able to do, brother.
Complete luck of the draw on my part. I was always in a unique situation, everything was handed to me on a silver platter. I hardly ever paid any kind of tuition.

I started teaching at the start of my initial training, about a month in. As odd as that sounds, my original instructor (a phony, a crook, a man with no honor at all) had me show some new beginners how to do an eight point blocking system, a front kick and the stance we used at that time. Only because I could communicate with people in a clearer way than he could. So I started training with other instructors to learn Martial Arts and learn how to teach. And THOSE instructors never charged me to come to their schools once or twice a week.

I really never paid any tuition until I started Jits training in 1995. So my first twenty years were completely free. When I first opened a school on my own - again, a unique situation, handed to me on a silver platter. The rent was low, the space was huge, the heating pipes for the business upstairs ran across our ceiling - which gave us free heat in New England winters. The place was also on a hill, one side being below street level - which kept the place completely cool in the hottest summer weather.

Eventually, I had to get a real job in order to survive, I became a DT instructor in Law Enforcement. Got paid for what I'd do for free. Again, handed to me on a silver platter, luck of the draw once again. I must be one of the luckiest Martial Artists that ever lived.

I was just passing on what was done for me. And I still am. How could I not?
 
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