Questions Potential Students Should Ask

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Archtkd

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It worked well for me when I was running a school. Some that worked well...

One month for 1/2 off.
Free uniform for trying one month.
Whole family's first month for the price of one (with all the uniforms and sparring gear they have to buy to start out, this one is really appreciated).

One a little more controversial, that worked for me.....20-35% discount if you pay in advance for 4 or 6 months.

Why aren't you running a school now?
 

bushidomartialarts

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When my oldest son got school age, I realized I wasn't spending enough time with him on account of teaching in the evening. I sold the lion's share of the program to someone I trusted, and teach private lessons to my die-hard "fans" out of my garage.

As it turns out, spending those years writing self-defense articles, press releases and ad copy gave me a good enough resume that I can work from home as a freelance writer. And I'm home when my son's done with school.

It occurred to me....the list that started this post could make a really powerful FAQ or handout that highlights your philosophy about these things.
 
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Archtkd

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It worked well for me when I was running a school. Some that worked well...

One month for 1/2 off.
Free uniform for trying one month.
Whole family's first month for the price of one (with all the uniforms and sparring gear they have to buy to start out, this one is really appreciated).

One a little more controversial, that worked for me.....20-35% discount if you pay in advance for 4 or 6 months.

I like simple straight foward English, but "low-cost trial period" is not what I would call any of the above. It sounds to me like these are new student discounts. I also don't know how you can argue -- from a qualitative point of view and in line with the subject of this thread -- that a dojang that offers such discounts is better than one that does not.
 

bushidomartialarts

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I like simple straight foward English, but "low-cost trial period" is not what I would call any of the above. It sounds to me like these are new student discounts.

Unless I'm missing something obvious, that's a tomato/tomahto thing. They're one and the same, neh?


I also don't know how you can argue -- from a qualitative point of view and in line with the subject of this thread -- that a dojang that offers such discounts is better than one that does not.

Doesn't necessarily make the dojang better. Definitely would make me more comfortable as an incoming student. If you're uncomfortable with showing me what you have before asking me to commit, then I wouldn't be comfortable committing.

Another way to put it: it won't make your school better, but it gives an impression of honesty and confidence.
 

rlobrecht

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A couple of questions that were important to me when we were finding a school:

-do you have family classes, or are classes segregated by age group?
-where can family members watch class from (or can they watch class)?
-are non-students allowed to watch belt tests?
 

Carol

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I think first and foremost, a potential student should familiarize themselves with their local laws about martial arts schools (some states classify them as health clubs) and contracts.

For example, in my state, martial arts schools and health clubs are regulated alike: in order for the club to issue contracts, the club must have a $50,000 surety bond on file with the state's consumer protection agency in the event of the school defaulting on their contract. Schools typically outsource their contracts to a 3rd party billing agency that will have the students on the hook for the monthly bill -- whether the school stays open or not. However -- there have been (and probably still are) schools in my state that have not followed this rule: the largest MMA gym in my state closed down, with their customers on the hook paying for a monthly contract for a school that didn't exist:

http://media.nashuatelegraph.com/assets/gymbust.pdf

I also think a student needs to be honest with themselves as to what they really want to be doing -- or at least, what they see themselves doing out of the available choices. It strikes me that the shrillest criticism of any style is borne of buyers remorse.

When meeting with a teacher, I also think its important to see if the teacher can back up their claims. If they are a 5th dan under Zig Zag Zoom, do they have the cert viewable? If they are 5th dan under Zig Zag Zoom, [insert organization here] certified, has the org truly certified their rank as 5th? Or have they only certified a lower rank, such as 2nd? A potential student may not yet have the knowledge to analyze a teacher's martial skill, but a potential student can analyze how honest a teacher is with them from the beginning. Most teachers are honest folks, but on the unfortunate scenario that you find one that's not....
 
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Archtkd

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I think first and foremost, a potential student should familiarize themselves with their local laws about martial arts schools (some states classify them as health clubs) and contracts.....

Great points.
 

puunui

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When I was old enough to select my own instructors (as opposed to my parents, grandfather or friends choosing for me), I didn't really ask any specific questions, but rather did it the old fashioned way -- I looked the instructor in the eyes and went with my intuition. If I liked what I saw or felt, I joined. If I didn't like what I saw or felt, I didn't join. And as others have said, I did look at the students as a measure of the instructor's ability and also as potential surrogate instructors to whom I could also learn. But I gave much more weight to the instructor himself. Many great practitioners have students with poor ability. The one constant with all my instructors was that they all took the initiative by constantly doing research in an effort to continuously develop their abilities. They did not rest on their laurels but instead kept innovating, changing, growing and learning. Those who are interested in that path are easily and clearly distinguishable from those that are primarily interested in other things. You can see it in their eyes.
 
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