1. Aren't contracts dangerous? While I see the need for them from the school's side (it's a guarantee that they will get paid for "X" amount of time) what if something happens like you lose your job or if you get divorced and cannot afford to go to the school anymore?
This is something that's important to ask about. A reasonable school will let you pause or break the contract if you move, lose your job, get injured, etc.
Multi-Tier Pricing, to me, is ridiculous and scary! Let me give you just an example of one of the schools that I went to last week:
You pay $110 a month, you get to attend two classes per week, but cannot test for your black belt- 24 month contract
You pay $120 a month, you get to attend three classes per week and can test for your black belt- 36 month contract
You pay $150 a month, you get to attend unlimited classes per week and can attend the "special" all-inclusive black belt class that is held on Saturday mornings. YAY! (insert dramatic music). -36 month contract
I think tiered pricing is normal to some extent, but that seems a little complicated to me. I think I'd be uncomfortable with that, too.
Our school does have different price points based on how long you sign up for (plus extra if you want to study multiple styles), but they all come with unlimited classes, every class is offered at least 4x a week, and anybody can test for their black belt if they're ready. And we're about to start a special black belt/competition class, too, but that'll just require a tryout to show you're serious and know your stuff. Does that seem reasonable to you?
5. I thank you for your advice here. It seems that a good amount of the instructors I have seen lately, cannot do half of the stuff they are asking their students to do. And these are instructors in their mid 50's, which is not that old nowadays. Not to mention, I have been to some schools where the 60 year old instructor is still doing split kicks in the air. But I know everyone is different. In the school that I just left, none of the three instructors could perform any of the techniques we were being taught. One tried hard (he was about 55) but because he was away from the school for weeks at a time, he was always "tight" and such.
Yeah, I hear you. Getting older is inevitable, and teaching martial arts isn't usually a job that comes with health insurance, so if you tear your ACL or whatever you're kind of screwed. But I still think it's important that teachers try to stay fit and be able to do most of what they're teaching, even as they get older. They need to be an example to their students, and to be able to demonstrate what they're talking about. I don't have a lot of respect for teachers that weigh 300lbs and can't even do a high kick!
7. My former school tested everyone every three months, up to 3rd gup and then tested every 3rd and 2nd gup every six months, all the way up to 1st gup. No one ever failed a test! It was basically just for money. This is where my problem arose with the school. It became more of a "rule" or a "right" to test than a privilege.
Yeah, I think you should only be allowed to test if you actually know your stuff. Which could be after two months, or could be after four months, or even more (I taught a couple 4-year olds at my old school, and it was 5 or 6 months before their first test). The only time I've ever seen anybody fail was because they got stage freight and froze up, but that's because the students that weren't ready didn't test in the first place.