Should You Pay for Martial Arts Classes?


Howdy. Ando here from Happy Life Martial
Arts. Should you pay for martial arts classes? Some traditional martial artists
feel that charging money pollutes the integrity of the arts. Other people think
that being a martial arts teacher is a skilled profession like a doctor or a
lawyer, so charging money or even making a living is not an issue. I sat down with
my Kung-Fu teacher, Sifu Matt Ember, to get his opinion. Of course, I’d love to
know what you think, too, so go ahead and leave a comment below. But for now, here’s Sifu Matt. Interesting. You just mentioned that idea of payment. You said early on,
even when we moved to the garage, we knew there was no rent to pay and…>Mortgage.
>Mortgage to pay. Fair enough. But you always had the philosophy even if we
were paying $15 or $30 or even just a token payment, you felt it was
important that people always pay something, otherwise they won’t value
what they’re getting. You care to speak about that? Because I always disagreed with that.>Right.>Not because I’m cheap, but I’m just curious.>Look,
my rates have never been high. I think Andre has yelled at me for years I
should be charging more, and he actually even expressed some irritation with me
for not listening to him and charging more. But I think when you said even if
it’s just a token payment, I think that is actually important and I think people
need to give up something to get something. And I don’t mean that they
need to give up something in order for me to think they’re worthy to give them
something, I mean they can’t receive it. It’s something about human nature. I can’t take any new information or accept new information personally unless
I know that I’ve given something for it. I’ve earned it somehow.>You think it
gets categorized in the brain a little differently psychologically. You feel
like you earn something versus just giving something–>Yeah, if you’re just
given a gift then great, thank you. But if I’ve done something to earn that
gift, I value it more highly. And also I think if you’ve paid anything
at all or given up something for it, then you also feel entitled to receive
something for it, and in a good way. You’re demanding information from your
teacher.>You think that’s a good thing? I thought you were going to
spin that as a bad thing.>No. It’s good. I think it’s good to say,
look– I’ve given up this for information or for your teaching. You as the teacher
now owe them. It goes both ways is what I’m saying. The teacher feels that
responsibility to teach more or better because people he knows or she knows are
giving up something to him for it and therefore it’s now incumbent on you, the
onus is on you, to provide that.>Right. And as a deeper teacher, which I would say
you are, you can teach lessons at many different levels.
Someone has the currency payment to you, okay, so I owe you something
now, but you still have the freedom to say, well, that’s just one way that you’re
paying me. How about your work? How about your attention? How about your respect? So,
you don’t necessarily have to give away everything because you can still say,
I’ll just give you this because that’s all you really paid me for was this.>I
think yes, that’s true, but I don’t tend to think of it as I’m not gonna
give this person more because they didn’t really give up enough. I don’t
really think like that. It’s really much more–>You mean I don’t have to work
hard?>No, you do. But I think it’s intuitive on my end, which
is I just kind of respond like anybody else does. I don’t think there’s anything
special going on here. I think when people give something to you,
you respond in kind. I think that the karmic or
dharmic wheel, there’s a reality to that. People are making an effort and you see that, you tend to reward it even if it’s
not conscious. You don’t say to yourself why did you reward just because he’s
really working hard ,you just do it.>Okay.>I mean, if you’re open to that stuff, I
think that you end up just doing it.>Beautiful.

84 Replies to “Should You Pay for Martial Arts Classes?

  1. I think any information behind a paywall is wrong. Instruction is not the same as information, so it's perfectly acceptable. Instructors serve to speed learning by telling you what you're doing wrong instead of you having to figure it out yourself.

  2. Yes Ando classes can be expensive but what your getting back is priceless! Mine are worth every penny they have made me a stronger more confident person

  3. Yes. Education/instruction is no different than any other form of goods and services. People should be recompensed for what they provide. Is that the same as, "buying your black belt?" No–real life isn't, "pay to win" like some game on your phone. If someone has dedicated their life to propagating a skill–one that other people want as well–then they should absolutely compensate that person for the instruction they receive. Bills need to be paid and people should be able to live in the lifestyle they can afford. Bas Rutten will be able to command more for his time than some no-name down the block. He earned it–and as long as people are willing to pay, he has every right to charge what he wants.

  4. I learn Martial Arts online , without any classes , I like to get all my Martial Arts equipment and workout in my backyard , doing stretching and martial arts kicks . Thank you Ando for all the great tips and keep it up my friend .

  5. ok I am karate guy train in dojo where we have some contact not like full contact and KO-s but we have contact to the had and full to the body (shotokan), so my question is how to fight with a boxer using only shotokan hand techniques and shotokan FOOTWORK and distance management(which is most important think in shotokan)? THANK YOU

  6. Personally, having to pay for classes is a strong motivator to get me to class instead of saying, “Meh, don’t feel like going today.”

    I want to get every cent’s worth that I put in and that means going to as many classes as I can each week for as long as I can.

  7. I think it's only right. Your shihan/sifu has bills to pay with renting the dojo etc. Some do it as a full time job, others do it part time out of the love of the art. But I think it's only right. But also the amount they charge to is important. Some charge far to much.

  8. I'm happy to be able to learn from your channel for free.
    But you are able to provide a service which is inherently valuable. You should be able to charge for it.

  9. I would rather pay for lessons for someone who commits 100% of their life to martial arts, such that their "day job" IS martial arts, than learn for free from some office manager who trains on the weekend.

  10. Supporting a teacher who spends her/his time and energy in making You a better person seems like a no-brainier. On the other hand I don't buy the mercantile approach behind "it's worthless unless You pay for it", quite the opposite actually, it reduces the teaching worth to the paid amount. I for one wouldn't dare insulting my teachers, past and present (some of them I paid, some taught me for free) , with such a reductive reasoning. It also might be interesting to include in this discussion the relationship between senior and junior students, the former without doubt contribute to the growth of later, doesn't it justify some payment as well ? In a mercantile values system this would be a valid question. As one might guess, I'd actually consider that shocking but let's hear other opinions, something valuable might come out of it.

  11. I want it to be free when even the instructor wants to practice.
    It's almost like playing soccer in a ground.
    But if he is making a living out of it, it should atleast be cheap.
    I find BJJ very expensive.

  12. Martial arts instructors should absolutely be paid. I agree with all that Sifu Matt said in the video.

  13. Should you pay for Martial Arts Classes? Yes definitely, the Sensei/Sifu/Guro/etc had to pay for his/hers, and it's been said already, but nothing in this world is for free, definitely not quality knowledge and instruction.

    Unfortunately I did end up getting taken for a ride (as far as *WAAAY* too high cost for classes and getting absolutely robbed blind for a simple training shirt costing AU$65) when I first did Kung Fu back in University. Oh and then there's that time I pursued my instructorship in Self Defence/CQC, where I had to pay full price for classes despite being a Junior Instructor. Then why bother paying half a month's salary (at the time) for the instructor's course? Right. Tho these are extreme cases of daylight robbery, where everything has been taken too far…

  14. I used to teach Yoga, and within the Yoga community, this is incredibly common. Some people believe teachers shouldn't charge, or they have the ethical obligation of working for free, at least partially.
    I've never taught Yoga for free, I think this devalues Yoga itself, and the teachers. If Yoga or Martial Arts are very important to humanity, making teaching a non-sustainable job will not help in anything.
    If some people feel like doing it for free, I think it's wonderful. But to see charging for it, as a greedy act. I can't agree with.

  15. Yes you should pay and I have something to say I’m grading up to yellow belt but my teacher is doing a private class and the gardening in the private class for me

  16. The kinesiology department at some community colleges have martial arts classes. I learned judo there. A fee waiver paid for the course. I just bought the gi and that was it. And the sensei showed no mercy..

  17. Hello again new Friend lol
    Another great video! The place I go is not all ready charging an arm and a leg for classes and if you really want to lean she will have you clean if you can't pay. At the same time I pay 280 a month for my family of 5. Thank you again on a great video. And your podcast is a great 30 min breakcast lol

  18. If martial arts(or anything! ) is taught for free , people won't realize its value and will take it for granted! . So it's really important that one should charge some amount of fees for the knowledge they are giving others .

  19. hi ando the club where i used to train wado ry in charged just enough for the hire of the hall used as a dojo same with my current club

  20. I've experienced it both ways. I can't say which is right or wrong, but I have noticed that in a club where people do not pay, there is a stronger emphasis on feeling grateful because everybody there is volunteering, everyone from the bottom student to the top sensei. On the other hand, because nobody was paying, if you were unhappy with what or how you were learning, or teaching, the only solution was "well, leave and find somewhere else then". In the clubs where people pay, there does seem to be more commitment or "buy in" from the beginners, but also, the club seniors and sensei feel the need to spend more time teaching, and less time practicing with each other. In general, it has been my experience that paid clubs are for beginners, and the sensei is there to deliver a lesson. In the volunteer clubs, there are very few beginners and the atmosphere is more of a group of volunteering medium to high level martial artists who are there to respectful learn from each other, this is a martial arts session, not a class or lesson.

  21. I really think about it in purely practical terms… training others demand time, experiance and suitible equipment and place to teach… that costs money

  22. From what I see, the cost for training runs the gamut today from fair to excessive. Of course people are entitled to receive payment for service, but in many schools, it's a sales racket. Back in the day when I first started, I paid for class. The fees were low. After I received my first black belt I went to a Tracy's Karate that had just opened in town and paid for a short while. Then the head instructor offered to let me teach class in exchange for my advanced training plus a small salary. He was a very fair man. About a year ago, I got in touch with a student from those days who lives in my state, but nowhere near me. He is now a 7th degree BB. I asked him if he remembered me. He said, "Of course, you taught me how to do the spinning back kick." That felt nice, though I don't remember doing it. 🙂

  23. Yes you should charge,the problem is someone trying to make a living at it.someone who has a full time job seems to do it for the love of it.someone trying to make a living is always worrying about paying the bills.

  24. We started as a free Saturday class for those who can't afford sports for their kids. We ask for a donation to the program if possible and do charge (very little) for weekday classes. I agree with Sifu that people value the program more if they give something or pay, even if it's a small amount.

  25. Absolutely instructors should be paid for the expertise they bring to the mat. Especially instructors with very advanced training. Their love of the arts is inspiring and their capacity to share and teach is wonderful but it doesn't pay their bills. Instructors have to eat to and a well fed sensei makes for a happy sensei. I think Sifu made a very good point also that students pay with more than just money, we pay with respect and our attention in class and our dedication to the practice outside of class. I return we not only get martial art instruction but an entire world view from someone we respect. It's a win win!

  26. as a master, if you are not getting something in exchange of your time, its hard to continue, you need to eat too
    as a student, if you dont pay, the master may not teach you, just will appear like he/she is teaching you, but no actually (happened to me)

    i feel with more freedom now 🙂

  27. Well I pay 40 dollars a month for 8,1 hour lessons private from someone who is in THE WORLD MARTIAL ARTS HALL OF FAME.I love the arts,I think you missed the point!

  28. Sensei Ando,
    Good topic about compensation. I agree with sifu about paying some amount. The effort and benefit received should complement each from student to sensei. Kudos to another excellent video and subject matter. Please keep uploading new videos, and we'll keep watching and applying it. Thanks !!!

  29. When I started teaching I had the view that learning to defend oneself was a human right and therefore should be free or at least very low cost. My instructor laughed at me and tried to set me straight but I was young and naïve so it was decided that experience would have to be my teacher. What happened is that students skipped classes, showed up late, goofed off, and I was left very frustrated with the feeling that my students didn't take my club seriously. After 6 months I was ready to listen and my instructor sat me down and taught me that people don't truly value what they get for free, and that the same thing happened to them when they started out, and to their instructor and on and on. Later I learned that several senior instructors had been having a good laugh at my situation because it brought back memories of when they started out and didn't fully value what they provided. I then raised my prices commensurate with other schools and suddenly people started showing up on time and putting in the work. Plus, more people ended up signing up and I realized that when perspective students saw my low prices they assumed I wasn't very good. Later I learned about premium pricing and, despite I was teaching out of a church basement at the time, raised my prices so I charged just a bit more then all the fancy schools in the area and not only did I retain all my students but I saw my enrollment increase by 15%. I found some students saw it as a source of pride to belong to them most expensive club in town. Raising my prices and getting justly compensated for teaching was one of the best things I have done not only for myself but for my students.

  30. I respectfully disagree. People think, I paid, give me more. And they aren’t ready for it. People should pay something, but need to earn the knowledge. It’s not a business, it is a life changing experience. No amount of money can give skill.

  31. One thing I think on this subject is that if you spend money for it, you are more likely to take is seriously. If someone is paying 50 bucks a month they are going to put more time and effort into learning not just in class, but practicing outside of class because they are paying for it. People don't want to waste money so if they have paid for something, they are going to make certain they get their monies worth.

    Another thing is that, after spending 10, 15, 20 or more years training, there aren't a lot of jobs that you and use those skills at, and even some of the ones a person might think they could, have such limitations on using those skills, or using outside skills that, when it comes down to it, if you want to use those skills to make a living you can either become a professional fighter (which again will limit what skills you can use with all of the rules for the ring) or you can teach. So no, there shouldn't be an issue with charging for instruction, unless the person is charging some ridiculous amount (like 100 dollars an hour).

  32. Oh God, the subculture of teaching arts (encompassing all of them) for free has blighted the arts world for a long time. I think it is morally wrong for an artist not to get paid for their services, save for promotional freebies.
    It costs a lot of money and personal sacrifice to learn an art, and when people benefit from said art they must compensate the artist adequately for the service provided, it's that simple.
    Those who enter the world of arts with the overly romantic view of "purity of art" will become what we call "starving artists".

  33. If it is free, students may not realize and respect the time and teachings of a true maste. Beside, its also very hard to find a true disciple. However, making it too commercial questions the overall purpose!!!

  34. If you are teaching for your living you should get paid for it. Takes a lot of time to learn martial Arts. But if you charge to much don't expect to keep your students or get new ones.

  35. I've been teaching since 1989. I've had 120 students at my peak, paid $2260/month in rent (not including utilities and other costs)… and I made the mistake of not covering my expenses because I was charging a minimal amount. I taught at night and owned another small business during the day, and my day-time business covered my martial art school. In essence, I was paying students to teach them because money didn't matter to me (considering both businesses, I was not in the red overall), and martial arts was/is my passion. I now see how foolish it was to be in the red for my academy and I no longer do that, and struggled with not feeling guilty about it.

    I now have a good-sized school with wonderful students and instructors, and I make a little on the side for my 30+ years of training. Yay.

    Ando-bro – you and I have the same black training shoes, lol!

  36. The deal/binary mind is running today's society. Exploitation of the real human arts of brotherhood/friendship for money is a dangerous path.

  37. How much should one pay though? Most schools I've belonged to don't actually pay the instructors, the fees go to the rent and advertising and such. But then there are schools where the instructors are professional teachers and those schools cost more ofc. The newer, hipper martial arts like MMA generally cost more for this reason.

  38. I could not agree more! I have worked for tuition or paid. I have done "free" seminars for orgs. But I have never taken a student who did not pay or barter for precisely these reasons. I have always charged way less than the commercial dojos in my area, but never free for private/semi-private lessons. FYI, all that $$$ always got spent (and usually then some) on equipment, sports drinks and bottled water, and gifts for the students when they had achieved our goals. But I made sure they made a tangible commitment up front.

  39. While one can always learn for free by reading books or watching videos, that method doesn't offer the invaluable advantage of having what you've "learned" critiqued by (hopefully) someone who is far more knowledgeable in that specific discipline. More importantly, in general, people don't value something that they get for free. You're far more likely to blow off going to a martial arts class (or anything else) if it didn't cost you anything to begin with. Money is an incredible motivator.

  40. It's a good question
    But the dojo/gym or whatever has associated costs as does the equipment.
    But the freedom from associations or having to belt test for income…

  41. You come to my classes, your are expected to help pay for the expenses of running a dojo. That is because I have to rent a venue and get equipment. But my classes are done for non-profit, so it comes to about $30 for a month of training.

  42. I dont mind paying well all need to eat and pay the bills. But if you have to keep doing classes and can't advance . In grades with out more money it turns into a money racket .

  43. The most outrageous thing is that people pay huge prices for Yoga (which doesn't really require any experience or just a basic 1 year training) and yet expect cheap prices for someone with decades of experience.

  44. Could you make a video of the ability to be placed in bondage n to deal with the situation with honesty as a martial artist.

  45. The arguement for paying isnt valid. I learn from doing my own research in many fields of expertise. I pay noone to teach me. I come up with ideas 30 years ahead of their time. In traditional martial arts a student would do work for their teacher. To learn and remember anything requires motivation not payment. The teacher has little knowledge of human psychology.

  46. The worker is worthy of his wages. I collect to pay rent space, equipment and if there’s actually any left we’ve decided it goes to any seminars for me to go to bring knowledge back. Our school is small more like a club and we like it that way. I don’t want to teach just anyone sengaku period warfare history and use of its weapons.

  47. Well a lot of martial arts are considered to be sports so i think paying for them is as acceptable as paying for being a footballer and stuff

    Then there are other cases, for example, krav maga (the real one), where there is a grand master (with credibility) and he's the one who acknowledges the abilities of the practitioners worldwide and permits them to instruct or not, if that's the case i dont think theres much harm

    Basically imo, i think that by paying for it, one is putting their faith on the instructor, but should first be aware of the credibility

    Its basically that thing about the human subconscient, if you know you re abdicating something, you'll give way more importance to what youll get for it

  48. Yes, you should pay, by not paying for it you are saying the instructors time is worthless, you pay for school, you pay for higher education, you pay for a personal trainer, so yes People should have to pay to be taught something new,
    If you want to get free training become of an assistant and help out

    I was a taekwondo assistant I help train the kid and adults by holding pads and running drills ect, In return, I did get paid plus I got unlimited free training and free gradings up until black stripe.

    I still had to pay for my kids to train and for thier grading which I don't mind

  49. I probably spind over a thousand dollers a month on classes five days a week and private classes every monday mornning. I love the knowledge i have got more from privat class because mon thru fri we learn as a group and canot correct everyone not enough time but in my private class my instructor got all the kinks out off all my kicks and learn new ones serpassing the other students in knowledge and in rank and to help them in there kicks bur not to much tho. As i need to train as well. 😉

  50. Its a personal thing…I myself do not charge a fee, never have. Belts need to be earned not bought. It also weeds out the ones that see it as a sport. I have seen many schools go down do to greed, the money seems to eventually over rule skill and sport becomes more important than defense.

    I think the real issue is that most schools do not provide the level of self defense to justify the cost. As a matter of fact, I would say none actually do. Its a false sense for sure.

  51. In happy to pay for my monthly martial art memberships but it piss me off when they want me to pay though I'm out injured.

  52. Didn't Bruce Lee receive payment from some of his students in leu of money, like 1 person fixes his car or home repairs for martial arts lessons?

  53. I can see both sides of the fence. On Paying side: Paying helps hold YOURSELF accountable. It shows a respect and admiration to your teacher. It help the teacher makes ends meet.
    The OTHER side: You being the Teacher may see someone that is in need of a role model AND doesn't have $$$.
    FOR Example: The Number of fatherless homes are at a Record High and Young boys Especially NEED a Positive MALE to help develop them into Men that they are called to be. NO AMOUNT of money can give you the reward of helping a young boy become a Positive Man himself. You can view it as Building a Legacy.

  54. Whatever we pay can never compansate for what we get in return but paying is a way of appreciating the little you can. Yes I would.pay not.coz I have to but to show my gratitude. .My,teacher is worth alot more than what I can afford so I am basically just doing the little i can. In reality no one can repay a teacher…the knowledge is far more priceless than what we can afford

  55. As a broke college student I wish I didnt have to pay for martial arts classes, but sifus need to survive in this world as well. I am in favor of paying for classes.

  56. I didn't know this was an issue at all… equipment needs money to maintain same as any sport… i mean martial arts isn't a cult, is it? 😅

  57. If I go to a commercially oriented school, of course I will pay, but I see it as a business transaction. A purchase. I am buy a chunk of tuition or access to some facilities.

    I tend to train at smaller non profit clubs though. I still pay, but in those clubs I know I'm contributing to the running costs, hall rental and such, and if there's any surplus I know it goes into the club fund to buy equipment.

  58. I think it never hurts to occasionally offer people a free introduction or two into an experience. Otherwise folks who cant always pay for very expensive lessons or equipment ( martial arts, hockey football etc) can never feel like they can test out their interest. I'm thinking mostly with children though. Give some parents a break with expenses?? I like the idea that if a parent or a child is fully enrolled, then the other can attend and learn for free. This maintains income for the instructor/business too. Win win

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