TIPS on finding the right
1) AVOID CONTRACTS!
There is absolutely no need to ever
sign a contract with a school. Would you sign a contract with a hair stylist,
dentist, doctor, little league or soccer coach? It is a ridiculous concept to
sign your child or yourself to a contract for 1 year, 3 years or even 6 months
to a school. Things change, maybe you or your child will realize the martial
arts are not for you. Maybe the instructor or curriculum will change and you
will be dissatisfied later. The only instructors demanding contracts are those
that cannot retain students the legitimate way, by great teaching skill,
motivation and responsibility to their art. Contracts are often a way to keep
students captive in a poor school. They are also used for money, money, money
and to guarantee income to an instructor who is less than qualified to teach and
worried about his students quitting. What is the purpose of a contract? Why do
you have to guarantee the school owner that you will be there a year from now?
If you do not like the school you should be free to leave. The contract only
benefits the instructor who struggles retaining students.
We never use contracts at U.S. Taekwondo Hapkido Martial Arts, we have been
in the Brandon/Seffner Florida area (same location) for eleven years and have
never had to need or seen the reason to hold our students to a contract. We have
heard horror stories of students trying to get out of contracts with other
schools. This is ludicrous, a student either wants to continue training in the
Martial Arts or they do not. Training in the Martial Arts is an important
decision and it is not for everyone. Binding everyone that walks in the door to
a contract is simply ludicrous and a cheap attempt at guaranteed income.
2) BEWARE OF UNUSUAL HIDDEN FEES &
There are no additional Federation
renewal fees at our school. There are also no annual renewal membership
fees or multiple certification fees at our school. Shop and compare and avoid
the school which burdens its students with unnecessary renewal fees & annual
dues. Ask what each fee is for. Inquire specifically about renewal fees. You are
already a member of their school why do you have to renew? Its a ridiculous fee.
We only charge for tuition & tests, no other money is sent up the ladder to
corporate leaders or Federations. Corporate sales oriented style schools have
association and federation fees as well as annual renewals for membership. See
"Chain Store" school info below. This "Chain store" mentality has spawned a new
breed of Grandmaster. They sit atop their organization collecting fees from all
their schools and it has little to do with the Martial Arts and everything to do
with greed and corruption. It is all about multi-level marketing and it is a
3) AVOID THE MULTI-TIER PRICING!
A common and unethical practice in the martial
arts is to draw students in at one price, get them interested and then raise
their tuition price. This is extremely unethical. It is no better than the
dreaded "lead-in" sales promotion which promises a product and one price and
then bait and switches to another product at another price. It is ridiculous.
Beware of the schools that want to upgrade your tuition price. Multi-level sales
is another warning sign you are in the wrong school. They enroll you at one
price and surprise you when you reach a certain belt that now your in a
different level and they quickly raise the tuition price and program! We
never raise your tuition price.
Unfortunately chain store marketing oriented "belt factory" schools are now
opening in Brandon. For decades Brandon had mostly traditionally run Martial Art
schools owned by local Black Belts. Now outside corporations are recognizing the
growth market here so the "belt factory" schools have arrived.
One women called me about her young son who was only a white belt in one of
these schools. He had only been in the school a month or so and their price was
already raised once, she had to buy another uniform because he was awarded the
Black Belt club and she signed a contract for financing a loan for their
training and she didn't even know it! Unscrupulous money oriented schools are
slick with their marketing, sales pitches and their tiered pricing. They get you
in at one price and then raise the prices and retail you to death. It is their
way, its the only way they know. They are not true
Martial Artists they are professional marketers. At U.S. Taekwondo you will find
a peaceful relaxed atmosphere focused on Martial Arts education not retail and
revenue. Training under a traditional Martial Arts Master or a Master of
marketing and business? Traditional Martial Arts training is not motivated by
money and greed it is motivated by helping someone learn valuable physical and
mental skills which can help in all aspects of life. I read these business
publications that teach all the above methods of "making more money" from your
students and I'm appalled. They should have articles on how to be better
instructors, not better businessmen. Our school is an educational environment
focused on traditional training, not lining my pockets.
4) TESTING FEES
are another big difference between schools and
usually a hidden surprise. Another common horror story is a student trains for
years to get to red belt only to find out that the test for Black Belt costs
$500! Imagine your child or children get to Red Belt and the instructor
informs you that the testing fee for Black Belt is $450 or more! What do you
do? Your child has worked years to get to this level, do you disappoint them and
tell them they cannot test for Black Belt? The fact is many schools charge $450,
$650, $850 or even $1000 for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Degree testings and they do not
disclose this when you sign up at white belt. Some families with multiple
children training are then surprised they must come up with $1000, $1500 or more
for their children to test for Black Belt.
Our testing fees begin at $35 for beginner levels and never exceed $75.00.
Black belts are reviewed for rank every six months but our testings are
extremely affordable compared to the vast majority of schools. Find out what a
Black Belt test costs before you enroll in the school!
Some schools operate at a higher monthly tuition and do not have testing fees.
We feel this is also can be deceiving. You are paying a higher tuition fee each
and every month but you do not test every month. It is better to offer the
student a lower tuition price and then once every 3 to 5 months they test for
promotion and pay a fair fee. The schools that advertise "No Testing Fees" very
often cost much more over the long term because you are paying that higher
tuition price every month.
5) INSTRUCTORS SHOULD BE QUALIFIED
An instructor should be a high level student both
physically and mentally who qualified for their position within their school by
demonstrating leadership skills and a concise knowledge of the curriculum. The
traditional way to become an instructor is to earn an instructor position from
your original instructor. The new unethical way is to purchase a piece of paper
from some corporate ceo who runs a magazine ad. He never witnessed the training
or testings. A mail order instructor is what this creates.. Beware of those
instructors who purchased their paper credentials from an unethical
organization. Many "For Profit" organizations will sell paper credentials just
to increase their numbers without truly qualifying their instructors. A paper
certificate hanging on a wall does not qualify an instructor, years of
dedication, experience and high level teaching skills are what you should look
for in a qualified instructor staff. Schools also have a tendency to just place
someone at the head of class. We've heard everything from brown belt teenagers
to black belt children being entrusted with instructor duties. There should be a
qualified trained instructor at the head of every Martial Arts class. This can
be very safe or dangerous activity depending on who is in charge.
6) AVOID THE CHAIN STORE SCHOOL
There are "National & International"
Chain store like Martial Art schools. These are generally corporate run "mail
order" black belt type schools where the standards for black belts and
instructors are very low. These chain store type schools and corporate
federations are generally interested in one thing, money. Their bottom line is
more important than the quality of black belt or instructor that they turn out.
Their criteria for instructor level is either extremely low, non-existent or it
is based on how well an instructor "sells" not teaches. They are staffed by
expert salesmen not expert Martial Artists. Be very careful when approaching
these schools. Expect a slick presentation, slick charismatic instructors,
carefully planned phone and in school sales pitch and a belt-factory like
atmosphere. Some will go as far as promising rank faster to color belts & black
belts. The genuine traditional black belt owned school is usually family owned
and operated. The franchise method does not work well for Martial Art schools
and changes the focus from education to bottom line profit and earnings.
AT OUR SCHOOL YOU WILL NOT FIND:
1) Required additional enrollment fees at signup
2) Mandatory Annual Federation membership fees & renewal fees
3) Pressured sales of videos, merchandise, & seminars
4) Contracts & long term obligations
5) Tiered pricing which raises your tuition price later!
6) Unethical rank & instructor standards, quick automatic rank advancement,
usually every two months!
7) The fast track to Black Belt
* Beware of schools with the above practices. Seek out a traditional ethical
Martial Arts school not a school motivated by business, retail sales &
What you will find at our school is an educational environment. Fair pricing of
fees which are not raised like clockwork with deceptive practices. Do not take
my word for it, speak to the students and parents within my school that have
been with me for eleven years. Ask if they have experienced any of the above
tactics. Have you experienced them? Will you tolerate them? The Martial Arts can
be an extremely rewarding experience for children, teens, adults and seniors but
that is largely dependant on which school you join. Choose wisely because the
differences are staggering.
* IMPORTANT REGARDING TESTINGS & RANK*
7) MAKE SURE SCHOOL PROMOTES BY SKILL
NOT THE CALENDAR
Some poorly run and unethical Martial
Art schools promote by the amount of classes you attend or how many weeks or
months have passed, instead of what you've actually learned. Sometimes the
instructors income partially based on how often you test. These schools will
generally rush you through the ranks at 2 month intervals and not really care
whether or not you have truly learned the material or earned the rank.
Basically you get the marks on the card, write your check and get your belt.
These schools operate for profit instead of Martial Arts principles.
There are schools where every student
promotes every two months regardless of skill. Be wary of these schools, they
are belt factories and they do a great injustice to the Martial Arts. If you
never see a child being held back from rank promotion you may be in the wrong
U.S. Taekwondo Hapkido Martial Arts we
you promote by your skill level not by the
calendar or the marks on your attendance card. We have children who have
remained at the same belt level for six months or even one year until their
discipline or skill level warrants there rank. This is the true Martial Arts
not a business for profit. The same applies to Black Belts. Beware of the quick
Dan rankings. If you truly have not earned rank it is a hollow accomplishment.
Those offering the "fast path" to dan ranking are unethical and are just trying
to sell certificates and phony rank. An instructor should determine rank by
skill, dedication, and attitude, not solely by how many months have passed. If
all black belts are offered the same promotion in the same amount of time,
something is wrong.
8) QUALIFYING THE CHIEF INSTRUCTOR.
Some instructors claim to be experts yet they rarely or
sometimes never hit the mats or continue their education. Seeking out new
information and constantly learning is a Masters responsibility and the correct
example to set for students. Make sure the instructor has sought out training
and is a serious martial arts practitioner and not just a business man who sits
behind a desk and never trains. Be wary of a Master who never truly demonstrates
the kicks, strikes, and self-defense skills he is trying to teach, this is the
first sign that something may be wrong. Also be aware of the instructor that did
not qualify under his instructor but just purchased his instructor credentials.
Some will claim that a CEO or magazine ad Grandmaster is their instructor when
in fact that individual never witnessed a single test of this supposed