I've been training in martial arts since the 1980s and consistently since the '90s. I am a 2nd-degree black belt in Kenpo Karate.
Possibly the first thing an aspiring martial artist discovers, when they first venture on to this road to fighting art expertise, is that classes are expensive. A person can easily end up paying at least a hundred dollars a month for lessons, often more than that. Sometimes you get lucky and find a non-profit dojo offering lessons at a cheaper rate, or your local community center might offer lessons that are much less expensive than private dojos. However, you might run the risk of receiving substandard instruction in an environment controlled by rules and policies of city management or the community center. There is nothing quite like going to a martial arts school run by a qualified instructor that can make his or her own rules and create an environment tailored to his profession and his students.
So, you might be on the lookout for a decent school that isn't encumbered by local authorities like a community center is and you can't find a non-profit dojo in your town or they don't teach what you want to learn. Therefore, you are confronted with the issue of whether the schools available to you charge what you can afford.
So, you want to know why martial arts lessons are so expensive. It might help to know why and it just might inform your decision to take up a martial art in the first place.
Just because most universities don't offer degrees in martial arts doesn't mean being a martial artist isn't a profession. The qualified instructor has worked hard and paid dues to reach their level of expertise, and they have a wealth of knowledge to share with you and to help you in major ways. They can help you to be equipped to defend yourself, help you to focus, and make you more aware and even upstanding. When you go to a dojo, kwoon, or MMA gym, you are getting instruction from a professor of martial arts. Getting individual instructions from an expert is rarely cheap, no matter what the subject. You are paying for professional instruction at a martial arts school.
Instructors Have Bills to Pay
Imagine that. Teachers have to pay rent and utility bills, eat food, and maybe have fun. Yep. It's true.
They have to pay their own bills at home and have to pay for the space where the school is too. In addition, they teach a field of study that doesn't attract that many people that are in it for the long haul. A teacher might be able to make a fairly significant amount of money from their kids classes, but there aren't a lot of adults willing to put in the serious training required for martial arts training.
So, senseis and sifus are forced to charge what they must to pay the bills. Simple as that.
Why Martial Arts Training Is Expensive
|Specialization||Instructors' Expenses||What You Get|
All specialized instruction is expensive
Instructors have to pay the bills for the school and their own home
What you get out of quality martial arts instruction is well worth the cost
You Get What You Pay For
The old saying that you get what you pay for is true. It just so happens that martial arts training gives you more than just a bit of physical fitness and some insurance that you won't get destroyed in a physical confrontation. You meet friends for life, have a mentor that will help you through your trials and tribulations, and you become more aware and more focused, which helps you throughout many areas of your life.
So What Do You Want to Do?
If you are very passionate about something, you will find a way to do it. You will budget, seek instruction in any way you can, and figure out the money in some way. Anderson Silva, the MMA great from Brazil, used to learn martial arts from the neighborhood kids because he couldn't afford lessons. He became a UFC champ. And a really good one, pulling off surprise moves that amazed everyone in the martial arts world.
So, explore your options. Check out local community centers to see what they offer if you must. Do some soul searching and decide whether martial arts is something you are serious about. Decide if you are willing to do what it takes to get quality instruction that will make you the martial artist you want to be.
© 2016 Nathan Bernardo
Nathan Bernardo (author) from California, United States of America on November 21, 2016:
Exactly, Mary. Small businesses struggle and charge what they must for high quality services. Capoeira is one of the arts Anderson Silva, who I mentioned in this article, practiced. It's not an art I would practice but I could see someone like him pulling off one of its techniques.
Mary Wickison from Brazil on November 21, 2016:
I think this is the same in every business, people don't understand the costs associated with it. If you want quality, you have to pay for it.
Here in Brazil, their are many kids and young adults who take lessons in Capoeira. I'm not sure of the standards of the schools, though.
Nathan Bernardo (author) from California, United States of America on November 20, 2016:
Thanks, Katie and Andrew. Yes, I've seen instructors struggle to keep afloat for sure. There are definitely some costly expenses in running a martial arts school. What students get from their training is encouragement for them to pay the monthly fee in very good conscience.
Andrew Smith from Richmond, VA on November 20, 2016:
Well said. I run my own BJJ gym, and the expenses are surprising, and often proportional to the level of service we are able to provide to the students.
kbdressman from Harlem, New York on November 20, 2016:
Finding the right school and the right instructor is huge. I know my master instructor has traded cleaning services for students that couldn't afford lessons for a time. Where there's a will, there's usually a way.
Another reason is liability insurance. It's amazing how expensive it is to have decent liability coverage for all of the students and instructors!