Would you like fries with your roundhouse kick?
A debate that has raged through Martial Arts for many a decade (and I suspect, will do so for many more) is the matter of the McDojo and the ‘giving away’ of belts but I am of the opinion that this is a two edged sword.
My own experience is that students want the best training, facilities etc but at rock bottom prices but this is as unrealistic and as feasible as a 15 year old Tae Kwon Do yellow bet winning the professional Heavyweight Boxing Championship of the World. Let me explain from personal experience (and without trying to sound big headed).
I have trained for over 36 years now, fought all over the country and have been successful in many aspects of Martial Arts/Personal Security, winning multiple awards and authoring six books. My work is featured worldwide and so if you wish to train with me and learn from me it comes as a cost. The amount of time and money we have invested in my journey have decreed that this is now my full time profession.
In keeping with that profession and my skills, we run a first class facility in North Wales. Fight Fortress has two training areas, each equipped with high quality training aids (punchbags, attack dummies, focus pads, strike shields etc). We have changing facilities, a spectators lounge, shop and car park with easy access from the main expressway not North Wales.
Just a few mile away. There is a young gentleman whose skills I am sure are on par with his years in training. He is a low grade Black Belt and teaches once a week in a church hall. No facilities as such, no equipment and no real time experience.
To be fair to the young man he charges accordingly in the region of twelve pound a month for one lesson a week compared to our considerably higher cost which includes three lessons a week with a fourth to be added.
Recently a gentleman joined us and our prices and policies were explained to him in full. He accepted these and signed up for his first month. The problem was he had wanderlust and liked to holiday every few weeks (good luck to him) so committing to our monthly plan was not attractive to him.
When he explained this to us we wished him well and bid him goodbye but he lingered in the office, obviously with some thing on his mind. After an awkward silence he emitted a cough and proceeded to present his case.
He offered exhibit ‘a’ and as I expected it was the young pup and his less expensive prices and more flexible training policies.
“Why can’t you be like him?’ he asked me to which I replied “because I am not like him.”
He muttered under his breath but still hovered. My patience was running thin and so I offered him some advice. “Why don’t you train with him?’ I asked, good intentions in heart.
“Because he isn’t as good as you and his hall doesn’t have all your equipment.”
“All of which needs paying for,” I countered. “Skill levels and the equipment you mentioned.”
“I don’t understand,” he countered. “If he can charge twelve pound a month then why can’t you.”
“Because you are paying for my skills, experience, real time training and the wonderful dojo you stand in now. The young gentleman you refer to is very good for his age and his experience speaks for itself. Indeed I believe he came second at a local Kata competition recently. Perhaps he is the teacher for you.”
“But I want to train with you,” he insisted. A friend of mine, upon hearing his very same story asked me why I hadn’t thrown him out of the door yet but patience is something I am working on.
“Well then you have to pay my fee, which you are reluctant to do so we must say farewell” I said, trying to bring the matter to a close with a handshake.
However he gave it one last shot. “Why can’t I just pay for the lessons I attend at the same price he charges,” he quizzed. “Why can’t you just charge me that?”
Snap, there went my patience. “Because I don’t want to, is that blunt enough for you? In fact I’ll make it easy for you. You are no longer welcome to train here.”
He muttered under his breath once more and shuffled out of the door, no doubt to train with the less expensive version of me some miles away.
So my point is, like anything in life we get what we pay for. The young chap is making his way up the ranks and I am sure he will, in years to come, reach levels where he too will charge a professional fee for a professional service but at the moment he is (and to his credit doesn’t claim to be anything but) a paperboy in a world of Formula One drivers.
If you want experience, a first class training facility and a wealth of top class instructors on your mats then that comes at a cost. If you are happy in a wooden hut being taught by a part timer whose current calling in life is selling insurance the you will pay accordingly and have more party money in your pocket come the weekend but please realise the difference.
Each piper needs paying his worth no matter what the tune….