From the Archives: Martial Art Tuition

I’m sharing this article because it is the way that I would like to do things. Not everything in this article is still correct, but I wish that it was. However, it is still my policy not to turn anyone away simply because they cannot afford tuition. Please see the Scholarship Program for full details.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

I’ve talked about this before, but I want to revisit the topic again for those of you just tuning in.

Martial art school owners have unique relationships with our students. We are at different times, teacher, shop keeper, drill sergeant, mentor, advisor, salesperson, building supervisor, collection agent, and friend. It can be uncomfortable especially for a person like me who are not outgoing. My goal is to keep things as simple as possible and yet maintain a professional relationship with my students and parents.

Towards that end, I have structured Kuk Sool Won™ of Muncie as a joint endeavor between my students, parents, and my own family. I hold financial and all other responsibility for the business, but I see all of my students as partners in the operation of the school.

In the past we have had school meetings where we discuss plans for the future of the school and how to achieve them. Our sixth anniversary will be on April 1. Maybe that would be a good time to do renew this tradition. Perhaps we’ll wait until May so we can have it outdoors.

The topic at hand: I really don’t charge for classes or testing or anything. My bottom line is that the information and lessons that I have to teach should be freely available to everyone.

The reality of the situation is that in order to survive, we need money. Tuition goes towards the support of the school. From that, I cover testing (up to black-brown belt) uniforms, facility costs, marketing, salaries, etc. This is SO different from the way that most businesses operate that it can be difficult for people to understand (or even believe).

We have recently dismantled our tuition schedule and left it up to the individual to decide what they can pay. I give a ballpark figure and most people decide to use that one. Some pay more, some less. All in all, it works well for us and I don’t see it changing much in the near future.

In case you were wondering, the model for this business plan is the old martial art schools and temples in Asia. Aspiring students would come to learn and wait at the gates. They would either be accepted or rejected. If accepted, they would come and live at the school. They would help in the garden, kitchen, clean and so on, and learn a little bit at a time. Eventually, as newer students came in to do more of the day to day work, more time was spent training. As students progressed, they helped with the teaching and maybe even became the master themselves one day.

I’m not ready to build a school on this model exactly yet, but the one we’re working from is a start.