I just signed up for Tae Kwon Do training. Last belt promotion (yellow belt), I was told they now have new color belt system. There are white, yellow, yellow with orange stripe, orange, orange with green strip and so on. Every color belt now added a stripe which means more tests and more promotion fees. I am upset about this sudden change without any notice; moreover, I am feeling my master of Tae Kwon Do is money orientated. Promotion fees used to be $40 dollars and last month he decided to increase to $60 because of inflation. My perceptions are suggesting something is wrong in my Tae Kwon Do studio. I did not even know there is a fee for belt promotion test. I thought just a monthly fee of 80 dollars for 8 sessions per month.
There are three categories of martial art schools:
- Non-profit. These are operated in homes or in schools, colleges, churches, community centers, etc. where there are no overhead costs, such as rent, utilities, etc. The classes may be offered for free or for a nominal cost.
- Part-time for-profit. These may be held in the same places as listed under non-profit, or they may be operated as commercial business. The school owners charge enough to pay the school operating costs, and maybe enough to draw some profit.
- Full-time for-profit. These school owners operate their businesses full-time; therefore, they must charge enough to cover all business expenses with enough profit to furnish them with reasonable salaries to support themselves and their families.
How much a school charges for its services depends upon what services they offer, the quality of those services, and how much the public is willing to pay for those services in the area in which the school is located. If the school you attend is a full-time for profit school, $80 per month tuition and $60 for tests is not unreasonable. Schools that offer such things as saunas, weight rooms, lounges, etc. may charge much more; schools that are operated more as a hobby may charge less.
Adding belts to the rank structure to increases profits seems to be a common occurrence in the martial arts industry; but charging for belt stripes does seem excessive; I do not think this is an industry standard. If the services offered by your school and the costs for those services are in line with those of other schools in your area, then you have nothing to complain about. No matter, the amount of fees charged by a school, these fees should be disclosed to potential students and may be grounds for voiding a school contract. With some searching, you can always find non-profit or part-time for-profit schools where the quality of instruction is just as good, if not better, than that found in full-time for-profit schools.
If you are displeased with the school and did not sign a contract, find another school. If you signed a contract, read it carefully to see what options you may have. You may choose to suck it up and take advantage of all the services until the contract ends, and then change schools. You could just train without testing; however, the way school curriculums and rank systems are set up, if you do not test for and advance in rank, you will not be taught new things and will just train in the same thing for the remainder of the contract. At worst, you can always cancel the contact and pay whatever amount you agree to pay for cancelation, and then find a new school.
Finding a martial art school is similar to finding a doctor, dentist, car mechanic, plumber, or any other type of service; you shop around for a school with for the best quality of service, with employees you like, and with a price you think is reasonable, and then you stay with the school until one of those things changes enough for you to want to change schools.
Martial art “masters” are nothing special; just as in other professions, they are business people who offer certain services that people may or may not be willing to pay to receive. You do not “worship” your teacher, doctor, or plumber because of his or her skills, you just respect them for what they do, rely on their expert opinion, and pay for the services they offer. There are crooked, fraudulent, and criminal teachers, doctors, plumbers, and martial art schools in the world; be aware of them and avoid them.