Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Running a Traditional Martial Arts School

I have spoken about the Goal of Teachers to create other Teachers to safeguard our Art for the future. But what happens once a teacher is made and they open a school? Becoming a Teacher is only the beginning. The next step is open a school of their own simply because that is why they were made a Teacher, namely to pass the art on. This is the start of a whole new set of problems a Teacher must face. Teachers are not businessmen or business woman, they are Martial Artist that have a responsibility to teach. But running a school requires business knowledge to stay afloat.

Most Martial Artist schools close within the first five years, they simply go under with all the pressures of maintaining the overhead to keep a school viable. In the old days this was not so much of a problem. The reason is simply we did not have schools, we taught in parks, or someone basement, or rented some place at the local CYO, or some church, as I did in my beginning years. But today is much different., people expect to see some kind of organized school before they will join. And so the problems begin trying to make do with meeting rent, and utilities, insurance etc.

Far to often students become delinquent in paying the Teacher, it seems the Teacher is always the last one to be paid for teaching. Yet the bills must be paid and usually the money needed comes from the Teachers pocket. This is how schools go down as the Teacher winds up paying the student fees himself. In essence the Teacher is paying to teach students instead of the other way around. Of course I am referring to Traditional schools, commercial schools will have a student under contract whereas Traditional schools teach without contracts , everything is done on honor and your word.

If I told you I have taught entire families and that never paid me, most would not believe that, but it is a fact. A traditional Teacher is always trying to help those in need, that is our oath, and trust we hold in the students word to pay his or her fees on time to maintain their schools upkeep. But sadly there will always be those who take advantage of their Teachers generosity and leave them in a lurch.

Traditional schools try to keep costs down so people can learn the arts, commercial schools don't, they charge you for the air you breath, or so it would seem. Everything got a price tag on it. Each promotion is paid for, you pay for your belts for your certificates, and the list goes on. Whereas in Traditional schools most everything is included in your monthly fee.

In my entire teaching career I would venture to say I lost thousands of dollars on delinquent students who never paid for their lessons, even with the low costs we charge. Even at the time of my retiring from teaching I was never paid for my time and effort I gave to teach them. It would seem my word to teach was good but their word to pay a fee was not.

Running a school is indeed a problem a Teacher always has trying to maintain the bills. There is always something in need of repair, there is always the costs of phones lights heating and supplies. Traditional Teachers are usually taken advantage of more so then the Commercial school Teachers who has a contract to fall back on if the student become delinquent in their fees. This is why finding a true Traditional schools is becoming harder and harder to find as time goes on, simply because too many students fail to pay the Teacher.

When I trained with my Teachers paying therm was always my first thought. Many times when I had no money I would borrow it from a friend just to pay my Teacher. Sad to say today students just complain they have no money and ask the teacher to wait a bit, yet they will go on vacation, of course their is always money for that. Again the Tractional Teacher is left holding the bag for the monthly bills.

As I have always said my word is my bond, but it was my Teachers who taught me that and for that reason I always made sure I never owed anyone anything and if I did I also made sure to clear it up within a short period of time. Yes, running a Traditional school is indeed a hardship few understand unless your doing it yourself. Few understand what a Teacher goes through just to teach.

I will end this with what I have told my students who wanted to become a traditional Teacher, " If you looking to become rich, don't become a Traditional Teacher" We do what we do out of love for Art and following the old ways, but finding such Teachers today is becoming like trying to find a ice cream store in the desert. If your lucky enough to have one, consider yourself among the few that do, they are indeed rare in todays day and age. Sad to say, but most traditional schools do go under due to students who take advantage of the one rare thing they have, namely " The Traditional Teacher"


  1. Sad but true, I've been training with my teacher since 1999 and became a instructor myself in 2004 and its true, teaching traditional martial arts nowadays is very difficult. Its very hard to find students who see the true value of the teachings and are willing to play their part.

  2. Good points all around. If you are not going to be profit oriented---and there is NOTHING wrong with being commercial in my opinion----then you need a day job to make a decent living that is not in the martial arts. Do what you do for society and be happy with that. Hey, if you want to make a living as a teacher, then the students have to pay.