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GreenDragon
Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 01 Apr 2003
Posts: 124
Location: Tucson, AZ USA
Styles: Muay Thai, BJJ

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2003 2:02 pm    Post subject: Thoughts on contracts Reply with quote

I am not an instructor, but would opinions from instructors, so I am posting this here.

I just finished the trial two week period at a Tang Soo Do dojang. The head instructor teaches every class, takes care to make sure everyone is "getting it" and even though he is retiring from the military to open the dojang to more day classes so he can make a living off of it, he will not offer any other arts. He said he wants to keep the dojang pure, not a buffet of martial arts. Although this is somewhat discouraging because he is also a 2nd degree blackbelt in Gumdo (? a korean sword art) and I would love to learn that too, it is an encouraging sign that he puts the integrity of his primary art before the potential to make more money off of a variety. I have visited and researched many schools in my area and this one is certainly the best. Then last night after my two week trial period, I start talking with him about the price to continue, etc. and he hits me with the contract proposal, arrrgh! After checking out and responding to a recent McDojo thread, I have to wonder...does this make him a McDojang? McDonalds doesn't try to rope you into some long term commitment. So why is a contract seen as such a negative thing that it gets mentioned as being an attribute of a McDojo. Does the comparison to McDonalds matter at this point? No. But I am concerned about the negative image a contract has on this site vs. the positive spin my intructor tried to put on it last night. He maintained that he would never take anyone to court over it and if there are legitamite circumstances he would work with his students to work it out, so that is why he didn't like it when I called it a contract. He called it an agreement, that helps to ensure commitment. He makes the commitment to the student to help them reach whatever goal they set, but he wants the student to make a commitment to the instructor to meet those goals. If the goal is to become a green belt , the "agreement" is that based on what he saw in me in class he commits to me that we can achieve the goal of green belt in one year and I'd pay a $65 per month. Goal of Red belt, 2 years $60 per month, black belt, 3 years $55 per month. Definately some long term income stream marketing going on there. Which for some reason makes me think negatively, "scammer!" etc. On the other hand, I have been extremely impressed with the quality of instruction, every student I have met is very happy and as I have also seen mentioned on this site (not with regards to the ethics of a contract) that this is a business and I should expect some basic marketing concepts to come in to play.

Please give me your thoughts on this, I just left a Dojo that had no contract and absolutely no value...

GreenDragon
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hobbitbob
Purple Belt
Purple Belt

Joined: 15 Jun 2002
Posts: 545
Location: Denver
Styles: 3d dan Shotokan, 2d dan Wado Ryu, 1st dan Taekwondo, 1st dan Aikido

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2003 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I mentioned earlier...get out while you still can!
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karate_woman
Pre-Black Belt
Pre-Black Belt

Joined: 11 Apr 2003
Posts: 863
Location: Ontario Canada
Styles: Kickboxing,Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate, Judo, JuJitsu,T'ai Chi, QiGong

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2003 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm.

We don't have contracts, but some reputable clubs do. I've seen a few of 1 year membership type clubs, which I don't have a problem with when it is a club I'm confident will be around for a while, and I'm sure I'll stick with it. A contract in and of itself doesn't bug me, but the one you describe has me a bit suspicious. You're getting a martial arts membership, not trying to get a cheap cell phone plan; the long term (three year) agreement would really worry me, and I believe he would enforce it (why else have it?). The fact of the matter is the guy has probably learned that most martial arts students don't stick around for the long term, but he'd like his bills to be paid anyway.

The committment to reach a certain belt within a certain time is odd too...how does he know how well you'll learn based on one class? Sure you know the basics from your other training, but at some point the stuff will be all new and your advancement will slow.
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karatekid1975
KF VIP

Joined: 26 Mar 2002
Posts: 4588
Location: Upstate NY
Styles: Tang Soo Do/TKD/jujitsu

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2003 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did have a contract in my old TSD school (three months, then one year). Some contracts aren't bad. For the prices you stated isn't bad either You also said the students like it there. Which is a good sign. It's when you get into the high priced long term contracts (more than one year) that are bad. My TSD instructor was well respected and a great teacher. I didn't give a crap about the contract, because of this (plus the prices were reasonable, too). I got what I paid for, in my opinion

But you said he is "promising" a green belt in one year, which isn't a bad time. I got mine in 8 months in TSD. I'm not saying it's bad, but just the fact that he "promised" it, it is a little fishy.

In my last TKD school, the contracts stunk. A three year contract. I had to pay, in my opinion, an expensive price, and I felt I wasn't getting my money's worth. They teach sport. I was also offered a 2nd degree black belt in 3 years ......... WOW! No way! Now that is fast! It's *.
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koreantiger81
Blue Belt
Blue Belt

Joined: 13 Dec 2001
Posts: 283


PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think all contracts are bad. I was only able to afford martial arts by going on a contract. Contracts make it affordable for you, while the master receives financial security knowing that you won't quit. Contracts may be a motivational factor for you to continue your martial arts training. Beginneers will most likely quit after about 3 months of training. A contract will help new bees make a commitment. Just because a master works around a contract, doesn't necessarily mean he's a crook. It's just a way of doing business.. YOu get cheaper training, while the master has some security that his bills will be paid off. Both benefit!
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Withers M.A.A.
Brown Belt
Brown Belt

Joined: 28 Apr 2002
Posts: 662


PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you can get a contract for 1 year then that isn't bad. You are giving your instructor the opportunity to train you for the next year. That gives him the security of you still being there along with getting a paycheck every month. Don't forget he needs to pay his bills and make money and needs some type of foundation. I would find out what the buy out rate is if you decide to stop training. Don't judge the school just because they make you sign a contract. Any good school around here (Boston) will make you sign one.
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hobbitbob
Purple Belt
Purple Belt

Joined: 15 Jun 2002
Posts: 545
Location: Denver
Styles: 3d dan Shotokan, 2d dan Wado Ryu, 1st dan Taekwondo, 1st dan Aikido

PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A contract per se is not bad. THe instructor in question, however, appears to be selling belts. I am wary of anyone who "promises" a belt rank in a given amount of time. Are promotioins at this school a matter of paid bills, or of effort and technique?
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King of Fighters
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 05 Apr 2003
Posts: 406


PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No offence, but I smell a bit of cheese in his system (i know thats kind of a lame way to say but, what the hell). Contracts arnt nessesarly a bad thing, but the whole, 2 years red belt, 3 years black belt i think is trying to say that he sells belts. Not everyone is ready in that amount of time, and he schold be teaching everyone at thier own pace. Also, the price thing makes it sound like he wants you to stay for a longer period of time so he have more of your money, so he slightly lowers the cost of the membership for people who wish to have the longer contract.
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Chi-Sai
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 19 Apr 2003
Posts: 18

Styles: TKD, TSD, & Shotokan

PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

King of Fighters wrote:
"... Contracts arnt nessesarly a bad thing, but the whole, 2 years red belt, 3 years black belt i think is trying to say that he sells belts. Not everyone is ready in that amount of time.


I agree with you on selling belt rank! We used contracts to make a two-way agreement -- the teacher teaches and the student makes the commitment to come to his regularly scheduled classes to be taught. Our students were tested on all their forms, basics, self-defense, weapons, etc. for their black belt test. You had to know your stuff... I have seen too many schools using contracts with promising students their black belts in 1-3 years... and the quality of instruction is not there either. Sad.
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hobbitbob
Purple Belt
Purple Belt

Joined: 15 Jun 2002
Posts: 545
Location: Denver
Styles: 3d dan Shotokan, 2d dan Wado Ryu, 1st dan Taekwondo, 1st dan Aikido

PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indeed. We have a contract where I study, but it has a clause which says it is void in cases of illness, injury, relocation, or total lack of interest in Karate, with 30 days telephone or written notice.
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