Shawn Chitwood, a two-time National Champion in Tae Kwon Do teaches Brazilian Jiu-jitsu instead
Be an informed consumer…
I just finished a phone call with a father who I will call Mike. Mike is looking to enroll the younger of his two sons in a martial arts program and called our academy. His older boy is 8 and his youngest is 6. I talked to him and explained how our kids jiu-jitsu classes focus on real-life situations with anti-bully and stranger awareness self-defense. I explained how his son will work with a partner every day, and that we do not believe in teaching predetermined moves done solo where students pretend to fight invisible attackers. I explain this to every parent who calls looking for “kids karate classes” or “tae kwon do kids classes” as many don’t know the difference between the styles of martial arts. A few parents call who have already done their homework, and they are specifically seeking Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – most have not researched martial arts yet…so if that’s why you’re reading this article, good for you!
Is the Martial Art Realistic and Effective?
I am a two-time National champion in Tae Kwon Do. In my academies, I have purposefully moved away from the choreographed dance moves found in TKD and Karate. As a black belt in Karate, TKD, and Jiu-jitsu, I teach Jiu-jitsu because personally and professionally I recognize that Jiu-jitsu is the better martial art for children (even though teaching Karate or TKD would be better for my wallet). As a police officer, I also don’t like the false sense of security some of those schools create by marketing their programs for self-defense. More on the difference between Jiu-jitsu and TKD here>>
What Will It Cost & What Am I Paying For?
Mike seemed relieved to hear about the Team Chitwood philosophy on teaching kids, and confirmed with me that jiu-jitsu is exactly what he was seeking. He then hesitantly asked, “Now the BIG question… How much will this cost me?” When I explained to him our average cost is $120 per month with options for monthly billing with no long term commitment, he couldn’t believe it. I told him that we offer family discounts and I asked him about his older boy. Embarrassed, he told me that his older boy is stuck in a long term contract a local strip-mall Tae Kwon Do school and he didn’t want to do that with his youngest son.
As a matter of fact, not knowing, he placed his younger son in a trial at another TKD super school down the road. You see, he enrolled him in a very cheap trial only to be hard sold into a long term contract. It’s why he called me; I was his last hope as he thought all martial arts schools were this way. I tried to make him feel better and explained to him that it’s an emotional bait and switch tactic employed by mega schools and many franchise locations. His tuition is nearly $200 per month plus testing every 6 weeks at $60 per test. That sticker shock is presented after a $19.99 two-week trial. The one super school even guarantees black belt in three years regardless of age. That’s right; an 8 year old can receive a black belt!
I explained to Mike that we don’t guarantee belts; we guarantee that a child will be better able to defend themselves. Learning that we average $120 per month with only 3 tests per year at $40 per test for real self-defense, Mike asked when they could register at our academy.
As a martial arts professional, I am offended. Some of these schools sell $5000 contracts plus $480 in testing fees per year for your child to jump around, kick the air and scream in a “rah rah” session, receiving belts every 4-6 weeks. Parents get duped into paying for the bright lights, fancy marketing materials, overhead speaker system and multitude of fake weapons and random achievement patches. Some even pay more to be part of the school’s “Demonstration Team” where you do free marketing for the school by participating in performances similar to those of a cheerleading or dance squad.
If I Sound Very Critical, Here’s Why…
I have recently had more than a dozen young children ages 8-12 join my academy at the end of their contracts because the parents did not want to renew. All of these children have black belts in Tae Kwon Do and enter my beginner jiu-jitsu class. When I put them in a common bully self-defense situation where someone is mounted on top of them holding them down, picking on them, they can not escape! They have no clue what to do. I have parents who have spent $5000+ and years at these other schools literally in tears when they see their child fail in this common situation – while another student who has only 3 months training with Team Chitwood can escape safely and effectively.
The Best Way to See the Difference
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Or if you’d rather see it played out in real life, here is our collection of some great videos showing the effectiveness of Gracie Brazilian Jiu-jitsu as a sport and on the streets.