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.