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momz
01-25-2012, 04:51 PM
my son is wanting to enroll in a Taekwondo class. He is 8 years old and has never tried any form of marial arts before.

We investigated a local place and felt like the instructor and the program are a good fit...except. The payment plan involves a year contract. You have to pay even if you decide to drop after a few months.

This concerns me because, while he enjoyed his "trial" class, I have no idea if he will stick to it...he's only 8 and what sounds great today is replaced by the next great idea next month.

So, I'm wondering, is this how it's typically done for martial arts programs? Or does the payment process vary? My daughter has taken dance classes and we never ran into this issue there.

I just don't want to find myself paying for classes that he's no longer interested in.

kchughes
01-25-2012, 04:58 PM
Pretty typical in my area as well, for martial arts places to want a contract for anywhere from 6-12 months and no refunds. However, we found a class at our local YMCA that is 1 night per week, $8 registration per semester, $7 per class. If you don't show, you don't pay. it's one night per week and has worked well for my DS (9). He will take his test for his yellow belt on Friday. I think it is $12 to take the test. But much more reasonable that a huge contract with a bigger time commitment.

StitchandPooh'sMom
01-25-2012, 05:00 PM
Keep looking. We have been there, done that with DD. We signed a year contract, then found out she would have belt testing every 8 weeks (more fees). I asked what happened if she wasn't ready (it was a group test/graduation), and the response was "I'm sure you want her to advance at the same time her friends do." After a few months, the pressure started for us to enroll her in the "leadership" program - she could take unlimited classes for about twice the cost (and signing a new contract).

After the contract period ended, we left and found an independent place run by a local police detective. There was no contract, and it took DD 6 months to advance one belt. She had a very rigorous, independent test, not a group "show". But she definitely earned that belt. ;)

Just out of curiosity - is it ATA?

mjkacmom
01-25-2012, 05:28 PM
Ds8 took it from age 4 - 8 (junior black belt, 2 tests away from black belt). Hated to quit, but he was playing soccer every day. Our school had different payment plans, 3 months, 6 months, and yearly. It was more expensive to do the 3 month plan, but that's what we did, because kids do tend to burn out here and there (although ds didn't). He skipped tests, and no one gave him a hard time because it took longer.

cari12
01-25-2012, 05:44 PM
That sounds fairly typical of martial arts place. Ours had a 6 month "yellow belt program" and both DS6 and DD8 achieved their yellow belt at about 3 months so will either have or almost have their yellow with a green stripe belt by the time the contract is done. Then I believe we would have to sign up for one year terms. We will at that time tell our kids if they decide to do it, they have to see it through for the whole year. When DD was in grade 1 she took ballet that was on a school year system so you paid for the whole year up front. She got bored halfway through the year but I told her, when you sign up for something, you have to see it through.
Belt testing costs $35 where we are. It is a special night. A PP said they were concerned if their child was not ready what would happen. If they are not ready, they will not be invited to test at the special night and would just continue the regular classes and work towards being ready when the next belt test night occurred.

momz
01-25-2012, 06:27 PM
love the YMCA idea. In the elementary years, I like for my kids to try things they are interested in. But, I don't expect them to stick with just one thing. It is normal for their interests to wax and wane. And a year is an awfully long time to be committed to anything when you're just 8.

There are "professional parents" that immerse their kids in serious competition sports. But that's not our style. I think that one class per week at the YMCA is more our speed.

Thanks for all the replys. I look forward anything others may have to add as well.

StitchandPooh'sMom
01-25-2012, 08:04 PM
A PP said they were concerned if their child was not ready what would happen. If they are not ready, they will not be invited to test at the special night and would just continue the regular classes and work towards being ready when the next belt test night occurred.

Not at the first place DD went. :sad2: Everyone tested/graduated at the same time, regardless of age, effort or number of classes attended. You could skip two weeks of classes and still be "ready" with everyone else. No one ever tested or moved up a rank off-schedule. DH compared them to used car salesmen.

The second place was completely different. The instructor was not about to let someone buy a black belt. He made certain anyone who tested was ready to pass the test, and it was a real test, not a group demonstration of forms.

StephMK
01-25-2012, 09:36 PM
DS takes it through the Y. The people who teach also run a studio and they offer lots of activities outside of class - movie night, etc. DS loves it & just got invited & tested for his yellow belt last weekend. We ended up joining the Y because of the rate difference for members so it's been nice to have use of the facilities too. DS & DD love to swim & DD18 works out there often too.

NYCDiane
01-25-2012, 10:05 PM
I enrolled DD in martial arts when she was about 4 1/2. The reason was because I had never had her in any type of day care setting or with babysitters and, because she would be starting Kindergarten later that year, I wanted to get her used to a group setting, taking direction from a teacher, focus, etc.

She did great. We signed a 1 year contract and she moved up (along with everyone else --- whether they were ready to or not). Eventually the owner decided he was going to Florida and he left the school in the hands of his employees. Things pretty much went downhill (not that it was ever "great" looking back on it). They kept learning the same things over and over and over and over and over. They never moved on to new material. They had kids of higher rankings in the same class as brand new kids, etc. It was ridiculous.

By this time, we were at the school for a couple of years.

Eventually, the owner decided he was going to stay in Florida and sold the school to some guy who had a martial arts school nearby. He came in with all this hoopla on how he was going to change everything, change belt rankings, etc. My daughter went DOWN 1 1/2 rankings because, had he left her where she was, she would have been almost a brown belt and he didn't want that --- the lower the belt, the longer the contract. That annoyed me because my daughter worked hard, practiced, etc and to me, it was an insult to her to move her down 1 1/2 ranks because of HIS financial concerns.

I decided to pull her out at that point. She was disappointed at the new guys decision, she was bored with learning the same things over and over, and she wanted to move on to other things. He tried everything he could possibly try to get us to stay at the school, including threatening legal action! I had a lawyer friend of mine write him a letter in return letting him know HE would be personally sued as well as his organization for all back tuition, etc etc etc. He finally let it drop.

Fast forward a couple of years: This guy was on WIFE SWAP. I finally got to see where all that tuition money was going: Mercedes', big house, 10 year old daughter with expensive handbags, etc etc etc It was ALLLL about the money. His kids were given a choice by the "new mom": If you could give away your favorite item to spend time with your dad? They both said NO. This guy obviously taught his kids very well that material things and money mattered more than people.

Anyway, my point is that if you're going to choose a martial arts school for your child, make sure you research the school and the owners thoroughly. Get recommendations from other parents. Get a free month and while you're there, speak to the other parents to get a feel of the place. Sad to say but most martial arts schools are nothing buy money machines for the owners. To find a decent one that truly wants to teach your child the ARTS is rare.

aimlyles
01-25-2012, 10:22 PM
My son joined a local Tae Kwon Do class in our area and we had to sign a 1 year contract, we were able to make monthly payments. He started getting bored with it towards the last few months but I told him he had to finish it because we had to pay either way. They tested every 6-8 weeks so we had to pay for the belts and I want to say about 2 months after we signed up we learned we had to purchase sparing equipment which ended up costing us another $150 or so. Honestly I would say that with belts, uniforms, equipment and the monthly payment we payed about $1500 for the year.

If you end up going for it just make sure the "class" is good, there are a few places in our area and I know a few is more "play" than learning. Even though we paid alot I knew the place we chose really taught them not just took our money if that makes sense!

MineMail
01-26-2012, 04:17 AM
Our DDs went through to Black Belt over several years. We had a great experience and yes, an annual contract was the norm. However, we asked initially about a six-month contract instead for the same reason the OP stated: kids are capricious. The business owner (and head instructor) agreed and there wasn't a problem.

The sparring gear is a PITA - my kids were never great at sparring and some of the other kids took it waaaaay too seriously. We had one kid who cried constantly (very young) and another who was always angry and looking to hurt (mother was a headcase, too.) If it had been optional, my kids would not have done it or worn the gear.

Once they reached their goal (black belt), my kids decided to move onto something else.

Swimalie
01-26-2012, 06:22 AM
This is an issue we're going through now. My son started taking classes through a local karate studio in Nov 2009. It became apparent soon after we re-signed in 2010 that it wasn't working out there. The Master never taught but he let his son and another black belt do it. The son was very negative towards certain kids. So, we looked in to a new studio and started there a few weeks ago. Night and day in my son's reaction, ability in class, focus, etc.

With the original studio, they use a 3rd party biller called Educational Funding Co. We are finding out now that they will not let people out of their contract easily. They have a horrible reputation on the web and a F with the BBB. On Tues we had the master of the old studio sign a letter letting us out of the contract. It was mailed to EFC certified mail, signature required yesterday. If they won't stop charging us, we can't continue with the new studio since we can't afford 2 charges per month. This would be so hard for my son since he loves the new studio.

With the new studio they bill themselves which we are now finding out makes a big difference. While the child is in the Little Dragons program they can stop with 30 days notice. After they move in to the regular belts, it is a year contract but they will work with people.

Don't sign any contracts where a 3rd party is doing the billing. Only self-billing through the studio. Take a lesson from us, please.

luvmy3
01-26-2012, 07:23 AM
One of the reasons I love the MA school my boys attend is the fact that they have no contract. You sign up, you pay monthly and can stop going at any time. I would look for another place in your area that does something similiar or has options for 3 or 6 months at a time.
Not every child gets something out of MA, and I like that our school undertands that and doesn't pressure parents to keep their kid enrolled because they have to pay for it anyway.

Kies99
01-26-2012, 07:26 AM
My DD8 studies Tang Soo Do. She's been doing it for about 3 years now. This is not how they do it.

You start out with free 3 private lessons. This was so the Master could get an idea of how the child would do going forward as well as to see if the child would like it. You then would sign for 3 months. After that you'd sign for a little longer, then a little longer and now we signed for 18-24 months to take her through her black belt. There's also no limit on how many classes you can take. They also don't promote or even let you test unless you've gone to enough classes as well as the Master feels you're ready.

Pigeon
01-26-2012, 08:09 AM
It's very common around here, and there aren't any places that don't have as a minimum a one year contract, many are worse.

My dd started TKD at the big, popular school that was close by and had lots of classes, so we could get there frequently. At that time, you could sign up for a year, but there was heavy pressure to be in the "black belt club," which was a long-term commitment until you got your black belt, which translated into several thousand dollars and several years. There were also additional fees for testing and competition, and the school was always trying to upsell you to get you to add on other martial arts or come to extra $$$ events. Our pet name for the owner is Master Charge.

The kids in the black belt club had more choice of classes, much nicer uniforms and several other perks. Almost all kids joined the BBC. New kids coming into the program don't have a choice, it's all they offer now.

We did the BBC for her, and she got her 1st degree black belt in 8th grade. She was very into it, and she was pretty good. She very much wanted to continue, but the only option the place offered was another 4 year or so contract at $5K. They would not do a one year contract, much less month to month. She was heartbroken at having to quit, so we checked out all the other options in the area.

We ended up with a one year contract at a different school. No place would let you do less. It's not working out at all. The school and teachers are fine, but it's a smaller operation and they have far fewer classes, and she's got other activities and an even heavier homework load now that's she's in high school. It seems that every night we could make a class, they are either closed or have some special thing going on that cancels class. It's killing me to write the $120 check every month to have her get there maybe for three classes.

When this contract runs out, sadly, we are done. She loves TKD and is great at it. I wish these schools didn't have these crazy contracts.

vttkdmom
01-26-2012, 03:14 PM
We were very fortunate to stumble across our TKD school. My entire family has trained for 10 years at this school. My children are all first dans (21,16 and 13) and I am a second dan. Our TKD family is our second family.

My instructor lives and teaches the tenets of our sport and it shows in the quality of classes and dedication to his school and sport. Our school competes both locally and nationally. We have had members on the AAU National team. Our school is a *** school, and our black belts are certified thru the Kikkiwon in Korea. The Kikkiwon is the internationally recognized governing body of taekwondo.

*** is also known as "Olympic style" and there is another style known as "point style" or ITF. If you are looking into a school and you think your child may go on, please research these two styles so you are aware of what you are paying for. ITF schools do not have a governing body, so most schools are 'rogue' and the instructor of THAT school sets the standard, so you can have great schools or not so great schools. Also, not all *** schools certify their black belts thru the Kikkiwon.

Our school signs up on a month-to-month basis with a discount for additional family members, so families are encouraged to train together. We do use an "auto" payment with a credit card so our instructor doesn't have to spend time tracking folks down for payment.

I am in the New England area, but I think how payments/contracts are set up is very dependent on what area of the country you are in.

*** is World Taekwondo Federation, surprisingly, the forum didn't like the acronym for this :)

MinnieForMe
01-26-2012, 06:21 PM
Keep looking! You want to find a nonprofit Tae Kwon Do studio. My boys have been taking TKD for four years now. The Masters that teach have between 15-40 years teaching experience and do it because they love it. They don't get paid and whatever money is left over after the rent etc. goes towards new gear. There is no contract!

8 is the perfect age to start TKD. I highly recommend it!

Our black belts are certified through the kikkiwon in Korea too!

Pigeon
01-26-2012, 08:06 PM
Keep looking! You want to find a nonprofit Tae Kwon Do studio. My boys have been taking TKD for four years now. The Masters that teach have between 15-40 years teaching experience and do it because they love it. They don't get paid and whatever money is left over after the rent etc. goes towards new gear. There is no contract!

8 is the perfect age to start TKD. I highly recommend it!

Our black belts are certified through the kikkiwon in Korea too!

I agree this sounds great, but I think this sort of place is somewhat rare.

momz
01-27-2012, 05:30 PM
Thanks to everyone for sharing your experiences. There's quite a variety out there. And it seems no general consensus on the quality of instruction. But a lot of agreement on the payment plans.

I wonder why it's not like dance classes. So much easier.

We've decided to sign up for a 7 week class at the ymca. It meets one time/week and costs just 88$ for the entire course. Hopefully that will be a good place to start without making such a commitment in either time or money.