April 17, 2023
Here’s the short and simple answer to this common question. It can range from $25 to over $500 per month. At the time of this recording, we, Ko Martial Arts, charge $239 per month or about $30 per 45 minute class. The price decreases if the program is paid in full. So for example, our White Belt program is about 12 weeks long. The price decreases to $204 per month or $25.50 per lesson if the program is paid in full at enrollment.
If you want a little more insight into why there is such a difference in pricing, watch the rest of this video.
I have been involved in martial arts since the age of four and in the business side since the age of 15. When it comes to martial arts business, I have seen it all. I will do my best to provide an honest explanation of what you should expect to pay and get with martial arts classes. For the sake of time, let’s assume you are receiving two 45 minute classes per week which seems to be the common for most martial arts schools.
The prices available for martial arts studios can be divided into three tiers; low, mid, and high
Let’s start with the low price tier.
In general, the old adage, “You pay for what you get”, also applies in the martial arts education business. If price is the most important thing to you, you can probably find martial arts classes for $50 per month or less.
These lessons might be taught at your local fitness gym or out of the basement of a house. The instructor by a highly experienced martial arts practitioner but the overall experience can vary greatly.
Let me explain. While the person leading the lessons might be an expert in a certain type of martial art, he or she probably has a full time job that pays the bills. Teaching martial arts lessons to kids and adults could be a hobby that turned into a part time gig to make a couple of extra bucks. While this single instructor operation could resemble the Mr. Miyagi and Daniel Larusso relationship we all remember in the original Karate Kid movie, I’m going to assume that is a rare thing to find these days.
But hey, if you find a martial arts instructor like Mr. Miyagi charging $50 per month, I’d say run with it.
In reality, the part time, solo instructor business model is very difficult to sustain. The reason is simple. What happens when this instructor gets sick? Has a hard day at his real job and doesn’t feel like teaching that night? Or has to attend his daughter’s piano recital?
This may result in a cancelled class which in my opinion, is not ideal for a child who is trying to learn the intricacies of a martial art. Learning a new martial art is about establishing good habits and a consistent weekly schedule is vital.
The other factor to consider is the environment your child will be in when learning martial arts. For example, if the classes are taught in a fitness gym with loud music, people talking, and other potential distractions, it might make it difficult for your child to learn. I firmly believe our environment plays a huge role in learning, especially with children.
And one more factor to consider with the low priced lessons is schedule availability. Most likely the days and times the instructor is available is limited. So finding a time and day that works for your schedule might be a challenge.
Now let’s say that instructor starts gaining a following and wants to move his side business to a more permanent location. After signing a five year lease in a small space in a retail strip center, he can now lead classes without all the distractions of a fitness gym.
But since his fixed expenses such as rent and utilities have greatly increased, he now has to increase his monthly fees from $50 to $100 per month and gain more students to cover the extra costs.
This mid priced option might be exactly what you’re looking for. There are probably more class times to choose from and the environment is better suited for learning. But the one obstacle you may run into again is the consistency in experience.
Since this is still a part time job for the instructor and now owner, what happens when he is sick or is unable to teach? By this time he might have found an assistant instructor willing to help out but depending on the how many students are enrolled, this new assistant is most likely working for free. While this model can work in the short term, it is difficult to sustain in the long term. It is hard to find full commitment in a person when they are not getting paid.
Also, since the owner is still working at a full time job during the day, the new assistant instructor might not have received the proper training to deliver a consistent experience to the students while the owner is gone.
Let’s say the owner decides to go all in and quit his full time job. Now he can fully commit to teaching more classes and more students. He keeps his monthly price at $100 per month and starts to gain more students. The class sizes now have grown to over 20 students which makes it difficult for the owner to handle. Especially when there are different age groups and belt levels in the same class. The volunteer assistant helps out when she can but is inconsistent due to her full time job.
Now when the owner gets sick or is away from classes, the assistant greatly struggles with leading the larger classes. The student experience suffers because everything is reliant on the personality of the owner. Students start to quit and the instructor responds by offering the assistant instructor a full time job.
But the only way the owner can afford to pay the assistant instructor and pay the bills is by increasing the price to $150 per month. Now that the assistant instructor is fully committed to teaching classes the overall student experience improves.
More new students continue to join the school. The classes start to grow and the owner and assistant instructor run into the same problem again. Too many students and not enough instructors. Every time the owner is away, the student experience suffers even more because it is just too much for the assistant instructor to handle on her own.
In my opinion, this is the most common business model found in the martial arts education space. The business is usually located in a retail strip center and the owner is the “main show”. When the owner is gone, the student experience suffers.
Please don’t misunderstand me and I hope I am not coming across as presenting these hard working owners and instructors in a bad light. I am just speaking based on the many years of owning a martial arts school and speaking to fellow owners.
You may find a larger more sophisticated martial arts school that has mid priced class fees. Just know that they will either make up for the price difference with higher extra fees or offer classes with a higher student to instructor ratio. I will touch on extra fees later in the video.
Let’s move onto the higher priced martial arts lessons. Depending on your area, you may run across martial arts schools that charge over $200 per month. I’ve even heard of schools that charge over $500 per month. Yes, it can seem crazy to think about paying over $500 per month but like anything in life, it all depends on what you’re getting.
Some people spend over $1000 for a Gucci wallet! I personally don’t get it but who am I to judge? To them, it’s worth it and that’s all that matters.
If I was a parent in search of martial arts lessons for my child, I would want to know what I am getting for $500 per month. Here are the things I would expect to receive for paying that kind of money.
Top notch facility. I would expect the facility to be sparkling clean and feel more like a high end hotel than a boxing gym. It would not smell like a sweaty gym and would be aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Bright without clutter, organized, and a well thought out learning environment for children. I also would want a space where I can watch my daughter’s class and maybe get some work done.
Professional operation. If I’m paying a lot of money then I would expect the staff to be professional and pleasant to deal with. Rules, expectations, how the program works, how to sign up for classes, and upcoming events are clearly communicated and easy to understand. It really comes down to friction. In my opinion, a premium service removes as much friction as possible for the customer. As a business owner myself, I would also expect that systems and processes are in place to ensure the business operates like a well oiled machine.
Student experience. This is by far the most important part of part of what I expect to receive for paying a lot of money for martial arts lessons. I personally would be more interested in character development and building positive habits for my nine year old daughter than her learning how to fight. I would need to fully believe that their culture focuses on character development and building positive habits in their students and not self defense or learning how to fight. I would want my daughter to be surrounded by people who can push her to become more focused, disciplined, and courageous. I would also expect that the daughter’s experience would be fairly consistent regardless of who taught the class. This is again where systems and processes come into play.
You might be thinking that I have a biased opinion and you might be right. But I can tell you that my high expectations are the same regardless of the business I am paying. The higher the price compared to the competition, the higher the expectations. Our business is not even close to perfection but I can tell you that we try every single day.
When checking out martial arts studios with high monthly fees, decide what is most important to you and start from there.
Almost every martial arts school will have other fees that accompany the class fees. The most common is the belt testing fee and can range from $0 to over $1000. I will dive deeper into the world of belt testing fees on a separate video. Belt testing fees at Ko Martial Arts are $65 for color belts and increase when testing for black belt levels.
The other fees you may encounter are uniform, sparring gear, weapons, and special event fees. Some martial arts studios may not have many extra fees while others may require you to purchase a new weapon, uniform, or piece of gear every month. To be completely honest, the core of our business model is based on the monthly class fee rather than other extra fees. The uniform and belt is included in the White Belt program all new students start with. I personally don’t like to be nickeled and dimed as a consumer and always keep this in mind with our business.
When it comes to the prices you will pay for martial arts lessons, it all depends on what is most important to you. If you are in search of the lowest price available, be prepared to encounter an inconsistent experience. If you are looking for the middle of the road price, also be prepared for inconsistencies and larger student to instructor ratios. If you are wanting the best experience available, be prepared to pay more. Make sure you first decide what is more important to you and do your homework. Visit the facility, watch the classes, and ask many questions. Make sure to check out the video where I cover what to look for in a martial arts studio.
I hope you found this helpful. See you at the next one.