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Is Your Martial Arts School Ripping You Off? Part 2
Mr. Craig Willits, Chief Instructor at Spotsylvania Martial Arts in Fredericksburg VA, warns martial arts students how the martial arts school they are attending (or considering attending) may be ripping them off. In Part 1, we looked at how unscrupulous martial arts businesses rip off prospective students using questionable marketing tactics. In this installment, we'll look at the other side of the coin -- how martial arts studios rip people off by delivering a low-quality product: sub-standard martial arts instruction. Because martial arts instruction is personality driven, a martial arts school either lives or dies by the quality of its instruction. Sadly, there are a lot of martial arts schools that are poorly managed and unprofessionally run. As stated in Part 1, the owners of these establishments rely on the fact that the typical consumer is ignorant about martial arts. Don't be fooled by marketing hype, and don't put up with a poor quality product. Pay attention to the following four areas so you are not victimized in your search for quality martial arts. Martial Arts Rip-Off #5: Dubious or Inflated Instructor Qualifications. Some martial arts studios try to attract potential students by impressing them with the instructor's credentials. Unfortunately for the innocent consumer, ad copy doesn't produce skilled martial arts students -- a skilled and experienced instructor does. Legitimate martial arts instructors should have three basic qualifications as a minimum. First, they should be certified by at least one reputable national organization; the certification process should include both a formal examination by a board of senior martial arts instructors, and an apprenticeship requiring several hundred hours of teaching martial arts under the supervision of an experienced instructor (like a student teacher in a public school). Second, they must have a thorough understanding of their martial arts system so they can teach it effectively; this usually means they have been a student of that system for several years prior to certifying as an instructor. Finally, they must have the maturity and people skills to be effective teachers and leaders. A martial arts instructor who doesn't have these three qualifications won't give you effective instruction. Ask about an instructor's certifications and experience before signing up. If there are any questions about his/her qualifications, look elsewhere for martial arts instruction. Martial Arts Rip-Off #6: The Instructor "Bait and Switch". Most new martial arts students join a studio expecting to train with the owner. Even in reputable martial arts schools, this often doesn't happen, especially if the school is large or the owner is a prominent grand master, noted fight trainer, or other martial arts celebrity. In these cases, the owner relies heavily on assistant instructors to teach the less experienced students. This is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, helping the class instructor teach is a traditional part of a martial arts instructor's apprenticeship. It becomes a scam when the school uses the promise of training with the owner to sign you, then passes you off on an assistant who is essentially a beginner who doesn't know much more about martial arts than you do. Sometimes, these "assistants" are little more than children. While inexperienced martial artists do serve as assistant instructors, they should always be directly supervised (as in on the mat controlling the action) by an instructor with the minimum qualifications outlined in the previous paragraph. If he/she is unqualified, you will wind up no more skilled at or knowledgeable in martial arts than when you started, although you will be poorer.
Martial Arts Rip-Off #7: Poorly Designed Curriculum. Professional trainers in any field always use a well-designed curriculum, with clearly defined goals, detailed class plans that allow the students to meet those goals, and standards that measure a student's knowledge of the subject. In an academic classroom, for example, the teacher plans the course of instruction, executes that plan, and tests you on what you learned. You would expect martial arts instructors to be no different. However, many martial arts schools take a disorganized approach to teaching, with no prior planning or goal setting, and no way to set or enforce standards. Because rank advancement is often a source of extra revenue, a martial arts studio won't make money if it never promotes anyone. Therefore, a poorly-run studio typically has no standards, and will promote students regardless of ability to ensure cash flow. A school like this is commonly called a "belt factory," a label that's a sure sign their number one priority is to make money. If you want legitimate martial arts training, you should look for a school with organized, well-planned classes, and standards for promotion. If a school has none of these, you'll get better value elsewhere. Martial Arts Rip-Off #8: A Dysfunctional Learning Environment. In order for martial arts students to learn effectively, they need to function in an orderly, disciplined, positive classroom environment. For this to happen, the class must be led by a well-trained, well-prepared, professional martial arts instructor who makes class fun while still maintaining control of control of class activities. Some instructors who brand themselves "traditional" maintain order in class by being overbearing and abusive. This usually involves yelling and screaming, humiliating students by name, or administering difficult exercises as punishment. In extreme cases, it may involve physical abuse. Conversely, there are martial arts instructors who seem afraid of offending students (and causing them to quit) by insisting on proper, orderly behavior in class. Worse, they engage in such unprofessional behavior as horsing around with the students, or showing disinterest in and lack of attention to class activities. These are all serious warning signs. When you choose to train in martial arts, you should seek a school that has well-run classes with a minimum of distractions. If you visit a school and everyone is behaving as if they're afraid of getting in trouble, or if the inmates are running the asylum, so to speak, you should look elsewhere for martial arts training. In summary, predatory marketing combined with a low-quality product leads to a ripped off consumer, and martial arts consumers are not immune to the danger of being ripped off. Further, shady martial arts schools give the martial arts industry, and the legitimate businesses in it, a bad name. Take the time to become an educated consumer of martial arts instruction, and you will have a positive experience and get value for your money.
Spotsylvania Martial Arts offers a free three-class trial program in the following areas: Traditional Martial Arts for Children (Ages 6-12) Better Grades, Self-Discipline, Respect, Enhanced Focus Traditional Martial Arts for Teens & Adults (Ages 13 and Up) Self-Discipline, Physical Fitness, Goal-Setting, Self Defense Krav Maga For Adults (Ages 18 and Up) Reality-Based Self Defense, Realistic Personal Protection Spotsylvania Martial Arts Headquarters 4100 Lafayette Blvd, Fredericksburg Virginia 22408 Commerce Center Plaza (across from Spotswood Baptist Church) Phone: 540-891-9008
Website addresses: spotsybba.com, kravmagafredericksburg.com Email: email@example.com © 2010 Spotsylvania Martial Arts
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