How much do martial arts classes cost?
March 23, 2004 6:36 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking at taking some martial arts classes, specifically tai chi and some variant of kung fu. What can I expect to pay?

I realize that differences must exist geographically and form-wise; I'm just looking for a general ballpark consensus on what pricing and pricing structures people have encountered. Merely from my websurfing, I've come to the conclusion that fees for the different schools are a closely guarded secret.
Thanks!
posted by jazzkat11 to Shopping (11 answers total)
 
Ideally, especially for Tai Chi and Kung Fu, you should find... aw, jeez, you'll never find what you should find, but he should be an older Chinese guy, unassuming and humble looking, who left China for Taiwan or Hong Kong (and eventually America or Canada) when China cracked down on its martial artists... maybe an old fellow with a Chinese curio shop that sells trinkets and slippers and tea.

He should teach out of the back of the shop. You know? He should charge probably between $12 and $20 (USD) per lesson these days, I'd say closer to $12, maybe $15. You'd start off going once a week, then twice a week if you really get into it. When you start talking to him and asking about his art, if he likes you maybe he'll ask you to play a game of Go.

No, really. I'm not kidding.

I don't know. Do you know anyone whose judgement you trust who is active in your local martial arts circles? They really are circles, and someone who knows the local characters can tell you which teachers have something, and which are showy and impressive but not real... You might even find a non-Chinese person who has been a dedicated student of a good teacher for years, and is ready to teach, or at least tell you who is good.

Now schools, especially if they have more than one location or teacher, I don't know about. But I'd tap into your local grapevine and ask around.
posted by Shane at 9:31 PM on March 23, 2004 [1 favorite]


Prices can vary depending on the level of attendence. At my school a single class costs £5, but for unlimited classes - 3 per day, 5 days a week - a £40 charge is levied.

Most schools charge a membership fee - this was £25 in my case.

Try posting a question on the boards in here.

This is a good resource too.
posted by the cuban at 5:01 AM on March 24, 2004


You'll find considerable variation, based on location and whether the school is a commercial one or not. A commercial dojo (meaning the owner is trying to make a living at it) in an upscale neighborhood might charge over $100/month, in addition to tacked on membership fees & belt testing fees. A class taught out of a community center in a poorer neighborhood, run by a teacher who just wants to share his knowledge and cover expenses, might only charge $30/month with no additional fees. (In my area, most schools would fall in-between those extremes.) If your local community college offers the classes you are interested in, that can be an excellent deal.

In general, price does not particularly correlate to the quality of the instruction, although it may relate to the niceness of the facilities. Also, the style of martial art does not typically make much difference in the price of instruction.

BTW - I'll have to strongly disagree with Shane's assertion that you need to find an old Chinese guy. It's been about 4 decades since the days when Chinese martial arts were largely hidden from outsiders. In that time, there have been plenty of non-Chinese who have progressed to a very high level in those arts.
posted by tdismukes at 6:36 AM on March 24, 2004


Addendum to my previous comment - I live in the Mid-West, where real estate prices are low. If you live in a more expensive area, then prices may be somewhat higher, just based on the rent the school owner has to pay. The same variation in prices between different schools will still exist, though.
posted by tdismukes at 6:45 AM on March 24, 2004


In that time, there have been plenty of non-Chinese who have progressed to a very high level in those arts.

Yeah, but try finding a 'white guy' to teach you all the self-defense applications of a tai chi form. Hell, the Chinese instructors often don't even teach them, they just occasionally show a move here or there, and they teach tai chi for health and relaxation. Sometimes it's tough to find a white teacher who actually has chi and can use it, and doesn't just have physical grace.

Anyway, not to sound all Confucian-kitsch, but everyone finds their way to wherever it is they're going. Forget I said anything.
posted by Shane at 7:41 AM on March 24, 2004


I took Tai Chi lessons for over a year, in Rhode Island and I paid $30 for every six-week module.

And, for the record, my instructor was a middle-aged Irish man.
posted by LouMac at 8:35 AM on March 24, 2004


Be careful of hidden fees. Some places will charge you extra when you advance a level, or charge you for a new belt.

The best places will charge you a flat fee per month. I used to pay $80 a month (in New England- semi urban). The dojo offered 12 classes a month, 2 hours each class. If I was really motivated i could go to all 12 classes to get my money's worth, often I would hit 6 or 7 classes a month which averages out to 12-14 bucks per class.

And my instructor was one of about 50 instructors in the country to reach 7th Dan (And is *not* a little old chinese man who sells "trinkets, slippers and tea". Wtf Shane?
posted by jeremias at 10:03 AM on March 24, 2004


And my instructor was one of about 50 instructors in the country to reach 7th Dan (And is *not* a little old chinese man who sells "trinkets, slippers and tea". Wtf Shane?

I've never had an instructor who rated students by dans or belts.
posted by Shane at 10:09 AM on March 24, 2004


jeremias, whatever martial art you're into is obviously apples-to-oranges with where I'm coming from. What I said about tai chi is good advice, if you're looking for something very specific. I've just been privileged to know some... gifted people, who even then managed to teach me very little due to my lack of discipline and laziness.

I really don't want this to degenerate into a pissing match between styles and personal experiences that are possibly not even proper to compare. You may certainly assume that I am an idiot, having never attended a formal school nor received a belt. I will think none the less of you should you adopt this opinion of me, and I would even encourage you to think thus and to ignore me, especially as I will say no more foolishness.
posted by Shane at 10:27 AM on March 24, 2004


Shane - "...apples-to-oranges with where I'm coming from. What I said about tai chi is good advice...You may certainly assume that I am an idiot, having never attended a formal school nor received a belt."

Tai Chi is not an art where belt ranks are normally used, so your lack of a belt rank is immaterial. Likewise, one-on-one training is certainly as good as training in a formal school, so your experience is certainly valid. However, just because you had good experiences learning from an old Chinese guy who teaches in the back of his shop, doesn't mean others can't learn just as much from a middle-aged Irishman (or whoever).

"Yeah, but try finding a 'white guy' to teach you all the self-defense applications of a tai chi form."

90% of the tai chi teachers out there (Chinese or not) do not even purport to teach the self-defense applications of the tai chi form. Of those that do purport to teach those applications, 90% (Chinese or not) don't have a real clue about how it applies to the reality of combat.* If jazzkat11 is looking specifically at tai chi, I hope it's not primarily for self-defense purposes.


*All statistics pulled out of my butt, and should be taken with a large grain of salt. I have 24 years of martial arts experience, but I haven't really been gathering detailed numeric data.
posted by tdismukes at 12:06 PM on March 24, 2004


Thank you guys all for your input - it was very helpful. These classes are expensive!

I've actually settled on a tai chi / kung fu place that is very much like what Shane describes, except for the fact that it is an older Taiwanese man, as opposed to someone from the mainland. However, in my view of things, that's not really important - I'd take an Irishman and the like as well.

He does however, seem to teach the martial arts aspect to the Tai Chi, so your descriptions definitely helped me make a decision.

Thanks again!
posted by jazzkat11 at 6:17 PM on March 24, 2004


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