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In the consumer market of today, people have fallen into the mindset of buying martial arts classes. Martial arts are treated as a commodity and are haggled for like cheap jewelry in a flea market. While private martial arts schools charge for membership, the atmosphere surrounding them shouldn’t be reduced to that of cheap commodities. Paying for your martial arts school membership is about more than purchasing a product and, therefore, should be viewed in a positive light.

What am I paying for?

Contributing Members make the wheel turn
Contributing members make for a smooth-running machine.

Joining a martial arts school is not a simple, cut, and dry transaction, like bartering for beads on your island vacation. It’s about more than an agreed-upon amount of money for a given number of classes. It’s far more personal. It is about instilling a lifestyle and becoming part of a like-minded community. It is about forming relationships around a common interest, and love of something. When you join a martial arts school, you should feel a sense of pride, loyalty, and belonging. You should have an affinity to the school as you do towards a family, so by joining a school, you are pledging to aid in its growth and contribute to its well-being.

Pay Your Dues

One way of contributing to the school’s good health is by paying your monetary dues. Common sense dictates that it takes money to operate a private martial arts school. A school isn’t fueled by good intentions, alone. There are a lot of overheads, especially if you expect a high level of training from a qualified instructor, an outfitted and clean facility, small class sizes, and a healthy social atmosphere.

Commit to your School

As in any private members club, a pay-as-you-go attitude has no place. Pay-as-you-go translates to non-commital. If you are non-committal, you will never really belong or reap the full rewards that come with commitment. Commitment says trust. A trusted person is always welcome and, by the nature of it, will receive more benefits. If you want to pay for classes alone, then don’t join a martial arts school. Join a superficial fitness class, such as cardio-kickboxing, where there is no connection beyond an inward-focused goal. You pay for your product, and there is no relationship beyond that. There is a definite distinction between the mindsets of each of them.

Do Unto Others

Treatment is reciprocal, so do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Students who treat the school and training purely as a commodity will have the ill-favor returned. You can’t handle a school as a commodity and then expect the community to treat you as one of their own. That is double standards. You must choose one way or another. Either, you belong, or you don’t. If you are not contributing to your school, then you are not a member. Simple.

Community Outsider
Not everybody belongs in the community. If you aren’t on board, it’s better to find your place elsewhere.

If you plan to come and go intermittently without paying, then you are riding on other peoples backs. They are keeping the school functioning, and in order, therefore the only reason it is there for you to return to is that others have kept it afloat. The notion of “I will only pay when I come” makes you a guest, not a member. Guests are not always welcome and don’t share the same rights as a member, so don’t expect a school to hold your spot when you go on sporadic leaves of absence without paying your dues. A school should actively seek to replace these people with one’s better suited to the culture it is fostering.


You shouldn’t treat martial art school membership like a product. It’s not about buying martial arts classes. You should love your training and your school. Be aware of the value it brings to your life. Take an interest in its condition and wantingly add to its strength. The lessons learned don’t go away when you leave for the day. You are not only investing in yourself but contributing to the well-being of your tribe.

To have the right to say you belong, you must be adding to the cause. If you are not adding, then you are taking away. If you are serious about wanting to belong to a martial arts school, then you must immerse yourself in it. You should want it to do well and thrive even when you are absent. Surely, you want the school to be there upon your return. The only time you should quit your monetary contribution is when you leave for good and are no longer telling people you belong to that particular school.