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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Value of Training

Had one of those weeks where I had parallel conversations with a few different people on the same subject.

There's an odd percentage of the population in martial arts and fitness training (it may be in other fields as well, I don't know) that seems to suffer from the idea that they shouldn't really have to pay for training. This belief manifests itself in a variety of ways, from asking for discounts on training at one end of the spectrum, to attempting to sneak into classes without paying at the other end. It's obnoxious as hell.

Look, for a professional martial arts instructor, this is a business. Sure, for most of us, it's a business we love, but it's still a business. I literally pay bills with the money I make from coaching people (and in case you're wondering, I don't make much, so let me disabuse you of the notion that I'm rolling in cash from doing this).

I don't wander into restaurants and say "hey, times are tough, could you give me a free meal?" If I need my car fixed, I don't swing by my mechanic and say "hey, want to look at my car for a bit?" I certainly don't accuse him of being selfish if he asks me for money for his time (and he will, I promise you).

Even if your instructor doesn't make a living from teaching, if they are asking for money, you should pay it.

After all, you pay for meals at a restaurant. You pay for a haircut from your barber or hairdresser. You pay people to do their work, and coaching, whether it is martial arts, strength coaching, or whatever, IS work.

Have I given people discounts before? Sure. Usually, it was people I've a)known for a very long time, and b)had a great deal of trust in. It's one thing if you have a relationship with someone to ask for a bit of help. It's another to presume that you are owed a break because, hey, you're a special snowflake.

I have no real illusions that the kind of people who act like this are likely to read this blog, but on the off chance that they do...please stop. Show a little respect. Or go train somewhere else. I hear YouTube is pretty cheap these days.


Maija said...

I will sometimes ask people -
"So tell me - Why should I teach you? Why should I give you what I have spent a life time learning?
Generally the answer is "Er ....."

"What do YOU bring to make it worth my time"?

I teach out of a dojo that is sliding scale, and I too believe that folks who want to train should not be denied just through lack of funds ... BUT it is not a one way street. To get the discount, you have to be serious, train regularly and really really hard. Miss classes, don't put in any effort, and you are out.

Students often don't realize that they are expected to put something into the system too ..... money or no money

Jake said...

Indeed. I'm not averse to cutting people a break now and then, but I have to have a reason for it, and to trust that it's worthwhile. Of course, the catch-22 for them is that if I don't know you and haven't seen you train, I'm much less likely to cut you a break. Sure, you've got a sob story, but so does everyone else these days.

The question "What do YOU bring to make it worth my time"? is interesting. I honestly don't know that I'd have a great answer to that one.

Maija said...

The answer is not difficult - "I work hard, show up regularly, pay attention, practice and really want to understand what you do"
But yes, the student has to show willing ... put in the time first. Smart, polite, people understand this and tend not to have a sob story on first meeting. They save their pennies, come for a while, show themselves, try as hard as they can ... then approach the issue :-)