One of the first questions a potential student asks us is, “how much does karate training cost?” And if it’s not asked, let’s be honest…you thought it. Of course, it’s an important question which deserves a clear answer.
Unfortunately, training in martial arts isn’t a single path (you’ll first want to discover which style works best for you), so there are numerous ways which you can achieve your goals. Not only can the fees can vary greatly; how they are billed is also subject to wide variety. To get a basic idea of cost, training fees are often in the same range as other after-school activities, such as dance or gymnastics.
Let’s look at a few of the most popular ways of charging for training, and what each offers. We will also share some ways you can “buyer beware” to ensure you are getting exactly what you expect.
Nearly every martial arts school offers some sort of, “try before you buy” introductory period. This usually includes a uniform, belt, and a package of classes. It can be by number of classes or unlimited training during a fixed timeframe. Both must be long enough to allow a student to decide if the training is right for them.
For example, at our dojo (karate school), we normally ask for $99.95, which covers belt, uniform, registration, and 4 weeks of unlimited training. To best determine if they want to stay with the training, we recommend our 12-week, $299.95 unlimited training introductory plan.
From time to time, we, as well as other schools, offer discounts on these introductory period trials.
As an instructor, I feel the 12-week trial is a perfect length of time to help build basic capabilities for a student of any skill level.
Per Class Fee
This is the simplest way to answer your question of how much martial arts training costs. After an introductory period, the martial arts school can charge a fixed amount per class. Students buy classes individually or in packages, the latter at a discount. This can be anywhere from $20 a class to a few hundred for, say, 30 classes.
Memberships are well-understood and commonly used within the martial arts community. Like a gym membership, a student chooses the timeframe and pays per month or annually, again, the latter at a discount. To fit a wide range of budgets, the school may offer levels of membership, giving access to a certain number of classes per week.
Our own dojo offers:
- 2 Classes Per Week
- 3 Classes Per Week
- Unlimited Training
The price increases as you gain access to more classes. Having trained students on all such memberships, I can say the greatest gains come from those who commit to attending at least 3 classes per week.
“Black Belt Program” or Similar Membership Fee
We see this type of cost structure at some martial arts schools. It means you sign up at a high up-front cost, usually in the thousands (I’ve seen $5000 at some schools in our area). Then, they guarantee you won’t pay again until you achieve your Black Belt, or sometimes 2nd Degree Black Belt.
At first glance, this sounds like a great deal for students who are committed to their excellence and have the ability to pay up front. For many, it can be. However, there is a potential downside.
Since you won’t pay the martial arts school again until you reach an agreed-upon rank, it is in their best interest to get you there as quickly as possible. Of course, not all martial arts schools engage in this “below the belt” behavior. To protect yourself from this maneuver, here are some observations and questions you can ask:
- How long does it normally take to achieve this rank?
- (Ask some black belts how long it took them)
- What is your membership cost for the average “Black Belt Program” timeframe if I paid per month?
Of course, if you get the feeling the martial arts school is more interested in your money than your training excellence (regardless of how long it may take), that might be a good sign to search elsewhere.
Other Cost Considerations
While the formats discussed above are the most common ways to charge for training, there may be other costs to consider. Here are a few things which are not included in most of these fee structures:
- New Uniforms (Kids grow!)
- Sparring Gear (Gloves, Helmet, Chest Protector, Shin Guards, Foot Protectors, Mouth Guard, Cup & Support, etc.)
- Testing/Grading (To achieve the next rank, there is normally a grading fee)
- Weapons (If these are part of your training, they are sold separately)
However, you may find some financial relief through referrals. Every martial arts school I’ve seen offers some sort of referral program. If you’re enjoying it, share the love! Some make it a requirement for grading (we do not), others simply offer membership or grading credits (we choose the latter) for each student you bring to the dojo.
One final item to consider is if the membership you choose restricts the student from any specific classes or experiences.
We are happy to help you navigate the road to martial arts training. Chances are, our staff has answered the question you have. So feel free to get in touch!
For over 39 years, the University Karate Center has helped people achieve their potential through martial arts training in Plantation, Florida.