Martial Arts Payment Plan Scheme

Updated on June 13, 2007
M.S. asks from Plano, TX
9 answers

Just over a month ago, I signed up my 9 yr old twins for their 1st martial arts lessons in Plano @ USA Martial Arts. I paid over $1000 for the 1st 6 months (combined, not each). They are in the Kid's Beginners class, where they are the oldest kids, and last week the teacher had them try out the kids’ "Master's Club" class (which was more at their level, with kids more their age). He scheduled an appointment with me, & here's the deal. The Master's Club & Leadership classes will cost $4100 additional dollars (combined, not each) which will take them thru their blackbelt (after giving credit for their unused tuition). They still have their white belts, no stripes even. When I signed up for the 6 months, I asked about additional expenses, and by no means was I made aware that the beginners class would only last them about a month, and that there would be a huge additional investment when they started the next level of classes. If I don’t want to pay the additional $4100, then in order to take the “master’s” level classes, it will cost over $1000 for the “down payment” and gear (different uniforms, etc), and then combined it will be $300/month for the master’s classes, and another $100 combined for the leadership classes….so again, a huge investment. The alternative is to remain for now in the kids’ basic class where the kids are quite young & the lessons are awfully easy.

I don’t like the fact that this was not presented to me when we 1st signed up; I don’t think it’s really a “master’s club” if you’ve got white belts in there; I don’t think it’s right for white belts to be asked to commit to & pay for a blackbelt plan. My kids love their lessons, but they’ve only been doing it for a little over a month. I don’t know if this scheme (or is it a scam?) is pretty standard in martial arts & I am worried that other places aren’t going to be any better, or that the kids might not like the classes & teachers as well. I am unhappy with the idea of pulling my kids out of lessons that they are enjoying, but I am also unhappy with staying under what I consider to be a pretty shady way of running a business; I feel like it’s pretty close to bait & switch, and that paying for 6 months of lessons (for kids who had never taken martial arts before) should pay for whatever level of classes is appropriate. Help, what do I do, and is this just how people run these businesses? (We live in Plano @ Legacy & Custer.)

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answers from San Antonio on

My husband is a martial arts instructor and this doesn't sound right. At his school you pay a monthly fee and he progresses the kids to different levels, as needed, without any increase in payment. The only thing that changes is the time they come to class. He also has said to never pay more than $100/month for 4 classes (once per week). I would definitely look into another martial arts school.

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answers from Dallas on

M., This sounds like a scam to me. My daughter achieved her black belt last June from John Bain at Plano Self Defense. We had been in another program in Allen and she was due to test for blackbelt in October of 05. Due to a management change and things like that, we opted to change schools. We felt like a lot of the schools around now are simply "belt factories" and in essence you are paying for all of your belts instead of earning them.

Check out Mr. Bain's site at to read the info regarding selecting a school. He is fantastic, he works with the Chuck Norris's Kickstart program in local schools. He is very well trained and believe me, your children will EARN the belt. We paid around $150 a month for unlimited classes, never paid a fee for a belt. We did pay extra when she got her black belt to have the belt embroidered with her name, etc and for the certificates of authencity for her black belt. I wish we had started with Mr. Bain.

Best wishes. Susan

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answers from Dallas on

My daughter takes karate and has attained her junior black belt. She has taken the classes at the same place for almost 4 years. We pay $85/month for unlimited classes. I think the price has gone up for new students, but I think it is only $100/month for unlimited classes. At my daughter's school, they have 3 different levels, Little Dragons (age 4-6), Juniors (age 7-13) and Adults (14-up). I believe it is the same price for all levels. Also, you don't have to make a long-term committment unless you want to. You can go month-to-month or he will allow you to commit to a 3, 6, or 12 month term at a discounted rate.

By the way you describe it, it sure does sound like a scam. Let me know if you need more info. The school is in Carrollton (, but he has been talking about opening a location in Plano.

Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

Absolutely sounds like a scam to me. I wonder how they stay in business?



answers from Dallas on

M.--My husband and I used to run a martial arts school. Actually my husband ran it for almost 25 years. The way you described is similar to the way contracts used to be set up (although your story sounds like it is MUCH MORE than it should be). The problem with contracts like that is that anything can happen that would possibly make it difficult to attend all the classes within a contract period. Then you would be out of money.

The way that our school ran (and still runs, my stepson is running it now) is that you made an initial sign up payment. This would cover the uniform and registration costs. Then you paid a monthly fee. The 1st family member was a certain dollar amount and the 2nd & 3rd were half price. The 4th was free! The only additional amounts that you would pay would be test fees. You could stop and start as you needed to and the monthly tuition included as many classes as they wanted to attend. The more they attended the faster they would progress.

The key to finding the right place is to observe a class or two. Talk to the other parents. Find out how long the school has been in business and how long they have been in that particular location. There are so many fly by night places that open and close within a year's time and then open somewhere else. In the meantime they have your bank or credit card information. See how kid friendly they are. Most reputable schools will not take children under the age of 5 for a serious martial arts school. They just don't have the attention span at that age.

I think martial arts is a wonderful thing for children of all ages. They can learn so much if they are in the right school. If I can help you in any other way, please let me know. Good luck in your search.



answers from Dallas on

That does sound VERY shady! I just enrolled my 6 y/o in martial arts classes for the first time a few weeks ago. I looked into USA martial arts because they are super close to us, but I found Vision Martial Arts ( to be a lot more family oriented and flexible. I pay 89$ a month and additional siblings/family members get a 20% discount. All classes cost the same whether an adult or child. And this is for once per week class. They have rates for 2xweek also. You might explore them as an option.



answers from Houston on

My son takes karate, & we don't pay like that. Sounds like a
scam. You shouldn't have to pay that far in advance. You should
pay based on his skill level...meaning pay a class at a time.



answers from Dallas on

I just researched places for martial arts for my kids and did not hear anything like this and we are looking at the same age range as you. All places were monthly except one place had a special for $99 for 9 weeks including uniform. I was told safety equipment would be extra but that would come later and testing for belts would be extra as they are needed.



answers from Knoxville on

I don't know if this is typical or not, as martial arts hasn't been our 'thing'. However, when we were in CO, my son wanted to try it, and took one trial class and hated it. During the sales spiel, though, it sounded very much like what you're talking about; I recall having to pay a huge amount of tuition up front to the tune of about $1000 (might even have been pay by the year), and the tuition increased as his level increased, etc. It sounded and felt 'scam-y' to me, too, and a little ridiculous for me to have to pay all of that up front for a (then)5 year old who might not like it after a month. I'll be interested to see the other responses.

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