The Price You Pay
We had a new student join the dojo last week. Dave is a Red Belt* from a TSD school in the area. Seems a bit awkward in his technique, but he’s a big teenage kid, so yeah, awkwardness will ensue at that age. Body be trippin’ right? Nice kid, too. Seems eager to learn and willing to make an effort, so I hope our school’s a good fit for him. He’s going to have some unlearning to do, but that wont be a problem either.
I was talking with his Dad Saturday, just about the dojo in general. He mentioned to me that one of the reasons he pulled Dave out of the TSD school was the cost. It would have been over $1200 to test for Black Belt.
Over twelve hundred dollars. Just for the test. I’m hoping that’s an error in recollecting the details, because that’s a really steep price tag for just a test. That kind of money would cover my dojo’s dues for nearly two years.
I wonder about the reasoning behind the cost. Large scale franchises tend to have a lot of overhead. Even so I have to wonder. I’m registered with the Okinawa Karate-Do Association, as is my school, and yet my Shodan test was less than a sixth of the cited amount. Maybe its because we’re not as widespread as TKD or TSD franchises, but I think there’s something else to it. As I said in my post “Taking the Black”, it takes about five to six years to reach Shodan, but here’s the thing: many people see Black Belt as an endpoint, a state of mastery (although it’s anything but that). For a younger student, especially when facing college and other responsibilities, that’s the time to quit. This leads me to wonder if the reason for the high testing fee is part overhead and part money grab.
It also begs the question of what’s required to advance beyond Black Belt, besides the years of continued training.
On the other hand, I feel grateful for being in the school that I’m in.
*Belt ranks vary between schools, but from what I know a Red Belt in Tang Soo Do is the equivalent to a Brown Belt in our school.