Many people, when looking into martial arts, ask about the price of our classes. That’s a valid question. Every once in a while, someone will ask, “Why does karate cost so much?” and that is a valid question too.
The biggest determiner of the price of martial arts classes is the use of space. Even for only two people to practice karate, or any martial art, it takes more space than your average-sized room. It’s more fun to have more than two people. Not to mention the better learning dynamics in a group with varied partners. And larger classes mean good use of the prime training hours and the resource of the teacher’s time as well. Space costs money, especially large open spaces needed for moving around.
Some dojos share space such as in a recreation center and that drastically cuts down on the karate cost. But this means trade-offs. I have experienced those trade-offs in more than one shared facility, as both a student and an instructor.
Trade-offs for Lower Karate Cost
In a rec center or other hosted facility, classes are usually seasonal, with short or long breaks dependent on the facility’s schedule. It is extremely difficult to keep an area clean enough for traditional barefoot training if people wear shoes in it. The timely start of your class depends on the timely departing of the prior class. Training equipment will usually be minimal and limited to what instructors can carry or what can be stored in a small area of the facility. The insurance of the host facility may forbid certain curriculum offerings (such as sparring).
A dedicated dojo space doesn’t have any of those setbacks or inconveniences. Additionally, in a martial arts school with a dedicated location, you know that the instructor is committed to teaching. They probably have invested in expensive specialized training equipment, possibly even mats. These instructors are likely to be more professional and conscientious about their impact on the community.
That instructor has committed to the overhead costs of running a business, but they simply must pass those expenses on to their students. It’s only logical. The students and their families reap the benefits and everyone pays their share in their karate cost. The main reason that karate is a serious investment is because you are not only paying for specialized training, you are also chipping in on the use of the real estate space needed and other overhead incurred to provide martial arts training.
Incidentally, it’s not a good idea to choose a school based solely on price, as discussed here. It’s more important to consider: the style and what it teaches; your gut feeling when entering the dojo; and most importantly, the instructors. Do they have a mind toward safety? Are they professional, patient, caring, experienced and knowledgeable? Are they good at communicating and teaching? You may need to watch a class to find out.