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ATA Chanhassen Family Martial Arts

The different types of Martial Arts memberships [Tips on how to find the school that works for you].

Posted: July 19, 2018

Health clubs, yoga studios, martial arts academies and the like all offer similar membership and pricing structures. I’ve offered some if not most of these at one point in my career. While every school and owner offer what usually works best for them. We believe it is right to offer what is best for the members and customers – after all, they pay tuition, right?  

In essence we asked ourselves, “What would we want to do?”

Here are a few different examples of what’s out there in the martial arts world. I try not to be bias, as I know many good friends in this industry who offer these, but there are some ethics behind them I would question. Not to mention, which ones I recommend avoiding and which ones minimize your risk.

The Result Based Membership:

Many have fallen for the gimmick at weight-loss centers claiming that, “the first 10 pounds are FREE.” This is a good example of a RBM, focusing on a specific result or amount of time. Martial Arts, unlike weight loss is geared more towards a specific belt or rank. For example, “Come join our Green Belt Club for only “X’ dollars per month for “Y’ months or until you reach your Green Belt.”

My concern with these types of memberships is, though it may seem like a minimal time or monetary investment is that there’s always going to be an upgrade sales pitch to try and get people to convert your membership to the next level. Do be wary of this, but if this is the best opportunity in your area, do your best not to fall for any of the gimmicks or incentives. You have the right finish your membership as it states in the membership.

Time Based memberships:

This type of membership is fairly standard practice in the martial arts industry and is pretty straight forward and honest. An agreed upon price for a particular number of months. Here’s where it gets tricky. Many owners and especially bigger chains of martial arts schools may enforce strict policies around pausing or cancelling your membership. In my opinion, you shouldn’t need a lawyer to have you or your child enrolled in Martial Arts.

If you find yourself faced with this option. Ask to see a cancellation policy and or make sure you have something in writing stating you can cancel or pause your membership if there is a loss of interest, unable to train, moving, or the academy no longer provides the value of the contract. Do you really think it’s acceptable to sign a 5-year multi-thousand-dollar contract for your 5-year old to enroll in Martial Arts? I don’t either.

Scam Alert: If you are obligated to pay the contract in full or be subject of collections agencies you are not in the right place anyway. RUN!

Class Credit Memberships:

This newer style of training membership is becoming more popular and is a great way for schools to put a per class value on their program. Academies usually off two quantities of class credits, for example 90 Class credits for $16 per class at a lower monthly payment, or 300 class credits for $12 per class for slightly higher, but the gimmick is you’ll pay it off faster and students are encouraged to attend more often. Obviously here, it’s more economical to buy in bulk, but often and all too easy what can happen is if the schools don’t limit the or monitor student attendance, they’ll end up using up their class credits before they have paid them off, requiring you to buy more, “replenish”, or buy back your classes at a discount.

Here’s what I like about that option. If you are highly motivated, you can attend more classes and accomplish your desired rank (or belt) faster. I have seen this benefit those who fits that “ideal student” model. Unfortunately (the reality), it’s usually less than 5% of the student base who has the time and money. So why do something that only benefits 5% of the school? Many “McDojos”, also know as Belt Mills, will also incentivize families to pre-pay all 90 or 300 classes and receive bonus classes as a reward for pre-paying.

Alas, The Value Based Martial Arts Membership:

It may not come as a shock which type of membership I offer in my academy. But I firmly believe it is our duty, from everyone who teaches our classes, answers the phone, and even scrubs the floors, to ensure that our students get the better end of the deal. So, at Chanhassen Martial Arts, our team must deliver 2-3 times the monetary value of our programs and memberships. Every class, every single month, year after year, or we are providing a disservice to our members, their families and the community.

If a member of any of our programs feels they are no longer receiving that value, has lost interest or other various reasons, they are able to cancel their membership. No questions asked, no cancellation fees, no long-term commitment, contract buy-outs (yuck!) or obligations. Again, you won’t need a law degree to train in our academy. Though, we do train a few lawyers!


The intention of this article is educating potential martial arts students and families about some of the unfortunate ethical practices in this and other industries. If you have questions, concerns, opinions or feedback for this or any of our blog posts, feel free to email me; info@ChanhassenMartialArts.com

If you found this helpful but are still looking for more information you may request more information by clicking contact us, or by checking out our other related blog posts, here.


With respect and gratitude,

Ken Hoops

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