Martial Arts and Commerce

Discussion in 'Other Martial Arts Articles' started by Bushi, Aug 27, 2003.

  1. Bushi

    Bushi New Member

    Recently, I got into a discussion about Shinergy being commerce and therewith not worth training.
    The main argument was that Shinergy-Students have to pay the trainer rather than just the dojo-fee as in Hap Ki Do.
    Here, I wish to explain a bit about art and commerce, and why art needs commerce.

    Let's imagine an artist, a musician for example.
    This musician works all day and all night to compose lyrics, lyrics which are considered art.
    I'm not speaking about those pop-idols that come and go, I'm speaking about true artists who live for their art.
    If this musician would give concerts and only charge the visitors with the costs of the instruments he uses, he'd soon die of starvation.

    It's the same with the graphical artist, who spends 3 months painting a masterpiece of a picture.
    If he sells it just for the costs of the colors and pencils he used, he won't be able to pay for food, home, an artelier, etc.

    I don't know anybody who'd consider art galleries as commerce, still, the artists have to take money for their pictures to survive.
    That's just the way our society works.

    If a person spends 6 days a week at a regular job, in some office or shop and on the 7th day he puts on his masters uniform and teaches Hap Ki Do in some school gym that's ok.
    But if a Shinergy-Trainer works full time at the dojo, teaching 3 hours a day, spending time at the gym to improve his students workout, organising training camps for kids and doing lots of other stuff, if he lives for his art, for his martial art to be precise, that's commerce.

    If the Hap Ki Do training is held in a little school gym after a volleyball lesson and just before the dancing lesson starts that's ok, but if the Shinergy training is held in a centre which was only built for the purpose of giving martial arts students a place to train 20 hours a day if they wish to do so, that's commerce.

    If some Zen master writes a cryptical book about Buddhism and sells it that's ok, but if Ronny Kokert (the founder of Shinergy) writes a book about the sense of zen and martial arts nowadays, that's mere marketing and commerce.

    Talking honestly, I consider this opinion as quite childish, so I ask you all to do me a favor:

    Next time, before repeating a opinion you've heard some time, try to make your own thoughts on the topic.

    Think about it,

    Ijan fahrijan likes this.
  2. Bushi

    Bushi New Member

    By the way

    Even Mas Oyama said money was essential even to a martial artist...
  3. Bouk Teef

    Bouk Teef Valued Member

    It is a very Western philosophy that talents and skills should only be used for commercial gain. Music and painting are merely a form of self-expression. There are a huge number of talented people who paint or play music because they enjoy doing so and not because they want to become famous and make money. Unfortunately it is an unpleasant fact that bills / rent must be paid for and people don't want to have money worries. If somebody chooses to make a living off music and the like then that is up to him or her.

    I feel MA fall into a slightly different category though. I don't want to sound all righteous or anything like that but MA's (whatever your preference is) are always bigger than the one person. In terms of the more traditional arts there will usually be thousands who have studied the art before that person and probably thousands who have died using it. What gives somebody the right to come along in the relatively safe world of the 21st century (when I say safe I mean in terms of not foreseeing dying in the next ten years) and suddenly decide they are going to make a mint exploiting the history and traditions of "their" art?
    Whether somebody trains in a MA one day a week or seven days a week is irrelevant. IMO it's all about their attitude to their students and their reasoning behind running their club. If they run a club for the benefit of the students then that is fine but I they are running the club for the benefit of themselves then that is wrong. There is a danger that instructors who make a living of their art can see their students as commodities rather than the next generation who will take their MA forward. After all, it nobody practices the MA then it will die.
  4. morphus

    morphus Doobrey

    Good thread & posts - This is probably the hot topic of the moment & is currently being much debated on the forum. The arguement is perhaps not should you make money out of martial arts but HOW you make money out of martial arts. Giving value for money & a good product. The question is what is a good product & how much i it worth?
  5. Bon

    Bon Banned Banned

    Why have you chosen to use the term commerce? I find it a little confusing, I guess because I don't think of martial arts as a good, instead, a service/the exchange of information, which is why an art gallery could be included in the definition of commerce if martial arts is.

    I'm not sure if you're saying the above of what you wrote is childish, or people who disagree with it are childish?
  6. pesilat

    pesilat Active Member

    I think an "artist" (whether a painter, sculptor, writer, martial artist, or otherwise) is someone who does what they do for the pure pleasure of doing it and for self-satisfaction and self-expression through their chosen medium.

    But when you start teaching others to make art, then you're teaching - same as a math teacher, science teacher (which can be forms of art, too :) )

    I personally like the quote: "The art is priceless. I share the art freely. I charge for my time."

    I think this applies to any teacher. They teach because they enjoy teaching that subject (they are an artist in the art of teaching if not always in the art of the subject - though, usually, the two go hand in hand ;) ) But the time they spend teaching is valuable. If they're not getting compensated for that time, then they can't continue teaching for very long.

    I don't like it when I see people using the martial arts purely as a means to make money - any more than an author enjoys seeing a hack write just to make money. But I also understand that, sometimes, even an artist must be a hack to keep producing art. Those aren't the ones that bug me. The ones that bug me are the ones who do it purely for the money. But who am I to say it's "wrong?" I personally wouldn't do it and don't agree with it. But, as long as what they're teaching is valid, that doesn't make it "wrong" or "immoral." It's simply how they choose to handle their affairs. The only time it is "wrong" or "immoral" is when they are pandering slop and calling it martial arts and, in turn, giving people (who don't know any better) a poor impression of the martial arts in general. Then their "right to do" steps on my "right to not be affected by what they do."

    But I think I've taken a huge tangent here - it's late, I haven't had much sleep, and should be in bed now. Sorry for this ramble. I hope it makes some sort of sense. I'll read it tomorrow with a clear head and, likely, groan with disbelief. But such is the cyber-life sometimes, I guess.

  7. amiller127

    amiller127 Chief Instructor

    Put it into perspective.

    Your a student in University. You have just started your course. You pay thousands a year in tuition fees and equipment that you need. You work hard to learn your stuff and do your best to excel. After a few years you graduate from the university. You have a lot of knowledge and passion for your subject, BUT you also have to pay your way through life and deal with your needs. You decide to open up your own business teaching what you have learnt. Tutoring others in your subject. Should you just charge those students of yours just enough to cover your cost?

    Not really. You have to fulfil your basic needs in life to. You need to have shelter, food, water. You also need to be able to save towards the day when you retire. Putting some money into savings because one day you will not be able to continue teaching.

    So look at it from that perspective. As an instructor you have dedicated years towards developing your skills. You attend seminar after seminar, travel the country to keep your skills up and to learn more things. The money you invest into it can be phenominal. But also how valuable is your time too you? Every time you spend teaching without colloecting a form of fee for your time then your stopping yourself being able to collect money to fund your life and to save for the future. Something that could pay towards your house, travel. Your basically using your time, so you why not be able to pass these skills on and charge for it. Get some money that can go towards your families needs and welfare.

    But the fees have to be a reflection of the quality of tuition. If all your doing is getting you students to do circuit training day in and day out then it doesnt have as much of a value. your keeping them healthy and motivated, but thats about it. But even that in itself is priceless. Think about it. If you are overweight and are starting to be at risk for not doing enough excercise and not being healthy enough, and you decide to go to a MA class to work out. You enjoy it and stay and lose weight and get healthier. Whose to say that had that student not taken the plunge and went to you class that one day a few years down the line, they may have a heart attack, or some serious disease that regular excercise would have helped deal with? What price do you put on your health right now? Imagine the value you would ascribe to it when you are in that hospital bed, hooked up to some machine and on oxygen. Having to endure surgeries, because you didnt take the plunge and join that class or did enough excercise. I have a friend who is quite young when you consider it. Mid 40's. He had a heart attack a couple of years ago. He has been training with me for a few years. Before he came he was very overweight. He trained and withing a few months the excercise that he was getting in my class lost him 4-5 stone. That was the only difference he had made in his life. Still eat unhealthy and smoked. He had a heart attack, a minor one. He is now back in training and he is surprising his doctors with how is heart is mending itself after the attack. He is of the firm belief, and so am I that if he had not come to my class and trained as he had been for years, the heart attack would have been so much worse, come so much quicker and may well have been fatal.

    So what are the other skills you teach worth. How much is it worth to a person that is being bullied in their life to learn the skills to deal with the bully. To build that delicate self confidence and self esteem. How much is learning to be more assertive worth to that person who has been bullied. I was bullied as a child and it went through my teen years. If i hadnt have started MA training I would still be suffering from it. I have paid thousands of pounds through the years on my training and more. And for what I have got out of it i had a bargain. I would have paid 10 times more if I could have afforded it and new what the putcome was too be.

    If your a parent and you have a very shy child. Someone who doesnt like sports and finds it hard to make friends. Isnt happy in school because they have no friends and dont have the confidence to talk to new people. How much is it worth to you as a parent to see your child come out of their shell. Develop the confidence and life skill that they need to be succesfull in life.

    And if your MA school has a leadership team, or an instructors course, or even a demo team. They can help you deal with and overcome one of the biggest fears that people can have in public. How many people dread public speaking. I used to hate it and I knew many who couldnt face doing it. When I was asked as part of my HND to do a public speaking session in front of the 100 students in the lecture room, I was one of the only ones confident enough too do it. Why. Because I spent many years helping my instructor to teach and take classes. How much is that worth to me now. Knowing I have a skill that a lot of people find very difficult. Even in a more intimate setting than talking in front of 100 students, such as a one on one Job interview. Some people go to pot under the stress of it. I had an interview recently and the guy was impressed at how comfortable and confident I was. The position was for a technician with AOL's helpline. They needed people with good technical knowledge, BUT the guy who inverviewed me had sent away a few guys who were computer wizzes and kept me. Why. Because I was comfortable talking in public. You can easily teach someone with public speaking skills how to work a computer and fix it. It is a lot harder to try and teach a computer wizz how to deal with and be comfortable with public speaking. go to any professional business and ask them would they pick and candidate with average technical skills required for the job, but who could communicate effectivly, or would they choose someone who had the best skills but was useless at communicating?

    And these benefits have come through my training. What value do I place on them? They are pricless to me. They let me live my life to the fullest and allow me opportunities that others will struggle to get. I would pay 10 times what I have paid so far. Even 20 times.

    Its a matter of perspective and also what you offer. If all your offering is self defence skills and a good workout, then your training is STILL probable worth more than your being charged right now. If they help you develop these other skills, skills that I have seen come out in my own students then for the value they represent you are being SERIOUSLY undercharged in my opinion.

    But im not saying that Instructors should be in it for the money or that we should charge £10 -£20 for a single lesson. While what we teach is worth that and more as an investment into yourself i think that we have a responsibility to share this with as many people as possible. Make it as accessible as possible to those who need it the most, but maybe couldnt afford it. Give those students who cant quite afford it the opportunity to help you with your school in return for their training. Instead of charging them have them help you deliver a few thousand leaflets every couple of weeks. That way you both benefit.

    Another thing is if you undercharge for some things, then they lose their percieved value. What is the point of trying to teach these students this amazing art if they have ascribe no serious value to it. you will treat something you have free differently to that same exact thing, but you have worked hard to earn it.

    So my philosophy on this is that, the value that ALL MA instructors can give their students is immense. And if you look at it objectivly we are seriously undercharging for our services. BUT, no one should get into teaching simply for love of money. You must love the art first, students second and money last.

    And IMHO i have never met an instructor who is in it for the love of money. have never met an instructor who thought to himself "I want to be an instructor because its a great career move for me. I will make millions".
    Every instructor I have met from EVERY art has become an instructor because they have seen first hand the benefits of the art and have loved learning it. they all have a drive to share it with others, not for financial gain, But simply for the love of the art!
  8. KenpoDavid

    KenpoDavid Working Title

    I have 2 kids nearing college and multiple mortgages and cars and a desire to own lots of cool electronic stuff... so opening a dojo is not going to work for me!

    My plan is to work hard at my career as a software architect until I have enough saved and invested to live out my days. Then, I will open my own Kempo school. Then the school only has to suport itself, heck maybe not even that much. I could have one student if I want to and not be worried about money. That's a school I would like to go to.
  9. Bushi

    Bushi New Member

    Yeah, of course

    Of course everyone wished to have a personal Sensei who is willing to focus all his efforts on a single person without taking money for it, and of course it's every Sensei's wish to be in the position to do so, however, I have to ask myself if this is realistical...

    Ok, let's try it this way:
    You have worked as a software architect for, hmmm, let's say 20 years. If you have been successfull, you have enough money to retire and stop working, thus being able to oen up an own dojo without taking money from your students, or even a dojo that supports itself.

    To be in that position, you had to work quite hard the last 20 years, we all know that money doesn't grow on trees, so you'll have to invest loads of time to take enough money out of your job to open up your dojo while you're still in quite good physical condition.

    Putting much time into the job means having less time to train for yourself - less time to improve your skills, so as a logical consequence, by the time you stop working someone else who had trained twice the time you had (because he put less effort into his job) should roughly be twice as good as you are.

    Of course you could be very talented, have the better training methods, etc, however, let's say ***roughly*** twice as good as you are.

    If you see it this way, you could come to the conclusion that teaching is better while you're still working, for so you can work less hours per day, thus having more time to train for yourself and teach the learned stuff.

    However, in this solution, you are limited in your time capacities, for there's regular work to be done, too.

    Now here's the other way:

    If you decide to make your living out of teaching, you can train several hours every day and therefore guarantee what you teach has some quality, since you are an expert in your style.
    By teaching daily, your pedagogical skills increase greatly, you find more different ways to teach the same techniques and/or philosophies and so on.

    However, if you decide to take this way, you can't teach for free or just take as much as you would need to support your dojo, for you have to support your own life with the money you make from teaching (no, in most cases you can NOT just drink river water, sleep under the sky, eat berries and meditate under a tree ;) ).

    That's why professional trainers (notice the word professional) have to take money from their students.

    By the way: teaching the martial arts for no costs isn't how it was originally done. In the beginnings, students "donated" to their sensei, making it unneccessary for him to actually collect a fee (This system was especially followed by the japanese).

    So if you want to teach, you have to decide, wheter you want to :

    1) teach on a professional base and make your living out of it

    2)teach on a hobby base and follow a regular job to support your live with
  10. amiller127

    amiller127 Chief Instructor

    Re: Yeah, of course

    Makes sense to me!

    Even if instructors charge a fee, their not in it for the money. Rather the love of teaching and passing on what they have found helpfull in their life.
  11. RobP

    RobP Valued Member

    "It is a very Western philosophy that talents and skills should only be used for commercial gain"

    No it isn't. Historically Chinese teachers charged just as much as people in the West, sometimes even more, particulalry when the arts caught on with the moined classes.
  12. Bouk Teef

    Bouk Teef Valued Member

    fair play! :)
  13. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    Martial arts instructors did not invent their martial art. Many of them have full-time day jobs and teach once or twice a week. For these people, martial arts lessons are not their chief or even a significant source of income. Therefore, seeing as it is possible for them to get by without charging ridiculous amounts for lessons, greed to me is the only reason why such people should charge more.
  14. RobP

    RobP Valued Member

    "greed to me is the only reason why such people should charge more"

    Ever called out a plumber for an emergency? How much does a solicitor charge per hour? Or a doctor? Or a skilled craftsman? why should a good martial artist be any different?

    Please note I said "good martial artist". Not the self-promoted Grandmaster of Ichi Knee who charges a fortune just to be in his presence.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2004
  15. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    Greed is the reason these people charge a lot of money too. I'm not saying I blame these people, but greed is what motivates all people to charge more than they have to if they are receiving a profit.
  16. LilBunnyRabbit

    LilBunnyRabbit Old One

    I've yet to meet the plumber who invented plumbing, the electrician who invented wiring, the computer consultant who invented computers, the gardener who invented gardening. I'm currently looking for a part-time job in a bar, on top of my full-time job, partly because I want (not need) the money to make my life easier, and partly because I enjoy working in a bar. By your theory, since I don't need the money from another job, I shouldn't charge the bar for working for them.

    Wait a second, I'm putting in work. I've actually put in time to learn how to work in a bar, how to mix drinks, how to catch orders over the shouts of the crowd, how to deal with difficult customers...and you're saying that because I don't 'need' the money, since its not my chief source of income, I have no right to charge?

    An instructor is giving up their time not only to teach, but also to handle all of the paperwork and insurance that running a school requires. They're also usually training to try and improve their students training. Why shouldn't they get something out of it?
  17. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    Of course they should get something out of it. I'm not expecting free lessons. I just have a problem with some of these schools that charge ridiculous amounts for lessons.
  18. LilBunnyRabbit

    LilBunnyRabbit Old One

    If I go into Wetherspoons, I expect to get a good drink, fairly cheap, and a chance to socialise with my friends. If I go into Yates' I expect to pay an absolute fortune for something watered down, music too loud to socialise with my friends, a glitzy, pointless theme of some kind, and a whole bunch of pretentious yuppies who think that because they're paying more, they're somehow 'better'.

    Its a personal choice, I'd prefer the decent service at spoons to the impressive decor of Yates'. If they can find mugs who'll pay it, why should it bother me?
  19. Bouk Teef

    Bouk Teef Valued Member

    As an instructor myself I don't see my position as a job so therefore do not see the need to get paid as a result.
  20. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    Excellent point. Let's just hope we don't get submerged with commercialism.

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