T Nation

Getting What You Pay For

Is it true in martial arts training that you get what you pay for?

The three gyms/schools I shortlisted when I decided I wanted to start training varied in many ways, not least in price. So is price an indicator of quality? The local amateur boxing club was £3 a session to turn up and train for an hour and a half if there was room in the gym, at the other end of the scale my local Gracie Barra is £60 a month for up to 5 hour and a half classes a week. I called and spoke to the Magda Institute school I mentioned on the Inosanto thread and training there would be £45 for access to three and a half hours of BJJ and four hours of JKD training a week.

I also know however that some of the real McDojos near me cost over £90 a month, so clearly cost is not directly related to quality.

Not to hijack, but could more experienced people also include what they look for in a martial arts school
(other then ops price)

In my experience, cost doesn’t mean value. You have to see how the instructor teaches. Can you connect,can you get something? Is there enough sparring, not enough technique.Too much technique, not enough sparring. It’s different for everybody.Are you going in with your cup already full, or are you really ready to learn something. Do you just want to ground and pound? Do you want to learn a particular style?
Ask to sit and watch a class first, just watch and observe the class dynamic, the intructors methods, flow of the class.
Then ask yourself, how much would I pay to do that?

TBH, no I don’t think that price directly coorelates to quality of instruction.

Though it is true that more qualified instructors can charge a decent amount, there are plenty of less qualified instructors who charge just as much, if not more.

You really need to:

  1. consider what you are looking for (is it primarily striking, primarily grappling, full contact, light contact, sport oriented, self defense oriented, etc…)

  2. go try out a few classes at each place (most good schools will let you try a class or two free of charge) and see if you like the environment and if the instructor is good at conveying his knowledge (is he/she a good coach/teacher). Just because someone has succeeded at something doesn’t mean that they’re good at teaching someone else to succeed in that thing as well.

You can also do some research on the instructor(s) at the different schools to see what their credentials, affiliations, and reputations are.

Then, after gaining this information make an educated decision about which place is the best fit for you.

like everyone said, price correlates nothing to the training, I pay 100 a month for
unlimited classes of boxing/bjj/and mma.

I’ve heard the school i go to is the best in the area, which is great because its the only one with morning classes, and its 33 miles away, so that needs to factor in to where you choose as well, most people i know certainly wouldn’t drive 66 miles 4 times a week just to train.

Cheers for your replies. I won’t be using price as a guide then. As I said on the Inosanto thread, I want to be as good an allround fighter as I can be, capable of defending myself and loved ones, but I also want to compete. It is hard to find correct barometers for a schools quality, and I guess I was wrong to think price might be one of them!

Funny you mention liking the environment Sentoguy- I have done a few sessions at different places, and really enjoyed and felt comfortable at the Magda Institute introductory JKD class. I can’t help but thinking now though that this is because I wasn’t really taken out of my comfort zone. On the other hand the boxing gyms I have been to scare the hell out of me, but thats probably a good thing- it would take a real effort to get the motivation up to get myself there, but I reckon it would be more worthwhile.

You can train everything at Militech Fighting Systems for $75 a month.

So, yeah, sometimes a deal is just a deal.

[quote]RebornTN wrote:
Not to hijack, but could more experienced people also include what they look for in a martial arts school
(other then ops price)[/quote]

Who is teaching? Who else trains there? Do they have a competition teams? Do they have fighters? Are they running shit at tournaments and in MMA fights?

If you want to be serious, your training partners are pretty much everything. Good partners, and you will get so much better faster. If you’re too much stronger/more athletic/skilled than your partners, then you’re not going to get shit out of training. If you’re 200 and everyone else is 155, even if they have more technique, you’re going to peak after a year or two.

So who trains there is as important as who teaches.

[quote]Roundhead wrote:
Funny you mention liking the environment Sentoguy- I have done a few sessions at different places, and really enjoyed and felt comfortable at the Magda Institute introductory JKD class. I can’t help but thinking now though that this is because I wasn’t really taken out of my comfort zone. On the other hand the boxing gyms I have been to scare the hell out of me, but thats probably a good thing- it would take a real effort to get the motivation up to get myself there, but I reckon it would be more worthwhile.[/quote]

What I meant was that you have to be willing to keep going back (therefore you have to like the training environment). Not all people are fighters (anyone can be trained in the fighting arts and improve in terms of skill, but not everyone has the fighters mentality), and really only the ones who are will enjoy a serious combat oriented environment.

But, a good teacher should be able to recognize a student’s natural personality and what they are, and aren’t, ready to do and structure the student’s training around these things. Lysak calls this the “ABC’s” (Appropriated Battle Concepts) of training.

For instance if you take a 100 lb woman who is just looking to learn some simple self defense and try to make her train like a full on MMA fighter preparing for a fight, she’s not going to be your student for very long.

On the other hand if you have someone who is truly gung ho about getting into MMA and never have them do any MMA sparring or MMA specific training and conditioning, again they’re probably going to get bored/frustrated and go somewhere else.

That’s why I also stated that you have to know what you want to get out of the training and look into which school best fits your desired goals.

Calilaw makes a good point about training partners as well. If you’re training at a BJJ school, there should be some black belts there (besides the instructor). If you’re training at a boxing/kickboxing school there should be some accomplished fighters there (or at least the instructor should have a lineage to someone who was successful and/or trained successful fighters).

I went and trained at the Gracie Barra last night- I thought it was awesome, but there were no blackbelts there at all, the instructor was a blue belt, and there were four other blue belts. Victor Estima comes and teaches twice a week though.

Should this put me off a club I otherwise was really impressed by?

If you enjoyed it and got something from it then no.
As long as you have access to higher level practitioners.
The only downside as since you are new to the art, all of your immediate instructors flaws you will pick up as your own. Hopefully having access to a high level practioner a couple times a week will balance that out.
Hope that helps.

Kind of related to the topic, one thing you or anyone else could do if you want to train at a place that may be too expensive for you is to just talk with the owner.

I’ve known instructors that will let guys come for very little money, or even for free, as long as they show respect and don’t give the gym a bad name.

So, there’s always that approach. I’d think most places that are doing well, business-wise, would be willing to work a deal out.

Price is also a reflection of the rent the school has to pay. So Renzo’s in NYC will charge more not simply because it is Renzo’s but because of where it located. The price for the Barra school isn’t too bad if you take advantage of Victor’s presence.