I Paid my Money. Where’s my Martial Arts Instruction?

We as Americans often get caught up in the “Power of the Consumer”.  Americans collectively have tremendous power to shape the economy and the culture by what they buy.  Some however, take this one step further. Some insist that you have an obligation to them because they will buy/have bought your product or service.  Its the “I bought you, I own you” mentality.  Nowhere does this mentality clash more than Martial Arts schools. 

I have often considered the value of my Aikido training over the years, and the gratitude and obligation that I have to my instructors.  In traditional schools such as Aikido of Nebraska and others, the student must understand that what he is paying for has nothing to do with the Martial Arts Instruction.  How can that be, you say?  Like many things in the Martial Arts, it is steeped in the culture and tradition of the arts themselves.  Your Martial Arts Instructor has often sacrificed a great deal in order to provide you with quality Martial Arts Instruction.  Your Instructor has trained years to get to the level necessary to teach, has sweated, bled,  and suffered through injuries, often taking a toll on his/her family, job, friends, and finances because of his/her training. Have you suffered through injuries, finances, and years of arduous training to teach at your job?  Such a personal sacrifice is beyond value; hence the idea that you can’t “buy” instruction, it can only be given to those worthy enough to understand what they are recieving.

Now, it is simplistic to think that martial arts schools are “above” the concept of money.  It is not wrong even, for a school to make a profit, provided that they are providing a valuable service to the community.  Every school has expenses, including the time of the instructor.  But remind yourself that what the student is paying for, in terms of dues, has to do with providing an environment suitable  to training in the Martial Arts, not the instruction itself.  That aspect is beyond price.  I am still indebted to my instructors for sacrificing all that they did to give me the instruction I recieved.  It is far beyond what I could have paid them.  They gave me a piece of themselves. For that I am forever grateful.

Todd Roberts

3 Replies to “I Paid my Money. Where’s my Martial Arts Instruction?”

  1. I Agree there is a lack of pride in workmanship, and effort, in this country. too much emphasis on the here and now, I pay I want it now and be done with it. we as a society rarely take time to truly see what has actually gone into something. be it a martial arts where those who came before us had to do so at the cost of their very lives, or a simple plate of food some one made with love and attention. people dont see that they never had to do this they never had to teach they never realize what that person has given up to do what they do. they are blinded by the “gimmy gimmy” that society teaches is ok. That is why I believe in the tradition of our dojo it helps me see everything at once always, it puts prospective in our lives to see that Sensei Todd never had to do this, but he has worked hard with blood, sweat, and determination, to earn his way and has decided to help us find ours. so I for one will always be ever grateful and thankful for his sacrifices to teach us.

  2. I cannot put a price on what I have learned in class. Calmness, focus, determination, respect, manners, and strength are just the beginning. I’m still young on this path, but it’s one I can see myself on for a while.

  3. I agree with sensei 100%. I believe that the instruction I receive is more about a journey within myself. I love the level of respect in the dojo that comes from the japanese tradition. It has helped me to understand the japanese culture and respect it. As a student who is eager to learn the art of Aikido, I have found myself looking at things a little differently. This form of martial arts is one I am committing myself to, and not just doing for the moment. I feel my training is invaluable and I thoroughly enjoy it. As a woman I feel empowered by what I am gaining.

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