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Paying Your Dues

In traditional Karate, the student cannot pay for lessons. Even if dues are paid, it is not for the privilege of training, but to help maintain the dojo or pay for necessary expenses. Karate is not a product that you can pay for. It is more like a cold -- through exposure to it, you catch it.

If you think of Karate as a product, then you might feel like your are entitled to something in exchange for payment. In some schools this might be true. In traditional schools, however, payment is simply a token... because Karate is so precious that a value cannot be placed on it.

You earn the right to train in a dojo by your hard work and by helping other students. You pay by your sweat and by working to improve your character.

My first Shorin-Ryu sensei would refuse to accept any payment. Once a month, his wife would come to collect our tuition envelopes, each containing $5. These would be turned over to the church where we trained. The sensei kept nothing for himself.

This does not mean that a reasonable tuition cannot be charged. But no matter how small or large the tuition may be, the student must never feel that he is purchasing something. Anything you can purchase can be lost. Karate becomes an inseparable part of you and of your daily life.


Charles C. Goodin