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Finding A Sensei -- Part 8

Now I think that it is fair to consider cost. Having established that the character of the Sensei is the most important thing, and that style or even type of martial art is not as important as the Sensei's character, it is wise to consider the costs.

First, there is the financial cost. Does the instructor charge $5, $30, or $150 per month? Does he charge for every little thing (tests, belts, certificates, the right to learn new or "special" things), or is the fee all inclusive?

Can you afford the tuition? Can you afford to pay for ranking fees? I have heard of some students who paid thousands of dollars for higher ranks.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I do not have a commercial orientation -- just the opposite. But I have been blessed in life by fantastic Sensei who did not have to teach for a living. They taught because they loved the art and wanted to pass it on. Part of this may reflect that I have trained mostly in Japan and Hawaii (and a little in Chicago).

But if the only available schools in your area are commercial and expensive, then you must consider this factor. There are also costs associated with entering tournaments and traveling to and from them (sometimes internationally).

Honestly, I have had students join my dojo because they could not afford the fees and costs they were paying elsewhere. I like to think that students will pay much more in the long run by their hard work, effort, and dedication.

When I went to Chicago for graduate school, I called a dojo that also had a branch in Hawaii. The Hawaii branch charged $3 per month at the time, while the Chicago branch charged $30 (a lot back then). I asked about the price differential and was told, over the phone, that in Chicago they were "professionals." Actually, the instructors there were far junior to the Hawaii instructors. Ever since then, I have never wanted to be considered a "professional" Karate instructor.

I am a part-time Karate instructor, and like it that way.


Charles C. Goodin