View Full Version : Aikido is expensive

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05-20-2002, 02:24 AM
I think it has been 8 years since I wanted to take Aikido classes. Before moving to the US, I looked to my city dojos and I was never able to join because the fee was realy expensive.
Since I don't have too much money, it was not an option for me.
Now I live in the US, once again the prices are only for people who has executive jobs. A regular worker simply cannot afford it, especially when you have a family to support.
Now I guess that I am just going to stop dreaming joining a dojo, and let the people with high paying wages to practice aikido.
Why no one has come with the idea of having affordable dojos for the poor, I mean, I'm not saying that it has to be free, but sometimes 65 dollars a month represent a lot for most people budgets.

Jim ashby
05-20-2002, 02:42 AM
Our fees are £200.00 per year and £1.00 per visit. The yearly fee is normally split quarterly and is a great way to pay. If you don't want to pay quarterly, the mat fee per visit is £3.00. We don't have "contracts" as such, our Sensei commands such respect that people keep coming back. Sorry to hear that it costs so much in the US.
Have fun.

Tim Griffiths
05-20-2002, 02:50 AM
65 dollars a month is a lot for most people.
I pay about 40 a month (students and soldiers pay less),
over half of which goes to pay for the rental.
My last dojo I payed 3 dollars per class (again, students
and people who couldn't afford that much payed 1.5 per class).
You don't say where in the US you are, Javier, but I expect the hall rental for a New York (for example) dojo, divided by the likely number of students, already sets a pretty high monthy fee without all the extras. Not all places are like this, though. A dojo in Miami I visited recently had much lower fees than the number you gave.

On the other hand, for a professional, high-ranking sensei, a good dojo and a recognised organisation, where you could if you wanted practice 3 times a day 6 days a week, 65 dollars is nothing, especially compared to the sweat, blood, time and pain you'll be investing in aikido at the same time.

Depending where you are, there are most likey several dojos, with different prices. Have you tried shopping around?


05-20-2002, 03:09 AM
Not that it helps much, but we pay 6000 yen a quarter, approximately 46 dollars or 32 GBP. For this we can train 5 days a week at any of our 4 dojos`s. Having said that, our dojo`s are all in local schools and colleges, often sharing the dojo with judo or kendo clubs, or even the table tennis and volleyball clubs. So I guess it`s much easier to charge a smaller fee, that and the fact that we have approx 200 members paying a quarterly fee whether they train or not.

I visit another purpose built dojo here that charges 5000 yen a month, for that they run two or three classes a day, seven days a week. The fee is soley to cover the running and upkeep of the building, ensurig that they have a place to train in a land where real estate is at a super premium.

Back in the UK, my old dojo charges 3 GBP a time (no monthly/ qurterly dues at present)with concessions for students and unemployed. We averaged 12 people a session when I was there, although that was subject to weather and other odd conditions, sometimes we would train with 4 or 6 , so the mat fee just about averaged out covering the hall rental to train.

As a previous poster mentioned, I suspect that the cost in the US is more governed by the cost of renting the building versus the number of students. I know that may not be the case for all, but I would hope it is for the main.

Just some ramblings before I go home for the evening.

05-20-2002, 03:59 AM
The reason some dojos are expensive (as i have learnt from previous threads) is to deter those who aren't sincere in learning from joining. That is, if it's too cheap, anyone who just want to learn Aikido without any COMMITMENT can just join.

From what i have read, some senseis do accept students who are really serious in learning the way of harmony without accepting high fees or even without paying. Maybe you could work something out with the sensei at the dojo of your choice.

Just suggestion... :)

05-20-2002, 04:29 AM
I know situations vary from place to place and from country to country.

We at our club do our best to keep costs as low as possible.
Still our expenses (renting the hall, replacing mats, etc) have to be paid.
Our minimal rates are 25 Euro per month, but people with a comfortable income are kindly requested to pay more (and most of them do this). At our dojo you dont pay for the lessons you get, you pay as a member of the dojo to maintain the dojo regardless of your traininghours.

Seminars we also try to keep as cheap as possible. (Something like 45 to 60 Euro for a weekend).

If I just compare our rates to other disciplines they are a joke. Imagine to have an academic seminar of one weekend for 60 Euro.

As far as I have seen in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, England, Germany, Switserland, Ireland and Finland, I can actually only conclude that Aikido is relativaly cheap.

Bruce Baker
05-20-2002, 07:30 AM
I can see the difficulty of acquiring a training space, maintaining the space, and carrying the appropriate insurance will put a burden of incredible weight upon any dojo.

In the past year, I have seen a couple of New Jersey dojo's consolidate some locations or move because of changing income from members who have other obligations to meet.

Funny ... when you are immersed in training, able to meet financial needs, full of health, the thoughts of not being able to train are far, far away. What is not incredible, is that a family with only one source of income, with parents working in low income to middle income brackets barely survive paycheck to paycheck in todays world. Who would have thunk it? Poverty in a rich country like the USA? Don't be part of a minority without higher education, or advanced skills, that is a second death knell for even thinking about trying to train in Aikido?

My Point?

If you look into what is important, or find a few thoughts by O'Sensei about taking care of your family and needs of food, family, house, or training ... he instructs his students to put their house in order, meet the needs of their familys before training.

I guess, in the Zen sense, it could be taken as carrying the burden while training, or taking care of your burden before training, but in either case ... sometimes the monetary means do not always meet the times. I know. I have been there, getting my family off of welfare before haveing a wife and family of my own, putting the needs of others above my own so that my many brothers and sisters had a fair chance to break the cycle of poverty.

So, if constant training is not available, I guess drop in training will have to do from time to time.

I know that most dojo's have a drop in fee, which usually applies on a twice a month basis. This means the policy of dropping in more than every two weeks for one class requires joining the dojo.

Sometimes, these things can be worked out at the disgression of the dojo for exchanged services, this benefits the dojo in maintaining itself beyond normal cleanup and maintenence, and opens the door to whatever classes can be agreed upon. Both are chargable services with pretty much work out to equal numbers on the books, but many larger dojo's have uchi deshi who handle these minor chores.

Beyond individual static practice exercises when you are not able to train or attend a class, I guess you will just have to trust to the future to make things easier as you slowly attain skills, rising payscale, and continue to seek an opportunity that will allow you to join a dojo?

I know my opportunity to start any martial arts didn't start until I was thirty-six and married almost ten years. Talk about lost opportunitys ...

Life has a way of presenting opportunities to the things your need, not always the things you want, as time goes by. Maybe your separation from training is the opportunity to practice other things until you can get back into a class?

More than half of our new members are in their late thirties and early forties as they lives change, their children grow up, and life again presents another opportunity to pursue something they love to do ... Aikido.

Don't give up Javier. If the spirit burns in you to do Aikido, you will find someone who will see this and work with you to help you train.

Of course, it like the story of the person wanting to win the lottery who prays to God everyday to win, until one day God says,"...will you meet me half way and buy a ticket!"

Go talk to some of the teachers in dojo's near you and see if they will meet you halfway.

There are some pretty good people who large hearts, you won't know if one is near you until you go and talk to them.

Oh, I forgot one other option.

Some schools will let you watch a number of classes per month, see what the policy of area dojo's are, this might be another means to pick up details. I know some of the best details are by watching the effectiveness of a technique, then fiquring out what the exact details are that make it that effective.

Watching might be the temporary solution, also.

Greg Jennings
05-20-2002, 07:36 AM
Check out university and community center classes. Because they usually have cheaper rent, their tuition is usually less.

Your other option is to move to Montgomery, AL. Our classes are completely free.

To answer the commitment question, we just do what we normally do. We train hard, stay tightly focused on solid, basic technique and do lots of ukemi drill, including breakfalls, in every class. Commitment seems to sort itself out pretty quickly.

Best Regards,

05-20-2002, 08:04 AM
IMHO, the price of Aikido training is usually lower that the other MacMartial Arts variety. We only pay a monthly and can all the classes we want (up to the 8 per week offered).

I would agree, the community colleges, community education, and parks and recreation departments are beginning to offer Aikido.

In defense of the American Dojos, IMHO one of the main reasons prices have gone up (in almost every field) is the cost of insurance. Liability insurance is expensive because people sue for everything here. Waivers don't really count. Now add in the price of rent, Aikido does require more space. Next add the mats, who wants to train on the concrete floors. Put those together and prices do go up.

I have known people to pay lower rates for a limited number of practices. I knew someone who even bartered for the classes.

Usually if there is a genuine will, you will find the way.

Best of luck.

Until again,

Nidan Tenshinkai Aikido
Lucaylucay Kali JKD

05-20-2002, 08:08 AM
Many dojo I know have a "scholarship" program for people who need a discount in their training fees. These dojo will often allow people to pay "what they can" including having sliding scales and such for seminars.

Having said that, our dojo has 23 hours of classes available for adults during the week. At $70/month, this translates to approximately 76 cents per hour offered. $70/month is cheap, frankly, if you take into consideration that real estate in this area is extravagently expensive; the avereage two bedroom house that I've looked at is in the area of $300,000 in this town! In some really expensive parts of the United States, I've heard of dojo fees being as high as $130/month.

I've never heard of any dojo raising their fees to test people's commitment. My thought parallels Greg's; even if classes were free (like at his dojo), people who will continue with aikido will do so and those who'll drop out will drop out...

-- Jun

05-20-2002, 08:29 AM
MacMartial Arts... I love that.
I agree with Greg, Javier. I don't know how cheap they get in the States, but here in Canada university classes are definitely a good option. During the fall and winter we can train at most 3 times a week, we don't have a traditional "dojo" (more like a wrestling room, which we use right after the wrestlers, so the mats are fulls of hairs, nice and slippery), and the highest ranking yudansha is a nidan (as compared to dojos with yondans or godans). Both our senseis have full time jobs too (but then again that might be a good thing depending on how you look at it). I find there is a really friendly atmosphere though, and it only costs me about 13 US a month. Then again, if you want the "feel" of a private, full time dojo, most of your money is going to go towards the rent...

05-20-2002, 03:13 PM
Originally posted by Bruce Baker
... he instructs his students to put their house in order, meet the needs of their familys before training.

I guess, in the Zen sense, it could be taken as carrying the burden while training, or taking care of your burden before training, but in either case ...
Sounds more like Confucian thought than Zen. <shrug>

Originally posted by SeiserL
Liability insurance is expensive because people sue for everything here. Waivers don't really count.
:confused: You can still sue, even if you've signed a waiver that specifically says that you won't? Then what's the point of them, if they have no legal value? :confused:


05-20-2002, 04:08 PM
Hey, this is America, you can sue if you drink and smoke your entire way through pregnancy, and then deliver a funny looking kid. The point of the liability waiver is to see if the dojo can hire a lawyer who can make it stick while the student looks for one who can negate it in court, of course, all lawyers making good fees off it. sigh.

05-20-2002, 04:10 PM
I read the other day about a woman who sucessfully sued a furniture store for not better restraining a child who, while running around the store, caused the woman to fall and break her ankle...the child in question was HERS.

and of course, there is McDonald's coffee:rolleyes: Ah, America!

Chris Wells
05-20-2002, 04:20 PM
america needs to go back a change alot of the old laws from the early 1900's. Here is a few I found, most are still on the books.

Indiana: It's against the law to shoot open a can of food.

Cleveland, Ohio: It's forbidden to catch mice without a hunting license.

Florida: It's against the law to hunt deer while swimming.

Rochester, New York: Firemen must wear ties while on duty.

Massachusetts: All dogs must have their hind legs tied during the month of April.

Marshalltown, Iowa: It's against the law for a horse to eat a fire hydrant.

Barre, Vermont: Everyone must take a bath on Saturday night.

Frankfort, Kentucky: It's illegal to shoot off a policemen's tie.

Macomb, Illinois: It's illegal for an auto to impersonate a wolf.

Youngstown, Ohio: It's illegal for a car to run out of gas.

San Francisco: It's illegal to wipe down your car with used undewear.

Alabama: It's a crime to put salt on a railroad track (punishable by death).

Louisiana: You are allowed to grow as tall as you want.

Kentucky: It's a crime to use a reptile during any part of a religious service.

Massachusetts: (1659A.D.) Christmas was outlawed. Observers were fined 5 shillings.

New Jersey: It's illegal to slurp soup.

Walden, N.Y.: It's a crime to offer anyone a glass of water without a permit.

Waterloo, Nebraska: Barbers are prohibited from eating garlic.

Los Angeles: Infants cannot dance in public halls.

Florida: Housewives are not allowed to break more than three dishes a day.

New York, NY: It's illegal for bald men to enter a beauty shop to have thier hair regrown.

Sorry for getting way off topics but most of these laws are to weird to pass up

05-20-2002, 05:32 PM
Yeah. And which ones do you have a problem with? :D:D:D


05-20-2002, 05:34 PM
Someone already posted that you should discuss your financial situation with the sensei in question and I would suggest you also emphasize your long-term desire to train in Aikido. Most good sensei are more concerned with finding a committed student than making money. But please keep in mind, most good sensei have invested a great deal of money in their own training in order to get to where they are. I don't think many sensei are getting rich from teaching, although I suppose there are a few. The average sensei does have expenses to meet and will teach for a nominal fee or in exchange for services in maintaining the dojo, etc. Your sensei doesn't know you, but once you begin training, your commitment will be evident and most good teachers will be willing to make some kind of arrangement with you. Be honest with your sensei about your financial limitations. Every good martial artist has had to make some type of personal sacrifice in order to train. Good luck!
janet dtantirojanarat

05-20-2002, 06:31 PM
University classes are the way to go. I pay US $20/month.

05-20-2002, 06:33 PM
You all might find these McFacts interesting:


Chuck Clark
05-20-2002, 07:21 PM
It has been my experience that many, many students in the West are concerned with how much they can get for the least cost.

A large percentage of the Japanese students I have had or trained with over the years seem to have the best interest of the sensei and the group as a whole at heart. They come and ask what they can do to help in whatever way they can and then DO it.


05-20-2002, 08:33 PM
Originally posted by Erik
You all might find these McFacts interesting:

McErik, where do you find these things? :DWould you like some Mcjagger with those fries?


Greg Jennings
05-20-2002, 09:34 PM
I just wanted to add that when we went 100% free three years ago, it made exactly zero difference in our enrollment.

The TKD McDojo around the corner that charges $70/month on a year contract was overflowing and is still overflowing. Lots of people with more patches than the average NASCAR driver and doing the kata about as well.

It's always the same story. People come in thinking they're going to be Steven Seagal in 10 easy lessons. Then they train a few times, become one with the mat a few times and we never hear from them again.

It's to the point that we bluntly tell people to not buy a judogi till they've been with us for a month.

We're blessed to have a few members that carry the dojo. The sempai almost uniformly pitch in. Among the new folks, Chris Wells who has started posting here, began contributing in a big way even before he started actually attending classes.

My experience has been that we putzed along and collected a good student here, there and yonder till we had a solid "core" of dedicated students. Then things seemed to take off.

Having said that, it's now likely that I'll be back to having private lessons with Myers Sensei by the end of the month. <ironic sarcasm>

Best Regards,

05-20-2002, 11:11 PM
Originally posted by Greg Jennings
[B]I just wanted to add that when we went 100% free three years ago, it made exactly zero difference in our enrollment.

Your comments reminded me of a book called "The Psychology Of Persuasion". One of the first stories the author tells is about a jewelry store. The owner leaves for a couple of days and tells the salesperson to mark a certain product down by 50% because it wasn't selling. Somehow it gets mixed up and the salesperson double the price which leads to her selling out the line. The theory was that people figured because it was more expensive it must be better even though it wasn't.

Chris Wells
05-20-2002, 11:25 PM
that nascar patch comment is so sad but very true.

I was very lucky to come across such a good deal with Capital City Aikido. Nothing in the world is better than free. With classes being free its my duty to show up for them all and gain as much free knowlege about aikido as I can. Having great instructors like Myers Sensei and Greg makes the experience in the dojo much more enjoyable.

I donít expect to be Steven Seagal ever. Im just going to be the best aikidoka I can. Maybe one day Steven Seagal might want to be me. :D -Just kidding-

As for me pitching in doing things for the dojo. I feel that the members of any dojo should be expected to help out any way they can and should not have to be asked to help. If I know the dojo needs money, or if I have some special skill that could help the dojo out I will gladly offer it. After all helping the dojo is also helping myself. Even if the dojo did ask a fee I would gladly pay it.

The mat and me know each other on a personal level now.

Tim Griffiths
05-21-2002, 02:22 AM
Originally posted by Arianah

:confused: You can still sue, even if you've signed a waiver that specifically says that you won't? Then what's the point of them, if they have no legal value? :confused:


Not much... Firstly, people can say (usually quite rightly) that they didn't really understand what was involved in aikido practice when they started (and signed the waiver). Secondly, waivers usually cover 'normal practice' - so if an injury occurs while practicing a little faster than normal, or slower than normal, or differently in any way then the wavier is not valid.
Thirdly, and most importantly, if the person has medical insurance, they don't have to sue you - their insurance company will sue you to get back the money they had to hand out to the injured party.


05-21-2002, 12:33 PM
Whenever I considered if Aikido was in my budget, I looked at what my other expenses were, and decided that I could easily make room for it in my budget. We (the family of 4) spend an average of $125/month on eating out, $60 on video rentals and CD's, and a few other expenses that were somewhat frivelous. Pure and simple, we (my 9 yr. old daughter and I) joined Aikido for self-defense. Not for mind-body unification, or purification of my soul. These may be an end result in the future, but are secondary to self-defense.
It seems that you cannot pick up a newspaper and least every other day another girl is kidnapped and/or raped. A man even tried to pick up two of her little friends when they were on their way to come play with my daughter. They ran away, but the description of the male and car were to vague to help the police any. She (my daughter) is in 4th grade right now, but hopefully by the time she is in late middle school, early high school age, she will be able to successfully defend herself if and when the moment/time comes.
This being said, the price of classes and peace of mind is very cheap. Where I train, it is $55 for adults, and $40 for a second family member or someone 11 yrs old or younger. So we pay $95 dollars for 2 of us (per month). Originally we were just going to put her in classes alone, in Tai Kwan Do, or Kenpo Karate, but sinces we found an Aikido dojo close by, this was something that I too would be interested in and we both could do together.
For a short while, I was hoping that I picked a martial art that would be effective against a bigger opponent, but when my daughter had a 180 lb. guy turning red and tapping out of a choke hold, I was glad that Aikido was the art of choice.

It's all about connection.

Lyle Bogin
05-21-2002, 12:51 PM
I think having to pay a significant (but not ridiculous) amount for training is healthy. It helps the dojo maintain it's facilites, preventing your seniors from being more worried about rent than teaching. Having to budget to pay your fees makes you evaluate the seriousness of your trainig. Paying for a service makes it slightly less personal and avoids some of the primary pitfalls of cults.