Re: Paying for testing?
I am sorry but I guess I wasn't really responding to your point directly so I guess I should do so here.
The grading fees I charge pay for:
1. My travel, hotel, and food bills (they don't even go to cover 1/10th of the cost).
2. The time I take off from work where I am losing US$1000 per day as a consultant (they don't even go to cover 1/500th of the cost).
3. The cost of belts that I hand out for passing the grading (they do cover this cost but it takes up about 1/4 of the fees paid).
4. The cost of certificates that I hand out for passing the grading (they do cover this cost but it takes up about 1/4 of the fees paid).
5. The cost of the administrative fees for recording application for grading, the grading, and results (they do cover this cost but it takes up about 1/4 of the fees paid).
6. The cost of the administrative fees from the association/federation (they do cover this cost but it takes up about 1/2 of the fees paid).
7. The subsidization of my insurance costs for teaching Aikido (one testing fee covers 1/2000th of the cost of my liability insurance).
When you look at the costs involved, they are all used up before payment of my time or my personal expenses. For that reasons, I try and do the testings whenever and wherever I do a seminar and a large part of my travel fees, hotels, and food bills are paid. Most dojos can't afford both the air fare and hotel so I stay at the home of a student or a student's relative. In the end, I think it costs me about US$200 every time I test about 5 students. And I pay it gladly since it is my responsibility to those students. I also try and schedule the seminars during business trips to their locations and my company pays for the air fare and hotel bills. But, then, since I am the major shareholder of the private company, it still comes out of my pocket in company profits.
I tried not charging for tests once and I got people applying for tests who wasted my time and that of their partners and fellow students. The chief instructors of the dojos often didn't take the time to pre-test their students to ensure that they would pass. They left it all up to me. As an aside here, in testing the students, I am as much reviewing the performance of the dojo's chief instructor as I am the ability of the students. The testing fee is as much a deterent to people who just want to test and are not ready as for payment of expenses. At 60 minutes per test and comments/review for two pair, the test fees come out to US$40-80/hour for me. I can't watch more than two pair at a time carefully enough to see if they are able to show me what they really know. I usually only do about 6 tests at any one grading. I can't sit in seiza for more than an hour at a time.
Just thought you might want to know where those testing fees went to and what they paid for. No, they don't cover my costs at US$20 per test. I could charge more, but then the students couldn't afford to pay it. US$20 is Bbds$40, EC$54.50 and JMD$1,280. Those are substantial amounts down here in the Caribbean. They can't afford any more. I know, based on the response that I have gotten on this thread that I am not the only one who is subsidizing the cost of people taking their tests. They may charge more in other locations but, then, their costs are higher too.
You could answer then, that I should be happy that people don't want to take tests. That is not true. Tests for me are demonstrations of whether people have understood what I am trying to show them. The people who are testing should be able to show me that they have understood which principles each technique is supposed to demonstrate. It allows me to understand whether I need to explain more or whether I need to change the way I am teaching or whether I am doing okay. The tests also allow me to evaluate their chief instructor to see if they are teaching correctly and well. Just having the students do the technique so that they can take a person down is insufficient. That is not the purpose of the test, kihon waza, or of training in Aikido. Yes, I have failed people who seemed to be able to do a technique their own way but did not demonstrate an understanding of the principles which they were supposed to be demonstrating with the specific techniques. And, yes, I did explain to them afterwards why I failed them. But, for some reason, a lot of people say yes, they understand but never show that understanding the next time I do their examination.
Hope that makes some sense in why I charge testing fees and where the money goes. And, I hope it provides some understanding of only a couple reasons why I find testing important. There are other reasons but these days, I find that these two reasons are the most important to me.