This is a rant so if Jun takes this off the forum, I understand. I have no apologies to anyone for the rant, however.
Okay, I got pissed off listening to all these people talking about how instructors shouldn't be charging any fees and that testing should be free unless the fee is going to some parent organisation.
While none of my income comes from the dojo, one might say I am a professional since much of my income and reputation in my consulting work comes from instruction in related things. Now, I pay dojo fees just like everyone else since the dojo is a club, but I do charge for testing in mudansha grades from Gokkyu up and place a bit of charge on the costs of gi that I bring in.
In the 25 years of teaching Aikido, I have had to support the dojos in which I taught by the tune of up to US$1500 a month out of my salary. Right now, even though I charge more for the gis than I bought them, I still don't recover enough to cover the shipping, cost of holding on to them until someone buys them, tariff, and for other costs involved in bringing them in. The same goes for everything I do for the dojos.
When the fees paid aren't enough to cover the rent, I pay the rent! When there isn't enough to pay for the utilities, I pay the utilities!
Most instructors in Aikido pay to teach.
No matter how much we charge, it isn't enough! If the market will bear our prices, then it is appropriate pricing. (My wife says I keep losing money and I am not charging enough.)
The costs include our going to seminars and summer camps to improve ourselves and our teaching. My wife pointed out to me yesterday that I cannot afford to go to summer camp this year since it costs me about US$7000 each time I go with airline fares, residential fees, camp fees, hotel bills, food, helping students who go to pay for things, etc.
If I get advanced, my certificate fees for an advancement in rank are in the thousands of US dollars, not tens of dollars. And I have no choice in the up-grading. My Shihan decides that and I just pay the fee.
I have to keep at least four keiko gi going and two hakama that are rotated each week. I go through three Keikogi each year. I drive 45 minutes to an hour to get to the dojo four times a week and even after a late night have to get up at 05:30 to teach class. I have to go to the dojos on the other islands and it costs me up to US$900 a return flight. I pay for at least one of the flights a year myself since the dojos cannot afford having me there more than twice a year. If they are to learn, I have to go at least four to five times a year.
When guests come to my dojo, I end up having to foot the dinner bill and the drinking bill. When the Shihan visits, I have to pay for every one of his costs, whether he stays in a hotel or at my place. If he stays at my place, I have to do the cooking. I am thankful that my wife will do the washing and cleaning for me. I am the one that has to take time off from work to entertain the Shihan or guest.
So, all of you that complain about the high cost of monthly fees and testing fees, think about what your Sensei is doing for you and how much it is costing him or her. They are probably in shoes similar to mine. We are simply trying to cover some of the extra costs involved in doing what we do for the dojo and the students.
For those of you students who complain the costs of studying any martial art, my Aikido students try and go to summer camp each year. While they may not be paying as much as I do, it is costing each of them about ONE AND HALF MONTHS OF SALARY EACH.And they do it happily.
If you want to learn to become good in any martial art, it costs money. IT IS NOT FREE!!!!!! So quit complaining about the cost, no matter how high it is and go train.
At one time, I believed that I should bear all these costs myself in view of the help, work, and money that my instructors and Shihans spent in helping me and my fellow students progress to where we now are. I have come to realise in the last few years that my students owe me no such loyalty nor repayment so I have to look at my Giri to my teachers in the same way. All I want from my students is to learn their Aikido as best as they can and go teach it to others. That is enough. Whether they charge a lot or little of their students is of little consequence to me. What is important is that they transfer the learnings and do it well. If that is the standard of Giri I hold for my students, then to hold a higher one for myself is simple egotism. I am not a better person than they are so my ethics will be or should be no more important or better than theirs since they are my students.