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The School Down the Street is Cheaper


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MATA Martial Arts Instructor Certification Course

Module 21-The Proper Use of Student Instructors

by Scot Conway, Esquire

The $25,000 Volunteers

Excerpt from the Martial Arts Instructor Certification Course:

Using upper ranks to teach classes has been a long-standing martial arts tradition. But, is it legal?

A California instructor had his black belts teaching under-rank classes at his studio. In exchange, he no longer charged them tuition.

This continued until one fateful day when the owner and a black belt student had a disagreement.

The vindictive student contacted the California Labor Board and reported that his instructor had been employing assistants by requiring that they teach classes each week.

This can constitute an Employer – Worker relationship. The only thing missing was payment for the workers and the taxes the government would collect if they were being paid.

The State of California investigators concluded that the owner, over the years, had a total of 25 black belts teach classes.

They defined them as uncompensated employees, which is illegal under the laws of California, and fined the instructor $1,000 per incident.

The final bill: $25,000 for the volunteers.

Lesson: Know your state laws regarding utilizing assistant instructors.

Here’s a great response to a prospect that points out that the school down the street is cheaper: “Mrs. Jones, we could charge that same tuition. But you know what? We would be packed, and it would be a lot harder to give your son personal attention and to maintain the quality of students we are known for. Plus, it probably wouldn’t be as safe with loads of kids in here on a discounted program. We’re all about quality, and our tuition helps us keep our student standards high. Our school is really for the families who want the best for their children.”

Don’t you love that last line? “Our school is really for the families who want the best for their children.” What parent is going to respond, “Well, that’s not us. We want less than the best for our kids.”

The most important thing to understand is that this market will not expect you to be the best instructor and the cheapest at the same time. However, at a good price, they will expect you to be the best, so make sure you are always studying and expanding your skills as a martial artist, a teacher, and a businessperson. Then, make sure you are training your staff at least two hours per week to carry out the mission of Being the Best.

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