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  • Competitions
  • Trophies
  • Extra Sparring equipment

And I’m going to take a moment to explain every one of these.

Testing Fees:

Some dojos may influence you to sign up by offering LOW monthly fees. Then, when it comes time for your Johnny to test, viola… there is a TESTING FEE. Testing fees are hidden little “gotcha” fees. Basically you have to pay a fee in order for your child to test for their next belt… maybe even every stripe. 

Most times Testing fees start out small. Only $25 at the beginning belt levels. But as the rank increases, so does the cost to test. Some dojos will even charge $500 for a Black Belt Test. And if your child fails… well, better luck next time. Oh yeah… and cough up another $500.   

Belt Fees:

These are just like Testing Fees. Want to earn your next belt? Well first you have to pay to test, then you actually have to pay for your belt. No joke. Dojos will charge you for your own belt… sometimes $40 a pop. And as someone who buys belts often, I can tell you that at wholesale belts cost about $3.00. 


Contracts can be good and bad. First off long-term contracts – 3 or 5 years – should be a no-no. I mean after all, do you really know what your child is going to want to do in five years? 

Also once you’ve signed on the dotted line for that long a term, will the dojo truly care about your child’s learning progression? Not likely. They already have you on the hook for a long time. 

Any dojo that only offers a long-term contract is in it for the money… not the learning. 

But BEWARE… dojos that offer no contracts can be just as bad because they don’t care about your – or their – commitment to learning. They just want bodies in the door. Going back to those hard-sell companies I mentioned before… they offer seminars where dojo owners can learn how to get you in the door no matter what. 

In MY OPINION, 6-month to 2-year contracts show commitment on both sides. The martial arts is not about instant gratification. It’s NOT a seasonal sport. And with a contract, both parties know that each other is committed to growth not just a pastime. Again… that’s my opinion.

If you – or your child – like the sports side of martial arts and want to go to competitions that’s great. I have done the competition thing. For me… competitions haven’t been all that great. I have been to some competitions where dojos down-belt their students so that they will be guaranteed a win. You know. They’ll register a Black Belt as a Green Belt so that their higher-skilled student will look FANTASTIC again students of lower ranks. Unfair… but they do it. All to look good. They don’t care about how it affects the student who lost…unfairly. 

I’ve even seen some dojos force their students to go to pay entrance fees at their own in-school competitions. Seriously. And then those dojos use their own students as judges. Fair? Not. 

On the subject of competitions, let’s talk…

I told my friend to ask about ALL these things when he was calling dojos. Only when you have all the information can you make an informed decision.​

  • Testing fees
  • Belt fees
  • Long-term (2+ years)

(610) 280-0873   

How to Select a Dojo for your Child: Part II
By Sensei La France

In PART #1 of this series, I discussed the different styles of martial arts that may be available to you. Because what style you study will depend on what you want to get out of your training. The second piece of this puzzle is now deciding…

Where to go? 

In the past 50 years, martial arts has become big business. There are companies – groups – created to teach dojos about high-pressure sales tactics:  long-term contracts and UPSELLS like Black Belt Club and Fast Track Graduations. Ways – unnecessary ways – to separate you from your hard-earned money. 

It’s a shame that some Senseis are selling out… taking advantage of people who might not know the martial arts industry. Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to make money. After all, we all have to put food on the table. But people should be ethical about it. After all, the martial arts is all about HONOR. And I unfortunately see this unethical behavior all the time. 

Other ways dojos attempt to part you from your money are:

         Full-time dojo serving Chester County since 1998.
                                                 14 N. Village Ave. Exton, PA

Sparring Gear:
FYI… sparring is competition oriented play fighting. At some point all dojos will require its students to have sparring gear. Everyone spars whether it’s for competitions or to have students learn the flow of fighting.

But some dojos actually tell their students that due to their insurance requirements you MUST buy sparring gear through them. And you have to buy it right away… when your student is still a beginner. 

That’s complete BS. No insurance company requires students to buy gear through the owner of the dojo. And having sparring gear right away is not necessary. A beginning students doesn’t even know how the kick and punch properly. How are they going to know how to spar.

Dojos with trophies everywhere are all about the competitions. They train students to fight competition style… not for real life. If that is what you want – sport – then great. If not, then this would not be the dojo for you. And dojos that fill their windows with trophies are usually all about self-promotion. Look at me! Is that what you want for your child?