Is Karate Expensive? (Complete Karate Cost Overview)


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Martial arts can be expensive. After all, it’s often not just the monthly cost. There’s registration, uniform, testing fees, equipment fees, and more. But is Karate expensive?

Here’s what I know from doing it:

Karate does not have to be expensive. On average, Karate schools charge $100 per month for tuition. Often, registration is a 1-time fee between $50-100 and sometimes includes the uniform. Belt testing can be $25-$50 per test, depending on belt color. But many schools no longer charge for testing.

And there are circumstances where schools offer discounts.

The cost depends on an array of many factors, such as the location, facilities, and the quality of teaching.

In this article, we’ll explore the following:

  • Why are martial arts so expensive?
  • Is Karate an expensive sport compared to others?
  • How to avoid Karate schools that charge too much
  • Can you get out of a karate contract?
  • How much do private Karate lessons cost?

Let the fun begin.

Why is martial arts so expensive?

Martial arts schools can be expensive due to much higher insurance costs than typical businesses due to the much higher likelihood of injury. But finding quality black belt instructors can also be costly.

The cost of setting up good martial art schools is high. That’s the honest truth.

These schools are businesses that also have to pay:

  • Rent
  • Insurance
  • Advertising
  • Online marketing
  • Employee wages
  • Utilities
  • Mats and equipment

And other vital expenses that are a normal part of running a business.

Most good schools are almost always located in good neighborhoods, right? Now, rent in such locations is high. This is one of the huge expenses owners of Karate schools have to pay for.

This is because they know that most people would not attend classes in schools located in sketchy areas. Would you? Apart from the fact that they’re not necessarily safe, it may also suggest that it’s just not as good a school.

The logic: If they were really technically competent, they would be able to afford rent in a better location. So, it’s also a branding issue.

That being said, the most talented martial arts instructor I know isn’t good at business and has never worked out of a super-nice-looking dojo.

But there are also community programs if you’re on a budget. 

These are a lot more affordable than the commercial ventures we’ve been exploring. They’re cheaper because their cost structure is lower.

The “school” may be in a park, church, community center, or even a space that’s been leased from another martial arts school. Because they do not have dedicated facilities, what they offer tends to be a tad limited.

Are martial arts worth the hassle? 

I bet you’ll enjoy reading a recent article where I shared the reasons why it’s important to learn martial arts. I looked at whether they make you violent and if they teach you discipline. But I also shared some of the downsides.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Now, let’s check out something that’s probably on your mind: would you have to break into a bank to be able to afford Karate lessons?

Is Karate an expensive sport compared to others?

Karate is not expensive compared to sports such as golf, polo, tennis, skiing or snowboarding, or volleyball. And even compared to BJJ, Krav Maga, and Taekwondo Karate is often less expensive.

The latter is because Karate uses less gear compared to many other martial arts. There’s often little or no use of gloves, headgear, sparring equipment, or weapons.

There are many sports one could pick up without having to break the bank, and there are some that would cost you an arm and a leg.

The following are examples:

  • Golf
  • Skiing
  • Motor Racing
  • Sailing
  • Polo
  • Volleyball
  • Tennis
  • Horseback riding

Take Golf, a professional-level set of golf clubs alone could set you back by about $2000. That’s just the clubs.

Karate is nowhere near that. As I hinted earlier, Krav Maga, BJJ, and Taekwondo are usually more expensive than Karate.

A good BJJ school would set you back by about $150 to $200 per month, but $75-$100 should be okay for most Karate schools. (50% of these figures should suffice if the classes are for children. And, you may get a further discount if you’re enrolling 2 to 3 kids at a time).

Now, I’ve got a question for you: can you tell Kung Fu apart from Karate? 

A lot of folks find both a tad confusing. But, you’re in luck because a recent article of mine is devoted to exploring 9 key differences between both highly popular martial arts.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How do I avoid Karate schools that charge way too much?

Avoid expensive Karate schools by taking a free trial class before signing up. Get a complete breakdown of the fees, ask about the cancellation policy, and check if they have long-term contracts.

It’s better to have the option of canceling when you’ve only made a small financial commitment if you have to.

Do a lot of research online before you hit the road. And, check out your shortlisted schools physically. Do they have equipment and facilities in line with the money they’re asking for?

Or do they seem like a fly-by-night operation?

Talk to some students, the instructors, and the owner if you can. At times, nothing beats face-to-face interaction in revealing something one should be worried about.

Obviously, you can’t check out all the schools. But it’s not a bad idea to check out about 5 highly recommended ones before you part with your money.

And in this day and age, it’s also easy to check Yelp reviews too.

If the average Karate dojo in your city is $200 per month, you ought to be a bit suspicious of the school that’s charging $350 or more. It may well be okay. Perhaps it’s in a very expensive part of town, and all its instructors have black belts in Karate?

If you do in-depth research, it would be very easy to avoid having to pay too much. If the school is subtly putting pressure on you to sign a contract, it’s a red flag.

Can you get out of a Karate contract?

Most Karate contracts will have some sort of buy-out option where you essentially pay a cancellation fee to end the contract early. But most dojos will not turn a past due contract invoice over to collections, so many people just cancel and turn off the auto-draft with their bank.

And honestly, many schools are moving away from contracts due to the greatly increased potential for bad blood and getting slammed online.

But above all, you want to carefully study the contract before you sign it.

If you know you’re protected by law, you can explore a way to opt out of a contract amicably. It could be by paying a cancellation fee or negotiating with the school.

In some cases, a school may not want the potential negative effect a protracted legal battle could have on their brand, so they may offer to cancel the contract without any charge.

Most contracts are designed to protect both parties. Ask lots of questions before you commit to it. Be sure you’re indeed protected. You want to be sure of that before going into it.

You always want to do a bit of “scenario planning” before signing any contract. 

What are some of the things that could go wrong? Are you protected by the contract? If not, do not sign it in the first place!

Especially if you are signing up a child, the average length of time a child under age 8 stays with martial arts is going to be 6-8 months. Of course, there are always exceptions or we wouldn’t have black belts.

But you don’t want to sign up your 5-year-old to a 2-year contract with no buy-out option!

How much do private karate lessons cost?

On average, private Karate lessons are priced by the hour, anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour. The range often is based on the experience of the instructor.

It also varies from school to school and from tutor to tutor. It’s also impacted by whether the lesson is online or in-person.

Online lessons are relatively cheaper than in-person classes.

One thing to consider, though, is that without the distraction of 20 other students, you can get a lot of training in 15-30 minutes.

So don’t feel like you have to do the same amount of time as a group class lasts.

Unless you’re really on a tight budget, I suggest that you be careful of rates that are too low. The main idea of having private lessons is to take your Karate to a whole new level so that you can quickly level up.

Make sure the instructor is a Black Belt in some variation of Karate. And also, know that the school owner will almost always charge more than the other instructors.

If you take the time to find a good tutor or take advantage of an instructor in your school if you’re already a part of a group, private lessons are more than worth it. 

This is because there’s more time to focus on each Kata, the instructions are tailored for you, and you get instant feedback.

If you can afford it, get private lessons. But is Karate something you can also learn at home? Can you teach yourself?

Check out a recent article of mine where I explained whether it takes longer to learn it at home, whether you could learn it on YouTube, and whether you could earn a black belt if you learned at home.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Conclusion

In the article, we looked at why martial arts are so expensive and whether Karate is an expensive sport compared to others.

But we also checked out how to avoid Karate schools that charge too much. But never forget that martial arts instructors get paid well; especially the good ones. And you will get what you pay for in most cases. And, we found out whether you can get out of a Karate contract.

Lastly, we looked at how much private Karate lessons cost.


Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Image by inna mikitas from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell was Academy Director for a large martial arts school for over 7 years, and has trained extensively in a variety of martial arts including Brazilian Jiujitsu, different styles of Karate, the Russian Martial Art of Systema, Aikido, and much more.

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