When I started the Usagi Dojo, I checked local martial arts school prices before setting my prices.
To this day, I still check periodically - at least annually.
My objective in the martial arts has never been about money.
That said, I've made interesting observations in over 25 years of professional instruction:
- People who do not pay never wind up feeling the value.
- It's hard to say you are not about the money when you have the highest prices around.
- Teaching for free is a guarantee of a short-term student.
So I made the conscious decision several years back to have some of the least expensive instruction around. Currently, I charge $80 per month for tuition. The next least expensive in a 5-mile radius charges $89 - and is actually a good friend.
That way, students feel there is value.
Still, the drawback, as I knew it would be, is that I attract those trying to "save a buck" (read: someone who really cannot afford martial arts instruction). I find that a little kind firmness goes a long way, and they eventually realize this is not for them.
The plus side is much bigger. As students get more ingrained into the dojo, they sense the value of what I teach, and they realize they are learning more than most. They also realize I am not doing this for the money - and then they appreciate what they have learned that much more. My hope is that one day, my students will have the same love and appreciation of the martial arts as I do.