In business – and in life – the first question everyone asks is, “How much does this cost?”

The reason for this is that money, or price – like love and music – is a universal language of establishing value.

If you are in a foreign country and don’t speak the language, one of the very first things you learn to ask is, “how much?”

The same goes when you are buying a car, a home, shopping for a vacuum or looking at investing in a quality martial arts program.  When you don’t know anything about what it is you are interested in buying, the natural question we all ask is, “how much?”.

As a professional martial arts instructor, I was asked that question almost every single day.  I still get asked that question now, just not as much.  My answer – the same as it has always been…

“How much is your life and well-being (or that of your child) worth?”

How much you are going to spend on your training really isn’t the issue.  The issue is what are the benefits you are going to get from your training and how much is that worth to you?

If you bought a book for $19.95 and it had information in it that prevented you from having a heart attack, and you lived another thirteen years, was the book only worth $19.95?

Of course not!  The information in the book is priceless; you can’t put a monetary figure on an additional thirteen years of your life!  The $19.95 was the cost of the printing, ink, paper and other costs for printing the book.

If you went to college, wasn’t your first criteria for selection which school was the best that you could get admitted to?  You figured out how to pay for it after you got accepted.

All martial arts schools are not created equal; they are not a commodity. It’s just like not all private schools are the same, even though they fall under the label of “private” schools.  Some are better than others depending upon location, funding, who’s running them and other factors.

The point is this: the quality of your experience, the feeling you get from the staff, and how confident you are that the school can help you reach your goals are the determining factors that will decide how much you spend.

You Buy What You Want…

You’ll happily pay any price for something if that something meets your needs – or you want it badly enough.

I don’t know about you, but I’m like everyone else; I buy stuff that I want because I want it.  I don’t really care how much it is because if I want it badly enough, I’ll find the money!  And, even in this economic environment, I can prove it to you…

When Apple debuted their new iPad – which is basically an iPod touch on steroids, according to a tech writer who stood in line to buy one – they sold 300,00 units – in ONE day – and 700,000 units in the opening weekend.

People camped out overnight and stood in line for hours for something with price points between $499 and $829, for something that will NOT teach you how to protect yourself or your loved one, does NOT help extend your life by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, lowering your insulin sensitivity, burning fat, building muscle, increasing flexibility, increasing muscle mass or making you stronger.

Nope – an iPad is just “cool”, and over 700,000 people in one weekend, regardless of the economic environment, HAD to have one.  We buy what we WANT and what is VALUABLE to us.

Another point to consider when it comes to pricing: most good schools are going to open in an area that demographically supports their target market.

If there is a martial arts school that is in your area, you can safely assume that you can afford their classes or they wouldn’t have opened there in the first place.

Your success in the martial arts is not something you want to farm out to the lowest bidder.

Emerson, in his Essays on Compensation, referred to the laws of nature and economics that state, “It is impossible to get something of great value for very little.”  We usually paraphrase that today into, “There is no free lunch” or as they say down South, “You can’t git somethin’ for nuthin’”

Some schools, due to lack of belief in themselves or some negative belief systems, will charge too little.  They actually undervalue what they do.

If they are undercharging for their classes they may have a hard time staying open as a viable business.  That could lead to the unfortunately common occurrence that happens in the martial arts industry; one day they are there teaching classes and the next day they are gone.

Not Good.

If a school fits your wants and needs, teaches an effective system of martial arts and you feel comfortable with the Instructors and staff, then pay whatever you can to get the results you are after.  You owe it to yourself to get the best training available.

Yours in the Arts,


P.S. – If you have never tried the martial arts before, or if you have, but have never tried personalized martial arts instruction, then follow the blue link to try a personalized introductory course in the martial arts, and see how it can change your life.

Please Share Your Comments & Questions

Please give your feedback! Z-Ultimate is happy to help you in any way we can. We love it when students, family members or people interested in us and the martial arts share their thoughts with us, so please leave your comments.

SPECIAL REQUEST: Please keep your comments or questions thoughtful, intelligent and respectful. Z-Ultimate believes, represents and teaches the values of respect, discipline and humility; please keep that in mind when commenting. Thank you.


  1. Rick
    Sep 20, 2010 @ 15:16:01

    While I agree with alot of what is said in this article with regards to understanding value over price, I have to ask…why the unnecessary dig at France??? Saying, “why you would go there, I don’t know” neither promotes your position nor furthers the argument. I’m sure it is a simple attempt at humor, but I don’t know that a prospective student would view it that way. A comment like that doesn’t sound “martial artsy” to me, it sounds unprofessional and doesn’t reflect the values that I have been taught by my sensei. I’m proud to be a part of ZUltimate, and I believe the article is good, I’d just remove the comments about France…they don’t add, but detract from the otherwise sound argument.
    Kind Regards,


    • admin
      Sep 23, 2010 @ 08:22:43

      Hello Rick,

      Thank you for your feedback – I love it when people share their thoughts or questions.

      I am leaving the comment about France in because I’ve been told I am a funny guy; and, as you read and learn more about Z-Ultimate and myself, you will discover that we don’t want to be “corporate”, stuffy, bland, or just like every other entity on the Internet, terrified of having an opinion or sense of humor.

      We want to be geniune – just like our Instructors, students and extended family members.

      I hope that you will continue your training, stay a proud member of Z-Ultimate and (eventually) warm up to my sense of humor:)

      Have a great day,

      Sensei H


  2. Ryan
    Oct 09, 2010 @ 09:18:00

    Sensei H,

    The attitude of this article prevents a strong standpoint on the issue at hand. In part due to your choice to use humor and in part due to the arguments presented.

    I am a member of ZUSD and love it very much, yet pricing is a very real factor for me. The humor you use to offset such a serious issue for me, actually seemed to be an affront on my economic status.There have been times where I have had to tell my Sensei that I would have to postpone a belt test because I simply can’t fit it into my budget.

    Managing money, and managing it responsibly is simply a part of life, and people have to prioritize. Though martial arts is a great passion of mine, I simply can not place it above my higher education, my bills, or putting food in my fridge. The people you reach out to will need to take this into consideration.

    Martial arts is an expensive hobby, I think most people are aware enough of this factor, and asking for a price is a perfectly rational question presented by perfectly rational people.
    Your arguments presented on this page were belittling and insensitive.

    Please don’t try and goad people into thinking that fear should be a motivator and that the well being of oneself and one’s loved ones is what is being put on the line. People practice martial arts for many reasons. Some for self-defense, some for exercise, some for competition, and others like myself find their passion for the martial arts as a form of self expression.

    While I see your point talking about the iPad, and relating it to the expense of the martial arts program, I do however think that your argument would offend people who place value in technology such as the iPad. Your highly opinionated standpoint on the iPad shows through in your writing and could offend visitors to this site seeking martial arts training.

    While everyone is entitled to their own personal opinons, I think presenting your opinion in this fashion is counterproductive to your goals.

    As I said before, I am a member of ZUSD, and I love it. But I signed on even after seeing the high price tag not because I felt the price wasn’t an issue, because believe me it still is. I was given free lessons to try out the ZUSD experience and I loved it. The people training at these studios are wonderful. The studios themselves are clean and inviting.

    My Sensei showed me everything the studio had to offer, he was friendly and professional. At the same time however, he recognized my limited budget as being a very real issue and found the pricing package which worked best for me.

    Overall, though it is important to try and seem unique and humorous to appeal to new visitors (it shows a strong element of humanity). Humor is a tool, and has its appropriate uses. Sometimes it is important to carefully gauge when and when not to use this tool, and in what manner.


    • admin
      Dec 08, 2010 @ 13:09:44


      Thank you for your feedback.

      I can understand that you may have felt as I was being insensitive or out of touch with the economic reality of today or your specific situation, so I thought I would add some information on my personal experience along with an observation.

      I started martial arts training twenty years ago. I was working as a bouncer at a bar of ill repute and was beaten up by a couple of bikers when I found myself isolated outside the bar without the other bouncers as backup.

      The next day, beaten, battered and bruised (and knowing I needed to learn how to fight right now), I walked into the first martial arts school I could find and enrolled on the spot. At the time, paying for martial arts cost me one-sixth of my net take home pay. For some perspective, if someone takes home fifty grand a year, that would be like paying $8,333.00 a year for martial arts training.

      I’ve also lived in my truck for a short time, while STILL paying for martial arts classes. Some would think that is indicative of priority problems, but at the time, martial arts training was one of the most important things in my life, regardless the cost.

      I referenced in the video and article that, of course, everyone’s individual situation is different and we will all make decisions – particularly financial ones – differently, but in the end, human nature almost always dictates that when something is important enough to us, we will find a way to make it happen, financially or otherwise.

      To choose a martial arts program or anything else that can change your life and shape it for the future – based solely on price alone – very well may be a huge mistake.

      As always, only YOU know what is best for you. I ask that you keep an open mind and consider every factor, NOT just the “price”.

      To your best,

      Sensei H


  3. jen
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 10:46:54

    Sensei H,

    Regarding technology, I had a simple phone for many years and recently bought a 3g Droid. Now I agree that it is not providing what my classes provide, but it does differ in ways which make a quick $600 worth it. I get on the spot gps, great for not getting lost, then disoriented, nervous, and consequently end up in an accident. That is awareness, confidence, and knowledge of what to do, something they both offer. It has features that keep me contact with people, where it can prevent me from being in situations where I can get hurt. It works quickly to provide info needed at a drop of a hat, something very valuable in today’s society. Plus I own it, no more money, except maintenance of communication.

    Classes… very much worth the investment. But in very quick time $600 worth of classes goes by fast. And the information and value is not quick, nor convenient as a phone or a book. That is why I pay. I total the cost for the value over several years, as anyone who is looking into long term benefits. It takes a while for the value to outdo the cost of the program.3-6 months can be to long of a time for some. After 3-6 months the classes are so much more valuable then what I pay, but for the first 600… my phone gave me more. These classes are awesome for those who have a bone for commitment beyond 3 months, the average time for most sports.

    With all the perceptions people have about defense, I would debate the pros and cons of what a good school gives, how it is meant to work, and the rate of value increase (comparable to realestate), rather than compare apples 😉 and oranges. It is not like buying a phone, or a car, and thank god. We already have way to many quickfix non lasting materialistic products to waste money on.

    Please do not compare my training to something like that, it undermines the value I have received. And do not insult my heritage regardless of American history.


    • Sensei Huff
      Dec 08, 2010 @ 13:22:14

      Hello Jen,

      Thank you for your feedback.

      In the interest of full disclosure, my grandmother Julia on my mother’s side – who lived to the cantankerous age of ninety-five – was French, so that makes me at least a quarter French, which would explain my love of food and wine. Plus, I like this Sarkozy guy, too; he’s got style.

      Based on your intensity and remarks about “quickfix, non-lasting, materialistic products to waste money on”, I can see why you felt insulted or that I was devaluing your training. As someone who has twenty years in the martial arts and has the martial arts to thank for almost every single thing in his adult life, you can rest assured that nothing I said devalued anything you have received as far as your training, and I hope the martial arts has as much of a positive impact on your life as it has on mine and millions of others.

      More than the “apples to oranges” comparison was the observation that human behavior and values rarely changes, regardless of external factors (much like the quickfix, non-lasting, materialistic products to waste money on behaviors). And, if people are driven to invest money in something they feel can change their lives – like an electronic device, which may or may not add real, life-changing value to their existence like martial arts training does – then there is certainly no reason that someone wouldn’t and shouldn’t invest in a quality martial arts program, based on their experience and desires.

      Good luck with your training and write again anytime.

      Sensei H


  4. charles diehl
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 22:56:16

    Hello sir,sorry about the people that can’t take a joke, not even a joke but just a sentence. I am a school owner and agree completely with you. I have had a tough go for the last year or so and part of the reson was because I did not place enough value on myself. Please contact me if there is more advice printed anywhere. Thanks.


  5. Sandy
    Jan 03, 2011 @ 08:34:56

    Why not just post your price structure?
    Going into a long speech about value only implies that the classes are very expensive, and you need to justify the cost.
    Also, if this is any indication of how the classes are run, it seems like a lot of talking and not much doing or substance….which doesn’t represent value at all.
    Thanks 🙂


  6. sam
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 19:49:11

    Took my first class today with my fiance. We both loved it. Funny thing is that I found your school on my ipad. Maybe my purchase was a good investment for you. Thank Sam


    • Sensei Huff
      Jan 09, 2011 @ 11:42:27


      Congratulations on your first class and welcome to the Z-Ultimate Family!

      All the best,

      Sensei Huff


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    Most of the times i visit a blog I notice that most blogs are amateurish. Regarding your blog,I have to say that you have done a good job here.


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  15. Sensei Huff
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 12:10:19

    Hello Miss Raelynn,

    We do have age-appropriate group classes. When it comes to your investment in your training, that will be customized for you based on your needs, schedule and budget. What I recommend is to contact the school, say you were referred via the website; then let them know you have previous experience with Mile High and you are interested in what their program has to offer. Then I would try them out to see if you are a fit for them and the way they teach; if so, then it is a good idea to sit down and see what they put together for you.

    The reason it is so important to try them out first is this: if you don’t like the classes, the facility or the instructor, it won’t matter how much the lessons are.

    Give them a call and a try and please – let me know how it goes.

    Sensei Huff


  16. Nicole
    Feb 13, 2018 @ 15:38:54

    Great article! I couldn’t agree more. It’s a matter of priority and the right mindset. Where there is a will there is a way. Thank God I’ve always had a strong will and a keen eye for the value of things that truly add value to my life in the long run.


  17. Andrea
    Jul 05, 2019 @ 16:46:57

    I was looking at trying out martial arts studios in Aurora.

    With no schedule posted and pricing I’ll have to pass on even trying your place.

    From this article I’ll assume you overprice everything and that it’s not worth the cost of your ego. I don’t trust places that aren’t up front with their pricing and only share introductory rates.

    I absolutely care about the price. I am frugal and sticking to a budget is extremely important to me. I don’t frivolously buy an iphone and other such things when something much cheaper will do the job. I know I need to exercise, I know I need something/someone to hold me accountable, and I like to go where I can also learn new skills by exercising (such as dance classes and martial arts classes). For that reason I’m willing to pay more than a gym membership with drop in classes (~$40/month gum membership). But I still have limits. I’m trying to get a regular exercise routine out of classes, not become a master of the craft. Doesn’t matter what someone is worth, I’m still trying to keep classes to under $10/hr, so that exercising 5-10hrs a week with classes doesn’t exceed what I know I can afford in my budget.


    • Master Huff
      Jul 06, 2019 @ 12:29:33

      Hello Andrea,

      Thank you for commenting – always appreciate hearing from people who visit our site and take the time to comment.

      One of the things that makes us different from many other martial arts schools – and one of the reasons we don’t have pricing on our websites – is that we customize our program to fit the individual needs of each student. Most martial arts schools use the group training format, where they charge everyone the same price and everyone goes to group classes, where there are as many people as the school can fit training at one time.

      We offer a unique combination of private, one-on-one training PLUS the group classes – and many of our students take multiple private lessons per week.

      We try to accommodate everyone’s needs when it comes to budget and schedule as we can. Obviously, we have can’t be a perfect fit for everyone, but we try our best.

      We’re always running different trial programs for new students that allow people to, “get their feet wet” and see if we are a good fit for each other. Your’e always welcome to try us out.

      As far as scheduling being available – that is something we are working on integrating onto our location pages right now, because that is something that is very valuable for visitors like yourself to see.

      Thanks again – best to you and yours!


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