We were charter members of EWK leadership team membership. We paid in full for a three year commitment of training in January 2002. During the year and a half that we were members of EWK the schedule changed several times, graduations fees were increased from $20 to: $40 for the first 3 belt tests, $55 for the next 2 belt tests, $70 for the next 2 belt tests, $150 Jr. Black Belt to 1st degree, and $250 per test 2nd degree. In addition all levels of membership went from having a graduation every three months to every two months. Two additional schools were opened with two more on the way.
In addition the chief instructor a 4th degree black belt and excellent instructor, left the school. He was replaced with an instructor who stated he doesn't like teaching and is a high school drop out and is only a 1st degree level blackbelt.
Jesse Elder owner of East West Karate has encouraged two of his instructors to drop out of high school and work for him full time. This is clearly not a good role model for young impressionable minds. In addition it is not putting the young instructors well being first.
When our original instructor opened his own school we began training there as well as continuing our training at EWK. When Jesse Elder learned that we were training at both facilities we told him we were still planning on attending classes at EWK as well as the other school.
He stated he could not allow us to train at both as his instruction was proprietary and that we would have to choose. He even called the other instructor to let him know of his position. Due to the fact that legally Jesse Elder couldn't prevent us from attending classes that we had already paid to attend he stated if we decided to continue training at the other school he would return our unused tuition and we wouldn't be out any money.
As a consumer we have the right to purchase services as we choose, and the instruction we had already purchased from EWK should not have been denied.
On August 25, I met with Mr. Elder and he agreed to return our money, we also followed up with a letter stating that if he was forcing us to choose we were unwilling to stop training at the other facility.
This was three months ago and we are stil out $550. This amount is being held as a fee their billing agency charges to cancel a contract. Please note that not one payment was collected by this billing agency as we paid EWK in full.
Secondly due to the fact that we were not attempting to get out of our contract, instead it is a contract buy out by EWK to prevent us from attending the classes we were entitled to attend. If there are any penalties they should be EWK's.
One recommendation to all martial arts consumers, read your contract and add clauses so you can terminate for schedule changes that conflict, instructor style dissagreements, and write down that you have 30 days to cancel the contract for any reason. These contracts are very one sided with the only thing that East West Karate must furnish is competent instruction and suitable facilities.
Numerous parents who have left East West Karate have complained about the quality of some of the instructors and no consideration when making schedule changes. Make sure that you don't take a verbal agreement to be able to cancel the contract write it down. Or better yet keep shoping for a school who will put the students first.
Hill Country, Texas