I saw a coupon for 6 free lessons at Karate For Kids in Chandler, so I called and scheduled an appointment to come in with my daughter, age 5.
The person there, Josh Chilton, asked my daughter to do a series of things, including blocking, saying "Yes Sir!" and standing in a "middle stance". He then said she had talent and would do great in a class. I had thought she would be able to take an actual class, but he told me that WAS the class.
So I proceeded to ask about the 6 free lessons, and he told me they are included in the price of the ONE YEAR contract, which is $99/mo. for the most basic starting program. I was hesitant, but decided to sign up since she was so excited. Then I was bombarded with over $1,000 worth of items and equipment that I was told were needed to begin! I told him I would purchase later, and I ended up buying the exact same equipment on eBay for about 10% of the price I was quoted.
Then after our first week, I was pressured to sign my daughter up for their Master Club because she had "so much potential and talent". They had convinced my daughter that she should get her black belt and stick with this. I really didn't want to, so I said no. Then about another week later, I finally gave in and signed her up, even though this particular program was $197/mo.
When I read the fine print, the contract upgrade said that I was signing her up for a THREE YEAR contract term!!! What the F***?! Children change their minds so often and I just knew we would not be able to commit to this. Then another week later, Mr. Chilton was pressuring me to sign her up for their Leadership Program, for $300/mo. Is he insane? I told him no, definately not. She was only five afterall, and I already felt taken advantage of.
Every month, you are asked to purchase new equipment and they tell you if you don't buy it, your child will not graduate. This is a joke. I refused to buy this equipment, which they only use for a limited time since they switch to another piece of gear in 2 months, and my child DID graduate.
However, the Graduation is a joke too. The "graduation" ceremony is the same exact thing as a regular class, except at the end, you either get a new belt or a headband and patch. They alternate these things so that there is a graduation every TWO MONTHS. So if you get a belt in January, then on the next graduation in March you get a headband and patch. Also, the cost for these graduations are $65-70 each, depending on your child's age group. So you are spending at least $390/year on graduation ceremonies in addition to the $1,188-$3,600/year in monthly fees.
And if you want private lessons, that is going to cost you hundreds of dollars as well. It's unreal.
It got to the point to where I was forcing my daughter to attend these classes, and I also could not afford to do it anymore, so I wrote to them explaining my circumstances. They told me it was ok, but then I started getting letters from their collection agency saying I owed them for the remainder of my contract, which was over $3,500.
These classes are a joke too. My child didn't learn anything really. Just some basic moves. She is a blue belt, but cannot defend herself in the least bit. They give these belts away like candy.
My son was in a different karate class and it took him almost a year to earn his first belt. This seems more like it to me. Not moving up six belts a year so that you are a black belt by the time you are 5 or 6 if you start when you are 3 years old...
They do everything to get you to sign up for more things and to get other people to sign up. They also tell you that you MUST attend the Master training seminars in order to graduate, but they don't even take attendance at these and I skipped some of them and my daughter still graduated. I do not like the threats of not graduating. This is BS!
Also, they charge you outlandish prices for equipment, at least DOUBLE that of what you would pay if you bought it elsewhere. And the worst part of all, is that THEY DON'T EVEN USE the sparring equipment! These poor kids come dressed in their helmets and pads and about 10 min. into the class, they are instructed to take off the equipment without having used it at all.
This is all about greed, not about instilling values and teaching your children martial arts.