Why We Are Not a “Black Belt School”

Madison Martial Arts Academy is not a “Black Belt School”. Most students who enter our dojo will never wear a black belt. Even fewer will actually make it “on time.” And even that phrase, “on time,” means something different when the minimum time to black belt is three and a half years rather than two.

But not being a “Black Belt School” means more than that. When you sign up for our classes, you will not:

  • Be handed a belt simply for showing up to a sufficient number of classes.
  • Be handed a belt simply for writing us a check.
  • Be awarded a belt when you’re not capable of doing the techniques required for that belt.
  • Be awarded a belt when you’re not capable of performing at the required level of proficiency.
  • Be forced to sign a contract that will keep you paying for our classes long after you’ve lost interest in attending them.
  • Be hounded into endless “membership upgrades” with little or no extra value.
  • Be taught “play karate.”
  • Be awarded a black belt after X years simply for “doing your time.”
  • Be surrounded by 30 other students with only one instructor.
  • Have your individual needs ignored while you’re spoon fed cookie-cutter instruction.
  • Be surrounded by “black belts” who never workout in class anymore.
  • Be confused by hidden or obfuscated prices.

When you join a class in our dojo, be prepared to work hard. Be prepared to sweat. Be prepared to think hard and to study. That doesn’t mean we won’t have fun – we will, both during class and outside of it. But we expect our students to come prepared to learn and to train and to take that learning and training seriously.

We don’t award belts just for showing up. Every belt has a minimum required time at the previous belt level. Most students who come to class and work hard won’t have trouble earning their next belt at these minimum times. But some students will take longer, even if they’re working hard. Some students have physical or mental challenges that will require even more effor than normal for them to learn the material. We work hard with these students to help them – but we won’t water down the requirements for them. Instead, we want them to know that when they finally reach their next belt rank, they’ve earned it.

We don’t hide our prices. They’re right up on our web site. When you walk in the door, you know what you’ll be paying – and as long as you stay current, your prices will never go up. Can you spend more money on gear, equipment, and accessories? Sure. Do you need to? Not at all. I trained for four years (until well past my first degree black belt) with one gi and one set of sparring gear, and you can, too, if you’re tight on money.

We don’t have “membership” upgrades because we don’t have memberships. You pay for the classes you take – period. Not taking a class? You don’t pay. Need to take a month off because life got in the way? You don’t pay.

Our class sizes are strictly limited based on the number of instructors available. In our dojo, you won’t walk in to a class with thirty students and one instructor. We maintain a low student/teacher ratio to ensure that you get the individualized attention you need. And we’ll modify the curriculum to suit individual physical needs. That doesn’t mean you’ll work less hard – it means that we’re going to help you figure out what “working hard” means for you.

Our curriculum is a serious martial arts curriculum. Based in karate, it also incorporates elements of kickboxing, jujitsu and many other arts to provide a complete, balanced approach for practical self defense. It’s the real deal – not playground stuff. So we might get a little picky about who we choose to train with. We can choose to say farewell to students who are disrespectful, who won’t work hard, or who will misuse and abuse the knowledge we’re imparting – and we have.

At the same time, we like to have fun – a lot of fun. We like to get to know our students personally, both inside and outside of class. We believe in real communities – something sadly lacking in our modern society. Our students help each other on the dojo floor, but also in real life when the occasion calls for it. Or, when times are better, we like to just have fun together.

Our classes are taught by instructors who are continuing to workout themselves – and continuing to expand their knowledge, each and every day. We do it because we love it, and we hope to share that enthusiasm with our students.

If you’re ready to work hard, to come in prepared to study and think, to learn some serious martial arts, be a part of a community, and have a blast and get in fantastic shape while doing it, then you might be a good fit for one of our programs.