By Jose R. Villanueva

As originally published on the Listen & Be Heard Weekly1, May 4, 2005.

As a society we place a value to everything, but value can only be in existence if there is a group agreement that something is a specific worth. For example, we use a piece of paper with a picture of a past president, and a monetary value is printed on it. If we all decided one day that the paper was worthless, then it would not have any significance. We can change agreements and change the rules of the game.

This game of placing value to something is portable. For example, people place a monetary worth to the Martial Arts. Can the true value of the Martial Arts really be assessed accurately without diminishing its true worth? How would you determine its worth? How does public opinion regarding the value of the Martial Arts affect owners/instructors?

Martial Arts cannot really be assessed accurately without diminishing its true worth because the results that one obtains from training cannot be given a value without degrading it. The Martial Arts is priceless. How does one quantify value to something that gives one the knowledge to protect oneself and others from harm, keep one healthy to improve one's longevity, and increase one's spiritual awareness of ethics, integrity, honor and responsibility? The tremendous gains of life and living are things that the Martial Arts can offer. Applying a monetary value to it would not do it justice. What worth would you put on your child being able to protect himself/herself from an attack? If your child comes home one day and tells you that he/she was able to get away from an abductor because they knew how to defend themselves and had the awareness to respond, what worth would you place on it? Too often, parents send their kids to play basketball, baseball or football, but none of those activities give a child an ability to defend oneself.

In present time, many people determine the worth of the Martial Arts by how cheap they can get their classes. What kind of special or deal can I get? If I have two children sign up, will you give me a discount? People are always looking for the best deals, but lose sight of the product. A person should really be looking at the quality of the instructor and the quality of the lessons. It is the standard of the product that should determine worth.

When the public has a set opinion on the value of the Martial Arts, it has a significant effect on owners/instructors. People come into my school inquiring on prices all the time. They make comparisons with other Martial Art schools in the area as to price. They have this set price that they want to pay for lessons, but it is an unfair viewpoint. Martial Art instructors are professionals, and they fall under the same category as a doctor, lawyer, architect, engineer, etc. All of these professionals have a tremendous amount of years training and studying in their field in common. Most Martial Art instructors do not get paid professional rates for their services. For example, an instructor charges $80 per month. The school gives each student four classes per week and a total of sixteen classes per month. You divide sixteen into eighty, so this instructor gets paid $5 per hour. As you can see, there is a tremendous gap in comparison to the other professional fields.

The value of the Martial Arts will always be in the quality of the instructor, and the standard of the product. Instructors are professionals, and the public should consider themselves lucky that most instructors don't charge professional rates. Knowing what instructors may earn on an hourly basis should give people a reality on value, and give them the necessary perspective as to what they are receiving relative to what they are paying.