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Free lessons?

A lot of people seeking tai chi tuition expect to be taught the art free of charge. This is an interesting notion. It would be curious to see how the supermarket responds to such ideas...
Or the petrol station. Are banks offering free mortgages these days? The optician free glasses? Do masseurs treat people for free? What do personal trainers charge?
How much do colleges charge for night school courses? University tuition? Are most yoga classes free? Pilates? The gym? Piano lessons? Do they give away free driving licences too?


The real question here is: why exactly does someone think that tai chi should be taught for free? It hardly indicates a recognition of value.
Tai chi may offer excellent fitness benefits, long life, calm, mental clarity, physical fitness, stamina, martial arts skills... yet people expect these for free? A quick fix. A handout.

Something for nothing?

The best things in life are free. This is what people say. Does this mean that friendship does not involve give and take? That marriage is one-sided?
Can you rear children properly without time, great effort and attention?
What you get out of something is usually proportionate to what you put into it.

Trade off

Most things in life involve some sort of exchange. You want a new car? You must pay. You want to learn French? You must study, set time aside, practice and persevere.
You want to eat healthily? You will need to research, buy fresh ingredients, prepare and cook the food.


People commonly believe that they can have it all without having to give anything up. This is simply naive. To have one thing you must give up something else.


Martial arts have always been taught for money. How come? Combat training in a martial arts class has always exceeded what is taught to the armed forces.
It is more in-depth, detailed and sophisticated. You are receiving specialised training. You pay for the cost of hall rental, website(s), the instructor's time, resources etc.

Tai chi is also about attitude

Having good character is a major feature of Asian martial arts systems. You are not expected to behave like the rest of society. You are required to be better.


There are many ways to show good character, and the issue of fees is one example. When fees are due, pay punctually. Find out what is owing at what time and settle it without needing to be prompted.
Your instructor is not a debt collector.

Not cheap

Martial arts lessons are not cheap.
Usually you should expect to pay for some (or all) of these items:

  1. Monthly tuition fees

  2. Annual membership

  3. Affiliation with a third party organisation/federation

  4. Insurance

  5. Licence

  6. Competitions

  7. Grading

  8. Uniform

  9. Patches/badges

  10. Equipment/weaponry

Many classes expect new students to buy a uniform within a month of starting a class. The new starter is also asked to pay annual membership, insurance and commit to a monthly standing order.


Sports can be significantly more expensive than martial arts training. And sometimes cheaper too. How much does the clothing cost? Gym membership? A season ticket?
As with all things, the cost of something is relative to what you think is appropriate and what you are prepared/willing to pay...


Long term training may radically affect many ailments/illnesses and conditions. It is a serious investment in terms of fitness. Students learn how to relax and rest.
They become more capable of managing stress and conflict in a constructive manner. The supplementary reading promotes change and flexibility, freedom and receptiveness.
The mind is opened and the consciousness expanded. The quality of life is enhanced.


Page created 8 February 1998
Last updated 16 June 2023