Why I Am Willing To Spend $1,800/year On This Sport For My Kids

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We all know I am a frugal person who uses toilet paper as napkins and feels guilty for spending almost $500 on my blog (my hobby and a potential side hustle) over the past 1.5 years.

I refused to spend $75/mo on yoga classes for myself.

However, now I am considering dropping $150/mo or $1,800/year on a sport for my son (and my daughter in the future): Martial Arts.

How is it even possible? Let me explain to you why.


I called up a couple of martial arts academies and were given the following fees for toddlers’ classes:

School 1: $179/mo, 30 minutes/class, twice a week –> $35.8 – $44.75/hour or $2,148/year

School 2: $149/mo, an hour/class, three times a week –> $10 – $12.42/hour or $1,788/year

School 3: $209/mo, 30 minutes/class, twice a week –> $41.8 — $52.25/hour or $2,508/year

All of those schools are within two miles from our house and offer trial classes at a discount.

I need to check out the quality of each school, but given the price alone, I’m leaning towards school 2.

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One might argue that in a modern society, our brain is much more important than muscle, and that we should use our intelligence, not physical strength, to get ahead in life. That I totally agree with.

But you might also agree with me that life is not so simple. People get assaulted, bullied, and attacked every single day whether it is a kid getting bullied at school or a person getting mugged in broad daylight.

As a parent, I want the best for my kids and want to protect them to the best of my ability. However, I can’t always be with them 24/7.

There are times when they will be alone and need to protect themselves whether it’s a school environment, an alley in a dark area, or on the street.

I myself am not sure if I can even protect myself if I get attacked by another adult, let alone protecting my own children. If there’s one thing I wish I could have done when I was little, it’s learning martial arts.

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Bullying at school

We are Asian, and of course our son looks unmistakably Asian. I know America is a diverse country and is less racist than other more homogeneous societies like Japan or Australia. But racism still exists.

Even without racism, bullying still exists in school. It’d break my heart if our son came home from school one way all bruised and sad because some bigger kid had bullied him.

I could go talk to the principal and that boy’s parents, but will it help at all? If it did, bullying wouldn’t exist.

Violence is not always the best solution, and we should use our brain and manners to deal with other people in a difficult situations. But I also know that not every kid knows and understands that.

I want my son to know martial arts not to beat up other kids or become a bully. I want him to understand the importance of using tact rather than violence to deal with other people.

And when it is impossible to avoid a physical fight simply because other kids don’t leave him alone, he should have the strength and courage to stand up for himself.

I would expect my daughter to do the same. But based on my experience, while boys like to use strength to settle a fight, girls like to use words (aka gossip and rumors) to hurt other girls.

I know because I was a victim when I was in middle school. Words sometimes can hurt you more than violence does.

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Domestic violence

I grew up knowing what it’s like to see domestic violence in a family.

Domestic violence is particularly rampant in rural Vietnam where the level of education is low and domestic violence is still seen as a domestic matter rather than a criminal offence.

In the US, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have suffered severe physical violence by an intimate partner. That means that our daughter has a 25% chance of being a victim of domestic violence in the future. That percentage, in my opinion, is disconcerting.

I don’t want to experience domestic violence and definitely don’t want my daughter to go through it.

Men tend to be stronger than women. That’s why in most domestic violence cases the husband is the attacker and the wife is the victim.

I can’t change the fact that our daughter will be a woman one day and will hopefully get married. I have no control over who her husband will be.

I can give her advice on what makes a man marriage-material. But I can’t predict whether he will be good to her and will not turn violent one day.

What I can get a handle on, however, is that she will learn how to defend herself both intellectually and physically.

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A good sport

I am all about doing sports for free, so martial arts being a good sport is a marginal benefit. In other words, self-defense is the most important reason why I want my kids to learn martial arts.

But it is also an added benefit that it’s also good for their health. My kids will be able to develop coordination, respect, discipline, and self-confidence. It is also a good environment for our kids to be more social and make more friends.


When I told Mr. FAF about the price of martial arts classes, he asked me if we could watch some free YouTube videos and teach our kids instead.

I actually had thought about it myself. After all, in order to save money, I quit yoga classes after finishing the intro month ($30) and looked up some YouTube videos to do yoga myself.

However, martial arts is totally different. I want our kids to learn it from professionals in order to do it right. I don’t want them to have any unfortunate injuries just because they learned the sport from their parents who have never done martial arts their whole life.

Our son is currently 3.5 years old, and those schools only accept kids 4 years and older, so we will need to wait until next summer for our son to enroll and another 4 years for our daughter to start martial arts.

For me, martial arts is not simply a hobby or a sport. It will become a lifetime survival skill that will help our kids protect themselves in dangerous situations when Mr. FAF and I can’t be there to protect them.


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18 thoughts on “Why I Am Willing To Spend $1,800/year On This Sport For My Kids”

  • We spend quite a bit on sports for our kids. A few reasons: sports are expensive here (Bay Area), I’m passionate about our kids understanding teamwork, hard work, and getting a lot of physical exercise. It’s also a small percentage of our overall budget. Our kids play club soccer, and then can choose a school sport. Club soccer is super pricey, but school sports are reasonably inexpensive. Unfortunately, they both love soccer, and the school soccer team is incredibly difficult to make it on – out of a class of 500, they took 2 kids. So, club for soccer, and they tend to do things like: cross country, track, & my youngest wants to play volleyball. I like that they get to try new things. Both of my kids are in middle school (11/12)

    • I have so many sports and musical instruments I want our sides to learn. But I think I’ll have to prioritize because of the budget and time. I really want both of my kids to learn basketball in the future. I think that helps with their height (wishful thinking). It’d be great if they could learn it for free though hehe.

  • My hubby took martial arts with his brother when they were little. It was horse riding and dance for the girls – martial arts and scouts for the boys haha. My husband didn’t get higher than a yellow belt though. I think a purple belt would be a good goal to set but it might get expensive – like $10k total.

    • What!? Why are there so many belt colors? I think I’ve I’ve only heard of black belts. And maybe blue belts? 10k sounds like a down payment for a house somewhere. But yes, that is EXPENSIVE for a sport!

  • I’ve never taken martial art classes and neither has my son, who is now 15, but it’s my understanding that it also helps a great deal with self confidence.

    Investing in your children is always smart.

  • Martial art is good for self-discipline too. I think that’s the best part of it.
    Our son tried for a bit, but he just couldn’t follow direction. It’s too structured. He likes soccer better. He can run around a lot more. It’s different for every kid. Maybe we’ll try martial art again when he’s a bit older. Good luck!

    • Thanks for sharing the experience, Joe! I have no idea whether our son will like martial arts. I hope he will. If not, I won’t be able to force him either 🙁 Maybe I can let him try kick boxing in the future or something. Anything will do as long as it helps his self-defense.

  • I didn’t know that martial arts school takes kids as early as 4, thought it would later on when they are 6 or 7. We’re thinking of enrolling Baby with Cents into martial arts when he starts grade school, it will definitely help with his self-discipline like you said. Our only fear is him using martial arts to bully other kids instead of defending himself, we have to let him know to use it as a way to stand out for himself and not to go out to pick fights just because he’s trained.

  • My daughter (13 yo) does karate – it’s amazing! There are tots classes at her dojo, too… We pay $107.15/month for unlimited classes (she could go as many as 4 times per week). It’s extra when she’s testing for a belt (about every 6 months or so), so I budget more. At this age she could also do Leadership (and then she’d help out in the Tots class). She also plays soccer and basketball (with school). The karate has given her confidence, poise, and the ability to defend herself. It’s a totally different kind of sport from her team/ball sports. I think well worth it!!

  • I did taekwondo as a kid. Not sure it helped me in terms of self-defense. If you’re really looking for that, go for the much-more-violent krav maga, though I don’t it at all recommend to children. But I still got a lot out of it: it was great for building my self-discipline and exposing me to classmates across different age groups, which I found valuable since in school I was surrounded mostly by same-age children..

  • It’s always a good idea to introduce kids to Martial arts. I earned Karate myself when I was seven years old. Martial arts is not just Martial arts, your kids will also learn the art of self-discipline that comes with it. Unfortunately for me, both my kids never like Martial arts or anything sports related.

  • I pay a very expensive membership to kickbox twice a week. It’s a great stress reliever. Bullying and domestic violence aside, once your kids end up in a cubicle or in a desk job for 40 hours a week, those high intensity interval training work outs will meet the min weekly physical activity requirement. It’s also a great stress reliever and chance to socialize outside the work circle.

    Funny enough, in my parents generations, gangsters and deviants came out of these martial art training centres, but today it’s the hip cool thing for office people to do next to yoga and spin class.

  • I just wanted to gently enquire as to why you think that Australia is homogenous in terms of ethnicity. I’m a ‘white’ Australian and grew up in a small town which was very homogenous (much less so now), however I moved to Sydney for uni and can attest that it is extremely multicultural, particularly with respect to the number of Australians with Asian backgrounds. In fact, in one of my tutorials at uni, I was one of three non-asian in a class of probably around 20.

    Being geographically located quite close to Asia, the influence of the culture (and food!) is quite strong throughout Australia (but particularly in Sydney and Melbourne) and my circle of friends includes many with Asian backgrounds.
    There is certainly racism in Australia, but I couldn’t say whether it would be more or less than that in the U.S.
    I hope that this comment does not come across as judgemental (it was not the intention). I was just curious as to your thoughts on Australia. I really enjoy your blog and also think that martial arts training is a great idea!

    • Hi Julie, thank you for raising a great point! I made that statement based on what I read and stories from friends (i.e. this article). I’ve never been to Australia before, so my perspective might not be 100% accurate. Thank you for following my blog! 🙂

      • Hi Mrs FAF, thanks for your reply. I think we both agree that the more multicultural a place, the less likely there is to be racism.

        Thanks also for the reference to the article. Clearly, Australian politics has a long way to go in terms of reflecting the make up of the society (as the article states 24% of the population is from a non-European or Indigenous background – that’s almost 1 in 4 thus indicating quite a diverse population).

        While the article wrote of the situation in politics, it didn’t explore why it is that way. Are people from minorities running for parliament and not being voted in or are mostly Australian from European backgrounds running for parliament – either of these scenarios would be concerning.

        Unfortunately there are some quite racist politicians in Australia and also in the general population (racism is still a problem here) – but I suspect that would also be the case for some politicians and people in the U.S. Thus I’m not convinced that Australia is in general more racist than the U.S. I imagine it’s probably about same.

        I hope that you are one day able to visit the country and I think you might be pleasantly surprised by the diversity that you would find.

        • Sorry also for going off on a tangent in the comments sections. That wasn’t even what the article is about – my bad. The reasons you presented for wanted your children to learn karate are all valid and it’s a really good idea 🙂

  • I wanted both kids to take martial arts (esp. daughter as she is so petite). In the end, couldn’t talk daughter into it, but son and husband are now black belts and teaching. Still working on daughter taking some sort of self defense.

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