A to Z Guide to Wedding Planning!

A is for Atmosphere
Setting the scene for the perfect wedding can be a daunting task and with wedding trends changing rapidly over time, it can mean decision making is hard. Often the best place to start is by thinking about the formality of the event and how you would like your guests to feel on your wedding day! Whether you choose a relaxed garden wedding with subtle coloring and natural tones or a themed wedding at a wild venue with bold wedding colors and outlandish wedding decorations, whichever way you go it is the wedding atmosphere that you create that will generate the most memories!

B is for Bachelorette Party & Bridal Shower
Second to choosing your bridesmaids, this is often the next stage in the planning of your pre-wedding activities! This is the event, other than the wedding itself, that the girls look forward to most! Renowned as the tamer of the two, a bridal shower is a gift-giving party held for a bride-to-be in anticipation of her wedding, it is a time for the females in your life to get to know each other and to share advice before your big day.The Bachelorette Party also known as a hens night, hens party or hens do on the other hand is deemed “an evening of debauchery,” a girls night out in honor of the bride-to-be in the style that is common to that social circle. This is when the bridesmaids take control, organising silly outfits for the bride, dares and games along with gifts for the girls including name tags, fun drinking straws along with personalised bachelorette koozies for a unique gift idea!

C is for Ceremony
Ultimately your ceremony, the moment where two people are united in marriage, is the reason you are planning this special day. The way that you choose to perform your ceremony and the wedding reception that follows are often linked in formality and theme and the options are endless.For the ceremony you will have to give some thought to the location, a church or temple, beach, garden or formal venue often this is driven by the choice for a civil or religious ceremony. Most ceremonies have a similar structure, with your vows, readings and music making a personal service.

D is for Destination Wedding
More and more couples are escaping the traditional big celebration wedding in favor of a smaller more intimate ceremony in an exotic location. Whether your destination wedding is overseas or interstate it can still take a lot of organization, not only for the couple and the wedding day itself but in making it fabulous for the guests that have gone that extra mile to share in your special day!

E is for Engagement
Congratulations on your Engagement, let the fun begin. Start with your engagement announcements, maybe a notice in the newspaper to inform the community or an item that you can send in the mail to let your friends and family know the good news! If you are moving fast you could even add your wedding save the date to your engagement announcement to help with your planning budget.Some couples will choose to have an engagement party, an opportunity to celebrate with family and friends and for future guests to get to know each other before the big day. Engagement party favors are often handed out to the guests as a thank you for attending, such as candy treats or custom beer koozies to take home as a memento.

F is for Favors
Wedding favors also known as bonbonniere are small gifts given as a gesture of thanks to guests from the bride and groom. Wedding favor ideas have become a major part of wedding planning, with modern gift trends including: CDs with the favorite music of the bride and groom, candy jars, picture frames and wedding koozies. Gifts may also be personalized with the couple’s names, initials or wedding date and even an individual guest name to create a gift and place card.

If you choose wedding Koozies as your wedding favors then it is a great idea to start browsing the designs a few weeks before you need them to be delivered. There is an extensive range of designs available to help you create the perfect match to your wedding color scheme, theme and more. Please read a previous article to help with your design; Personalized Wedding Favors on a Budget – Inspiration for Wedding Koozies to Wow Your Guests!

G is for Gift
A wedding present is a gift taken by a guest to congratulate the couple on their marriage. There is usually some etiquette when it comes to gift giving, some couples may choose to take the hard work out of this for their guests and have a gift registry with a wish list to choose from. Others may have a wishing well, this is where guests can anonymously drop cards and monetary gifts into a box known as a wishing well to help the couple on their way to starting a new life together.

H is for Honeymoon
A honeymoon is the traditional holiday taken by newlyweds to celebrate their marriage in seclusion. Jetting off to somewhere exotic and romantic is not uncommon although the holiday should be something of choice that suits the couple’s outlook and interests. For couples on a budget a destination wedding can be a great way to spread the cost making the addition of a few days for a honeymoon easy.

I is for Invitations
Wedding invitations are a great way to set the scene for your guests. As a follow on from your wedding announcement or save the dates, your wedding invitations can be fun or formal but should be informative and hold an RSVP date so that you can keep to a deadline in your wedding planning.In modern times the way an invitation arrives is becoming more and more imaginative, you might choose a link to an online wedding website where guests can respond electronically or include a link to a video message. Items sent in the mail can also be creative and unique such as origami style folded gifts, printing a message on a balloon that can only be read once blown up or sending custom wedding koozies for your guests to enjoy at home and on bring on the day!

J is for Jewellery
Wedding jewellery can be simple and sophisticated or bold and colorful. This is a very personal choice that that bride will make when choosing her wedding dress and bridal party attire.Sometimes traditional jewellery will be passed down the generations within a family, bridal accessories can include earrings, bracelets, tiaras and hair combs to name a few.

K is for Kiss
“You may now kiss the bride”… the words that the groom has been waiting for all day! Many couples will have a discussion prior to the wedding about the kiss, some even finding this the moment that makes them most nervous! Questions like, how long should it be? Should it be a full-on smooch? Or just a peck? What is the etiquette in wedding kisses? The answer to which is that there is not really an etiquette, just show each other how happy you are to be making this promise to each other and show this off to your guests, just bear in mind that you might be in front of your parents, grandparents and young children.

L is for Love
LOVE. An intense feeling of deep affection and the reason you have been ploughing all of your time into planning the ultimate wedding celebration. Say no more.

M is for is for Music
One big question for your wedding reception, DJ or Band? Often the answer to which is dependent on budget, formality of your event and location. There is also the decision of which music you should be walking down the aisle to, creating an amazing playlist that will get your guests on their feet and of course the first dance! Here are our choices for a first dance song;Top 5 First Dance Wedding Songs

Make You Feel My Love – Adele

You Are The Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne

Kiss Me – Ed Sheeran

The Way You Look Tonight – Michael BublĂ©

Better Together – Jack Johnson

N is for New
If you are following tradition in the sense of the rhyme “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” then this is your something NEW! You can include your wedding dress as your something new if it is made to order, or perhaps one of your bridal accessories or a fancy new pair of shoes. Let’s face it when it comes to your wedding there will be a whole heap of items that you can consider using to tick this box!

O is for Outdoor Wedding Venue
Weddings are often planned for the perfect weather, the most popular seasons for a wedding are spring and summer so that you can have great light for your wedding photographs and that you have the best chance of enjoying sunny spells outdoors with your guests over welcome drinks.Your outdoor wedding venue might be in a national park, flower garden, winery or a beautiful beach, whichever you choose for your outdoor wedding be sure to have a wet weather plan on hand, just in case!

P is for Photographer
Wedding photography for a lot of couples is a big box to tick. It is lovely to be able to capture your big day and all of that hard work into images that you can cherish for years to come. Choosing a photographer can be a daunting task, be sure to ask around for recommendations, view portfolios of previous work and get to know your photographer so that they learn to capture what is important to you. Looking at your photographs together as a family is a beautiful way to connect after the event, each image will tell its own story and each story will be a memory captured for life!

Q is for Quiz
The Mr & Mrs Quiz, the ultimate quiz that any bachelorette should have to complete on their ‘last night of freedom’..! It is a fun way for the maid of honor to connect with and get to know the groom before the event. She will prepare a series of questions that the groom will answer, things can of course get a little cheeky depending on the formality of the bridal shower or bachelorette party, the bride will then need to see how many answers she can match to the groom’s responses, often followed by a forfeit for every wrong answer.

R is for Reception
Wedding reception, this is the fun part, after you have nervously said your vows in front of your family and friends you can relax with food, drinks and dancing at your wedding reception. Wedding reception ideas include a formal sit-down meal, cocktail reception or a casual beach BBQ. You can usually leave this up to your wedding planner or venue to organise, that way you can enjoy the celebration and spending time with your guests.

S is for Save the Dates & Stationery
Your wedding announcement and first item of wedding stationery is your Save the Date! An ideal gift used for long engagements this is designed to be sent out to your guests well in advance of the formal invitation, once you have your date set you can mail these out so that your guests can save the date in their diary. Some popular methods of sending a save the date include; postcards, calendars, tickets, magnets, custom beer koozies and more.

T is for Table Plan
T is also for troublesome, often considered one of the most controversial parts of the wedding planning process, the dreaded table plan! Great aunt Joan cannot be near second cousin John and really you’d like to sit with your pals rather than follow the traditional top table style with your parents… at the end of the day this is your wedding and as a couple you should be able to choose a seating plan to suit your wedding formality and your guests.

U is for Ushers
An usher, also known as a groomsman is normally a friend of the groom that has been recruited to direct guests at the ceremony, and generally be available to the bride and groom for assistance throughout the whole wedding event. The ushers would generally be dressed in the same wedding attire as the groom and best man and would feature in the formal wedding photographs alongside the bridesmaids.

V is for Vows
The exchange of wedding vows is an important part of your wedding ceremony. It can be a very romantic moment and often the perfect place to express your feelings for each other. Vows can be modern or traditional, led by a minister or celebrant, written for you or by you and can be tailored to your individual personalities.

W is for Wedding Dress
Almost every girls wedding dream begins with the dress! There are so many gorgeous styles available and all designed to suit different shapes and sizes… you can find the perfect wedding dress style amongst these… Ball gown, mermaid, A-line, Sheath. Strapless, V-neck, halter-neck, one-shoulder, illusion and more!Once you have found the perfect style, you can start to create a unique look through the color and density of the material, heavier fabrics such as brocade and jacquard or lighter materials like silk and chiffon, traditionally a wedding dress would be predominantly white or ivory in color, but these days anything goes!

X is for X -rated (entertainment at bachelor party)
Although it is not necessarily the way every groom will spend their last night of ‘freedom’, the bachelor party, as portrayed in the movie The Hangover, certainly has a reputation for being a night or indeed a weekend of debauchery! Some will go all out with a weekend in Vegas, but generally the party vibe will include trendy bars, nightclubs and, most importantly, strip clubs!Much like the bachelorette party, this is where the best man and other members of the bridal party will shine with ideas, organising embarrassing outfits for the groom, along with drinking games and dares! Gifts for the guys might include matching t-shirts, shot glasses, beer horns or custom beer koozies personalised for each of the guys!

Y is for Years
The number of years spent together, number of years engaged and then number of years married. Once your wedding day becomes a wonderful memory you have the many years of wedding anniversaries to look forward to and to celebrate. Each anniversary that passes will have a symbolic gift that is presented, there is both a traditional and modern gift here is the traditional list;

1st Paper

2nd Cotton

3rd Leather

4th Fruit/Flowers

5th Wood

10th Tin/Aluminium

15th Crystal

20th China

25th Silver

30th Pearl

35th Coral

40th Ruby

45th Sapphire

50th Gold

60th Diamond

Z is for Zero Regrets
In a perfect world, every bride and groom would have the perfect wedding with absolutely no mishaps. However, this is not the perfect world and every turn makes for a new story! Our only advice is to enjoy every minute of your special day, spend as much time with each guest as you possibly, and have zero regrets!

Online Computer Science Schools

Computer education is a necessity these days as tasks in all professions has become digitized. Computer sciences applications have a far reaching impact on how we live our day-to-day lives and the need for computer trained and IT professionals is greater than for any industry or field in the world today. In this Article we review how online computer sciences courses can help prospective professionals find careers in any industry.OverviewComputer sciences are the study of the foundation of computing logic and the applications to computer architecture, hardware and software design as well as specific applications to program development and the use of industry standard technologies. The education starts with the study of natural sciences as they relate to computing and then diverges into a study of the specific niche area – such as hardware, software, graphics and information technology etc. Most institutions offer students the opportunity to learn about all these areas to some extent before choosing a specialization.

Online computer sciences institutions offer students a variety of fully online – to – blended courses in a variety of subjects; students can complete a choice of degree or certificate at any level (diploma, associates, bachelors, masters, PhD or certifications through shorter courses) in general computing or a specialized area – all from the comfort of their own homes and be able to work around their jobs and schedules – without having to enroll for time consuming classes and without having to relocate or spend and money commuting to and from lectures.Enrolling in an online computer science course means prospective students can now fit their education around their work and personal schedules and save the money and time normally required in order to attend lectures and lab sessions. Most online institutions offer their enrolled students a free online resource center for all the information – e-books, lecture slides and practical experiments – that is need in order to finish their coursework.Areas in computer science educationTheory of computation: This area deals with the logic use by computation systems and the mathematics that relates to computational logic. It defines the limits of computability (solvable problems) and computational complexity (resources required to solve these problems in terms of time and space).Algorithms and Data structures: This side deals with functionality such as searching data storage structures and the formation (of models) of data storage (linked-lists, arrays, trees etc).

Programming Languages and Methodology: This area addresses the methodology used to formulate problem solving software code and the programming languages that are used to write viable code. It also deals with modern software development tools and tricks-of-the-trade which are used in modern compilers to formulate accurate running code. Languages may include c, C++, Java, c-sharp etc. Tools may include Visual C++ etc. This area defines the methodology of writing logical code step-by-step and the use of common best-practices.Computer Architecture and logic design: This area deals with the knowledge of how a computer processor works and how is uses its resources to solve computational problems by breaking complex code down to minor mathematical and logical problems. This area includes digital design, automation, architecture and compilation.

Insurance Law – An Indian Perspective

INTRODUCTION”Insurance should be bought to protect you against a calamity that would otherwise be financially devastating.”In simple terms, insurance allows someone who suffers a loss or accident to be compensated for the effects of their misfortune. It lets you protect yourself against everyday risks to your health, home and financial situation.Insurance in India started without any regulation in the Nineteenth Century. It was a typical story of a colonial epoch: few British insurance companies dominating the market serving mostly large urban centers. After the independence, it took a theatrical turn. Insurance was nationalized. First, the life insurance companies were nationalized in 1956, and then the general insurance business was nationalized in 1972. It was only in 1999 that the private insurance companies have been allowed back into the business of insurance with a maximum of 26% of foreign holding.”The insurance industry is enormous and can be quite intimidating. Insurance is being sold for almost anything and everything you can imagine. Determining what’s right for you can be a very daunting task.”Concepts of insurance have been extended beyond the coverage of tangible asset. Now the risk of losses due to sudden changes in currency exchange rates, political disturbance, negligence and liability for the damages can also be covered.But if a person thoughtfully invests in insurance for his property prior to any unexpected contingency then he will be suitably compensated for his loss as soon as the extent of damage is ascertained.The entry of the State Bank of India with its proposal of bank assurance brings a new dynamics in the game. The collective experience of the other countries in Asia has already deregulated their markets and has allowed foreign companies to participate. If the experience of the other countries is any guide, the dominance of the Life Insurance Corporation and the General Insurance Corporation is not going to disappear any time soon.
The aim of all insurance is to compensate the owner against loss arising from a variety of risks, which he anticipates, to his life, property and business. Insurance is mainly of two types: life insurance and general insurance. General insurance means Fire, Marine and Miscellaneous insurance which includes insurance against burglary or theft, fidelity guarantee, insurance for employer’s liability, and insurance of motor vehicles, livestock and crops.LIFE INSURANCE IN INDIA”Life insurance is the heartfelt love letter ever written.It calms down the crying of a hungry baby at night. It relieves the heart of a bereaved widow.It is the comforting whisper in the dark silent hours of the night.”Life insurance made its debut in India well over 100 years ago. Its salient features are not as widely understood in our country as they ought to be. There is no statutory definition of life insurance, but it has been defined as a contract of insurance whereby the insured agrees to pay certain sums called premiums, at specified time, and in consideration thereof the insurer agreed to pay certain sums of money on certain condition sand in specified way upon happening of a particular event contingent upon the duration of human life.Life insurance is superior to other forms of savings!”There is no death. Life Insurance exalts life and defeats death.It is the premium we pay for the freedom of living after death.”Savings through life insurance guarantee full protection against risk of death of the saver. In life insurance, on death, the full sum assured is payable (with bonuses wherever applicable) whereas in other savings schemes, only the amount saved (with interest) is payable.The essential features of life insurance are a) it is a contract relating to human life, which b) provides for payment of lump-sum amount, and c) the amount is paid after the expiry of certain period or on the death of the assured. The very purpose and object of the assured in taking policies from life insurance companies is to safeguard the interest of his dependents viz., wife and children as the case may be, in the even of premature death of the assured as a result of the happening in any contingency. A life insurance policy is also generally accepted as security for even a commercial loan.NON-LIFE INSURANCE”Every asset has a value and the business of general insurance is related to the protection of economic value of assets.”Non-life insurance means insurance other than life insurance such as fire, marine, accident, medical, motor vehicle and household insurance. Assets would have been created through the efforts of owner, which can be in the form of building, vehicles, machinery and other tangible properties. Since tangible property has a physical shape and consistency, it is subject to many risks ranging from fire, allied perils to theft and robbery.
Few of the General Insurance policies are:Property Insurance: The home is most valued possession. The policy is designed to cover the various risks under a single policy. It provides protection for property and interest of the insured and family.Health Insurance: It provides cover, which takes care of medical expenses following hospitalization from sudden illness or accident.
Personal Accident Insurance: This insurance policy provides compensation for loss of life or injury (partial or permanent) caused by an accident. This includes reimbursement of cost of treatment and the use of hospital facilities for the treatment.Travel Insurance: The policy covers the insured against various eventualities while traveling abroad. It covers the insured against personal accident, medical expenses and repatriation, loss of checked baggage, passport etc.Liability Insurance: This policy indemnifies the Directors or Officers or other professionals against loss arising from claims made against them by reason of any wrongful Act in their Official capacity.Motor Insurance: Motor Vehicles Act states that every motor vehicle plying on the road has to be insured, with at least Liability only policy. There are two types of policy one covering the act of liability, while other covers insurers all liability and damage caused to one’s vehicles.JOURNEY FROM AN INFANT TO ADOLESCENCE!Historical PerspectiveThe history of life insurance in India dates back to 1818 when it was conceived as a means to provide for English Widows. Interestingly in those days a higher premium was charged for Indian lives than the non-Indian lives as Indian lives were considered more risky for coverage.

The Bombay Mutual Life Insurance Society started its business in 1870. It was the first company to charge same premium for both Indian and non-Indian lives. The Oriental Assurance Company was established in 1880. The General insurance business in India, on the other hand, can trace its roots to the Triton (Tital) Insurance Company Limited, the first general insurance company established in the year 1850 in Calcutta by the British. Till the end of nineteenth century insurance business was almost entirely in the hands of overseas companies.Insurance regulation formally began in India with the passing of the Life Insurance Companies Act of 1912 and the Provident Fund Act of 1912. Several frauds during 20′s and 30′s desecrated insurance business in India. By 1938 there were 176 insurance companies. The first comprehensive legislation was introduced with the Insurance Act of 1938 that provided strict State Control over insurance business. The insurance business grew at a faster pace after independence. Indian companies strengthened their hold on this business but despite the growth that was witnessed, insurance remained an urban phenomenon.The Government of India in 1956, brought together over 240 private life insurers and provident societies under one nationalized monopoly corporation and Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) was born. Nationalization was justified on the grounds that it would create much needed funds for rapid industrialization. This was in conformity with the Government’s chosen path of State lead planning and development.The (non-life) insurance business continued to prosper with the private sector till 1972. Their operations were restricted to organized trade and industry in large cities. The general insurance industry was nationalized in 1972. With this, nearly 107 insurers were amalgamated and grouped into four companies – National Insurance Company, New India Assurance Company, Oriental Insurance Company and United India Insurance Company. These were subsidiaries of the General Insurance Company (GIC).The life insurance industry was nationalized under the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) Act of India. In some ways, the LIC has become very flourishing. Regardless of being a monopoly, it has some 60-70 million policyholders. Given that the Indian middle-class is around 250-300 million, the LIC has managed to capture some 30 odd percent of it. Around 48% of the customers of the LIC are from rural and semi-urban areas. This probably would not have happened had the charter of the LIC not specifically set out the goal of serving the rural areas. A high saving rate in India is one of the exogenous factors that have helped the LIC to grow rapidly in recent years. Despite the saving rate being high in India (compared with other countries with a similar level of development), Indians display high degree of risk aversion. Thus, nearly half of the investments are in physical assets (like property and gold). Around twenty three percent are in (low yielding but safe) bank deposits. In addition, some 1.3 percent of the GDP are in life insurance related savings vehicles. This figure has doubled between 1985 and 1995.A World viewpoint – Life Insurance in IndiaIn many countries, insurance has been a form of savings. In many developed countries, a significant fraction of domestic saving is in the form of donation insurance plans. This is not surprising. The prominence of some developing countries is more surprising. For example, South Africa features at the number two spot. India is nestled between Chile and Italy. This is even more surprising given the levels of economic development in Chile and Italy. Thus, we can conclude that there is an insurance culture in India despite a low per capita income. This promises well for future growth. Specifically, when the income level improves, insurance (especially life) is likely to grow rapidly.INSURANCE SECTOR REFORM:Committee Reports: One Known, One Anonymous!Although Indian markets were privatized and opened up to foreign companies in a number of sectors in 1991, insurance remained out of bounds on both counts. The government wanted to proceed with caution. With pressure from the opposition, the government (at the time, dominated by the Congress Party) decided to set up a committee headed by Mr. R. N. Malhotra (the then Governor of the Reserve Bank of India).Malhotra CommitteeLiberalization of the Indian insurance market was suggested in a report released in 1994 by the Malhotra Committee, indicating that the market should be opened to private-sector competition, and eventually, foreign private-sector competition. It also investigated the level of satisfaction of the customers of the LIC. Inquisitively, the level of customer satisfaction seemed to be high.In 1993, Malhotra Committee – headed by former Finance Secretary and RBI Governor Mr. R. N. Malhotra – was formed to evaluate the Indian insurance industry and recommend its future course. The Malhotra committee was set up with the aim of complementing the reforms initiated in the financial sector. The reforms were aimed at creating a more efficient and competitive financial system suitable for the needs of the economy keeping in mind the structural changes presently happening and recognizing that insurance is an important part of the overall financial system where it was necessary to address the need for similar reforms. In 1994, the committee submitted the report and some of the key recommendations included:o StructureGovernment bet in the insurance Companies to be brought down to 50%. Government should take over the holdings of GIC and its subsidiaries so that these subsidiaries can act as independent corporations. All the insurance companies should be given greater freedom to operate.
CompetitionPrivate Companies with a minimum paid up capital of Rs.1 billion should be allowed to enter the sector. No Company should deal in both Life and General Insurance through a single entity. Foreign companies may be allowed to enter the industry in collaboration with the domestic companies. Postal Life Insurance should be allowed to operate in the rural market. Only one State Level Life Insurance Company should be allowed to operate in each state.o Regulatory BodyThe Insurance Act should be changed. An Insurance Regulatory body should be set up. Controller of Insurance – a part of the Finance Ministry- should be made Independent.o InvestmentsCompulsory Investments of LIC Life Fund in government securities to be reduced from 75% to 50%. GIC and its subsidiaries are not to hold more than 5% in any company (there current holdings to be brought down to this level over a period of time).o Customer ServiceLIC should pay interest on delays in payments beyond 30 days. Insurance companies must be encouraged to set up unit linked pension plans. Computerization of operations and updating of technology to be carried out in the insurance industry. The committee accentuated that in order to improve the customer services and increase the coverage of insurance policies, industry should be opened up to competition. But at the same time, the committee felt the need to exercise caution as any failure on the part of new competitors could ruin the public confidence in the industry. Hence, it was decided to allow competition in a limited way by stipulating the minimum capital requirement of Rs.100 crores.The committee felt the need to provide greater autonomy to insurance companies in order to improve their performance and enable them to act as independent companies with economic motives. For this purpose, it had proposed setting up an independent regulatory body – The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority.Reforms in the Insurance sector were initiated with the passage of the IRDA Bill in Parliament in December 1999. The IRDA since its incorporation as a statutory body in April 2000 has meticulously stuck to its schedule of framing regulations and registering the private sector insurance companies.Since being set up as an independent statutory body the IRDA has put in a framework of globally compatible regulations. The other decision taken at the same time to provide the supporting systems to the insurance sector and in particular the life insurance companies was the launch of the IRDA online service for issue and renewal of licenses to agents. The approval of institutions for imparting training to agents has also ensured that the insurance companies would have a trained workforce of insurance agents in place to sell their products.The Government of India liberalized the insurance sector in March 2000 with the passage of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) Bill, lifting all entry restrictions for private players and allowing foreign players to enter the market with some limits on direct foreign ownership. Under the current guidelines, there is a 26 percent equity lid for foreign partners in an insurance company. There is a proposal to increase this limit to 49 percent.The opening up of the sector is likely to lead to greater spread and deepening of insurance in India and this may also include restructuring and revitalizing of the public sector companies. In the private sector 12 life insurance and 8 general insurance companies have been registered. A host of private Insurance companies operating in both life and non-life segments have started selling their insurance policies since 2001Mukherjee CommitteeImmediately after the publication of the Malhotra Committee Report, a new committee, Mukherjee Committee was set up to make concrete plans for the requirements of the newly formed insurance companies. Recommendations of the Mukherjee Committee were never disclosed to the public. But, from the information that filtered out it became clear that the committee recommended the inclusion of certain ratios in insurance company balance sheets to ensure transparency in accounting. But the Finance Minister objected to it and it was argued by him, probably on the advice of some of the potential competitors, that it could affect the prospects of a developing insurance company.LAW COMMISSION OF INDIA ON REVISION OF THE INSURANCE ACT 1938 – 190th Law Commission ReportThe Law Commission on 16th June 2003 released a Consultation Paper on the Revision of the Insurance Act, 1938. The previous exercise to amend the Insurance Act, 1938 was undertaken in 1999 at the time of enactment of the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority Act, 1999 (IRDA Act).The Commission undertook the present exercise in the context of the changed policy that has permitted private insurance companies both in the life and non-life sectors. A need has been felt to toughen the regulatory mechanism even while streamlining the existing legislation with a view to removing portions that have become superfluous as a consequence of the recent changes.Among the major areas of changes, the Consultation paper suggested the following:a. merging of the provisions of the IRDA Act with the Insurance Act to avoid multiplicity of legislations;b. deletion of redundant and transitory provisions in the Insurance Act, 1938;c. Amendments reflect the changed policy of permitting private insurance companies and strengthening the regulatory mechanism;d. Providing for stringent norms regarding maintenance of ‘solvency margin’ and investments by both public sector and private sector insurance companies;e. Providing for a full-fledged grievance redressal mechanism that includes:o The constitution of Grievance Redressal Authorities (GRAs) comprising one judicial and two technical members to deal with complaints/claims of policyholders against insurers (the GRAs are expected to replace the present system of insurer appointed Ombudsman);o Appointment of adjudicating officers by the IRDA to determine and levy penalties on defaulting insurers, insurance intermediaries and insurance agents;o Providing for an appeal against the decisions of the IRDA, GRAs and adjudicating officers to an Insurance Appellate Tribunal (IAT) comprising a judge (sitting or retired) of the Supreme Court/Chief Justice of a High Court as presiding officer and two other members having sufficient experience in insurance matters;o Providing for a statutory appeal to the Supreme Court against the decisions of the IAT.LIFE & NON-LIFE INSURANCE – Development and Growth!The year 2006 turned out to be a momentous year for the insurance sector as regulator the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority Act, laid the foundation for free pricing general insurance from 2007, while many companies announced plans to attack into the sector.Both domestic and foreign players robustly pursued their long-pending demand for increasing the FDI limit from 26 per cent to 49 per cent and toward the fag end of the year, the Government sent the Comprehensive Insurance Bill to Group of Ministers for consideration amid strong reservation from Left parties. The Bill is likely to be taken up in the Budget session of Parliament.The infiltration rates of health and other non-life insurances in India are well below the international level. These facts indicate immense growth potential of the insurance sector. The hike in FDI limit to 49 per cent was proposed by the Government last year. This has not been operationalized as legislative changes are required for such hike. Since opening up of the insurance sector in 1999, foreign investments of Rs. 8.7 billion have tipped into the Indian market and 21 private companies have been granted licenses.

The involvement of the private insurers in various industry segments has increased on account of both their capturing a part of the business which was earlier underwritten by the public sector insurers and also creating additional business boulevards. To this effect, the public sector insurers have been unable to draw upon their inherent strengths to capture additional premium. Of the growth in premium in 2004-05, 66.27 per cent has been captured by the private insurers despite having 20 per cent market share.The life insurance industry recorded a premium income of Rs.82854.80 crore during the financial year 2004-05 as against Rs.66653.75 crore in the previous financial year, recording a growth of 24.31 per cent. The contribution of first year premium, single premium and renewal premium to the total premium was Rs.15881.33 crore (19.16 per cent); Rs.10336.30 crore (12.47 per cent); and Rs.56637.16 crore (68.36 per cent), respectively. In the year 2000-01, when the industry was opened up to the private players, the life insurance premium was Rs.34,898.48 crore which constituted of Rs. 6996.95 crore of first year premium, Rs. 25191.07 crore of renewal premium and Rs. 2740.45 crore of single premium. Post opening up, single premium had declined from Rs.9, 194.07 crore in the year 2001-02 to Rs.5674.14 crore in 2002-03 with the withdrawal of the guaranteed return policies. Though it went up marginally in 2003-04 to Rs.5936.50 crore (4.62 per cent growth) 2004-05, however, witnessed a significant shift with the single premium income rising to Rs. 10336.30 crore showing 74.11 per cent growth over 2003-04.The size of life insurance market increased on the strength of growth in the economy and concomitant increase in per capita income. This resulted in a favourable growth in total premium both for LIC (18.25 per cent) and to the new insurers (147.65 per cent) in 2004-05. The higher growth for the new insurers is to be viewed in the context of a low base in 2003- 04. However, the new insurers have improved their market share from 4.68 in 2003-04 to 9.33 in 2004-05.The segment wise break up of fire, marine and miscellaneous segments in case of the public sector insurers was Rs.2411.38 crore, Rs.982.99 crore and Rs.10578.59 crore, i.e., a growth of (-)1.43 per cent, 1.81 per cent and 6.58 per cent. The public sector insurers reported growth in Motor and Health segments (9 and 24 per cent). These segments accounted for 45 and 10 per cent of the business underwritten by the public sector insurers. Fire and “Others” accounted for 17.26 and 11 per cent of the premium underwritten. Aviation, Liability, “Others” and Fire recorded negative growth of 29, 21, 3.58 and 1.43 per cent. In no other country that opened at the same time as India have foreign companies been able to grab a 22 per cent market share in the life segment and about 20 per cent in the general insurance segment. The share of foreign insurers in other competing Asian markets is not more than 5 to 10 per cent.The life insurance sector grew new premium at a rate not seen before while the general insurance sector grew at a faster rate. Two new players entered into life insurance – Shriram Life and Bharti Axa Life – taking the total number of life players to 16. There was one new entrant to the non-life sector in the form of a standalone health insurance company – Star Health and Allied Insurance, taking the non-life players to 14.A large number of companies, mostly nationalized banks (about 14) such as Bank of India and Punjab National Bank, have announced plans to enter the insurance sector and some of them have also formed joint ventures.The proposed change in FDI cap is part of the comprehensive amendments to insurance laws – The Insurance Act of 1999, LIC Act, 1956 and IRDA Act, 1999. After the proposed amendments in the insurance laws LIC would be able to maintain reserves while insurance companies would be able to raise resources other than equity.About 14 banks are in queue to enter insurance sector and the year 2006 saw several joint venture announcements while others scout partners. Bank of India has teamed up with Union Bank and Japanese insurance major Dai-ichi Mutual Life while PNB tied up with Vijaya Bank and Principal for foraying into life insurance. Allahabad Bank, Karnataka Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Dabur Investment Corporation and Sompo Japan Insurance Inc have tied up for forming a non-life insurance company while Bank of Maharashtra has tied up with Shriram Group and South Africa’s Sanlam group for non-life insurance venture.CONCLUSIONIt seems cynical that the LIC and the GIC will wither and die within the next decade or two. The IRDA has taken “at a snail’s pace” approach. It has been very cautious in granting licenses. It has set up fairly strict standards for all aspects of the insurance business (with the probable exception of the disclosure requirements). The regulators always walk a fine line. Too many regulations kill the motivation of the newcomers; too relaxed regulations may induce failure and fraud that led to nationalization in the first place. India is not unique among the developing countries where the insurance business has been opened up to foreign competitors.The insurance business is at a critical stage in India. Over the next couple of decades we are likely to witness high growth in the insurance sector for two reasons namely; financial deregulation always speeds up the development of the insurance sector and growth in per capita GDP also helps the insurance business to grow.

How to Choose a Martial Arts School – 10 Steps Guaranteed to Save You Time and Money

What are the most important things to look for when comparing martial arts schools?
What are the tell tale signs of a quality school that you can spot immediately?
What are the best questions to ask, and how do you know if they can really deliver?
What part of a contract can you negotiate?These are just some of the important questions you need to know how to answer before shopping around for a martial arts school.A commitment to martial arts is an investment in time and money, so knowing exactly what to look for in a school, and knowing what questions to ask, will give you the clarity and confidence to make a smart choice.A bad choice in a martial arts school can be an expensive lesson, so use this guide to educate yourself.There is a huge variety of martial arts schools out there. Facilities range from expensive health-club-like facilities to open space warehouses. Martial arts schools aren’t regulated to insure quality of instruction or business practice. There is no official governing body and no universal grading standard in martial arts. Almost anyone can open a school and appear to be an expert.What do you look for beyond price, amenities and convenient schedules? While most people first consider price and the facility, there are more important factors that you need to consider first!These 10 steps show you how to make the best decision in choosing a martial arts school:Objective
Instructors
Class Dynamic
Student Results
Curriculum
Style
Facility
Service
Price/Fees
Instinct1. OBJECTIVE:Before you start looking into martial arts schools, determine your true goals for martial arts practice. To get the most out of your training, clearly identify your real goals and the specific benefits you want to have.Ultimately, you just want to feel good about yourself and feel super confident, right?However, this is usually not enough of a specific emotional motivator for consistent practice.The majority of people who start martial arts rarely make it past a few months of consistent practice. It’s not just a lack of motivation. Not having clear goals is usually why people don’t follow through in practice.To determine what you really want from training, start by narrowing down what you wish to focus on.The focus of your practice can be broken down into several areas. There’s no right or wrong – it comes down to personal preference.For starters, you can number these in order of importance.Physical Fitness as the main goal, with martial arts aptitude as a secondary benefit.
Purely Combative Focus, with fitness and personal growth as added benefits
Creative and Artistic Expression, aesthetics, beauty and WOW Factor
Competitive Focus, sports aspects such as one on one competition
Mental and Emotional Growth, catalyst for self-discovery and spiritual growth, cultural and philosophical interestsAsk yourself clarifying “Why” questions, so you can identify what you’re really going for.This is the first step in filtering the selection of schools to choose from. Once you’ve identified your goals for martial arts practice and understand why they are your goals, you’re ready to search for a school.2. INSTRUCTORS:An instructor plays the key role in how you will achieve your goals.Finding a good instructor is more important than choosing a style, and is probably the biggest factor in your decision to join a school. It’s nice to have impressive amenities and expensive equipment, but ultimately a martial arts school is only as good as it’s instructors.Being a black belt doesn’t qualify someone to teach!A competent instructor is knowledgeable, experienced, and has the ability to effectively pass on his craft.
A good instructor possesses leadership and communication skills.
A great instructor will also display sincere empathy, showing a genuine interest in helping you achieve your goals, bringing out your individual strengths.Look for other attributes that increase an instructor’s ability to add value to your training:Proven competitive track record, such as World Champion Titles
A degree in an area such as psychology, sports medicine, kinesiology or related fields
Military, law enforcement, or security experience
Involvement in a credible martial arts organization
Extensive knowledge of a culture or philosophy that you’re interested inAlthough an instructor’s experience and background provides some credibility, don’t be overly impressed with awards and certificates.Their mindset and level of experience will be apparent through subtleties in character and by their actions.Quality instructors are sincerely interested in helping You and won’t feel the need to boast about their own credentials or prove themselves. Instead of boosting their own egos, high-level instructors are very attentive on coaching you to achieve your goals.You can often measure an instructor more accurately by their students’ results and satisfaction than by credentials alone. The students themselves may be the greatest indication of the quality of instruction.Just like a good business is constantly researching and developing, high-level instructors research and develop methodologies in order to continually improve. A lifetime training in martial arts isn’t enough to reach human potential!A high level instructor portrays noble characteristics of a role model and leader.Confident instructors welcome feedback and respond to your questions with patience and insight. They are usually very humble, and rarely speak negatively about any other school or style.Also, find out if the school’s head instructor is actively teaching. Some schools have classes primarily taught by an assistant or senior students, while the head instructor only makes an occasional appearance.While assistant instructors may be totally capable of teaching, watch out for schools that “sell” you on the instructor but have someone else teaching.3. CLASS DYNAMIC:Make sure you know how to evaluate a school in two parts, the content and the context.The context of a martial arts school is made up of the training methods and environment. What kind of setting is the school providing?A supportive learning environment is crucial to maximize the assimilation and retention of material. The context of training can be more important than the content, (or material), intended to be learned.Look for context such as:The collective mood or energy of the instructors and students
The class dynamic – structure and flow
How the amenities and equipment are used
The training methodologies
How the ranking system is structured
The quality of serviceOne of the best ways to evaluate a school is to watch or participate in a class.You can watch videos, visit a website and read all about the credentials and features of a school. However, you can only get a true feel by “test driving” the actual group classes. Many schools offer free consultations or introductory private lessons.If a school allows you to watch, or better yet, participate in a class without obligation it speaks highly of their confidence and transparency.

The class dynamic is the best demonstration of the instructor’s martial arts aptitude and ability to teach. It reveals how the students interact with each other and the instructor. It’s also the perfect opportunity to see how their curriculum is implemented into training.Consider the size of the classes and how that may effect your training. The make up and flow of the classes will either help your learning experience or hurt it.Look for the following:Is there a significant age difference among students that may restrict your practice?
Is there a significant difference in the students’ experiences or physical abilities?
How formal or informal are the classes? And, how does that effect your practice?
How much supportive individual attention do the students receive?
Is there anything about the facility that’ll hinder your practice? such as cleanliness, stale air, too cold or hot, distracting noises, etc.Many beginners prefer large classes. It can be easier to follow along with the examples of many other students. There’s also less intimidation as the collective group dynamic can conceal individual insecurities and lessons the pressure to keep up.On the flip side, there is a key benefit to smaller classes that’s important to consider. There is more opportunity to receive personal attention from instructors that can greatly accelerate your learning curve.Again, instructors are the backbone of a martial arts school. The instructor consciously, or unconsciously, dictates the energy of the entire class.Here are some other things to look for:Does the instructor facilitate class with control and safety? (Notice if the students are enjoying themselves or seem uncomfortable and hesitant).
Is the instructor passionate and actively teaching or seemingly going through the motions and mechanically calling out commands?
Do the students seem inspired?A martial arts school provides the setting of a controlled environment where you’ll train to overcome future or potential challenges. In order to maximize results, good schools teach in a context that anticipates and matches the actual environment of those future and potential challenges.The classes must simulate the intended environment and must provide the necessary emotional stress in order to engrain instinctual trained responses.For example:If you’re seeking a combative style for self-defense, look for schools that safely facilitate reality based, high-stress scenario exercises.
If you’re training to fight in a ring or cage, look for a school that teaches you how to maneuver in the confines of a ring/cage under the same guidelines of the competition.
If you’re goal is to perform in tournaments, look for a school that can facilitate your training in a loud, distracting environment with large mirrors and an audience.
If your goal is to have fun getting in shape, look for classes that use good training equipment, have high energy, exciting exercises and a social atmospherePay attention to the flow of the class and notice how much of the class time is instructional. Some schools implement a lot of conditioning drills while others teach with a lot of verbal explanations. Notice if they have a lot of unnecessary “filler time”.It’s also a good idea to inquire about the school’s ranking system. Most traditional schools use some modification of a belt system, but what’s required to earn each belt can vary drastically from school to school.Is there a clear standard for aptitude and execution of techniques at each level? Or are the requirements based on time and the amount of classes taken?Many schools test for promotions after a set number of classes. This gives the perception of building capable intermediate and advanced students, which can be an important aspect of a school’s perceived value. Not to mention, belt promotions are a crucial source of income for some schools.Remember that there’s no official governing body in martial arts, so belt levels may not be valid outside of that school or organization.4. STUDENT RESULTS:The students provide tremendous insight as to the quality of instruction. You can often tell more about a school by the students’ results than anything else.The students are the products of the school’s training system and methodologies. If the advanced students don’t model your martial arts goals go find another school!When observing the students, pay attention to the ratio of beginner to advanced students. It’s a good sign if there are a lot of intermediate and advanced students. That means the school is able to retain their students, and usually equates to student satisfaction.Just as you probably don’t want to eat at a restaurant that’s always empty, be cautious of a school with a few students. What’s considered a small student base? Depending on the size of the facility and how long they’ve been in business, classes that have less than 10 students is a pretty strong sign that there’s something lacking in the school.Consider the characteristics and personalities of the students as well. It’s important that you are comfortable with your classmates cause you may be spending a lot of time with them.Are they the types of people you’d like to be around and train with?
Would you feel comfortable and safe training with them?
Are the students supportive of one another or are they highly competitive and trying to outdo each other?The student dynamic may also reveal how the instructor instills leadership and other life skills that you may wish to develop. Watch how the advanced students handle both challenges and successes.Take the initiative to speak to some of the students. Getting insight from existing students can make all the difference in your decision to join.5. CURRICULUM:Remember that a martial arts school can be evaluated in two parts, content and context. The curriculum and style of a school make up the content.Whether they call themselves a martial arts school, studio, academy, gym, or dojo, they are still businesses. They will promote themselves in creative ways to gain an edge over the competition. You can expect them to entice you with price incentives, boast their credentials, amenities and equipment, or make claims to get you results in the shortest amount of time possible.Don’t allow marketing tactics to distract you from determining if the school can actually support your training goals.Whatever a school claims to provide in your martial arts training, their students, classes and curriculum will give you a good indication of the school’s quality and true emphasis.The martial arts curriculum, (content), is made up of the techniques and material you will be learning at a school.The focus of your training must be supported by the curriculum and training methods.There are key points to look for in determining the quality of a curriculum. Begin by identifying the school’s emphasis. Take into consideration that when there is more focus on one aspect of martial arts, other areas are compromised to some degree.Forms and jump spinning kicks in the curriculum? You’ve most likely found a school with an artistic or traditional focus that may participate in tournaments. If this is what you’re after, the curriculum should consist of aesthetic techniques that have dynamic kicks and beautiful forms with and without weapons.
Are the techniques based on kickboxing and wrestling? A lot of sparring and no weapons in the curriculum? This is probably a school that focuses on one-on-one sport competition. Schools that build towards competition usually emphasize physical conditioning to reach peak performance.Although physical fitness may not be the primary goal in many styles, fitness is generally a by-product of training. You get in shape by default in martial arts practice.The majority of schools have a curriculum designed to provide a general overall perspective on fitness, sport competition and self-defense. For most people who are just beginning martial arts, a school’s curriculum and interpretation of martial concepts should be comprehensive enough to support you through many years of practice. If this is the case, start to look into other components of the school like their class dynamic.For those who have martial arts experience, or seeking a specific area of focus, determine if the school’s curriculum actually supports the emphasis you’re looking for.It’s not uncommon for a school’s true emphasis to be different from how they market themselves. Take note of the techniques in their curriculum and their applications.For example, let’s say your primary reason for martial arts training is purely for self-defense on the streets. You visit a school that claims to be proficient in teaching self-defense. Yet, they teach fixed stances and forms and only implement weapons training in advanced levels.This is a big red flag! This doesn’t mean it’s not a good school. It only reveals that their true emphasis is not truly combative.70% of assaults on the street involve some sort of weapon and over 90% of attacks go to the ground. Any school that claims to teach true self-defense while neglecting weapons training and ground fighting is just plain negligent.You should seek elsewhere if this is your focus. Modern combative styles will implement training in weapons and ground fighting right from the beginning.Training methods also implement high stress scenario drills with multiple attackers. You won’t find fancy acrobatics in the curriculum.Remember the old adage, “A jack of all trades is master of none.” Be cautious of a school that claims to deliver health and fitness AND teach you culture and philosophy AND turn you into a professional fighter AND prepare you for the streets AND promise personal or spiritual growth.6. STYLE:Martial arts can be compared to a huge tree with many branches or styles. All “styles” are based on the mechanics of the human body. Every style has strengths and weaknesses as they each focus on different aspects of the arts.The true measure of a martial art lies in the practitioner, not the style.Having a general understanding of the different types of styles and their focus will help you in achieving your goals. In martial arts there are hard styles and soft styles.Hard Styles focus on striking techniques where the body is used as a weapon for attacking and defending – force against force. Much of the training is external, based on physical conditioning for strength and agility.
Soft Styles focus on redirection and physical manipulation through leverage and positioning – using an opponent’s force against him. There is often more focus on internal training, training of the mind as well as developing the body’s sensitivity to energy.
Blended Styles incorporate concepts from both hard and soft styles in a complimentary method, flowing and transitioning from hard to soft and vice versa.Depending on the area of focus, each style differs in philosophy and training methods. Applications obviously differ as well.Among styles the emphasis of training will primarily focus on one of the following areas:Artistic Expression – Schools with an artistic focus emphasize creative physical expression – the “art” aspect of “martial arts”. Artistic styles implement forms or choreographed techniques in training. They typically have more aesthetic beauty, as movements are fluid and graceful like a gymnast or dancer.Tradition – Traditional styles are rooted with Eastern culture and philosophy. Traditional schools implement both external and internal training for the development of the mind-body-spirit relationship. With this emphasis, martial arts practice serves as lessons for life skills. Practice may also encompass elements of spiritualism.Competition – Competitive styles generally focus on the sports aspect of martial arts. Competitions can range by category including weight class, level of experience, geographic region and specific style. The emphasis is on winning recognition such as rankings, awards, and trophies that is based on a fixed set of rules.Combat – Combative styles focus on street defense or military application, including law enforcement. It’s the “martial” part of “martial arts”. The emphasis is on practical application over aesthetic form or physical conditioning. Training includes weapons and reality based scenario exercises.Fitness – Schools that focus on fitness use martial arts as a catalyst for holistic health. Classes usually consist of fun, energetic physical exercises based on martial arts techniques. Classes will typically implement a broad and general combination of styles and areas of focus.There are also Modern Styles, which are evolved blended styles that are the result of further researched and developed methodologies. Their focus can be artistic, competitive, combative, or emphasize physical fitness.While it may be a good idea to blend styles, it can be counter productive to combine your area of focus. Be clear on which area you wish to predominantly focus on.Again, there’s no right or wrong style. It’s a matter of personal goals and preference.7. FACILITY:The first thing to consider is the school’s location in relation to your home or workplace.Creating a new habit can be challenging, so convenience plays a big role in supporting consistency. You may be commuting several times a week for training, so make sure the facility is close enough so it doesn’t become an excuse for you not to go.Martial arts schools come in many forms. They can be part of a franchise, belong to an organization, or be a one man show run by a single instructor. They may resemble a fitness gym, yoga studio, gymnasium or warehouse.Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, and don’t judge a martial arts school by it’s facility.Although you can’t measure the quality of a school by the facility alone, it does reveal a lot about the owners mindset, aptitude, emphasis of the style and curriculum, as well as the school’s level of professionalism.The degree of cleanliness may reflect the standard of service. You can get a good idea of the school’s style and emphasis by the school’s design.A school should have the amenities and equipment that support the context of it’s curriculum, such as a cage or ring for MMA or kickboxing, proper mats for Jiu Jitsu, etc.Consider what the school puts money into and determine if it actually adds value to your training.Also notice the subtle details of the facility that may effect on your training. Does the air stink? Does the lighting or colors of the facility effect your energy and mood? How’s the parking? Is it noisy?Remember, expensive equipment, and other luxuries equals higher tuition fees. Be aware of the costs of extra rooms and large offices that don’t directly add value to your training.With a good instructor and some basic equipment you can practice anywhere!8.SERVICE:Some schools have great sales and marketing techniques to get you to join. But, it’s the quality of ongoing customer service that really counts.

Choosing a school that’s skilled in customer service will potentially save you from a lot of unnecessary headache. Poor customer service can ruin your martial arts experience at any level.Make sure that there are open lines of communication and that staff members are readily accessible to answer questions to your satisfaction.You may be with a school for many months or even years. Choose a school that cares enough to build a relationship with you.Know how to distinguish sales techniques from service.As mentioned, some schools are great at getting you in the door with attractive features and promotions. The question is, once you have signed up are you just another enrollment?A good comparison is the large franchised fitness gyms. Their amenities, equipment and low monthly fees are hard to pass up. However, once you join there’s virtually no service whatsoever. There are too many people who have gym memberships and don’t use them. They already have your financial commitment – a contract. Rest assured their service will pick up when it’s time for renewal. But is that service or just another sales technique?The level of transparency is the greatest measure of a school’s integrity. It’s a reflection of their standards of service.Does the school fully disclose all the costs involved in your training? Some schools have additional fees, like mandatory programs or association fees, that they don’t mention until you reach a certain point in your training.
When you have questions, do you get a clear answer right away or do you get an evasive response? The response you get is a good sign of what kind of service you can expect.
Many schools require you to sign a contract in order to take classes. Some schools offer a trial period where you can pay for a number of classes before you agree to a contract. A contract is simply a written agreement between you and the school, and it can always be negotiated. They should be willing to explain the details of the contract to your full understanding and agree to make any changes you feel are important, as long as it’s mutually beneficial.9. Price and Fees:How important is price to you? For many people, it’s the only real limiting factor.Since most people don’t know how to compare value to price, martial arts schools generally don’t advertise their prices – unless they’re promotional.Be honest. Before you read this guide, what’s one of the first thing you wanted to know about a martial arts school?Fees are usually priced by:Term period – specified time period with flexibility of the amount of classes taken, usually monthly or yearly
Number of classes – specified amount of classes taken
Combination of term and number of classes – usually a monthly fee based on the number of classes taken per week
Specific Programs – packaged programs such as Black Belt Clubs, Instructor Programs, Certification Programs, Seminars, etc.Tuition can range anywhere from $50 per month to $500 per month, depending on the school. Nowadays, the average tuition is about $150 per month for 2-3 classes per week.Tuition isn’t the only cost to consider. You will eventually be investing in training equipment, to some extent. Keep in mind that some styles require more equipment.While price is important, a common mistake is to compare price without comparing value.Consider the previous steps and the benefits before you focus on price. This way you can place some sort of dollar value on each component of a school and then shop around.Think of the convenience of schedule and location, the suitability of teaching style, class dynamic and level of instruction in relation to your personality and goals – can you put a price on that?With the knowledge you gained by reading this guide, you can make an educated choice in “how to invest” in your training instead of “being sold” a membership.Most schools require annual contracts. The contract should clearly explain the details of your membership. Generally, schools don’t offer any refunds on tuition.In most cases, a school will agree to make reasonable changes to the contract if you ask them.If you’re committed to your practice and have found a school following this guide, signing a contract is usually not an issue. However, knowing potential costs and understanding school policies will help you negotiate any changes, if necessary. What you’re really after is “peace of mind”, isn’t it?A contract should be mutually beneficial, so you want to insure that the contract also benefits you. This can mean discounted rates, as an example. A contract is also an incentive for you to get your money’s worth by coming to class regularly.Ask about:Price incentives for paying in full
Discounts for family members
Training equipment – and if they have to be purchased directly from the school
Belt testing fees
Any federation or association member fees
Cost for programs such as Black Belt Clubs and any other mandatory programs
Membership freezes in case of travel, injury, or maternity
Policy for relocation or moving
Fees for early cancellationIt’s also a good idea to ask whether the billing is managed directly by the school or if they use a billing company. Many schools use a billing company to help manage your tuition payments.If the school out-sources their billing, you will be dealing with the billing company for the payment of your tuition fees. The billing company will generally only contact you if you are late on your payment. If you ever have to deal with the billing company you can expect the type of service you get from a collection agency. They can also make negative reports on your credit.A high-quality school has the confidence to earn your business without requiring a contract. But they are rare. These schools are clear about their role. They focus on their core responsibility of providing quality instruction and guidance in your martial arts practice. Schools of this caliber don’t need to use creative sales and marketing techniques. Their business is built by their reputation, word-of-mouth.10. INSTINCT:Pay attention to your intuition when visiting a school. While going through the 10 steps outlined in this guide, you’ll instinctively know when you’ve found the right school.How long the school has been in business? Are they stable?
Are you confident in the instructor?
Do you like the instructor’s teaching style and personality?
Are the students friendly?
Did you have fun? Did you feel inspired?Ultimately, we make decisions based on our emotions and we justify them with logic. Your decision should be instant and definite. If you find yourself thinking too much or having to convince yourself, something is out of whack. Go back to step 1 or keep looking.