3 Ways to Lower Costs at your Club

You don't need a black belt in negotiation to get affordable gear.

As a treasurer of my college’s martial arts club, my first true encounter with pain came early in my sophomore year.

It wasn’t physical, though — it had to do with balancing our club’s checkbook. Much to the disappointment of the oversized black-belts in the group, who found my flexibility to be a bit of a killjoy (I heard “Doesn’t that hurt?” often).

Yes, the real pain was when I made our club’s first major purchase in a few years — a brand new 16x16 foot sparring mat. It set us back a little over $750.

Years later, mats are about as expensive as they have always been. So are punching bags, specialized pads, mannequins, sparring gear. And we were lucky at college — our space was paid for. Most dojos or clubs spend thousands every year in rent. Reasonable membership fees barely cover all that.

At the end of the day add up your equipment, space, transport and tournament costs — and there’s hardly ever anything leftover for “fun” or team spirit gear like logo patches, club shirts and the like.

It doesn’t always have to be that way.

There are few tricks to help you make the most of your club or dojo’s funds — without asking more from your members.

#3 When designing your logo, work with a professional designer.

I know. You’re thinking: isn’t our goal here to save money?

It is. But design is a worthwhile investment that pays off fast — and shouldn’t cost you anything if you’re in the right place.

When a poorly drawn design gets made printed or embroidered on physical clothing, it suddenly seems a lot less cute or funny than when your members were voting on it. You’ll be heading back to the screenprinter’s the next year — or sooner — because folks can’t stand it.

Worried that a professional designer will deflate your budget faster than a unexpected crescent kick to the gut?

Shop around. I’ve learned the companies worth working with will offer you free, professional design no questions asked because they have the volume of customers to justify it. And run from anyone looking to charge you $30 an hour.

#2 When working with logo patches, always get “merrowed” borders.

If you’re scratching your head like a white belt getting introduced to forms, don’t worry.

Here’s the thing: most clubs do end up to getting patches for their gis. So think of border merrowing as a warranty on those. Merrowing is an extra barrier of dense fabric around your patch to fight stretching, tearing, abrasions and more.

The yellow merrowing here accents the design nicely but also fights off tears and scuffs.

Plus, the thick threading looks like a frame and can be colored to compliment your dojo’s design. It’s an investment that can double the life of your patches compared to simple iron-on patches.

#1 Always buy in bulk.

So, you’ve got a great design and product that’s ready to take on a couple hundred rounds of sparring. You’re ready to outfit your 20 students.

Buy enough for 50.

Now I’ve seen the interior pricing sheets of Main Street embroidery firms. More often than not, the difference between 20 and 50 custom products is usually $10 or less.


Here’s a secret: for any custom manufacturer, the hardest products to make are the first ten. Everything after that is the manufacturing equivalent of copy and paste.

But It doesn’t make sense to tell you, the one-time customer — why sell 50 custom patches for the profit as two sets of ten?

If your club is planning on growing, investing twenty dollars in a custom order could save you hundreds down the road. And since you should be getting free great design, you’ll have a single order that keeps on giving. That means more time spent on training and less at your computer designing apparel.

Here's a freebie. If you want a custom apparel provider who gives you choices like merrowing, free design and a price table instead of a price, you’ll find all that, free, at TheStudio.com — they’re pros who work for martial artists around the world, and provide you with graphics design before you’ve even paid. Get free standard shipping on any order when you check out their martial artist page today.