Eh, the owner of the martial arts studio I studied at was an 8th dan black belt... no chance any of us were going to surpass him. His secret was getting his students to do his work for him for free, instead of paying qualified instructors. He literally taught one class a week - every other class was taught by whoever happened to be the most advanced student in the class that day. The primary driver of the cost difference is private vs. group lessons... unless you are an amazingly talented martial artist, you're probably not getting any private lessons. See above. This certainly would have been a nice arrangement, though I suspect the owner would have laughed me out of the building if I had suggested it, and of course I was too young and naive to think of something like that at that stage of my life.