11 posts / 0 new
Last post
Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture
McDojo, are you one?
Description in Wikipedia for McDojos is: Dishonest practice Due to the popularity of martial arts, both in mass media and reality, a large number of disreputable, fraudulent, or misguided teachers and schools have arisen, approximately over the last 40 years. Commonly referred to as a "McDojo" or a "Black Belt Mill" these schools are commonly headed by martial artists of either dubious skill or business ethics Now doing some self analysis, can you compare to any of the criteria that a McDojo has? What do you do to stop yourself from becoming one too?
Dave Moore
Dave Moore's picture

 Haven't you answered your question within your question, ie do none of the above. Not being rude with this reply its just,  thats the way it seems to me

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Dave, I appreciate your comment. My appologies if I didn't make myself clearer. Here's a response from "Montana" from another forum I'm on:

The problem with "McDojos" is that the people running them don't often realize it. For example, let's go back to 1980. If I were a novice looking to join a martial art for whatever reason and I see this dojo over on Main Street, USA named Master Fred's (no offense to any Fred's we have in here) School of Black Belt Excellence, so I stop in and check it out. Well, Master Fred greets me with a firm handshake, warm smile and a ton of phony certificates, pictures of Bruce Lee and weapons galore and a foreign (Korean, Japanese, etc) flag hanging on the wall. Fred used to be a used car salesman, so he knows how to handle people and their questions. Since I'm a novice and the only thing I know about the martial arts is what I see in the movies, I listen to Master Fred's stories of how he'd been in the arts for over 20 years (and he was only 30 at the time) and for a mere $100/month, he'd accept me as one of his exclusive students and guide me through the martial art experience. Just sign on the dotted line for your free uniform and free pair of foam numchucks. Within a year, thru hard work of going to 2 hours of classroom training every week, I get my black belt, awarded personally by Master Fred himself, in just a mere 16 months! Man, am I good or what? Master Fred likes me so much he wants me to open another school on the other side of town, and for a mere 50% of my profit, he'll gladly come over and test my students every 3 months and pass out certificates! Wow, what a deal!!! Unfortunately folks, this sort of scenerio happened a lot back in the 1970's and beyond. What our hapless new sensei didn't know, and never did, is that "Master Fred" had less than 2 years training in ANY martial art and decided to declare himself a "master" and start his own system based on weak principles and little training. But the new student, and many more, didn't know that. All they saw was a gi, a black belt, phony certificates on the wall and a large amount of...well, you know. So the new sensei opens a new school, promotes new students to black belt who open their own dojos, who promote their students to black belt, who open their own dojos...and on and on it goes. Basically what I'm saying is...Master Fred now, after 20 years or so, has a network of McDojos open all around the world, teaching his own brand of shake and bake martial arts to unsuspecting students that have no clue it isn't worth a darn! Unfortunately, there are a lot of these out there with no signs of it ever stopping. As to my questions...Am I a McDojo?

No I am not, my lineage is mapped to Japan, I don't hand out belts for the sake of it, i have "Graded" for every grade I have. I don't dish out instructor programmes to get people to set up their own dojos even though they  still need a few more years training yet. finally I also subscribe to http://www.masa5.co.uk/

Dave Moore
Dave Moore's picture

Aha, okay, I now see what you mean.

It always reminds me of Jim Carrey when things like above are mentioned, "not that way with the knife, this way"

I don't own a Dojo or a black belt and most of my experience comes from work and things that work for me probably won't work for others.

I have been involved with what you call a Mcdojo club and some of their instructors are pretty good and some are absolutely  terrible and the problem would start when you ask that fatefull word"why"  and no answer was forthcoming because they are probably very new to MA and don't have sufficent knowledge to answer you so make up some BS rubbish that leaves you with more questions and frustrations,

lcpljones_dontpanic
lcpljones_dontpanic's picture

Hi guys

its not exclusive to non oriental headed groups and just because an oriental instructor has 20+ years training and teaching experience does'nt mean its quality instruction.

i am a member of a JKA club and to be honest i think they're more concerned with making a profit than anything else. 

we have the JKA spring course coming up soon, 4 days training with visiting japanese sensei of 5th dan and above. each day costs £27 for JKA members and the training is for 3 hours. there will probably be about 800 - 1200 students sharing 6 instructors so the chances of getting any quality instruction from those sensei noticing you and giving you just one pointer on a specific thing is slim.

compare this to attending one of iains seminars £25 for top quality instruction then you should start to see my point. i will be going to 2 days of the JKA spring course only because it is required for my shodan which i am hoping to take this year, again simply money making exercise in my opinion.

so Mcdojo or not it comes down to quality of instruction. i have no problem paying for quality but dont like being mugged or taken for granted.

Gavin Mulholland
Gavin Mulholland's picture

Three hour's training for less than  £10 per hour sounds fair enough to me. Especially if they have come all the way from Japan to teach.

If you think so little of them DP, why would you want your shodan from the them?

lcpljones_dontpanic
lcpljones_dontpanic's picture

Hi Gavin

the reason i am aiming to still take my shodan with the JKA is that i like my club and my instructor and while the club is a member of the JKA and seeing as i have come all the way to 1st kyu it would seem to me to have been a pointless exercise if i now left and went elsewhere only to have to start again.

i understand and appreciate your point and the best i can do at the moment is to stick to my path and try to attain my JKA shodan while also experiencing and training with others in order to broaden my skills. additionally i also have a great sense of loyalty for my instructor as he has not just taken money and held a class but he has gone above and beyond to help those with the commitment within the club to develop themselves, this i think is worth it.

Tez
Tez's picture

I think sometimes people who haven't run clubs or schools underestimate how much it can cost to do so. If courses are held, booking sports centres etc can cost a lot of money. Our local one will charge £2000 for a days use of all the hall which is what is needed for a large number of students. Visiting instructors need expenses if not paying as well as accomodation, meals etc.

Instructors who have their own premises need to pay rent/mortgage, utility bills, insurance, all the usual things. There's instructors insurances, association affliation, often instructor's courses to pay for, CRB checks. that's just the things that come to mind I'm sure others will know other things to be paid.

We have an odd attitude in this country whereby we think martial arts should be taught for the love of it and anything to do with money is regarded as' evil money making'. I know there are places who charge a fortune a month for 2 x 3/4 hour lessons a week but the majority of us struggle to make ends meet and not charge students a fortune. Often both my instructor and I end up out of pocket because we've paid for things the club needs out of our own money. I know of others places like this too. We do do it for love but you can't blame people if they can't afford to and need to charge that bit more. £27 per day seems reasonable to me, I've certainly paid more at various places. I think you could be surprised by how much you can learn even though you are among many.

lcpljones_dontpanic
lcpljones_dontpanic's picture

i could'nt agree more with you Tez, any good quality service or product is worth decent payment for. i am a great beleiver in 'you dont get something for nothing in this world'.  

i am my clubs treasurer and hence am responsible for payment of all bills and costs in addition to ensuring all fees are collected and managing the clubs finances generally, so i do appreciate more than the average student the costs involved in running a club / class.

as i have said i have no problem with instructors charging for their time and attention etc but i want a quality service not sub standard. i will think nothing of spending 10, 20 30 pounds an hour or more to receive good quality instruction,or spending money on travelling long distances and paying for accomodation and meals to attend training events etc, 

Tez
Tez's picture

We are very lucky in that the gym we use is free for us but on the other hand our student numbers flucuate wildly, sometimes we can have 20 or more in sometimes only a couple depending on duties, deployments and leave. The last half of May and the beginning of June we will be very quiet as most of our students will be rehearsing for and then on Trooping the Colour. Last year nearly everyone was in  Afghan. Any money we do get goes on repairing kit, buying new, insurance and stuff for the kids class but to be honest we have very actual little money.

Before we started this club I was at another, about 19 years ago, you paid a membrship fee of £40 and got a free suit, insurance was £20, then as you progressed you had to buy their kit, again £20 for head guard, £20 for mitts, etc etc, new suits from them were £50, courses which you had to go on for gradings were £30 a day, the gradings started at £20 and went up a fiver for each grade. As the grades got higher you had to do a certain  amount of courses including weekend ones miles away. In nine years I got to 1st Kyu, you can imagine how much it cost!. My karate basics were good, katas good and I've been told since that my karate is technically good. What however was poor was my self defence skills and fighting ability, it was very little contact  but we were told we would be able to defend ourselves if attacked, i now know that to be very very wrong. I can now though lol!

HawaiianBrian
HawaiianBrian's picture

Can o' worms time!

I personally can relate to this because if I open my own club, I won't have any certificates or lineage to trace to or organization to endorse me so I am in the high risk category of McDojo-ization.  "Come join Brian's badass karate-combatives club!  Earn skills in no time!  We're too good to have lineage!"  Someone help me if I ever stoop to that to stay in business...

But I can also personally relate to this in the context of pushing practical teaching aside for the purposes of profits.  Where I was, instructors were told to teach technique after technique and not have students advance too quickly.  Pressure testing drills and things such as using flinch reactions and gross motor skills for self defense were discouraged for endless repetition of techniques and fine motor skills.  Throw in the club's background with kickboxing and MMA, as well as a program for kids, and you have the grounds for perpetual profits with the illusion of self protection.

I think the issue of McDojos also raises the issues of curricula and kid's programs.  If I were to open the phonebook in my city and flip to the martial arts section, almost every club advertises both an after school program (some even including a pick-up program) and reality-based self defense skills.  So there is a conflict I see here: on the one hand clubs need to diversify their customer base in order to stay in business (valid) but at the same time they sell the idea of RBSD (rarely valid for my city's clubs).  So the dishonest practice of the McDojo is not only apparent in grading and false lineage but also in marketing and curricula.

The question I'd like to add to the debate is this: how do you satisfy both the necessity for staying in business with the necessity to teach realism?  I always thought realistic curricula brought interest and staying power, but in my experience, people would rather associate advanced techniques, flashy movements, mysticism, and ring fighting glory with staying on at a club.  Can we avoid being a McDojo while at the same time offering a practical curriculum and stay in business?