Are all bad teachers mcdojos

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Headhunter, Feb 3, 2018.

  1. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    So I was thinking just because a teacher isn't very good it doesn't mean he's a fraud trying to scam people out of money.

    Not everyone can be a teacher. There's hundreds of amazing martial artists out there but they just can't teach the skills. Just like fighters good fighters aren't always good coaches.

    But that doesn't mean their con men. These guys might be trying their absolute hardest to be good teachers they may be genuinely giving their students 100% and trying so hard to help them get better. But they just can't and then people label them as frauds or disgraces.

    For example say I'm a black belt but I also volunteer every weekend at the homeless shelter, I donate money to every charity on earth I do sponsored events to raise money for charities and I run a martial art club to help local kids get off the street and barely make a penny and paying out my pocket to run thbut I'm not a great teacher and struggle to get the ideas across. Does that make me a con man and running a McDojo just so I can make money and show off and look tough.

    Just something to think about.
     
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  2. Saheim

    Saheim Green Belt

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    I think the meaning of words changes a lot, with geography, race/culture, and even the individual. I have many friends that refer to a guy as "scary" when he is easily scared and lacking in courage. I have others that use that word to descibe a genuine bad @ that you really wouldn't waana mess with. So..... it could mean one thing, to some, and something different to others.

    "McDojo" as far as I'm concerned, means - a school where a false sense of preparedness is sold to (otherwise) timid folks based on the concept that if you can afford it, we will award it. They are the "Participation Trophies" of the MA world.

    Keep in mind - This is the country where we refer to a rude person using a term that actually describes a part of the body used for expelling solid waste. Or.... A feminine hygiene product :D
     
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  3. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    i think your confusing a few different things and putting everything into one basket.
    the way i see it, you are correct there are bad teachers. i know many that have traditional karate back rounds and practice an authentic style. they teach the same curriculum as the rest of the organization. they themselves are just not good at teaching.
    then there are bad styles. if we were honest we would admit there are some styles or systems that are just lacking in a lot of areas. often this is the result of people with basic knowledge going off to start their own organization or style. they are not trying to scam people. they just do not know , what they dont know. this leads to the next generation who also lack in these same areas. this faulty style may then be taught by people who are actually good at teaching but they are teaching crap and do not know it.
    there are the knowingly fraudulent teachers. making up fantasy stories of history and people. they see a way to make money and have no hesitation in passing off crap and making a buck from it. i would also put the mentally challenged, ego centric, narcissistic instructors in this same group.

    i do not think any of this by itself makes a Mcdojo. my definition is a Mcdojo is the fast food of martial arts. it lacks a little or a lot in quality and is by design packaged for quick consumption.

    • if your dojo has a gift shop full of items with the name of the school on it,,,,you might train at a Mcdojo.
    • If everyone does "high fives" to each other every time after completing a technique,,, you might train at a Mcdojo.
    • If your dojo has its own theme song,,,you might train at a Mcdojo.
    • If you can earn a black belt in under 2 years,,,you might train at a Mcdojo.
    • If the history of your style begins with the current Supreme Grand Master, who envisioned it from a dream,,,,you might train at a Mcdojo.
    • If your instructor has more stripes on his belt then the American flag,,,you might train at a Mcdojo.
    • If your Supreme Grand Master gives "clinics" at his remote mountain top compound,,,you might train at a Mcdojo.
    • If your instructor is also an Aztec Medicine man, the incarnate of the Buddha and a paranormal ghost hunter,,you might train at a Mcdojo.
     
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  4. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Some people are simply bad teachers and should not be teaching. That does not make them a fraud, or make their school a McDojo. It just makes it a bad school, with poor quality training, albeit with an instructor who is inadequate but doing his honest best.
     
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  5. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    Being a fraud is not the same as being a bad teacher. Frauds have no real knowledge or understanding of what they are teaching. Bad teacher may have the knowledge and understanding but just suck at communicating it through teaching.
     
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  6. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    FRaud implies a deliberate deception. Bad instruction does not automatically imply such.

    Claiming you have training in XYZ system when you do not, and claiming to then teach XYZ System is fraud.

    Believing that you have training in XYZ system when you actually do not, because you yourself were deceived, is not fraud on your part.

    Teaching junk when you believe it to be good, is not fraud. It is just ignorance.

    Teaching good material, in a system in which you have legitimately trained, but doing it poorly because you do not realize you are a lousy teacher, is not fraud. If you know you are a lousy teacher but you simply see an opportunity to make some money off the ignorance of others, is fraud.

    Telling your students that your legitimate training is more extensive than it really is, is fraud, even if you are a good teacher and are teaching them good skills.
     
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  7. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    Lots of good points have been made... but I'm spouting off anyway!

    Let's start at the bottom and claw our way to the top.

    FRAUDS... Sadly, some frauds are good instructors. They're still frauds. The worst are outright criminals, perhaps charismatic enough to keep ripping people off under the guise of teaching martial arts. They've got nothing legitimate to teach, they don't care about students -- just money. Some are good instructors, many are bad. I'm drawing a line between people who have been fooled or deluded by a fraud, and sincerely teach the crap-pile they were taught here and the person who is purely out to pull the rug over people's eyes, and take them for all they'll pay. Others aren't quite as dishonest -- but for whatever reason, they feel that they have to present a story (often the "hidden master" stuff...) to justify running off on their own, doing their own thing, etc. At least they're halfway honest, in that they're teaching something with a degree of legitimacy -- but they're frauds because they're lying.

    McDojos... as other have said, the "fast food" of the martial arts. These are the places that are more business, less martial arts. There'll always be a new club to join, incentive to purchase, seminar to attend, or required training aid to buy. If they're honest about what they're teaching and doing -- I have no more problem with them than I do Mcdonalds itself. If they're dishonest about it -- they're frauds. My one persistent complaint here is the martial arts daycare programs that often avoid regulatory requirements for daycare because they're "before and after school sports programs."

    Well meaning bad instructors.. They're lots of them out there, found across the spectrum. They'll be the "black belt club instructor trainee" in a McDojo, the guy just plain trying to teach out of a Y or his garage... Not much you can do; sometimes you can train them into being a better instructor, sometimes you can't. You can learn skills, you can learn techniques and acronyms... but some folks just ain't teachers. No fault in my book here...
     
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  8. Saheim

    Saheim Green Belt

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    Hoshin1600 -

    Love the mention of gift shops! I've seen that, cracks me up.
     
  9. Anarax

    Anarax 2nd Black Belt

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    There different types of bad when it comes to teachers. For example, I had a martial arts instructor that was knowledgeable and experienced. However; he couldn't keep a schedule to save his life. He wouldn't give us any heads up if he couldn't make it to practice, even when he knew in advance. He was a poor communicator and wasn't considerate of other people's time. Eventually I stopped going as did the other students and he lost his class. Multiple things have to come together for someone to be a good instructor. Most of the time you'll get an instructor that is stronger in some areas than others, they're only human after all. However; when they are completely lacking in one area it's very evident and it has a profoundly negative impact on class. He was by no means a mcdojo instructor, but was still a bad instructor.
     
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  10. Professor Random

    Professor Random Yellow Belt

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    Well stated. I never really thought not all people are good teachers. I guess it does go the same as students, some people learn faster and some people can teach better. It's all how your personality is. I like the example too.
     
  11. WaterGal

    WaterGal Master Black Belt

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    "McDojo" has a couple of different meanings, depending on the person using the word. Some people use to mean a school that employs low-skill instructors to teach watered-down material to low standards, kind of like how McDonald's hires unskilled workers to make mediocre food. Others use it to mean a profit-oriented school that often does things that have more to do with making a living than with purely teaching martial arts, stuff like hosting birthday parties, having a school mascot, operating an aftercare program, etc. There are plenty of schools that do both of these things, but they don't necessarily go together.

    Anyhow, no, not all bad teachers operate McDojos, by either of these standards. A bad teacher can teach good material poorly and have high standards that they're not capable of getting their students to meet. And a bad teacher could be totally uninterested in operating the school as a business or doing any kind of ancillary money-making things with it.
     
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  12. Martial D

    Martial D Master of Arts

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    All tigers are felines but not all felines are tigers.
     
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  13. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I think we are sometimes fall victim to our own industry. If it's a busy school and one instructor is running it, what frequently happens is he needs help. Often, he'll take one of the guys who is there all the time and have him bow in the class and warm them up. That, in turn, leads him to do some teaching, maybe with day-one people, maybe with beginners, especially if a group of them start together.

    He might not have any teaching skills, but he's there. Next thing he knows....he's a teacher. Maybe he eventually opens a school. He's in no way a fraud, just as he is in no way a good instructor.
     
  14. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    you mean karate schools have mascots???? as in someone dressed in an animal costume of sorts running around the dojo, high fiveing students and trying to get the audience of parents to stand up and do "the wave".
    i wonder if the mascots have fights as well at tournaments.
     
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  15. WaterGal

    WaterGal Master Black Belt

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    Yeah. Some schools have animal mascots. I did tabling at a family fair and there was a school there that had someone in a fuzzy rhino suit wearing a karate gi. That got more attention from kids than our booth, which just had two people in TKD doboks letting people hit pads. That same chain of schools also puts flyers up at the gym I go to, looking for instructors with a black belt in any martial art, which probably says something about how traditional and specific their program is. :rolleyes:

    But theoretically, a school could have an animal mascot and also teach solid martial arts. The BJJ school I cross-train at does Star Wars themed kids birthday parties and also trains MMA fighters, FWIW.
     
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  16. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    There used to be a school in a nearby town that had a big stuffed toy white tiger in the front window.

    That sends a very strange message, in my opinion.
     
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  17. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 3rd Black Belt

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    And here'in lies the problem. How many Martial Arts Instructors get taught how to teach? Most are probably, as you say, just senior students who have been put into the role because the main instructor had too many students to deal with. Contrary to what some people believe, there is a big difference between being a good Martial Artist and being a good teacher.
     
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  18. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Amen, brother. And there are plenty of students, that, even if you taught them how to teach - it's not going to work out. Some people don't have the necessary personal skills, whatever the hell they may be, to teach other people.
     
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  19. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    Bad teachers and McDojos only share pretty much one common trait - low quality MA teaching.

    Here’s a great example of a McDojo that a bunch of my school students attend...

    The glorified daycare aspect:

    They send a van to pick up kids from schools in the area.
    They have a homework room.
    They have a playground in the back yard area.
    I’ve seen videos and pictures of a dojo mascot who greets the students and makes rounds on the dojo floor every now and then.
    They have movie night so parents can drop off their kids one or two Friday nights a month and go out.

    The money grabbing aspect:

    All students have to sign up for a black belt plan; meaning they’re in a multi-year deal that only expires when they “earn” a black belt.
    The black belt plan costs a few thousand dollars, payable monthly with or without a down payment, or outright.
    The black belt plan covers all testing costs including the black belt test. The fine print doesn’t tell you the physical black belt and certificate costs about $250.
    They won’t tell you how much it costs until after you’ve brought your kid to 3 private “assessment” classes. I asked several times in-person and in private and was only told how much it would be after I said “I’m not going to bring her here unless I know I can afford it. I’m not getting her hopes up then breaking her heart.” The person begrudgingly told me around how much.
    All students are only allowed to wear uniforms that are sold on the premises. They’ve got huge logos on the back along with the school’s website and phone number; basically a walking billboard.
    As you progress, you have to buy uniforms coinciding with rank, “clubs” and “teams.”
    “Clubs” and “teams” cost more money. Some are required for promotion.
    All students must assistant teach a certain number of classes and teach a certain number of classes for promotion. This is mandatory for everyone. No payment nor discount on tuition for doing so, of course.

    Poor instruction aspect:

    There’s at least 4 different classes going on at the same time on the same floor during peak after school hours.
    Those “classes” are being run by a person in their mid teens, and assisted by someone a bit younger. Remember- it’s a requirement.
    The background noise genuinely sounds like a playground at recess.
    The head guy who’s name is on the building is nowhere to be found during at least 75% of the classes.
    The “certified teachers” walk laps around the floor and somehow always end up chatting with the TKD moms during classes.

    My favorite poor poor standards aspect by far:
    They tell you the average time to black belt for an adult is 4-5 years, and kids are longer - 5-7 years. You think the $4k-ish contract is decent because that’s about $100 or so a month during 5 years giver or take a few months.

    I’ve had at least 10 students “earn” a black belt there. The longest I’ve heard was 2 and a half years. And I’m not teaching TKD physical phemons nor gifted athletes by any means. To be honest, most of them went to TKD because they wouldn’t get much playing time in rec league sports.

    I know this stuff from hearing it from the parents, many of whom love the place for reasons unbeknownst to me. And I had an hour to kill one day so I checked the place out and asked about signing my daughters up. It’s litera 2 blocks away from the school I teach at that my kids also attend. At the time I wasn’t training nor did I know the full extent of the McDojo madness that goes on there. You really can’t make up crap like this.

    Non-McDojo bad instructors don’t pull this crap. I’ve come across several well intentioned instructors that genuinely loved what they did and were trying to make an honest and honorable living. They were just bad at teaching. The McDojo puts profits above all else and everyone else. The bad teacher just sucks at teaching.
     
  20. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Black Belt

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    Wwwwwow..... JR I reckon that covers pretty much every single base of what a Mcdojo is.. usually schools will have 2 or 3 of those aspects, this has the full gamut!!! That's mighty impressive I must say..

    And that's interesting about the black belt promise.. usually schools will promise it in 1 year to 1 and a half years in order to get students in the door, but this longer approach makes sense, as there is a long contract to fulfil and pay for..

    That's unbelievable about buying all the new rank uniforms... that'd be hella expensive.. and yeah I've seen those walking billboard gis...
     

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