Are you training in a McDojo?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by adamr01, Jul 31, 2019.

  1. adamr01

    adamr01 White Belt

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    I have often wondered why some MA schools that arguably should be great schools run by very accomplished martial artists, keep losing students. At first I thought it was because being a great martial artist and instructor, and running a great martial arts school are two different things. And some MA school owners are simply good at one but not the other. But while this may be true in some cases, this video maps out many bad practices, some that I've seen first hand, that maybe seemed like a good way to save a struggling business at first, ultimately had a negative affect on the studio.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2019
  2. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    There is no video @admar01, but I do look forward to seeing it.
    Welcome to the forum.
    FWIW even before I see the video, experience tells me there is a big difference between being very accomplished as a martial artist, or any other activity for that matter, and being a good instructor and more so being a good business owner. As soon as you take the mantle of the latter two a lot of things change.
     
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  3. adamr01

    adamr01 White Belt

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    The video was pulled because it was monetized on YouTube. Sorry about that. It was called "What is a McDojo?" by Art Of One Dojo. Be sure to check it out when you get the chance!
     
  4. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    There were some that were obvious red flags. I did not take notes to keep up with his list. Are there certain ones you have in question?
     
  5. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    I hunted down the video and had a look.

    I think you could boil that down to one idea.

    Is the club about the students?

    Or is the club about the instructor?
     
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  6. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    My first thought on the video was a realization that "McDojo" has changed meaning quite a lot. When it started, it was really about the chain dojo said that turned out mediocre students. Now, we tend to include so much more in tha term, even if they're not chain dojos.

    For the most part, I think @drop bear summarized it nicely. The one point I didn't really agree with in the video was about obscure styles. If someone decides to call their mix of 2+ styles something new (rather than calling it a mix) that doesn't raise any questions for me, at all. The name is just a name.
     
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  7. adamr01

    adamr01 White Belt

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    No, it's just that while he was listing all of these potential "red flags", I was amazed at just how many of them I have experienced in my own MA travels. In fact, I'm not sure I have attended a school that didn't have at least one of those red flags. But at least in my case, I believe these bad practices came little by little. For example, when the parents of several of your child students threaten to, or in fact, do pull their kids from the school because they won't accept that their kid failed a promotion test, an instructor might start lowering their standards so their students have an easier time passing tests to remedy the situation.
     
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  8. Rat

    Rat Black Belt

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    If i recall the video correctly, i belive i watched it ages ago.


    I think i kind of went to a mc dojo once, i didn't really learn much from it. and i got the feeling they semi tailor the lessons to my taste on the trial lessons that or just because it was vacant of people.

    Or at least it did have some of the red flags for it.


    that is legit hell for me, like if you show up to shotogan karate you know generally what you should be getting or are, but if you show up to some obscure style with no overarching group its suspicious as hell, at least if they don't word it right when explaining themselves to you. But then if they break it down like they learnt this style from X or did this style from X for X period of time, and then this other style and are trying to merge it, approaching it with the level of skepticism you should all martial arts probably would work.
     
  9. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    You know the solution for this? Go to a trial class and see what they're teaching. You don't need to know where it came from to be able to tell if their teaching legitimate stuff or not. There are tons of reasons to not be associated with the style(s) you came from, no reason to be skeptical just because of that.
     
  10. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    You're talking in the last part about lineage (where it was learned). In the video, he specifically said if they named it (especially after themselves), that's a red flag. There are lots of style names that don't tell me much. American Karate, for instance, is pretty well established, but I wouldn't know what to expect from that style until I saw them in class. And decades ago, "American Karate" was a brand new name for a mixture. All art/style names were, at one time.

    On top of all that, whether someone says they are teaching a mixture of Judo, Aikido, and Boxing, or give it an actual name, that doesn't change what they're teaching. I've had students forget the full name of the style that's the primary base of what I teach (and is the name I use for what I teach), because I use the name rarely...it just doesn't matter much what it's called.
     
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  11. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    the answer to your question in the title, is, probably yes I am, its just a pejorative term for something you think your better than and get apples to an awful loot of different schools and styles, an, so means nothing at all as a relative measure.

    I've told the story before, that we had some mma boys spamming the club web site calling us a mac dojo, based on the evidence that the people in the publicity shots had been chosen for being photogenic rather than looking like fighters and threatening to come down a beat us up. I mean really its like primary school.

    when they did indeed come, and issue a challenge, they got our 250 lbs, weight training gang tattooed killing manchine, rather than the skinny kid they were expecting,who knocked him out with a single punnch,

    this of course means nothing at all as to the quality or other wise of the dojo, just that Floyd, can probably do that to 95% of the worlds population, but they left quickly and never came back,
     
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  12. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    I couldn't care less about all that rubbish, all I care about is if I enjoy the place. They can call themselves Mickey Mouse karate Kung jiu jitsu for all I care. If I enjoy the lessons that's all that matters
     
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  13. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    In this case, there's two questions to ask:
    1. Does the material you are learning change because of these lower standards?
    2. Can you put aside the quality of the other students and focus on your own training?
    I think these are both valid questions to assess. Lots of people say rank is unimportant (and some arts don't even have rank), that it's skills that matter. If you have one Master who wants you to have absolutely perfect forms, and another Master who is more lenient on the forms, does that affect you if you want to have absolutely perfect forms? It can, or it may not.

    If the Master teaches you what you need to know to have that perfect form, but doesn't hold everyone to that standard, then you can still learn that technique. If you're constantly trying to improve, and the other students are just coasting, then you're still improving. But, if the Master teaches the form to the least-common-denominator, that's when you have a problem. If the testing standards are lowered, and then the training is only geared towards meeting that standard, you have an issue.

    The second question is, can you ignore that the other students have a lower quality in their forms than you do? In some cases, yes. In others, no. On the one hand, the skill level of my classmates doesn't really affect me when it comes to improving my forms. However, if you are the only one taking training seriously, you might quickly learn yourself past a point where those who are coasting can give you a challenge, whether it's in sparring or in other partner and group training. If there are a few students like yourself, then you can train with them for that challenge you seek, and use the other students as opportunities to drill more basic applications.

    There is a third question I had, but removed, which is the question of the future of the art. Is it diluted by the lower standards? In my opinion, not really. As long as the people with a passion continue teaching, the art will have schools that thrive.
     
  14. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Best thing to do when a parent tries to pull that - throw them out immediately and don't let them come back. It's a shame the child doesn't get to come back either, but that's going to be the least of the child's problems going forward with parents like that. I feel bad for them, but, hey, you can't save them all.

    Word travels really fast when you do this. It works out really well.
     
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  15. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    I've never thrown them out, but "sorry you feel that way, do what you think you must" is pretty much the attitude.
    On the other hand, we don't have people failing tests. Because we don't let them test till they're ready.
     
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  16. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    HEY!!!! I was kinda sorta one of those parents.......

    Back when my youngest was in TKD she had a promotional, did everything perfect and did not get the rank, when kids around her, who did considerably worse did get the rank. I was ex-TKD I know how it goes, I worked with her on what she needed and she did it as good as any small child at her age could have, but flunked the test. I was not a happy camper, I complained...a lot. Come to find out, her rank, at that school, had little to do with what was being done on the floor and more to do with something they called "Citizenship points". And how did they get those you ask, well I'll tell you. There was a sheet that the parents took home every month and put check marks on things they accomplished at home. Like make the bed, feed their pet, help out around the house, put their toys away..... I kid you not. No one told me about this, and I am absolutely convinced it was there for the parents who would threaten to pull their kids if they did not get a belt every single test.

    I was different, I was a martial artist and I was in TKD a long time ago. I told them then that was ridiculous and that I would fill them out for the every test here on out. But as soon as the contract was up (The only MA school I ever dealt with a contract) we were gone,

    She passed every test after that (had the required number if "Citizenship" points, and by the time the contract ended, even my youngest, who was still in single digit age, was very aware that the rest of the kids just didn't seem to get what it was about. She was happy to leave so we did. Found a GREAT Aikido school and the rest was history.

    Her first MA school, the TKD school, was beyond any shadow of a doubt, a McDojos, Also early on in the "Contract" talking with the head of the school, I mentioned I did TKD before. He asked me who I trained with. I think he was expecting me to say one of his many schools in the area. I told him Jae Hun Kim in Boston......that appeared to make him rather uncomfortable
     
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  17. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Yeah. But that is the worst recommendation for somewhere that is technically teaching a skill.

    I learned nothing but had fun is not seen as a positive review in education circles.
     
  18. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I like that "sorry you feel that way, do what you think you must" line. A lot, actually.
     
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  19. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Jae Kims, Boston. That brought back some memories. He's been there a long time, over forty years anyway. Always loved that dojo, Old School TKD.

    As for you, Xue, as a parent of a kid in my school, I think you would have loved it. Everybody knew when they joined that EVERYONE was going to flunk a test at one point or another - even if you deserved to pass. And when a test came everyone took the test, even if it was just for practice. It was always one of the hardest nights of the year, and by far the most fun.

    And, man, did I used to mess with them. Sometimes, in mid test when everyone was drenched in sweat, I'd have them in a ready stance and say "If you honestly believe you deserve to be promoted, please take one step forward."

    There was usually a seconds hesitation as I'm sure things were going through their mind. Then some would step forward and some would take the humble approach. And I'd say "Anyone who did not step forward please bow out and leave the dojo immediately, thanks for trying, see you tomorrow."

    Usually, the ones that stepped forward were the very best students. And they flunked. But hey, we practiced what we preached, which was - if you are interested in belts this is NOT the dojo for you.

    But perhaps my fondest memory of teaching was the first time I tested a group for Black Belt. This was unprecedented for me, I had never had more than one student ready for Shodan, suddenly I had six.

    So, the test was to commence at 5 A.M just to bust their balls, be there at 4:30 to warm up. They warmed up on their own. I bowed them in and the first thing was they were to jump up and grab the overhead ladder we used for chin ups. I told them to stay there hanging for as long as they could. That the first one to let go flunked and was to change and leave.

    I went over to the corner, sat down and read the newspaper. I figured they would be there for a while. And they were. But there were murmurs going on amongst them, which was allowed. I figured they were encouraging each other. They were not. They were plotting.

    After whatever amount of time had passed, one of them signalled and they all let go together, bowed out respectfully and left as a group.

    Man, that was awesome. They stuck together. Took my breadth away. I passed them all.
     
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  20. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    Agree. I can be a slippery slope if a budding school owner doesn't go into it with a good plan. Similar events are bound to happen sooner or later. We are dealing with people and they can be very unpredictable. Always best to know what you stand for and take the high road.
     
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