Hey there. I am a martial artist of 12 + years in my 20's with almost 9 of years being some degree of teaching. I have recently retired from teaching as I have decided to move on and enter into new fields. Being a new dad is one of them. I'm seeking a new take on things that have been weighing very heavy on my mind. let me begin. The last two years were very tough for me even though some good things were happening. I tested and received my Third Degree Black in our system and 6 months later was given the official title of Sensei As well. This Title in my Dojo held only for long term teachers who have proven themselves worthy of high regard among our circle schools. This time was hard however, because I was really beginning to question my abilities and the methods that were used to build them. We practice a known type of american karate with the addition of a number of different disciplines. It is it's own mixed "style". We focus hard on memorizing long, scripted, and often very complicated "self-Defense" Techniques, and many forms or Kata. I became a top performer in what I now call Regurgitating. I feel as though I don't have what I would call Ad lib skills or real time Sparing/combat skills. This was an area rarely discussed or practiced. When this topic was touched on or we would "train" it, we would do about three or four rounds lasting about 30 seconds at best. Enough time for one punch or kick to be thrown. Me being a younger man, I liked to push my self and others too. When I could I would have my students spar safely but effort and focus as well. I felt that The ability to experience being tired and/ adrenaline while making decisions and movements was important. As time passed while teaching there and the standards for what it took for our students to pass their "tests" lowered or my opinion and knowledge of the subject grew, I became more and more disconnected and even disgusted with my school and myself. The amount of students that "earned their Black Belts without having any actual ability or ever having shown any real effort in any areas was killing me. I began to see this falseness even more in my self. I was good at coming up with ideas for drills, for workouts, for marketing, for all kinds of things. I liked to problem solve and come up with solutions. Realism is something that for me, is a must have. That's why I could see certain problems. I tried hard not to shy away from the truth no matter how hard, or disappointing it was. I'ts what helped me be a good teacher. This is where problems grew. I started asking tough questions related to training and our school philosophy. Questions like what if this happens or what if my attacker doesn't react like the techniques says he will? What about adrenaline? what about mental and physical toughness? what about reaction time or what about Cadio and breathing. I was told That I was just to young and naive. When the subject of kata was brought to my teachers my attention. I asked the mother of all questions. Why? What is the point? I was given a few shallow and cookie cutter answers like, kata is meant to help you practice without a partner, to train your memory, to improve fluidity of motion, to visualize the techniques. I personally know more ways that kata can be beneficial but neither these answered or my own were ever given out. I had to dig and interview my teacher to get them. I would ask my this question once. " Could it be said that the time spent practicing Kata and other things be better spent training something else?" My answer was yes!!!! There are so many ways to do all that was said about kata and mre with different methods.When I stated how I felt, I was told that I just didn't understand the system. The long thought out and trial and error based conclusion is that we were practicing not for Self-Defense like we advertised, or for the betterment of the students and not to be the "best of the best" like our school chant said but, to preserve the traditions of old and to sell memberships. We did things the same without innovation or consideration of changing times. The world is changing and we were literally training by the same scripts from a select few figure heads from the recent past. Having said this to my direct teacher who I love and respect, I was told " sometimes we have to practice what (Anounamous) said because obviously he knew better then we do, so we have to practice blindly without knowing why". That statement hit me harder then any and the effect it had on me still lasts. It is by definition the meaning of the word cult. I was later informed how my perception was that Martial Arts is all about "violence" and that my movies for training were wrong. I don't think this at all. There are far too many good things that MA teaches and I do not over look them. Respect, perseverance, humility, confidence, health Etc.. are all framed exampled in my school. They just were never used to their full potential or at really. Heightening ability and overcoming challenges is what I would argue is what creates confidence in students and with the encouragement of a leader or teacher, the effect can be ten fold more. Violence however is a factor. It's real it's push upon us all the time. I feel that a student should know that and be able to handle it or you cant say that you teach "self-Defense" or combat. Understanding of the nature of violence is impalpable for a "Black Belt". To me failure can be the biggest teacher and motivator if used correctly by a gracious but real teacher. Failure wast an option as I was reminded at every fake test. It wast not do to us not excepting failure but the opposite. Failure meant that a student was more like to quit and stop paying. This meant that no matter how lazy, n focused, disrespectful or unknowlegible of the material a student was, we were to find a way to pass them. I could not do it any more. I even wrote to the owner and master instructor of the school and told him in detail and with with respectful words how I was feeling and asked for something to ease my mind. I didn't receive it. Instead I heard excuses for why we do things the way we do. Nothing got better, but my disappointment hit a new level. I still love martial arts but I cant hold back my anger to my personal experience with it. Don't get me wrong, there was also a great deal of good things I and many gained from their time there. The leaders just seam to refuse the to evolve, to innovate, change. I may be young but I have been told that I am an old soul, I love history, I love philosophy, but I also love the realness and rawness of what exists in martial arts. I earn for change and innovation in myself and my training. The last question I'll mention is one I ask my self. Would this school be one that you would take your doughtier to? My answer would have to be no. My personal View what the best school type for training is one where we hold certain valuers and respect of a tradition dojo with the realism and tested methods of a Combat Gym. They are neither. I feel as though I am mostly fake as a teacher and as a artist myself. I feel that I should wash my hands and move on to better things. What do your think? Please give me your respectful opinions. Any info would be appreciated.