ATA Diamond in the Rough?

WhiteBeltNoStripe

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I believe I may have stumbled upon one of the rarely seen "good" ATA schools here in Central Florida. I've been out of training for quite some time, though always looking. I've recently decided I'm not getting any younger and decided it was time to get back in a dojo. I contacted the school and had a great conversation with the owner. He answered all the "tough" questions about pricing, testing, fees, the program...He was not shy and I felt he understood why I was asking as the ATA can be known for some nonsense in their business practices. Anyway, I attended an adult class last week and was shocked truthfully. They have the typical Leadership and Black Belt Club extras for the kids as they all do, which is fine, whatever. As long as the kids do gain an extra benefit from these programs, I have no problem with them. The class I attended was full of people, which surprised me. There was roughly 20 or so people training, most adults with a few teens. The 3 or 4 teens were there to train, paid attention and worked hard. The class consisted of a warm-up, some kicking drills, some evasion drills, rotating sparring between everyone in class, and some individual forms training, four at a time as they had testing this weekend, so he was giving them all one last look over. I was impressed with the sparring as they were going pretty hard and was not at all what I thought it would be. The owner, a sixth dan was assisted by his lead instructor a 5th dan as well as an assistant instructor, a 2nd dan. It was nice to see so much experience and knowledge leading the class, which I feel also is rare. The owner has been training for 38 years and I believe said he has been with ATA for 36. He explained to me with regular attendance and testing, one could expect to reach black in 3.5-4 years, which also surprised me. As we all know ATA are known to be black belt factories, but with that timeline, this school does not seem to operate in the same fashion. All in all I was highly impressed and as much as I never thought I would say this, I joined.
 

skribs

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I always say it's not the art, it's the school. Or sometimes (like this) it's not the style/lineage, it's the school.

A lot of people will say that because ATA has poor quality control, you can't find a good ATA school. It doesn't mean you can't find a good one, just means you're more likely to find a bad one.
 
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WhiteBeltNoStripe

WhiteBeltNoStripe

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I always say it's not the art, it's the school. Or sometimes (like this) it's not the style/lineage, it's the school.

A lot of people will say that because ATA has poor quality control, you can't find a good ATA school. It doesn't mean you can't find a good one, just means you're more likely to find a bad one.
Agreed.
 

Azulx

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I believe I may have stumbled upon one of the rarely seen "good" ATA schools here in Central Florida. I've been out of training for quite some time, though always looking. I've recently decided I'm not getting any younger and decided it was time to get back in a dojo. I contacted the school and had a great conversation with the owner. He answered all the "tough" questions about pricing, testing, fees, the program...He was not shy and I felt he understood why I was asking as the ATA can be known for some nonsense in their business practices. Anyway, I attended an adult class last week and was shocked truthfully. They have the typical Leadership and Black Belt Club extras for the kids as they all do, which is fine, whatever. As long as the kids do gain an extra benefit from these programs, I have no problem with them. The class I attended was full of people, which surprised me. There was roughly 20 or so people training, most adults with a few teens. The 3 or 4 teens were there to train, paid attention and worked hard. The class consisted of a warm-up, some kicking drills, some evasion drills, rotating sparring between everyone in class, and some individual forms training, four at a time as they had testing this weekend, so he was giving them all one last look over. I was impressed with the sparring as they were going pretty hard and was not at all what I thought it would be. The owner, a sixth dan was assisted by his lead instructor a 5th dan as well as an assistant instructor, a 2nd dan. It was nice to see so much experience and knowledge leading the class, which I feel also is rare. The owner has been training for 38 years and I believe said he has been with ATA for 36. He explained to me with regular attendance and testing, one could expect to reach black in 3.5-4 years, which also surprised me. As we all know ATA are known to be black belt factories, but with that timeline, this school does not seem to operate in the same fashion. All in all I was highly impressed and as much as I never thought I would say this, I joined.
I joined an ATA school about 4 months ago and really enjoy it. Will admit I was skeptical at first, but instructors/owners are super cool people that have been nothing but understanding and respectful to me.
 

Balrog

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I believe I may have stumbled upon one of the rarely seen "good" ATA schools here in Central Florida. I've been out of training for quite some time, though always looking. I've recently decided I'm not getting any younger and decided it was time to get back in a dojo. I contacted the school and had a great conversation with the owner. He answered all the "tough" questions about pricing, testing, fees, the program...He was not shy and I felt he understood why I was asking as the ATA can be known for some nonsense in their business practices. Anyway, I attended an adult class last week and was shocked truthfully. They have the typical Leadership and Black Belt Club extras for the kids as they all do, which is fine, whatever. As long as the kids do gain an extra benefit from these programs, I have no problem with them. The class I attended was full of people, which surprised me. There was roughly 20 or so people training, most adults with a few teens. The 3 or 4 teens were there to train, paid attention and worked hard. The class consisted of a warm-up, some kicking drills, some evasion drills, rotating sparring between everyone in class, and some individual forms training, four at a time as they had testing this weekend, so he was giving them all one last look over. I was impressed with the sparring as they were going pretty hard and was not at all what I thought it would be. The owner, a sixth dan was assisted by his lead instructor a 5th dan as well as an assistant instructor, a 2nd dan. It was nice to see so much experience and knowledge leading the class, which I feel also is rare. The owner has been training for 38 years and I believe said he has been with ATA for 36. He explained to me with regular attendance and testing, one could expect to reach black in 3.5-4 years, which also surprised me. As we all know ATA are known to be black belt factories, but with that timeline, this school does not seem to operate in the same fashion. All in all I was highly impressed and as much as I never thought I would say this, I joined.
I think that, as you continue to train, you will find that your initial ideas about ATA were totally wrong. Things like
the ATA can be known for some nonsense in their business practices
and
rarely seen "good" ATA schools
If an ATA school is not good, it's not around for very long. We train the hell out of our instructors to teach quality martial arts. Yes, just like any large group, there will be a few that are under the left end of the bell curve, and just like any other large group, they are the ones who pee in the pool for the rest of us.

Welcome to the ATA and I wish you success in your training!
 

Balrog

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A lot of people will say that because ATA has poor quality control, you can't find a good ATA school.
And a lot of people will be wrong. We have to recertify as instructors on a regular basis. ATA trains us to teach quality martial arts and they train us hard!
 

skribs

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If an ATA school is not good, it's not around for very long. We train the hell out of our instructors to teach quality martial arts. Yes, just like any large group, there will be a few that are under the left end of the bell curve, and just like any other large group, they are the ones who pee in the pool for the rest of us.

And a lot of people will be wrong. We have to recertify as instructors on a regular basis. ATA trains us to teach quality martial arts and they train us hard!
I don't have any personal experience with ATA. I just know that within the TKD community (both online and offline), ATA is seen as being full of McDojos. As an example, a friend of mine is 3rd Dan in KKW and 4th Dan in ATA, and numerous people have told him that means he's a 3rd Dan in TKD. Even that friend has said the biggest thing ATA has is a large number of forms that each have a large number of techniques.

If it has such a widespread reputation of having McDojos within the art that has the same, then one of three things are possible:
  1. This reputation is unearned.
  2. This reputation is earned because there is poor quality control.
  3. This reputation is earned because McDojo is the standard for an ATA school.
I struck out number two because of your assertation that it is not a quality control problem. That just leaves us with #1 and #3. Out of curiosity, do you have some frame of reference to compare ATA to other styles of TKD? (Either by your own experience training them, by experience competing in tournaments, etc.)
 

Azulx

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I don't have any personal experience with ATA. I just know that within the TKD community (both online and offline), ATA is seen as being full of McDojos. As an example, a friend of mine is 3rd Dan in KKW and 4th Dan in ATA, and numerous people have told him that means he's a 3rd Dan in TKD. Even that friend has said the biggest thing ATA has is a large number of forms that each have a large number of techniques.

If it has such a widespread reputation of having McDojos within the art that has the same, then one of three things are possible:
  1. This reputation is unearned.
  2. This reputation is earned because there is poor quality control.
  3. This reputation is earned because McDojo is the standard for an ATA school.
I struck out number two because of your assertation that it is not a quality control problem. That just leaves us with #1 and #3. Out of curiosity, do you have some frame of reference to compare ATA to other styles of TKD? (Either by your own experience training them, by experience competing in tournaments, etc.)

I think franchise schools gets a bad rep because there are so many of them. I've been at an ATA school for about 4 months and I had trained somewhere else previously for about 5 years. One of the big differences I see is that these schools are more family oriented. Lots of kids and most adults that are signed up are parents. So you're not going to get a lot of people looking to learn how to fight. They are looking more for an opportunity to stay active with their families. Now with that being said, the instructors know a lot and should be invested in providing you with an experience that you find worth it. For me it is to get better at TKD, so I want my forms to improve my technique to improve, I want to get better at sparring etc. ATA instructors can definitely do that, but again those are my goals and no one else's.

I have also taken trial classes at TigerRock Franchise, an ATA offshoot that's become its own thing. Same thing, lots of kids and parents. That doesn't mean that there isn't talent at these schools. It's just what their membership looks like.
 

skribs

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I think franchise schools gets a bad rep because there are so many of them. I've been at an ATA school for about 4 months and I had trained somewhere else previously for about 5 years. One of the big differences I see is that these schools are more family oriented. Lots of kids and most adults that are signed up are parents. So you're not going to get a lot of people looking to learn how to fight. They are looking more for an opportunity to stay active with their families. Now with that being said, the instructors know a lot and should be invested in providing you with an experience that you find worth it. For me it is to get better at TKD, so I want my forms to improve my technique to improve, I want to get better at sparring etc. ATA instructors can definitely do that, but again those are my goals and no one else's.

I have also taken trial classes at TigerRock Franchise, an ATA offshoot that's become its own thing. Same thing, lots of kids and parents. That doesn't mean that there isn't talent at these schools. It's just what their membership looks like.
This is part of why I particularly singled out the opinions of TKD guys. I know TKD takes a little bit more accessible approach to striking than the combat sports. It's actually one of the reasons I like it. My philosophy is: what purpose does the self-defense serve if you're getting concussions in training?

But the thing is, my experience with KKW schools has been the same. An MMA guy will look at both a KKW and an ATA school and go "McDojo." But a KKW person will look at an ATA school and go "McDojo." This suggests to me that ATA is further on that spectrum.
 

Dirty Dog

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But the thing is, my experience with KKW schools has been the same. An MMA guy will look at both a KKW and an ATA school and go "McDojo." But a KKW person will look at an ATA school and go "McDojo." This suggests to me that ATA is further on that spectrum.
All that really suggests is that students tend to assume their own school is not a McDojo. Even if others might well see it as one.
 

skribs

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All that really suggests is that students tend to assume their own school is not a McDojo. Even if others might well see it as one.
I don't see the same thing from KKW to ITF or to the other Kwans. I know my Master was not fond of ITF because he hated North Korea, but he never suggested their training was bad.
 

Balrog

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I don't have any personal experience with ATA. I just know that within the TKD community (both online and offline), ATA is seen as being full of McDojos.
In my experience, most of the people claiming that are either people who washed out of ATA or never trained in ATA but ran schools in competition with an ATA school.
or
If it has such a widespread reputation of having McDojos within the art that has the same, then one of three things are possible:
  1. This reputation is unearned.
  2. This reputation is earned because there is poor quality control.
  3. This reputation is earned because McDojo is the standard for an ATA school.
I struck out number two because of your assertation that it is not a quality control problem. That just leaves us with #1 and #3. Out of curiosity, do you have some frame of reference to compare ATA to other styles of TKD? (Either by your own expernce training them, by experience competing in tournaments, etc.)
I trained in another style of TKD when I was younger. I've also worked out in other schools before I joined ATA. None of the schools were as well run as an ATA school. That is quite possibly because ATA not only trains us as instructors, it teaches us how to run a business successfully, as well as providing tons of assistance in the background.

You can scratch #3 as well.
 
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