ATA experience

monkeyboy

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Hi new to the forum but ive been reading on here for awhile and my ATA experience seemed to have been slightly different from most of the posts on here so I figured id share it.

The school i went was a mcdojo just like most but the level of training seemed to be a bit higher. Don't get me wrong your belt testing was based on a contract and you tested every few months so you would never gain much experience in between. Actually the last belt i qualified for the never recieved due to refusing to renew my contract:D.

The average class started with maybe 12-20 minutes of warm up excercises followed by forms. We'd pair off and perform/eveluate each other and the instructor would go pair to pair and give tips or advice. Followed by step sparring. Wed review steps we already learned and learn a new one each week. Next wed spend time working on anything we needed the most help or practice with. Some days we learn new techniques, some days we would practice breaking or spar. The sparring was medium to heavy contact (or felt that way lol since we could only spar with older more experienced students).

AT the end of class and before the "advanced" class we could use to matts or dummies to practice what we wanted to or free spar with light contact. We also seemed to do more hand techniques than you might expect. Boxing style punches, knife hands and dragon fists primarily.

We also had no testing fees altho you were required to sign a contract for 150 a month. The training wasnt necessarily bad but there was two little of it between belt rankings and there was two much money involved. Altho the advanced class led to allot of arrogance that was based on very little skill and technique. Interestingly enough the school went out of business not to long after i left.
 

Daniel Sullivan

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Hi new to the forum but ive been reading on here for awhile and my ATA experience seemed to have been slightly different from most of the posts on here so I figured id share it.
Good to hear first hand information. :)

The school i went was a mcdojo just like most but the level of training seemed to be a bit higher. Don't get me wrong your belt testing was based on a contract and you tested every few months so you would never gain much experience in between. Actually the last belt i qualified for the never recieved due to refusing to renew my contract:D.
Just a comment on McDojos. McDojo is really a business model and is a separate matter from the quality of the training. However, like McDonalds, the emphasis on profitablility is generally higher than on the training.

The average class started with maybe 12-20 minutes of warm up excercises followed by forms. We'd pair off and perform/eveluate each other and the instructor would go pair to pair and give tips or advice. Followed by step sparring. Wed review steps we already learned and learn a new one each week. Next wed spend time working on anything we needed the most help or practice with. Some days we learn new techniques, some days we would practice breaking or spar. The sparring was medium to heavy contact (or felt that way lol since we could only spar with older more experienced students).

AT the end of class and before the "advanced" class we could use to matts or dummies to practice what we wanted to or free spar with light contact. We also seemed to do more hand techniques than you might expect. Boxing style punches, knife hands and dragon fists primarily.
That doesn't sound like a bad class, though I don't evaluate classes I haven't attended. As for what I'd expect with regards to hand techniques, I've never trained in Songahm taekwondo, so I have no predetermined expectation.

We also had no testing fees altho you were required to sign a contract for 150 a month. The training wasnt necessarily bad but there was two little of it between belt rankings and there was two much money involved. Altho the advanced class led to allot of arrogance that was based on very little skill and technique. Interestingly enough the school went out of business not to long after i left.
Given how many gradings I hear the ATA has, I wouldn't expect a lot of new material between them. I will say that 150 a month with no testing fees would actually be pretty good in my area.
 

sfs982000

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Being an ATA student I've also read alot of negative comments about the organization itself, but my experience with my school on the whole has been positive. My school does contracts as well as individual testing fees, which after scoping out the other schools in my area seemed to be standard practice. Our instructor changed our classes up about 6-7 months ago where if the date was a even number we concentrated on forms that night or if it was an odd number we worked on sparring/breaking. We still have a dedicated sparring class on Friday nights as well. I love the new set up since it can be hard for me to make the Friday night sparring class I still get my sparring in during another class during the week.
 

Kframe

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I have a question for sfs982000 In the ata, what amount of class time is spent on step sparring and the more general self defense stuff?? Hoshinsul I think is called? How long were the class's? Can you refuse to test, if you feel that you want more time in rank?

With regards to your self defense, how did you feel it rated? Did the techniques seam like common sense? Do they emphasize power generation at all with regards to the round kick, or is it the snappy powerless version?

I have heard nothing but crap on the ATA but I am starting to respect them due to there work with disabled kids. (just my opinion, I don't want to derail this thread with that)
 

Balrog

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Kframe, I'll answer that for my school if I may. We teach one-steps as a transitional utility, getting people ready for sparring and teaching them about timing, distancing and control. We teach that all of our techniques are grounded in self-defense, and we show the practical application of the moves, so that people are not just memorizing them like a dance routine. We also do generic self-defense, where we teach a common response to an attack coming into a specific quadrant. That way, the student can simply respond to the attack and after they have blocked and countered, they can then end the defense based on the attack. For example, the ending would be different for an attack in quadrant one with a punch as opposed to a knife.

The hardest part of testing in my school is getting my permission to test. I won't let a student go out on the floor to test if both he and I don't agree that he is ready for the next rank. Yeah, sometimes we'll both think he's ready and he has a bad hair day at testing and doesn't promote, but that's part of learning. You face the challenge and overcome the adversity.

I agree with you that there is a lot of crap out there about the ATA and sadly, in some schools, it's accurate. In any large group of people, you are always going to have some folks under the left end of the bell curve and it seems like they are the ones that get the attention. But a lot of the stuff that I have seen posted about ATA is flat wrong, and it was posted by people who either knew nothing about ATA, or people who had washed out of ATA.

I hope I answered your questions. If I didn't, let me know and I'll try again!
 
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monkeyboy

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"Just a comment on McDojos. McDojo is really a business model and is a separate matter from the quality of the training. However, like McDonalds, the emphasis on profitablility is generally higher than on the training."

belt factory might have been a more appropriate term. Two months between each test, you technically weren't required to take it although the contract was for 6 months and was meant to cover the first three belts. 2 year black belts were fairly common. 150 a month for my area is quite high, the average for my area is 60-110. The highest ive seen is team irish mma school and as far as i can remember its 120 a month, or you can pay by the day, week or month. IT also covers 5 days a week, usually more than one session a day.

As far as one step sparring as far as i remember we learned 1-2 step forms a belt, most werent the greatest as far as realistic self defense goes.
 

Kframe

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Balrog, thank you sir. You managed to cover almost all of my questions. Again thank you. I One thing though, is regarding kicking. Does the ATA focus its kicks more on speed and less on power or Power over speed, or a say a balance of good power and good speed?

I thought of some other questions for you. You mention that in your self defense you teach about defending quadrants. I was hoping you could expand on that concept. I have heard of similar things in other arts. With regards to fighting and not Olympic style(or what ever rules heavy sparring you guys have) , what kind of Fight stance and guard(the placement of the hands) does the ATA teach? I know that its not that important but im on a personal quest to find a better guard for my fighting stance. Currently high and tight and I want to experiment with something longer and looser..
 

Daniel Sullivan

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"Just a comment on McDojos. McDojo is really a business model and is a separate matter from the quality of the training. However, like McDonalds, the emphasis on profitablility is generally higher than on the training."

belt factory might have been a more appropriate term.

The one frequently leads to the other, unfortunately.

Two months between each test, you technically weren't required to take it although the contract was for 6 months and was meant to cover the first three belts. 2 year black belts were fairly common. 150 a month for my area is quite high, the average for my area is 60-110. The highest ive seen is team irish mma school and as far as i can remember its 120 a month, or you can pay by the day, week or month. IT also covers 5 days a week, usually more than one session a day.
Sounds familiar, given my area. As for length of time to BB, in Korea, average time to black belt is one year and the first dan is viewed as barely more than a raw beginner. I have no idea what kind of money is involved over there, though.

As far as one step sparring as far as i remember we learned 1-2 step forms a belt, most werent the greatest as far as realistic self defense goes.
There are lots of debates on this forum about step sparring. Some feel that it is useless, other feel that it is essential. And then there's everything in between.

I still like the fries.
So do I, but ever since they changed their cooking oil formula, they haven't been quite the same.
 

Balrog

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Balrog, thank you sir. You managed to cover almost all of my questions. Again thank you. I One thing though, is regarding kicking. Does the ATA focus its kicks more on speed and less on power or Power over speed, or a say a balance of good power and good speed?

I thought of some other questions for you. You mention that in your self defense you teach about defending quadrants. I was hoping you could expand on that concept. I have heard of similar things in other arts. With regards to fighting and not Olympic style(or what ever rules heavy sparring you guys have) , what kind of Fight stance and guard(the placement of the hands) does the ATA teach? I know that its not that important but im on a personal quest to find a better guard for my fighting stance. Currently high and tight and I want to experiment with something longer and looser..

Okay, let me try to explain this without a live student to use as my guinea pig. :)

If you can, go stand in front of a mirror. Visualize a line parallel to the floor at your belt level. Extend your arms straight out to the side. Now, your spine is the center line; visualize it extending down to the floor and up to the ceiling. From your point of view, quadrant 1 is the area defined by the left arm and the spine, above the shoulder. Quadrant 2 is defined as the area defined by the left arm and the spine, below the shoulder down to the belt line.
Quadrants 3 and 4 are the same, but we use the right arm, above and below.

The hands should be up in guard and the dominant foot should be back, kinda like a boxer's stance. An attack coming into quadrant 1 can be answered by evasion or blocking, but in either case, there should be a counter-attack to break the opponent's focus. For example, suppose the opponent throws the old haymaker with his right, coming into your quadrant 1. You might block it with an outer forearm block, controlling the arm, combined with an almost simultaneous palm heel strike to the nose (and hopefully, your fingertips will get him in the eyes as you do). You might follow with an elbow to the jaw, followed by a brachial stun.

Now suppose the attack is a knife slash into quadrant 1, or an attack with a stick. The response would be pretty much the same, but we would end with a strip disarm, because there is a weapon involved and we want to gain control of the weapon, or at least make sure the opponent doesn't have control of it.

For the sport aspect, it works pretty much the same way. However, the palmheel to the face would probably be replaced with a kick as a countermeasure.

A good way to practice this would be to do it in front of a mirror so you can see where your hands are going. Once you gain confidence and your timing improves, have a partner punch at you with one hand while holding a target pad next to his head. Practice the block and counter at about half-speed, again gaining confidence in the timing, then slowly increase the speed of the attack and the defense until you are airing it out. To make it a little more realistic, have your opponent use a pad or a porkchop blocker on the attacking hand. If you miss the block, you're gonna get popped and it doesn't take too many of those and you quit missing your blocks! :)

Hope that helps.
 

Balrog

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Sounds familiar, given my area. As for length of time to BB, in Korea, average time to black belt is one year and the first dan is viewed as barely more than a raw beginner.

And that is the way it should be considered. The entire journey from White Belt to Black Belt is all about learning the basics of Taekwondo (or whatever your style is) and can be likened to graduating from high school. Once you make First Degree, now you can go to college and start learning the art of Taekwondo (or whatever).
 

Jaeimseu

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The one frequently leads to the other, unfortunately.


Sounds familiar, given my area. As for length of time to BB, in Korea, average time to black belt is one year and the first dan is viewed as barely more than a raw beginner. I have no idea what kind of money is involved over there though.

I can only speak for our dojang, but I would imagine we are fairly typical. Our colored belt tests are 15,000₩, which is under $15. Dan grades cost the Kukkiwon fee. There may be a small additional charge to cover the belt cost, but I'm not sure. I didn't pay any additional fees for my last grading.

Haha, I just realized this isn't the thread I thought it was. Anyway, our monthly fees are around 120,000₩ - 150,000₩ for colored belts. Black belts get a discount and teaching grades (over 4th dan) get a bigger discount.
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sfs982000

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I have a question for sfs982000 In the ata, what amount of class time is spent on step sparring and the more general self defense stuff?? Hoshinsul I think is called? How long were the class's? Can you refuse to test, if you feel that you want more time in rank?

With regards to your self defense, how did you feel it rated? Did the techniques seam like common sense? Do they emphasize power generation at all with regards to the round kick, or is it the snappy powerless version?

I have heard nothing but crap on the ATA but I am starting to respect them due to there work with disabled kids. (just my opinion, I don't want to derail this thread with that)

I think Balrog summed things up pretty good, but I'll throw my 2 cents in from how we do things at my school. One-step sparring/sparring segments are done from white belt through blue belt and the amount of time varies as to how much time is spent on them. Prior to changes being made to how the material is taught there were some classes that we spent the majority of time working on one-steps/sparring segments (part of the time working on them for memorization and then the other part was utilization). Our typical class length is between 45-60 minutes, occasionally longer. I have skipped testing because I felt I wasn't ready and as Balrog pointed out, my instructor will not give an individual permission unless he feels they're ready. Ultimately it's the member's decision to test or not.
When we do self defense training I feel that it's beneficial, but I just wished that we actually did more of it or actually had a seperate class that we could attend to concentrate on that area. I've been taught both the snappy roundhouse kick as well as the lower level, power generated kick. The snappy roundhouse we use for forms only cause it does look better.
Like I said before the overall view of the ATA I saw was pretty negative, but my personally experience has been great.
 

Daniel Sullivan

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You want to.learn self defense? Stay away from the ATA.
If you want to learn self defense that you can effectively use in less than two to five years, stay away from the martial arts in general. I have no personal experience with the ATA, but the teaching pedagogy of most martial arts is not geared towards making you proficient in defending yourself quickly. Most martial arts will bring you up to speed, but are also about teaching you that art's way of thinking, philosophy, and usually some cultural specifics. After one has mastered (become proficient in) the basics, they are generally fairly solid, but that usually takes at least a couple of years, usually more than that depending on the art.
 

msmitht

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And your basis for that statement is.....?
I've personally seen what they teach in color belt and Bb curriculum. Most of it would get a person into worse trouble. Plus they never do it with resistance. My best friends sons go to an ATA school that has been best in us since 2002(for ATA). After 19 months of training I went to watch his oldest test for black belt. Kicks OK but no power except for an over rotated back kick. One armed blocks(no pull/push or crossing) were the norm. Cool nunchaku forms but all stances were over exaggerated. Self defense was more of a demo where the attacker would fall before they were thrown and most techniques would never work against a resisting opponent, trained or untrained.
Most tkd schools, wtf and ITF included, are lacking In self defense that works.
BTW, everyone passed the test including 4, 6yo kids that couldn't remember their forms, stances or self defense. Heard it cost them 750 each too.
 

Kframe

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I've personally seen what they teach in color belt and Bb curriculum. Most of it would get a person into worse trouble. Plus they never do it with resistance. My best friends sons go to an ATA school that has been best in us since 2002(for ATA). After 19 months of training I went to watch his oldest test for black belt. Kicks OK but no power except for an over rotated back kick. One armed blocks(no pull/push or crossing) were the norm. Cool nunchaku forms but all stances were over exaggerated. Self defense was more of a demo where the attacker would fall before they were thrown and most techniques would never work against a resisting opponent, trained or untrained.
Most tkd schools, wtf and ITF included, are lacking In self defense that works.
BTW, everyone passed the test including 4, 6yo kids that couldn't remember their forms, stances or self defense. Heard it cost them 750 each too.

I just wanted to address one aspect of this post. That is the denegration of one armed blocks. I follow the blogger Dan Djurdjevic and he touch's on this subject. I feel and so does he apparently, that using just the primary motion is perfectly acceptable. As I posted in the other thread on blocking, you can use either the primary or the secondary motion of the block(I prefer interception) to defend the incoming attack. In his blog, he postulates that the formal basic way of training it, the whole cross your arms and 2 separate motions for the defense are not actually meant to be used in a actual self defense situation. That it was formulated that way so that they could be practiced repeatedly quickly. Honestly I think if you go to the blocking thread and watch the videos I posted, I think you will see what im talking about. For that is very close to how I am taught it.

Still I find no fault with one armed blocking, and in fact is how I am taught it. My teacher has a extensive karate background and decided after doing things the military way to change the way he teaches the material. We don't do the formal 2 movement exaggerated drill, instead, we get shown the primary and secondary way to use it, then he starts attacking us in the ways it is intended to be used. Sweet and simple.

Look there are crap schools in every discipline. You cant denigrate a entire Organization for the bad apples. Balrog is clearly an example of a excellent instructor regardless of org and art. People get bent out of shape here when someone says to avoid the KKW for there self defense needs, or that they are poor for self defense. The same regard should be given the ATA.
 

Balrog

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BTW, everyone passed the test including 4, 6yo kids that couldn't remember their forms, stances or self defense. Heard it cost them 750 each too.
$750 for a belt test? I gotta raise my rates again.

That school does not sound typical for an ATA school. As I mentioned earlier, you're gonna have some schools under the left end of the bell curve in any organization, and you may have had the misfortune to encounter one. If so, I'm sorry. But your blanket statement:

Most tkd schools, wtf and ITF included, are lacking In self defense that works.

is painting with a broad brush. Have you seen most TKD schools? Or are you simply basing that statement on having seen one or two?

Oh, and by the way, one-armed blocks are perfectly valid.


 

Balrog

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Balrog is clearly an example of a excellent instructor regardless of org and art. People get bent out of shape here when someone says to avoid the KKW for there self defense needs, or that they are poor for self defense. The same regard should be given the ATA.
<bowing while typing>

Thank you. I appreciate the kind statement.
 
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