Calling Somebody's Dojo A McDojo Is Offensive

MetalBoar

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From my experience and explanation from my insurers there is very little difference in liability (cost or limits) for a gym (weight room), an aerobics class, a wrestling/rolling gym, a rec league soccer team (unit cost), or a dojo/dojang. If there is physical contact or potential to do self-harm (lifting weights) while engaged with equipment or another person, it is all the same as far as the insurer is concerned. At that point it becomes a head count for determining cost.
We do have an additional rider policy for tournament competitors. Just goes with the territory but cost very little.

FWIW, I have had something like a dozen claims over the course of my 35 years of school ownership and have never had a policy increase due to a claim.
Relationships, reputation, and credibility and still words that carry weight. It is definitely an ongoing process.
Interesting. I was shocked by how cheap extremely comprehensive insurance was for a strength training gym. I don't know what a MA gym would have to pay, but I know insurance was the one expense I just didn't even have to think about it was so cheap. The insurance company I used had a good reputation and I assume they'd have paid out if I had an issue but never had to test it in over 12 years.

The one question they kept asking me when I first enrolled with them, over and over and in different ways, just to make sure, was how many tanning beds I had. I didn't have any and after they finally took that for an answer they explicitly said "Well, if you DO have any tanning beds that isn't covered and we'll drop you if we find out." I'd never used a tanning bed before that and after the level of paranoia the insurance agency had around them I'd be scared to do so now!
 

KenpoMaster805

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I think I know why some people called it McDojo because of they way they teach and promote people but it still not right to call them mcdojo they just making it easier for the people.
 

dvcochran

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Interesting. I was shocked by how cheap extremely comprehensive insurance was for a strength training gym. I don't know what a MA gym would have to pay, but I know insurance was the one expense I just didn't even have to think about it was so cheap. The insurance company I used had a good reputation and I assume they'd have paid out if I had an issue but never had to test it in over 12 years.

The one question they kept asking me when I first enrolled with them, over and over and in different ways, just to make sure, was how many tanning beds I had. I didn't have any and after they finally took that for an answer they explicitly said "Well, if you DO have any tanning beds that isn't covered and we'll drop you if we find out." I'd never used a tanning bed before that and after the level of paranoia the insurance agency had around them I'd be scared to do so now!
True. Insurance is not a huge financial component for me. Just a part of doing business.
Funny about the tanning beds. I would have never thought of that. I wonder if it was liability for the actual beds or from people using them?
 

MetalBoar

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True. Insurance is not a huge financial component for me. Just a part of doing business.
Funny about the tanning beds. I would have never thought of that. I wonder if it was liability for the actual beds or from people using them?
That's a good question. I didn't ask what the issue was because I knew I never planned to have any and I just wanted them to drop it and move on but I have been curious!
 

Cynik75

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Calling somebody else's dojo a mcdojo, on this forum or anywhere else, I would like to point out that's very offensive. A dojo where somebody has invested their time and dedication, to bash their dojo is very bad manners..
So what? Truth sometimes hurts.
BTW Time and dedication can be invested in MC Dojo too.
 

lklawson

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Again, we are no longer referring to training facilities, we are discussing, "styles",

Wait... You're claiming that a boxing club isn't a training facility? Are you sure you want to go with that?


and substituting "Club" for "team"? Why is there a difference? When I fought professionally (stables, those were called), there were rules and regulations on protective equipment, because these are sports. When rules are being enforced for the sake of safety, how does that translate to the world outside? It doesn't; besides easily being some of the best conditioning I have ever received. I have been in the ring with Champions, and neither of us ever thought about having to apply it to the streets.
And here we go. Another sport versus Street thing. Boring. Seen it 100,000 times. It's always the same thing over and over again people pretend there are differences that make a difference. But most of the time the differences don't make a difference.

Got to do better than that.

I have exposed myself to a lot of conflict, after much use of your fundamentals your response flows with the moment. There are good training schools where the basics of an art can be acquired, but those masters are crafty about who gets through that door. But I find them fewer and fewer, sunk into easily hidden corners of big cities. More to the point of your portion of this question, when I trained PKA, we had a very nice gym (for a gym) with two regulation rings, always busy. Incidentally, when I was in "Thai" (Thailand) we enjoyed the spectacle of the sport, but most of those real fighters learned it in the streets the hard way. There is no school like that here in the land of lawyers.
The rest of this goes does not go to your argument and does not refute my point.

The simple fact is, there are plenty of places to train in martial arts that don't seem to be worried about students suing them for getting an owie.

Peace favor your sword (mobile)
 

lklawson

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Well, if it is going on in the community and not just an online discussion forum, then it could be directly harmful to the training group. Particularly for beginners who lack the experience to really know how to judge something good from something bad, this kind of thing could undermine their confidence in the instructor, even if there is no reason for it. Perhaps someone has a vindictive agenda and simply wants to hurt a rivals program, even if the accusations have no merit.

Online, it is pretty easy to shrug off most of the nonsense. But if someone is deliberately trying to hurt ones good name and reputation in the community, it is harder to ignore.
I've seen that sort of thing tried. Never saw the person use the word mcdojo. They talked about the supposed low quality of instruction, the supposed low rank and skill of the instructor, but they didn't use that word. Probably, I guess, because most of the people who would be vulnerable to that sort of libelous discussion don't know the word.

Peace favor your sword (mobile)
 

Gerry Seymour

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Now define what a McDojo is and get everyone to agree with your definition.

Or... you could just throw up your hands and realize that some people are going to be offended, regardless.
And that some people choose to be offensive. I think some folks throw around terms like "McDojo" to troll. They don't even know what they mean, and don't really care. They just want to get a rise out of someone.
 

Gerry Seymour

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What if the dojo in question ticks off every box in the definition of a McDojo? Does it now become offensive to tell the truth? Should we encourage people to continue to work hard towards their 17th belt on the way to black belt mastery? Should we point out the fuchsia camo belt is not really traditional in Korean Shaolin Kung fu?
We'd have to figure out what the heck that term means before we can even approach that. I've heard it used to indicate poor training, or to indicate that it's part of a chain of very similar schools (which I think is the original meaning, but I may be wrong). The latter may or may not have poor training.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I think business model and goals for the style matter. I picked a couple that I'm pretty familiar with, which is why they happen to be grappling arts.

That said, I think you kind of skirted the question. If a person joins the wrestling club or team to learn how to wrestle, do you think the instructors/coaches run into the issues you describe? What about other styles?

For my part, I think it depends on the style, but I see a common denominator either way. Does WTF TKD run into problems with pandering and keeping things soft? Do others? Is Kyokushin Karate in the same boat as other variants of karate?

To be clear, I don't honestly know, though I have my hypothesis. Either way, I'm interested to hear your thoughts.
Like you, I don't know. I suspect the problem is real, and something everyone offering training has to consider. But different environments will draw different people. Places that train with lots of reasonably hard contact (competitive Judo, full-contact Kyokushin, etc.) will tend to draw people who want that contact, and will tend to not draw people who are anxious about that contact. Folks who want that contact are probably less likely to sue over it (certainly not a guarantee).

So I think some folks ache over this more than is necessary, but I also think that those (like me) who deal with fairly average folks over 40 (most of my new students) do have to keep this in mind. I start students out a lot softer than I was started out. But when I started, most beginners were under 25 (probably most were under 20).
 

Gerry Seymour

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Again, we are no longer referring to training facilities, we are discussing, "styles", and substituting "Club" for "team"? Why is there a difference? When I fought professionally (stables, those were called), there were rules and regulations on protective equipment, because these are sports. When rules are being enforced for the sake of safety, how does that translate to the world outside? It doesn't; besides easily being some of the best conditioning I have ever received. I have been in the ring with Champions, and neither of us ever thought about having to apply it to the streets. I have exposed myself to a lot of conflict, after much use of your fundamentals your response flows with the moment. There are good training schools where the basics of an art can be acquired, but those masters are crafty about who gets through that door. But I find them fewer and fewer, sunk into easily hidden corners of big cities. More to the point of your portion of this question, when I trained PKA, we had a very nice gym (for a gym) with two regulation rings, always busy. Incidentally, when I was in "Thai" (Thailand) we enjoyed the spectacle of the sport, but most of those real fighters learned it in the streets the hard way. There is no school like that here in the land of lawyers.
I'm having trouble following why this post is here. Styles do present some differences, and it likely does matter to some extent with the litigious nature of the US system. But I don't see what differentiation of dojo vs. training facilities or the terms "club" and "team" have to do with it. It's all talking about MA training. Why would a Judo club/team/dojo be any different in this discussion based upon which of those three words we use?
 

dvcochran

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Calling somebody else's dojo a mcdojo, on this forum or anywhere else, I would like to point out that's very offensive. A dojo where somebody has invested their time and dedication, to bash their dojo is very bad manners. Im saying this because I've experienced some of that on this forum myself.
Much more important is the existence of the McDojo. It is an offense to all schools as a whole and makes it harder and harder for good schools to operate. Dumbing down (of anything) always nets the same result.
What happens (is happening) is now that the "McDojo" moniker has been established it is used ad nauseum, even when/where it is not deserved. More times than not it is a strawman comment from someone who got their feelings hurt or got a boo-boo. Status quo for today's cancel culture society.

I am a two school owner (business/building). The two head instructors are quite different while teaching the same curriculum. We are not teaching lemmings; we expect different results from people. One school tends to produce more upper level competitors (extra classes) while the other school rides a more level wave. Each school has had people leave, some of them being mad or disappointed for various reasons. Tell a kid or the parent of a kid they are not good enough to train and it can be a tenuous conversation. More often it is people who realize MA's is just not for them. Never any hard feelings there.
We do our best due diligence when someone leaves but sometimes you just have to scrape them off and go on. There have been a few chirpers over the years but it is always short lived and nets zero impact.

Social media is yet another avenue for people to chirp so I take comments like yours with a grain of salt. A good school will understand this and just keep going. The attitude and environment created makes this rather easy.

Until there is some sort of established definition for what constitutes a McDojo it is just a word used most often by people who got their feelings hurt.
For the people who have the ability to recognize where they are training is a 'McDojo' And still work out there, well that is on them. There could be countless reasons this still makes sense. But that person crosses a line when they start bashing on either side of the equation.
 

mograph

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I thought that to be a McDojo, three qualifications had to be met:
1. Part of a chain
2. Low quality of instruction
3. Awarding of belts to unqualified individuals (too early)
 

dvcochran

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My daughter's first MA school was a TKD school that I labeled a McDojos. It had lots of students and it was one of several in a chain. But the one my daughter was in was run by the founder. We were there a year, contract I did not want, and early on I labeled it as such. I took my daughter to a Saturday function there, it was a cookout, demo and other things like a bouncy house (she was in elementary school at the time). I looked around at all the kids there, after the demo, that were in this school and the physical fitness levels (great shape) of the older (highschool) kids there and it hit me.

Is this the TKD that I first started training in 1976? .... No
But it was serving a purpose, yes the guy was making scads of money, yes he stopped talking to me early on when he found out I trained with Jae Hun Kim in Boston. Was it what I would call TKD? No. But all these kids had something positive in their life that was in place of all sorts of trouble they could have gotten into in the first place. Where they all great martial artists? No. But surprisingly a few were pretty darn good.

It was serving a purpose beyond the "McDojos" label I had put on it, It was, in its own way, helping a whole lot of kids. And to me that was a positive. I never used the term "McDojos" after that, unless it was in jest here on MT. Did my daughter stay there after the year? No. we moved on to Aikido and she loved it and she was getting good solid training. The original TKD school she was in is still there and going strong, the Aikido dojo is not doing so good since the head (founding) senesi died at the beginning of the pandemic.

I would not train at the aforementioned TKD school, and I do not agree with his business practices, but there is a positive in helping some kids.

Also it hit me, as a parent, I do not think I would have allowed my young daughter to train at the TKD school I went to. No mats, no pads, no protective gear. Linoleum floors.... that is all.. and there were high and low kicks, joint locks and takedowns.
Nail on the head.
 

Steve

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Like you, I don't know. I suspect the problem is real, and something everyone offering training has to consider. But different environments will draw different people. Places that train with lots of reasonably hard contact (competitive Judo, full-contact Kyokushin, etc.) will tend to draw people who want that contact, and will tend to not draw people who are anxious about that contact. Folks who want that contact are probably less likely to sue over it (certainly not a guarantee).

So I think some folks ache over this more than is necessary, but I also think that those (like me) who deal with fairly average folks over 40 (most of my new students) do have to keep this in mind. I start students out a lot softer than I was started out. But when I started, most beginners were under 25 (probably most were under 20).
The point I was trying to make is that training competitors is going to naturally drive the training to that activity. So, the goal is to train people to excel in the sport, and for the most part, people understand that. No one likes to see kids (or anyone) get hurt through negligence, but kids play football, basketball, soccer, and all kinds of other sports that are really quite dangerous. And they mostly do so safely, and schools and school districts in the USA manage to offer these sports with minimal legal risk to the school district. Martial arts schools like MMA schools, boxing clubs, BJJ clubs, etc are pretty much in the same boat. So, outside of obvious negligence, people know what they're getting into.

I think schools that don't have a natural and obvious goal for the training are very susceptible to watering down the training. Because, if they're not training competitors, what are they training? If you look a some of the "self defense" techniques, I would say the claim is that they're training killers. Something like, "We don't train you for sport. We train you to defend yourself from really dangerous people, and our techniques are deadly."

The end result is a situation where marketing creates the problem. Schools that are catering to the timid customer who doesn't want a lot of contact are creating for themselves a real dilemma. Simply put, when you actively market to people who don't want contact (or pain or sweat or any difficulty at all, really), should you be surprised when they get upset if they get hurt? In those cases, given the marketing, I don't blame them at all. Like the person who gets upset when they're told that their crystals will align their chakras... they paid good money for that, and I don't blame them for being upset when it doesn't work.

To be clear, this is beside the point that a lot of timid folks do really, really well in competitive sports. Overcoming the negative marketing from the killer (but easy and comfortable to learn) arts is a real issue, but that's a different thread.

And also, I think this is a closely associated issue to McDojo, but not exactly the same. I generally think of McDojos as subscribing to certain business practices. But that said, this is all a part of the issue. Watering down the art, overpromising and underdelivering, and the other things we're talking about are a part of what a McDojo commonly does to woo customers through the door.
 

dvcochran

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I thought that to be a McDojo, three qualifications had to be met:
1. Part of a chain
2. Low quality of instruction
3. Awarding of belts to unqualified individuals (too early)
I would say #2 would be the only constant of the three you mention. The way you word #3 I would agree, but people have been adjusting the belt system for decades to fit or modify the way they teach their curriculum. It is becoming more of a gauge for the teacher to identify a student's proficiency as it is a milestone accomplishment for the student.
I do agree this is frequently an indicator of a 'belt mill'. That said, often in the dynamic mentioned the belt color has less meaning and you would need to look at the program/persons end results to really gauge it for being a McDojo. In other words, what you see as the standard for a green belt will be different for what other teachers use. However, looking at the same person two years down the road (regardless of belt) is where a valid measurement can be made.
No, I do not like the countless stars & stripes you see on belts these days. Nor do I like having more than the traditional 9 Gup ranks. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it. But I understand that this is just me and others have their own traditions.
Therefore, I cannot explicitly say it is a bad thing. Change for the sake of change or to say 'it is my idea' is just a bad, ego grab most of the time.
 

Flying Crane

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I believe the definition of McDojo has simply become you dont teach or train how I teach or train, or how I believe you should teach or train, so you suck.

The question remains: who gets to decide what the standards in teaching and training are, beyond their own involvement? Who has the authority to determine that for all the rest of us, and how might they think they can enforce it?

Remember: no matter how good you might be, someone out there thinks you suck. I could actually imagine two rival schools pointing at each other and sincerely accusing each other of being a mcdojo, simply because they follow different teaching and training paths, and cant conceive of finding room in the world for something different from themselves.
 

Balrog

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Now define what a McDojo is and get everyone to agree with your definition.
That's one problem.
Or... you could just throw up your hands and realize that some people are going to be offended, regardless.
That's the other problem.
Aren't you kind of tired of always walking on eggshells, wondering if some off-hand comment that seems innocuous to you someone else is going to claim offense at?
I actually don't walk on that many eggshells. I am NOT politically correct (as folks in here may have noticed), so I tend to speak my mind openly. But yes, it does get annoying when people get all whiny about it.

As far as the McDojo aspect....every time I was told that I ran a McDojo, I would simply hand them a VIP card good for a month's free instruction and invite them to come train. In the 26 years that I ran my school, not a single one took me up on it.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I thought that to be a McDojo, three qualifications had to be met:
1. Part of a chain
2. Low quality of instruction
3. Awarding of belts to unqualified individuals (too early)
Perhaps (though #3 is so subjective as to be unmeasurable in most cases). But a lot of folks seem to use it simply to designate a place they don't like the practices or culture of.
 
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