Calling Somebody's Dojo A McDojo Is Offensive

Gerry Seymour

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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.
I'm not quite sure how you turned this into another thread about the evils of the term "self-defense".

I agree that folks have a better picture in most cases of what they're getting into when there's style-specific competition, assuming that competition is the high end of the risk. That may not be the case, for instance, in some TKD schools. There may be some that compete in the fairly light-looking contact you see in the Olympics, but also train with something closer to full-contact sparring within the school.

I would also guess the problem exists for less-known styles, if someone joins not knowing what the competition is like, so they don't have that as a guide to what they should expect.
 

Steve

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My definition of McDojo is a school that prioritizes profit through standardization over quality. It's the philosophy of "good enough" every single time.

Is a Quarter Pounder with Cheese an excellent burger? No, but it's good enough, and while they couldn't sell a thousand excellent burgers in a day, they can sell a thousand that are all good enough.

So, a school can be a McDojo and have high standards and excellent results. The business model, however, prioritizes profitability over quality. So if there becomes a conflict between the two, profits will win out over quality.
 

Steve

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I'm not quite sure how you turned this into another thread about the evils of the term "self-defense".

I'm not sure how why you're turning this into another thread about me.

I agree that folks have a better picture in most cases of what they're getting into when there's style-specific competition, assuming that competition is the high end of the risk. That may not be the case, for instance, in some TKD schools. There may be some that compete in the fairly light-looking contact you see in the Olympics, but also train with something closer to full-contact sparring within the school.

I would also guess the problem exists for less-known styles, if someone joins not knowing what the competition is like, so they don't have that as a guide to what they should expect.
If you read the post with the intent to understand my point, you'd see the nexus clearly. My post isn't about "self defense" at all. It's about what you're selling to the customer vs what you're giving them, and the points brought up earlier. If you sell them "deadly" but also "comfortable", and don't deliver both, you're creating your own headaches as a business owner. This is a thread about McDojos.
 

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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.
I really don't know about other countries methodology of promoting MA. I am only involved with Japanese arts as a professional. The arts are governed by Monbusho (educational authority) and are a Phys/Ed subject. Outside Japan they are or should be run on a none profit level. When I was teaching in the UK it was again governed by a commission. I have never bashed anybody. Just an online chuckle at people calling themselves grandmaster etc. Wearing belts and bastardizing a system that was invented by a man who also the director for primary education. If you are offended at this word I guess you have to ask yourself exactly what do and what are the roots what you do. And what educational qualifications you actually posses to perhaps "sell a product".
 

Martial D

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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.
Calling a fat person fat is also offensive. In bad taste. Rude even.

But also true.
 

Flying Crane

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I really don't know about other countries methodology of promoting MA. I am only involved with Japanese arts as a professional. The arts are governed by Monbusho (educational authority) and are a Phys/Ed subject. Outside Japan they are or should be run on a none profit level. When I was teaching in the UK it was again governed by a commission. I have never bashed anybody. Just an online chuckle at people calling themselves grandmaster etc. Wearing belts and bastardizing a system that was invented by a man who also the director for primary education. If you are offended at this word I guess you have to ask yourself exactly what do and what are the roots what you do. And what educational qualifications you actually posses to perhaps "sell a product".
There is no regulation in the US, other than necessary documentation for running a business, if you are accepting payment for teaching. So, a business license, pay the taxes, liability insurance and insurance for a school location, that kind of thing. People can run it as a non-profit, or to make as much money as possible, or any way in between.

There is no government regulation on who can teach. Anybody can claim any qualification that they want, real or imagined, and teach any thing they want, any way they want. If someone is willing to pay them, then they are in business. Other than possible intellectual rights on use of names and such, if such things are protected under copyright or that kind of thing, it is nearly impossible to enforce limitations. There are various federations and organizations that may copyright or trademark a name and a logo, and may establish standards for all those who belong to the federation. But those are also business entities that collect dues, membership is completely voluntary, and are also not regulated by any government agency, in terms of what or how they teach, or quality standards. Sometimes they are the worst, in terms of being low-standards and money- grubbing. Martial arts in the US is loosely self-regulated at best.

You can do whatever you want in the US, for teaching martial arts. It is true, there are a lot of bad schools with low standards (in my opinion). And I guess that is what makes the issue difficult: accusations of bad teaching can be based on truth. But on the flip side, it is easy to mis-use and abuse the accusation, and simply accuse everyone else who doesnt do it like you do it, as being a lousy teacher.
 
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knuckleheader

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Bottom line. Mostly unknowing parents will patronize McDojo's for their children.
Hopefully if the parents(even kids) recognize what's lacking. They will move on.
 

dvcochran

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There is no regulation in the US, other than necessary documentation for running a business, if you are accepting payment for teaching. So, a business license, pay the taxes, liability insurance and insurance for a school location, that kind of thing. People can run it as a non-profit, or to make as much money as possible, or any way in between.

There is no government regulation on who can teach. Anybody can claim any qualification that they want, real or imagined, and teach any thing they want, any way they want. If someone is willing to pay them, then they are in business. Other than possible intellectual rights on use of names and such, if such things are protected under copyright or that kind of thing, it is nearly impossible to enforce limitations. There are various federations and organizations that may copyright or trademark a name and a logo, and may establish standards for all those who belong to the federation. But those are also business entities that collect dues, membership is completely voluntary, and are also not regulated by any government agency, in terms of what or how they teach, or quality standards. Sometimes they are the worst, in terms of being low-standards and money- grubbing. Martial arts in the US is loosely self-regulated at best.

You can do whatever you want in the US, for teaching martial arts. It is true, there are a lot of bad schools with low standards (in my opinion). And I guess that is what makes the issue difficult: accusations of bad teaching can be based on truth. But on the flip side, it is easy to mis-use and abuse the accusation, and simply accuse everyone else who doesnt do it like you do it, as being a lousy teacher.
Well said. You could say it is a 'how' vs. 'what' argument Hyoho is making.
 

Steve

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There is no regulation in the US, other than necessary documentation for running a business, if you are accepting payment for teaching. So, a business license, pay the taxes, liability insurance and insurance for a school location, that kind of thing. People can run it as a non-profit, or to make as much money as possible, or any way in between.

There is no government regulation on who can teach. Anybody can claim any qualification that they want, real or imagined, and teach any thing they want, any way they want. If someone is willing to pay them, then they are in business. Other than possible intellectual rights on use of names and such, if such things are protected under copyright or that kind of thing, it is nearly impossible to enforce limitations. There are various federations and organizations that may copyright or trademark a name and a logo, and may establish standards for all those who belong to the federation. But those are also business entities that collect dues, membership is completely voluntary, and are also not regulated by any government agency, in terms of what or how they teach, or quality standards. Sometimes they are the worst, in terms of being low-standards and money- grubbing. Martial arts in the US is loosely self-regulated at best.

You can do whatever you want in the US, for teaching martial arts. It is true, there are a lot of bad schools with low standards (in my opinion). And I guess that is what makes the issue difficult: accusations of bad teaching can be based on truth. But on the flip side, it is easy to mis-use and abuse the accusation, and simply accuse everyone else who doesnt do it like you do it, as being a lousy teacher.
About the only way I can think of where you can get into trouble in the USA, is if you start making medical claims that run afoul of the FDA, or if you are negligent where folks are being seriously injured or worse, and you're liable. With the former, it's the difference between saying that training in a style is good for fitness, and stretching that into making claims that it will cure gout or whatever. I've seen some martial arts that skirt that line, IMO.
 

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Bottom line. Mostly unknowing parents will patronize McDojo's for their children.
Hopefully if the parents(even kids) recognize what's lacking. They will move on.
Maybe. If what they're looking for is a little exercise, a little socialization, and something to keep the kids busy after school, a McDojo is as good as peewee soccer, KinderCare, or other alternatives. Maybe better, in some way, even if the kid isn't learning any actual martial skill.
 

Wing Woo Gar

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Many MA schools in America fail as a business entity. This is due to more than one thing, as is usual. The first is trying to satisfy the requirements of requisite oppressively expensive insurance. America is a land where the litigious and their attorneys have the greatest impact on schools of integrity in teaching a Martial Art. Signing a release of liability means nothing in court when being sued for an injury received. There is little to no accountability for one's own choices in these times, and to claim that one did not know there would be forceful physical contact in learning a fighting skill is unfortunately a common successful claim against MA schools. So to fill a room, many proprietors keep it very soft and pander to children's games. It might be considered a very soft, very slow way to introduce ones self to MA, but the inference of "McDojo, Take my Do," and others has arisen from a degree of honest appraisal. It is not polite or respectful, however.
Well said, and unfortunately very true.
 

Steve

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Well said, and unfortunately very true.

"There is little to no accountability for one's own choices in these times, and to claim that one did not know there would be forceful physical contact in learning a fighting skill is unfortunately a common successful claim against MA schools."

Do you all really think this is true? Really? I disagree.

If the issue here is accountability, I think there's some room for school owners to look at their own marketing and branding. There is nothing inherently wrong with traits associated with McDojos... practices that promote retention, help insure that folks are paying their dues, standardizing curricula and ensuring that instructors are all delivering consistent instruction, and emphasizing consistent results for many vs exceptional results for only a few. Just like with restaurants, there is a place for McDonalds just as there is a place for the small bistro.

As long as you're delivering what you're marketing, all is well. No one expects to be blown away by a quarter pounder. But if you're in a bistro and order a $15 wagyu beef burger, it should knock your socks off. Conversely, I don't think a $15 wagyu burger would sell very well at McDs. In the same way, if you are selling comfort, community, respect, and a black belt... but you give you folks bruises and the occasional bloody nose, I don't think that's on them.
 

Wing Woo Gar

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"There is little to no accountability for one's own choices in these times, and to claim that one did not know there would be forceful physical contact in learning a fighting skill is unfortunately a common successful claim against MA schools."

Do you all really think this is true? Really? I disagree.

If the issue here is accountability, I think there's some room for school owners to look at their own marketing and branding. There is nothing inherently wrong with traits associated with McDojos... practices that promote retention, help insure that folks are paying their dues, standardizing curricula and ensuring that instructors are all delivering consistent instruction, and emphasizing consistent results for many vs exceptional results for only a few. Just like with restaurants, there is a place for McDonalds just as there is a place for the small bistro.

As long as you're delivering what you're marketing, all is well. No one expects to be blown away by a quarter pounder. But if you're in a bistro and order a $15 wagyu beef burger, it should knock your socks off. Conversely, I don't think a $15 wagyu burger would sell very well at McDs. In the same way, if you are selling comfort, community, respect, and a black belt... but you give you folks bruises and the occasional bloody nose, I don't think that's on them.
I think I get your point, and I believe its valid. My response was due in part to the fact that Sifu Gales wife and one of my training partners are attorneys. I teach and train on slippery waxed concrete with cotton soled shoes. I warn people about the floor, I have them sign a waiver too. I dont let new students spar until they can move on the floor with some ability. None of this would save me from a lawsuit. I carry a large liability insurance for extra protection. I still get the occasional person who is what I would term, divorced from reality. These folks tend to imagine all sorts of things. I do encounter quite a few that make excuses for their behavior or refuse to take responsibility for it. These are the same ones that will sue for hurting themselves as a result of not following instructions.
 

JowGaWolf

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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.
So why did they say your school is a mcdojo?
 

dvcochran

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Many MA schools in America fail as a business entity. This is due to more than one thing, as is usual. The first is trying to satisfy the requirements of requisite oppressively expensive insurance. America is a land where the litigious and their attorneys have the greatest impact on schools of integrity in teaching a Martial Art. Signing a release of liability means nothing in court when being sued for an injury received. There is little to no accountability for one's own choices in these times, and to claim that one did not know there would be forceful physical contact in learning a fighting skill is unfortunately a common successful claim against MA schools. So to fill a room, many proprietors keep it very soft and pander to children's games. It might be considered a very soft, very slow way to introduce ones self to MA, but the inference of "McDojo, Take my Do," and others has arisen from a degree of honest appraisal. It is not polite or respectful, however.
I cannot fully agree with this. As with the vast majority of startups the greatest failure is due to a lack of planning. A key component of this is in the form of planning the financials.
The person who says "man, it would be really cool to have my own Karate school" is almost certainly doomed to fail from the start. Blindly going into it with a ton of unplanned/unknown overhead is just, stupid.
 

Gyakuto

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I wonder if the idea that Budo can be monitised is the cause of the McDojo phenomenon?

At its absolute fundamental, a business is about selling a commodity onward, at a higher price than at which the seller obtained it, whether thats a physical item or a service. This sometimes leads to cutting corners in order to maximised or even eke-out a minimal profit, in this context, changing the art to make it more appealing to potential clientele: flashier/simpler without martial relevance or more trivially, coloured keikogi, a plethora of patches, multicoloured belts and tags (martial relevance, or riai is more important but difficult to quantify, in my opinion. If you want to wear a black belt with 18 tags on it, so be it, but some, on seeing this, will think, hmmm, really?).

In the U.K, monetising Budo is a relatively new phenomenon and I think this has stifled the proliferation of McDojo (although there are some). In my art, we are not allowed to make a profit, but only cover hall-hire expenses and our insurance costs, which are pretty minimal with our national governing association (people are generally less litigious in the U.K. , but that is changing thanks to the legal models being imported from our cousins across the pond!)

My conclusion is that if you wish to stamp out McDojo, then keep Budo strictly amateur and non-profit making安hich is rather anti-American But why would you do this? McDojo are a source of great amusement and generate hilarious Youtube videos

 

dvcochran

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I wonder if the idea that Budo can be monitised is the cause of the McDojo phenomenon?

At its absolute fundamental, a business is about selling a commodity onward, at a higher price than at which the seller obtained it, whether thats a physical item or a service. This sometimes leads to cutting corners in order to maximised or even eke-out a minimal profit, in this context, changing the art to make it more appealing to potential clientele: flashier/simpler without martial relevance or more trivially, coloured keikogi, a plethora of patches, multicoloured belts and tags (martial relevance, or riai is more important but difficult to quantify, in my opinion. If you want to wear a black belt with 18 tags on it, so be it, but some, on seeing this, will think, hmmm, really?).

In the U.K, monetising Budo is a relatively new phenomenon and I think this has stifled the proliferation of McDojo (although there are some). In my art, we are not allowed to make a profit, but only cover hall-hire expenses and our insurance costs, which are pretty minimal with our national governing association (people are generally less litigious in the U.K. , but that is changing thanks to the legal models being imported from our cousins across the pond!)

My conclusion is that if you wish to stamp out McDojo, then keep Budo strictly amateur and non-profit making安hich is rather anti-American But why would you do this? McDojo are a source of great amusement and generate hilarious Youtube videos

I can't imagine it is all that different from the UK to the US but if you study the differences in selling a commodity versus a service you will see the approach is/should be quite different.
You are spot in in regards to the stars, stripes and patches seen at some schools. When this 'tool' goes beyond the purpose of organization is does blur the commodity/service line. Using this method as a 'dangling carrot' is just wrong and ultimately misleading. Especially, especially in the adult model.
Setting up a system of promotion that relies on the incremental acknowledgement of proficiency is nothing new. Just look at any military organization. Or the promotion of employees in many business environments. But mainly or even explicitly (I have seen this) using the next milestone marker as the sole motivator, instead of focusing on the content, training, and effort it takes to get there is definitely when the McDojo moniker is justified. A good example is the 'binge & purge' college class mentality. A system that allows a person to slide until the last few weeks before testing then cram the needed training in just to get by the next test is a key indicator of a McDojo. This severely hurts each side of the model. However, it is not an uncommon occurrence. Part of what adds to burgeoning complexity of extending the belt system with color, stars, stripes, etc... This is also a major factor in the trend of 'subpar' 1st Dan practitioners. By in large, the whole scale has moved.

I can't agree that monetization necessarily adds to or takes away from a school earning the McDojo title. Used correctly, capitalism leads to continued improvement in any business model. The first and foremost example I can think of to support this is in expectation. When a product or service is paid for the transaction alone creates expectation. Hopefully we can agree that, by in large, the more you have to pay for a certain product the better the quality you expect to receive. I am not talking about flashy advertising that over-inflates perceived quality. I mean established, known quality. This requires a ton of time, effort, and expense from the provider. Either in the depth of the service rendered or the material it takes to create the product. Why is it wrong to expect compensation for this?
If a person is okay with training in the park or a back room, garage, or a dark dingy training good on them. That is a choice I have no problem with. AND that does not automatically mean subpar training. But this is a deep well that includes a degree of liability that I will not get into here. And the reflection (good or bad) is too often not accurately recognized.

Are you saying the UK government does not allow gyms or dojo/dojangs to operate for profit? Is this consistent for any service industry over there?
Do you have different NFP status' such as 501 or 503 like in the US? It is used as a blanket and redirect all to often here. A LOT of money is made by NFP's that gets channeled in some rather innocuous ways. You better have a really, really good tax man if your run a NFP here. Else, you are running off the books or just as a hobby.

That video is sadly hilarious.
 

Steve

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I wonder if the idea that Budo can be monitised is the cause of the McDojo phenomenon?

At its absolute fundamental, a business is about selling a commodity onward, at a higher price than at which the seller obtained it, whether thats a physical item or a service. This sometimes leads to cutting corners in order to maximised or even eke-out a minimal profit, in this context, changing the art to make it more appealing to potential clientele: flashier/simpler without martial relevance or more trivially, coloured keikogi, a plethora of patches, multicoloured belts and tags (martial relevance, or riai is more important but difficult to quantify, in my opinion. If you want to wear a black belt with 18 tags on it, so be it, but some, on seeing this, will think, hmmm, really?).

In the U.K, monetising Budo is a relatively new phenomenon and I think this has stifled the proliferation of McDojo (although there are some). In my art, we are not allowed to make a profit, but only cover hall-hire expenses and our insurance costs, which are pretty minimal with our national governing association (people are generally less litigious in the U.K. , but that is changing thanks to the legal models being imported from our cousins across the pond!)

My conclusion is that if you wish to stamp out McDojo, then keep Budo strictly amateur and non-profit making安hich is rather anti-American But why would you do this? McDojo are a source of great amusement and generate hilarious Youtube videos

Sounds very different over there. Who enforces the requirement to not turn a profit? I mean, is the government imposing that, or is it the style/organization? Curious to learn more about that, because it sounds like some styles are running for profit, so I'm wondering what the difference is.
 

Flying Crane

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I wonder if the idea that Budo can be monitised is the cause of the McDojo phenomenon?

At its absolute fundamental, a business is about selling a commodity onward, at a higher price than at which the seller obtained it, whether thats a physical item or a service. This sometimes leads to cutting corners in order to maximised or even eke-out a minimal profit, in this context, changing the art to make it more appealing to potential clientele: flashier/simpler without martial relevance or more trivially, coloured keikogi, a plethora of patches, multicoloured belts and tags (martial relevance, or riai is more important but difficult to quantify, in my opinion. If you want to wear a black belt with 18 tags on it, so be it, but some, on seeing this, will think, hmmm, really?).

In the U.K, monetising Budo is a relatively new phenomenon and I think this has stifled the proliferation of McDojo (although there are some). In my art, we are not allowed to make a profit, but only cover hall-hire expenses and our insurance costs, which are pretty minimal with our national governing association (people are generally less litigious in the U.K. , but that is changing thanks to the legal models being imported from our cousins across the pond!)

My conclusion is that if you wish to stamp out McDojo, then keep Budo strictly amateur and non-profit making安hich is rather anti-American But why would you do this? McDojo are a source of great amusement and generate hilarious Youtube videos

I generally agree with what you are saying, although I have no problem with a teacher being paid for his time. I will ask though: how is it that you are not allowed to make a profit? How is that controlled, and what would stop you from going off on your own to teach what you know, at a high price?
 

Wing Woo Gar

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I wonder if the idea that Budo can be monitised is the cause of the McDojo phenomenon?

At its absolute fundamental, a business is about selling a commodity onward, at a higher price than at which the seller obtained it, whether thats a physical item or a service. This sometimes leads to cutting corners in order to maximised or even eke-out a minimal profit, in this context, changing the art to make it more appealing to potential clientele: flashier/simpler without martial relevance or more trivially, coloured keikogi, a plethora of patches, multicoloured belts and tags (martial relevance, or riai is more important but difficult to quantify, in my opinion. If you want to wear a black belt with 18 tags on it, so be it, but some, on seeing this, will think, hmmm, really?).

In the U.K, monetising Budo is a relatively new phenomenon and I think this has stifled the proliferation of McDojo (although there are some). In my art, we are not allowed to make a profit, but only cover hall-hire expenses and our insurance costs, which are pretty minimal with our national governing association (people are generally less litigious in the U.K. , but that is changing thanks to the legal models being imported from our cousins across the pond!)

My conclusion is that if you wish to stamp out McDojo, then keep Budo strictly amateur and non-profit making安hich is rather anti-American But why would you do this? McDojo are a source of great amusement and generate hilarious Youtube videos

That is a hilarious video. It looks like the local tkd studio. Lol!
 

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