Calling Somebody's Dojo A McDojo Is Offensive

Monkey Turned Wolf

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Messages
11,753
Reaction score
5,740
Location
New York
Like a little bistro with an enthusiastic chef who can modify and dishes compared to Pizza Express with zombie staff and melted cheese on everything. Actually melted cheese is the best, but most analogies don’t bare close scrutiny!

I don’t think a successful dojo (one with many, competent students due to competent teaching ) need be classified as a McDojo. The term, I think, applies to many and poor quality students, teaching from the least qualified of instructors, accelerated Dan grade pathways and every opportunity to extract money from the poor students.

Cult definition-
1. a system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or object.
"the cult of St Olaf"
2.
a person or thing that is popular or fashionable among a particular group or section of society.
"the series has become a bit of a cult in the UK"

Just for clarity which of these do you mean, Steve?

I’m genuinely intrigued! Can you give an example?

Once making money becomes the primary objective then McDojo begin spring up. It’s either money or fame (usually a bit of both) that are the drivers of McDojo.
From merriam webster, the second definition is:
2
a
: great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (such as a film or book)
criticizing how the media promotes the cult of celebrity

especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad
b
: the object of such devotion
c
: a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion
the singer's cult of fans

The film has a cult following.
Definition of CULT
 

Gyakuto

Master Black Belt
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Messages
1,402
Reaction score
1,106
Location
UK
From merriam webster, the second definition is:
2
a
: great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (such as a film or book)
criticizing how the media promotes the cult of celebrity

especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad
b
: the object of such devotion
c
: a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion
the singer's cult of fans

The film has a cult following.
Definition of CULT
Yes, I was just ascertaining to which definition Steve was ascribing.
 

Hot Lunch

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 25, 2023
Messages
359
Reaction score
145
Once making money becomes the primary objective then McDojo begin spring up. It’s either money or fame (usually a bit of both) that are the drivers of McDojo.
It's been implied throughout this entire thread that unless a business is non-profit, it must engage in unethical practices and produce low quality products.
 

Gyakuto

Master Black Belt
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Messages
1,402
Reaction score
1,106
Location
UK
It's been implied throughout this entire thread that unless a business is non-profit, it must engage in unethical practices and produce low quality products.
That is the case, isn’t it? Or rather, ‘more likely to….’
 

Hot Lunch

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 25, 2023
Messages
359
Reaction score
145
That is the case, isn’t it? Or rather, ‘more likely to….’
No. You don't drive a car from a non-profit manufacturer, do you? You don't eat out at non-profit restaurants, do you?

If a business produces low quality products or engage in unethical practices, you and everyone else will move on to a competitor.
 

Gyakuto

Master Black Belt
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Messages
1,402
Reaction score
1,106
Location
UK
No. You don't drive a car from a non-profit manufacturer, do you? You don't eat out at non-profit restaurants, do you?
Is there such an alternative choice? I no longer eat in franchise restaurants as they’ve taken a steep nose dive since the lockdowns! But there are two small, excellent restaurants here that I do occasionally frequent. But their main custom seems to be via ‘Just Eat’ 🤷🏾
If a business produces low quality products or engage in unethical practices, you and everyone else will move on to a competitor.
I suppose that’s why there are no sweatshops in south east Asia producing single-wear garments, mobile phones with hidden software that slows them down to ‘preserve battery life’ as they age, electric car manufacturers who’s products are regularly criticised for their quality and safety, who’s work places are criticised for a toxic environment, no online book retailers who track their employees every working move giving them up achievable targets and low pay etc. They get away with it because it’s either well hidden or we, the consumers, turn a blind eye because we like cheap products. They’re cheap for a reason.

McDojo get away with their practises for similar reasons, the participants don’t know any better and they’re enticed to maintain the status quo with promises of very dark belts!
 

Hot Lunch

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 25, 2023
Messages
359
Reaction score
145
Is there such an alternative choice? I no longer eat in franchise restaurants as they’ve taken a steep nose dive since the lockdowns! But there are two small, excellent restaurants here that I do occasionally frequent. But their main custom seems to be via ‘Just Eat’ 🤷🏾

I suppose that’s why there are no sweatshops in south east Asia producing single-wear garments, mobile phones with hidden software that slows them down to ‘preserve battery life’ as they age, electric car manufacturers who’s products are regularly criticised for their quality and safety, who’s work places are criticised for a toxic environment, no online book retailers who track their employees every working move giving them up achievable targets and low pay etc. They get away with it because it’s either well hidden or we, the consumers, turn a blind eye because we like cheap products. They’re cheap for a reason.

McDojo get away with their practises for similar reasons, the participants don’t know any better and they’re enticed to maintain the status quo with promises of very dark belts!
If there are dojos out there that run strictly on charitable donations, I have yet to see it. Are there dojos out there where the tuition is just enough to break even, and the owner has to live on other means? I'm sure these exist, but I'm betting not enough for it to be the norm and everything else to be a "McDojo."
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
21,589
Reaction score
7,108
Location
Covington, WA
Yes, I was just ascertaining to which definition Steve was ascribing.
Based on the context of my statement, which do you think? :)
Like a little bistro with an enthusiastic chef who can modify and dishes compared to Pizza Express with zombie staff and melted cheese on everything. Actually melted cheese is the best, but most analogies don’t bare close scrutiny!
If the bistro has modest aspirations for commercial success, then there's a possible conflict between prioritizing craft/art and prioritizing keeping the lights on.

But where a school has no expectations for any kind of commercial viability, there is no conflict. I mean, in the case of @Wing Woo Gar and @Flying Crane , they are saying that they don't need or even seem to want any commercial success. And so they have many other options to be as exclusive and eccentric as they choose. It's entirely their gig... and I get it. The point where I monetize a personal interest is typically the point I no longer enjoy it. Monetize something and it becomes work (for me).

But in a thread about McDojos... which is an inherently business related concept... I don't know why folks with literally no stake in the discussion are taking it so personally.

I don’t think a successful dojo (one with many, competent students due to competent teaching ) need be classified as a McDojo. The term, I think, applies to many and poor quality students, teaching from the least qualified of instructors, accelerated Dan grade pathways and every opportunity to extract money from the poor students.
I agree, and never meant to suggest otherwise. My simple point here is that, regardless of how you define McDojo, it is a statement related to a business model.

Cult definition-
1. a system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or object.
"the cult of St Olaf"
2.
a person or thing that is popular or fashionable among a particular group or section of society.
"the series has become a bit of a cult in the UK"

Just for clarity which of these do you mean, Steve?
Once again, this seems to be a very strange question. Which do you think I mean?

I’m genuinely intrigued! Can you give an example?

There have been examples in the past... whether it's Frank Dux or others. It's a shame, but the investigations section of the Bullshido.net forums was a great place to see real life examples of some pretty shifty stuff going on.

On a larger scale, you can see some examples in organizations like the oath keepers, proud boys, and other similar militia in the USA. On a small scale, when you have an authoritarian personality who is a guru or gatekeeper to something esoteric, ineffable knowledge, a power imbalance where you're the student, and he's the master, where you're doing it for pure, spiritual reasons unsullied by distateful things like competition or money... I mean, personally, there's something very honest and transparent about a consumer relationship.


Once making money becomes the primary objective then McDojo begin spring up. It’s either money or fame (usually a bit of both) that are the drivers of McDojo.

Agree that if money is the primary objective, you are heading down the path. But fame (or self aggrandizement or narcissism, etc) is a little different, and that leads potentially to the cult path, which in my opinion, isn't the same thing... though one could do both.
 

Gyakuto

Master Black Belt
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Messages
1,402
Reaction score
1,106
Location
UK
If there are dojos out there that run strictly on charitable donations, I have yet to see it. Are there dojos out there where the tuition is just enough to break even, and the owner has to live on other means? I'm sure these exist, but I'm betting not enough for it to be the norm and everything else to be a "McDojo."
This is the model used successfully by the British Kendo Association (kendo, Iaido and Jodo), the world oldest martial arts association outside Japan! My teacher makes his living as a ‘music type setter’ transcribing music such as operas into musical notation. Others are graphic designers, run a media company, are university academics etc. Our teachers take time out of their lives to instruct us because they love their art. Hard to believe, I know, but this was generally the norm within the martial arts in the U.K. until fairly recently!
 

Hot Lunch

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 25, 2023
Messages
359
Reaction score
145
This is the model used successfully by the British Kendo Association (kendo, Iaido and Jodo), the world oldest martial arts association outside Japan! My teacher makes his living as a ‘music type setter’ transcribing music such as operas into musical notation. Others are graphic designers, run a media company, are university academics etc. Our teachers take time out of their lives to instruct us because they love their art. Hard to believe, I know, but this was generally the norm within the martial arts in the U.K. until fairly recently!
The only time I would take issue with it being for profit is if it's a chain dojos owned by people who aren't involved in the their day-to-day operations - for example, an LLC. But if one individual wants to earn a living doing what he's passionate about, what's wrong with that?
 

Gyakuto

Master Black Belt
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Messages
1,402
Reaction score
1,106
Location
UK
The only time I would take issue with it being for profit is if it's a chain dojos owned by people who aren't involved in the their day-to-day operations - for example, an LLC. But if one individual wants to earn a living doing what he's passionate about, what's wrong with that?
There’s nothing wrong with that if she maintains high quality teaching and doesn't exploit her students. But in an environment where there are for profit and non-profit organisations in existence, punters will ultimately vote with their wallets 😉
 

mograph

Master of Arts
Joined
Apr 10, 2008
Messages
1,741
Reaction score
910
I wonder if, in many things that change, the way with which we identify is the norm, while the way before us is too this, and the way after us is too not-this. I'm talking about comedy, music, and probably our martial art.

It's like what Carlin said: "Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?"

Maybe in an environment in which people rarely engage in hand-to-hand combat, teaching teamwork and interaction skills is more valuable for those students who are unlikely to continue in the art. And no matter how good the course is, a large percentage of young students aren't going to continue, whether it's karate or baseball. So give them skills they'll actually use in the future. I can see that as the goal of a decent McDojo.

What I do lament is the loss of focus, discipline, and dedication, in the face of digital instant gratification. In general.
 

Wing Woo Gar

Senior Master
Joined
Sep 30, 2021
Messages
3,223
Reaction score
1,682
Location
Northern California
Based on the context of my statement, which do you think? :)

If the bistro has modest aspirations for commercial success, then there's a possible conflict between prioritizing craft/art and prioritizing keeping the lights on.

But where a school has no expectations for any kind of commercial viability, there is no conflict. I mean, in the case of @Wing Woo Gar and @Flying Crane , they are saying that they don't need or even seem to want any commercial success. And so they have many other options to be as exclusive and eccentric as they choose. It's entirely their gig... and I get it. The point where I monetize a personal interest is typically the point I no longer enjoy it. Monetize something and it becomes work (for me).

But in a thread about McDojos... which is an inherently business related concept... I don't know why folks with literally no stake in the discussion are taking it so personally.


I agree, and never meant to suggest otherwise. My simple point here is that, regardless of how you define McDojo, it is a statement related to a business model.


Once again, this seems to be a very strange question. Which do you think I mean?



There have been examples in the past... whether it's Frank Dux or others. It's a shame, but the investigations section of the Bullshido.net forums was a great place to see real life examples of some pretty shifty stuff going on.

On a larger scale, you can see some examples in organizations like the oath keepers, proud boys, and other similar militia in the USA. On a small scale, when you have an authoritarian personality who is a guru or gatekeeper to something esoteric, ineffable knowledge, a power imbalance where you're the student, and he's the master, where you're doing it for pure, spiritual reasons unsullied by distateful things like competition or money... I mean, personally, there's something very honest and transparent about a consumer relationship.




Agree that if money is the primary objective, you are heading down the path. But fame (or self aggrandizement or narcissism, etc) is a little different, and that leads potentially to the cult path, which in my opinion, isn't the same thing... though one could do both.
That’s my goal, rich and famous cult leader. Now I need a title…
 

Wing Woo Gar

Senior Master
Joined
Sep 30, 2021
Messages
3,223
Reaction score
1,682
Location
Northern California
Because that's what it is. You have a business license just like the nearest pub or barbershop.
I think we disagree on the nature of the service I offer. If you go to a pub or a barbershop you get to have it your way. You order a service or a product the way you choose. In my school, you get it the way I serve it or it’s “no soup for you”. Again, whether I test or not, i don’t much care for anyone telling me what I should do or how to do it. I’m not alone in the service industry, Chefs often share my opinion. Go try that out at your local tattooist, they love that. How much? How long? Will it hurt? All great ways to get thrown out of the shop with the quickness. The fact that you don’t seem to know this is a little surprising.
,
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
21,589
Reaction score
7,108
Location
Covington, WA
That’s my goal, rich and famous cult leader. Now I need a title…
To be clear, not suggesting anything like that. Only that it's the analogous issue. Where the negative face of a commercial school is McDojo, and the negative face of a non-commercial school is cult... or cult like.

There are, of course, a lot of ways to run happy and healthy versions of both. :)
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
21,589
Reaction score
7,108
Location
Covington, WA
I think we disagree on the nature of the service I offer. If you go to a pub or a barbershop you get to have it your way. You order a service or a product the way you choose. In my school, you get it the way I serve it or it’s “no soup for you”. Again, whether I test or not, i don’t much care for anyone telling me what I should do or how to do it. I’m not alone in the service industry, Chefs often share my opinion. Go try that out at your local tattooist, they love that. How much? How long? Will it hurt? All great ways to get thrown out of the shop with the quickness. The fact that you don’t seem to know this is a little surprising.
,
Also a great way for a chef's restaurant to go out of business. Unless being persnickety becomes part of your brand, like Albert Yeganeh.

There are different ways to build a successful business, but the key here is that if whether the business succeeds or not isn't important to you, you can basically do whatever you want. Who knows? You might get featured on a popular TV sitcom and find your way into the cultural zeitgeist, like Albert did in Seinfeld. :)
 

Hot Lunch

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 25, 2023
Messages
359
Reaction score
145
I think we disagree on the nature of the service I offer. If you go to a pub or a barbershop you get to have it your way. You order a service or a product the way you choose. In my school, you get it the way I serve it or it’s “no soup for you”. Again, whether I test or not, i don’t much care for anyone telling me what I should do or how to do it. I’m not alone in the service industry, Chefs often share my opinion. Go try that out at your local tattooist, they love that. How much? How long? Will it hurt? All great ways to get thrown out of the shop with the quickness. The fact that you don’t seem to know this is a little surprising.
,
Once again, we're saying the same thing. I simply told PhotonGuy that if he wouldn't tolerate that type of service at another business (it really shouldn't matter which, but somehow McDonald's gets under your skin), then he shouldn't tolerate it at a dojo.

You said that if someone doesn't like the way you provide your service, they can leave.

Same thing, right? But you're putting the spin on it that you're the one with the upper hand.

When all is said and done, you put your pants on one leg at time just like the consumer, and just like the cashier at McDonald's. You're not "different."
 
Last edited:

Wing Woo Gar

Senior Master
Joined
Sep 30, 2021
Messages
3,223
Reaction score
1,682
Location
Northern California
Don't bother. If you have a problem with a buyer exercising his rights in a free market economy, I'm not interested in knowing your reasoning for it.
The buyers right extend
$7.50? That’s fantastic and a credit to you. This is also one of the great things about most MA teaching in the U.K. and particularly Kendo, Iaido and Jodo under the auspices of the British Kendo Association: it’s not for profit. Teachers cover the costs of the hall hire, insurance and other overheads and everything else is forbidden under the BKA’s constitution. It totally changes the atmosphere of the teaching in dojo for the better in my opinion. I marvel at the spirit and enthusiasm of my teacher, a noted 7th Dan. He comes along to teach 3 times a week (two classes at 7am) for the love of the art and nurturing us and I think that says something very positive about his character and hopefully this rubs off on us!
i do it for the love of the art, so it continues. For the ones that honestly strive, and work to learn it, they become very valuable and important to me. My training brothers that I came up with are my best, most reliable friends. The relationship we had with our Sifu and Sigung was something akin to father and grandfather. I hope to make them proud by fostering the family group atmosphere. It’s a very personal thing for me, in that I dearly loved my teachers. They never treated me like I was a customer, I never thought of them as business owners. I hope I’m wrong, but that sort of thing is unusual these days. Maybe I don’t know much about business and being profitable. Maybe I don’t have any business commenting in the thread because I don’t test or rank my students. Maybe I shouldn’t have strong feelings about any of it. In any case, I don’t agree that it’s the same as buying some garbage at a drive through that will have its wrapper shucked off and be consumed without a thought about where it came from or it’s nutritional value.
 

Latest Discussions

Top