Choosing a dojo

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Amanda Sedai

Guest
Seeing the "someone should..." thread made me think: it would be nice if someone wrote a list of traits that make a school a McDojo versus a "real" dojo so newbies like me know what to look for and avoid in a school.

The dojo I'm considering going to has a two-year black belt program. Is this good, bad, or normal? This isn't one of those McDojo deals where you're garanteed a belt after two years; you still have to earn it through testing. It sounds like it's somewhat common there for students to take lessons for more than two years before earning the black belt. But what I was wondering about is if it is normal to have to sign up for two years' worth of lessons? Do most schools do that? (They also offer a 6-month beginners' program, but if you want to continue after that you have to go into the 2-year program.)

Also, when choosing a martial art how important do you consider the popularity of the art to be? This dojo is considered Okinawa kenpo karate kobudo. I think this type of martial art is cool. (the black belts train with Okinawan weapons, which I would really like to learn how to do, but the basics are karate, which I think is more important than weapons from a self-defense point of view. Also, I'm interested in the history and culture of Japan and Okinawa, so I think this would interest me more than, say, a Korean or Chinese art.) However, it doesn't seem to be nearly as popular as some other types of martial arts (like EPAK or TKD). I'm in college right now and in a few years I'll probably get a job in another state. If there's no Okinawan Kenpo school near where I live, will I have to start over completely at something different? (It seems kind of pointless to spend all this time and money on something just to have to spend more time and money on something different.) On the other hand, this is the only dojo that I know of near where I live right now, so if I want to do martial arts now I may not have a choice.

Well, any suggestions? :asian:
 
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GouRonin

Guest
I think that belts are relative to the school you are in. While it may take 2 years to attain black belt status in your school the moment you step out into a seminar or another school it becomes nothing really. Belts are pretty much valid only from the school they come from.

Some arts also have different time lines for their ranking so to compare a 2 year black belt in TKD to a 10 year black in Judo makes it harder to give advice on how to chose a school based on how long it might take one to get to black.

This doesn't even take into account the differences in the styles. So overall I don't think that you can compare styles or schools based on belt levels and time frames.

I think it would be best to judge a school based on other criteria such as, Do you like it there? What are the people like? What are you looking for in a school? Does it fufill this critera? Not all arts are for all people so if you want to study something it had best give you what you want.

Make a list of all the pros and cons of the school and the art and then based on that list and the things you want to do, make your decision.

Good luck and remember, at least doing something is better than sitting home on the couch.
 
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Master of Blades

Guest
Its not really the dojo you should be looking into. Its really the teacher you want to find out about. Find out who he/she is and who taught them, how long they have done it etc. Cuz no matter what kind of programm the school has or whatever, you wont get anywhere without a good teacher! Least thats what I been told.......:asian:
 
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hand2handCombat

Guest
ive never been to a mcdojo, how can u identify one?
 
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GouRonin

Guest
Originally posted by hand2handCombat
ive never been to a mcdojo, how can u identify one?

Probably with the fries that you get with your belt gradings.
:rolleyes:
 
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Kirk

Guest
A lot of them guarantee b.b.'s in a specific time frame. And a lot
of them have rising costs per belt test. Your yellow belt may only
cost 50 bucks, but your b.b. test can cost up to 500. Many don't
teach self defense techniques, just forms and breaking. There's
a whole slew of reasons for it (the dumbest being "our art is too
deadly"), but either way, it's b.s. And a lot of them give children
black belts.

There's no way in hell I'd sign a 2 year contract. Too much can
change in that time. I had one friend who's "master" closed his
school down, still intending on collecting his money. It has been
on his credit report for like 10 years now. Everytime he does what he has to do to get it taken off, boom, it shows right back
up!

I wouldn't worry about "starting all over" in another style/art, you
can still take your education with you, wherever you go.

Just my thoughts!
 
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Master of Blades

Guest
I agree, allthough I am lucky cuz my teacher, also being my father, makes sure that he checks out each school to make sure they arn't McDojo's. Another good thing to do is ask some of the studants there what they think of it. Coz if there any good they will know its crap! :asian:
 
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GouRonin

Guest
Originally posted by Master of Blades
Another good thing to do is ask some of the studants there what they think of it. Coz if there any good they will know its crap!

Uh, maybe it's me...'cause we all know I'm a little "slow" sometimes....:rolleyes: but if you ask a student who's at that school why would they badmouth the place if it taught them and they're good? I think that it might be ok to talk with students about their school but remember...they are students of the school and their opinion will be somewhat biased.
 
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Master of Blades

Guest
scuse me, Past studants. If you can find them that is.
 
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theneuhauser

Guest
in regards to finding out what is or is not a mcdojo, i suggest that the new student asks whether a portion of their dues goes towards anything besides YOUR instructor and YOUR school. NO percentage of that money should be going towards anyone else (and im also not a believer in association fees, but they are less important here).
the term "mcdojo" came about because some of the schools out there are franchises. they pop up everywhere so that the owner can make more money. a more respectable model, is one where each individual instructor have his own school, the grand master should give his endorsement to his student and this is how the lineage stays strong. there should be no royalties coming out of a school's hard earned reserves to some loser that never even comes around. that is not what the martial arts is about, it is not hamburgers!:soapbox:
 
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GouRonin

Guest
Originally posted by Master of Blades
scuse me, Past studants. If you can find them that is.

But always remember, why are they no longer students there? Always take that with a grain of salt as well.
 
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theneuhauser

Guest
But always remember, why are they no longer students there? Always take that with a grain of salt as well

if you think about that one, though, youll probably find that most of the students that are in your area, but dropped out are lazy couch potatos that couldnt get into it anyway, and the dedicated, long term students (long term meaning anything over 6 months probably!) are no longer there because they moved far far away.
 
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GouRonin

Guest
There are always students that left for other reasons. All in all any information or advice you get needs to be looked at from where it came from. Just make sure you are getting what you want before committing.
 
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Master of Blades

Guest
:shrug:.............Got something for everything dont'cha! ;) nah hes completly right. But just make sure you do your homework. I think that rolls everything into one!
 
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GouRonin

Guest
The problem is that the public is at the mercy of these guys who pull these scams. They have no idea what to look for in a martial art or a school and thus are really only able to choose within the area that they know. Which isn't much. So sometimes people don't know they are being scammed for years until they move out into the world and compare themselves. Heck, some never leave the school and have no idea what's going on outside of their school.
 
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Amanda Sedai

Guest
Wow, I got a lot of replies. :eek: Thanks, everyone.

I've taken free lessons at this school before, and it seems to be pretty good. Self-defense is taught (I've noticed here and in other places it's been mentioned that "McDojos" don't always teach self-defense) as well as sparring and katas. The school is a franchise in that it has two locations, but I actually consider this a good thing because one is near my house and the other is near my college. (I'm a commuter but will probably live on campus next year.)

The only thing I'm still not sure about is the contract thing. What's everyone's opinion on that?

Theneuhauser, you mentioned the instructor's lineage. I don't know specifically who taught the instructor, but I do know that the school has been approved by the International Karate Kobudo Federation. Does anyone have any opinions about this organization? There's information on it at www.ikkf.org.

The instructor does seem to know what he's doing, though. During my free lessons I asked questions about things like the purpose of the katas and stuff and he was able to answer them, and he corrected me whenever I screwed the katas up.

Thanks again, everyone. :asian:
 
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theneuhauser

Guest
ikkf is just like any other organization, i dont like organizations. but i do like okinawan karate styles!!! find out if they are just associated with ikkf or if they take a more active role, and what that involves. that would give you another idea of what type of overall curriculum you will be involved with. lineage shouldnt be the most important issue, its just another piece of the puzzle for you. when you have a good idea of who the instructor really is and what the school is about then you can see the clear picture.

martial arts instruction is really about something different for every one of us, so what do you want out of your training?
good luck amanda!!!!!
 
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Kenpo Wolf

Guest
I'm glad you like the instructor. As far as a contract is concerned, I do not like the idea of them due to the fact things change and the contract makes you financially obligated to pay for the classes even though you may have to stop going for a reason. It's a diffrent matter with a 4 or 6 month contracts, but I would shy away from a 2 year contract.
 

Rich Parsons

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In Anything you do in life:

One should always do the following:

1) Define what you want to do or accomplish.

2) Learn about what you want to do, this way you can recognize those that have what you want.

3) Do, what you want to do.


Here is another point, Good Choices come from experience, and experience is gained by making bad choices. Now you can listen to others to limit the amount of bad choices you make. But, do not get really upset with yourself, if you find yourself a couple of months into training, and you find that you are not happy or satisfied.

Personally, once you have defined what you are looking for, self defense, tournament play, Olympic sports, fighting, etc., ..., you can make your choice of instructors, not necessary an art or school. Yes find an instructor the teaches in a manner you easily understand and comprehend. This
will help you learning in the long wrong.

Just some of my experience and knowledge, for what it is worth. :D

Train well

Rich
 

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