Contradictions In The Martial Arts

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PhotonGuy

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I think the point being made is that sometimes that information isn't very...informative. If I gave the expected range at my instructor's school, the answer would be 5-12 years, but you can technically manage it in just over 3.5 years. I don't know how a prospective student would make any use of that, so I used what seemed the most common number (in that it fit about 4 people): 7 years. It's a fairly meaningless number.
It's just something that some people might ask although as Hot Lunch mentioned, it would probably be more useful to know about minimum time requirements and attendance requirements.
 
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PhotonGuy

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Nope. I look at it like religion. Look at the likes of Creflo Dollar, Joel Olsteen, TD Jakes, the late Eddie Long, etc.

What do they have in common? They're either non-denominational or belong to Christian denominations with a congregational polity. In other words, their churches do not belong to larger organizations where bishops or elders can hold individual pastors accountable.

Back in the 80's, when Jimmy Swaggart got caught in his scandal, he was immediately dealt with by the World Assemblies of God Fellowship (which has a presbyterian polity).

Who's going to hold Creflo Dollar or Joel Olsteen accountable? No one.
With a large organization that teaches martial arts it can be hard to keep an eye on everything. The president of such an organization might be a really good instructor and if you're learning directly under him you might be getting top quality instruction but when there's many many little schools that all function as part of said organization some of those schools might only offer sub standard instruction and it can be hard for the president to supervise each and every school all the time so bad instruction can crop in. Im not saying this will always happen with every school in a large organization but it is something to look out for if you want to train in such an organization.
Is this to say that martial arts instructors will immediately take their schools in bad directions if they're independent? No. But there's also no one to stop them if they choose to do so.
Yes that is true you can find bad instruction in independent dojos too, that's why I will always watch at least part of a class before I sign up for lessons at a dojo, or if Im allowed a free trial lesson as some dojos offer I will do that before committing to regular lessons. That's what happened when I wanted to learn Goju Ryu, the first dojo that I visited that taught that art, after watching part of a class I was not impressed with what I saw so I went to a different dojo that taught Goju Ryu, that was further away from me but I liked the instruction better so I signed up there instead.
How do you assess the quality of the material being taught?
Mostly by trusting in my own judgement and my decades of experience in the martial arts. Sometimes, also by talking to other people in the martial arts community speaking of which I was not the only one who wasn't impressed by Tiger Schulmann's. Speaking of which, you used to be able to find Tiger Schulmann's in many if not most strip malls, now you hardly find it anywhere.
If you're qualified to judge that, then why don't you have your own dojo?
Because starting a dojo requires collateral.
If that's the only way to get it, sure. But if there are other ways, I'd rather try them first and risk embarrassment as a last resort.
Let's say there's this job you want, the only way you can possibly get the job is to apply. If you do apply you might be turned down which can be embarrassing but you certainly won't get the job if you don't even apply in the first place.

As for only asking an instructor directly about how the dojo is run, including belt requirements, only as a last resort, if such information is not posted on the website or anything, that's your choice.
Yes. You yourself have given numerous examples of this happening. I've never asked an instructor this question before, so I can't speak from experience. However, I'm taking your word for it. I'm also taking the word of posters here who've discussed the times that they themselves answered this question.
If you're talking about when I mention about an instructor offering to sell somebody a black belt right out of the cabinet that they haven't earned with skill, as its been mentioned in this thread before, yes that would be treating somebody like a child but it can be turned around. For instance if an instructor did that with me I would say that's cheating so I would be pointing out that he suggested that I cheat.
 
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PhotonGuy

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Sure, I could give them a minimum time most likely. I try to focus them on their next task at hand however. This would be the skills that they to demonstrate proficiency in, to be able to progress.
Well that's what I would mostly focus on, the skills.
 

gyoja

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My first time teaching solo was at a recreation center on a military installation. I contacted the youth services office and asked if I could use the gym space on certain days and times. They approved it, so I had a free climate controlled space. Im sure other areas are looking for youth activities as well.
 

Taiji Rebel

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Working in gyms and leading classes with thousands of people has given me some insight into human psychology. Most people who ask how long something will take to achieve rarely last the course. Whereas those who enjoy turning up to classes with a passion continue to train and train, week after week and year after year. Belts, uniforms, grades, medals, trophies and certificates could be seen as good motivators for children but tend to have limited value for adults.
 

Gerry Seymour

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It's just something that some people might ask although as Hot Lunch mentioned, it would probably be more useful to know about minimum time requirements and attendance requirements.
I'd say a lot of time has been spent here discussing what is not that big a question. Most folks don't ask it, and those that do are usually satisfied with whatever answer they get. If they are looking to make BB in a given amount of time, an indefinite answer is as good as an answer that is longer than they want. For those who are just curious (or just think it's a question they should ask), any answer seems to do. For those looking to make sure ranks reflect skill level, they're probably just looking to hear something other than "if you come to class twice a week, you'll get your BB in 2 years".
 

Gerry Seymour

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With a large organization that teaches martial arts it can be hard to keep an eye on everything. The president of such an organization might be a really good instructor and if you're learning directly under him you might be getting top quality instruction but when there's many many little schools that all function as part of said organization some of those schools might only offer sub standard instruction and it can be hard for the president to supervise each and every school all the time so bad instruction can crop in. Im not saying this will always happen with every school in a large organization but it is something to look out for if you want to train in such an organization.
Good point. There are methods for an organization to mitigate this (BJJ's intercompetition helps quite a bit, as does requiring dan tests in front of a board), but none are foolproof.

I'd guess most of the worst instructors are either independent or part of particularly bad organizations. But I can say I'd guess most of the best instructors are either independent or part of particularly good organizations.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Nonsense. That's a terrible excuse. All that is required is a public park and at least one like-minded individual. Or go volunteer at your local YMCA or some other community center.
In my experience, it took more than that. Sure, you can teach in a park (and I have), but you're subject to the vagaries of weather. And a very small group, IMO, isn't as good a learning environment for MA as having 10+ partners to work with. Building up doesn't always happen automatically (I say "always", because I have known folks who just started a program and folks showed up).

What you desribe is finiding a training partner. I wouldn't consider it "starting a dojo" until you have a regular group of a few folks you're leading.

And the local Y/community center isn't always an answer, either. I taught at a Y for about 18 months - a place with fairly regular traffic, in a room across from the locker rooms. Very few people even showed up to look in on the class. My students were the result of me doing "self defense" seminars before I opened the class. Part of it was that I couldn't teach on weeknights (I wasn't available, and they had almost no time slots open on weeknights, anyway). I had nearly identical experience at the rec center I taught at for nearly 2 years, except that the only students were those I brought with me from the Y.

In all cases, except where I was teaching at someone else's MA school, I also had to provide the equipment.

Getting a program started takes work and organization, and some time commitment. It's definitely more demanding that just going to a class. Depending upon the art, it can also cost money for equipment.
 

Gerry Seymour

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My first time teaching solo was at a recreation center on a military installation. I contacted the youth services office and asked if I could use the gym space on certain days and times. They approved it, so I had a free climate controlled space. Im sure other areas are looking for youth activities as well.
Fair enough, if you're looking to teach kids. That's probably easier to start, since kids classes are generally quicker to fill.
 

Hot Lunch

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Good point. There are methods for an organization to mitigate this (BJJ's intercompetition helps quite a bit, as does requiring dan tests in front of a board), but none are foolproof.
PhotonGuy's response implies that he believes that, even in larger organizations, all dojos report directly to the hombu dojo, and that's not true. There levels in between (regional directors, and such). My sensei even told us of times where Okazaki Sensei would even show up during class unannounced at times (before he passed away, and before I started training there). So the quality of instruction as reflected by the performance of the students never went under the radar.

I'd guess most of the worst instructors are either independent or part of particularly bad organizations. But I can say I'd guess most of the best instructors are either independent or part of particularly good organizations.
But here are two things that can't be denied:

1. Unaffiliated dojos are not subject to any quality control measures. I'm not saying that this means there's no quality. What I'm saying is that there can be a lack of quality, and there's no higher authority to keep it in check (remember, comparing Joel Olsteen to Jimmy Swaggart).

2. Big elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss: I'm not going to throw any percentages out there, as I have no way of knowing... but there is that percentage of unaffiliated dojos out there where their unaffiliated status is not by choice. And unless you're privy to inside information about that dojo or the instructor, you're not going know to if that's their case (because they're going to act like it's by choice). So why risk it?
 

gyoja

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Fair enough, if you're looking to teach kids. That's probably easier to start, since kids classes are generally quicker to fill.
Dont get me wrong, I had adult classes. This was just the pitch that I used to secure facility space.
 

Gerry Seymour

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PhotonGuy's response implies that he believes that, even in larger organizations, all dojos report directly to the hombu dojo, and that's not true. There levels in between (regional directors, and such). My sensei even told us of times where Okazaki Sensei would even show up during class unannounced at times (before he passed away, and before I started training there). So the quality of instruction as reflected by the performance of the students never went under the radar.


But here are two things that can't be denied:

1. Unaffiliated dojos are not subject to any quality control measures. I'm not saying that this means there's no quality. What I'm saying is that there can be a lack of quality, and there's no higher authority to keep it in check (remember, comparing Joel Olsteen to Jimmy Swaggart).

2. Big elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss: I'm not going to throw any percentages out there, as I have no way of knowing... but there is that percentage of unaffiliated dojos out there where their unaffiliated status is not by choice. And unless you're privy to inside information about that dojo or the instructor, you're not going know to if that's their case (because they're going to act like it's by choice). So why risk it?
I know of some folks who were forced out of organizations for pretty good reasons. None of them stayed unaffiliated, though I'm certain there are others just like them who did. And most organizations (not just MA) tend to be pretty slow to believe bad things about the people in their organization, so are predictably slow to act.

My point is that someone just being part of any organization doesn't, in my experience, reduce the chance of them being a bad instructor (or even a bad person). There are some organizations that provide better insurance for some of these things, but just "an organization" doesn't, really.
 

isshinryuronin

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And most organizations (not just MA) tend to be pretty slow to believe bad things about the people in their organization, so are predictably slow to act.
The ability of an organization to "act" (fast or slow) is only effective if "offenders" care about the repercussions of the action. They may be barred from certain benefits or from the organization itself, but even this doesn't keep the instructor from teaching whatever way he wants independently. In such cases the organization is toothless.

Once upon a time, peer pressure, pride of reputation and loyalty kept things in check (somewhat, at least). But in this modern world of mass numbers of schools, organizations and practitioners there is little pressure to ensure compliance. There are still many senior belts and schools that have high standards, but, as you say, belonging to a certain organization (whose main goal is often growth) is no guarantee.
 

JowGaWolf

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Commence Derail.
Did you guys know that another Ghost Buster movie is coming out. Am I the only one excited about that? Lol
 
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PhotonGuy

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Nonsense. That's a terrible excuse. All that is required is a public park and at least one like-minded individual.
If you're talking about instructing somebody else one on one who is interested in learning, yes I've done that.
Or go volunteer at your local YMCA or some other community center.
That works fine if the YMCA or community center is looking for volunteers in that field.
 
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