First visit to an ATA school

msmitht

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OK...First off I need to say that I have never heard anything good about the ATA. I have had several transfers into my school from ATA style schools and made each of them restart at white belt (I am WTF style). I recently had the chance to visit my Nephew who wanted to show his "Master Uncle" his TKD school.
When I went to visit they were having a class in self defense called Hagganah. It reminded me of the stuff I learned in the Corps but without the emphasis on Killing. I personally do not believe my 9 yr. old nephew needed to learn how to disarm a shotgun wielding opponent nor would he have the mental capacity to do so if needed. I went to eat and apon my return saw a class on Kettlebells and cardio Kickboxing.
The next day after breakfast I went by and saw a class practicing what they call XMA. A lot of spinning, handstands and bad stances followed up by looooooooooooooooong yells. I had seen 3 classes at this school but not one of them was in TKD.
That night I took my nephew to his "TKD class" and watched in disgust. Sure the teacher knew how to motivate them. Patches and stripes/stars in every class will do that for every kid. There was a decent amount of exercise and a lot of demonstration on how to do kicks the "right way" but very little practice of them and almost no correction.
At the end of class His "Sa Bum" invited me to a black belt class (My nephew told him I was a black belt) the following day. When I showed up it was me and 20 6-12 year old kids. They were all spinning "Numbchucks" (Nun cha ku) or twirling staffs. I watched a little and then asked politely if there would be any TKD practice going on that class. The Instructor seemed puzzled as I sat on edge of the mat not participating. He then stopped the class and asked me if I would like to teach them something.
I did the only thing I thought they could handle.....Roundhouse kick (off the line) drills. I had them practice for 20 minutes and then class was over.
Afterwards the instructor told me he thought my drills were too simple. I told him I thought the kids (Jr. Black belts) needed work on their basic's. He changed topic's and proceeded to invite me to "Roll with him". I guess he was too unsure of his kicking skills for a TKD sparring match and wanted to show me what they did in the schools MMA class. Maybe I should have told him that I had been practicing BJJ for 7 years. I am not the best Purple belt on my schools mats but I made that guy my B@$%H. In the end he shook my hand and walked away looking like he was ready to cry (I didn't even go that hard).
Fast forward 3 weeks...
I get a call from my brother telling me his son's favorite teacher quit and is now flipping burgers while attending college (A good career move). He said he wanted to pull him from the school but they can not get back the Black belt tuition.

My question to everyone is :
How in the hell can they call themselves a Tae Kwon Do Association? I have a 2nd dan ITF, 5th Dan Kukkiwon and a 5th dan Moo Do Kwan. I am not the worlds greatest practitioner/teacher but I have spent my share of time on the mat. There was very little being practiced that could be called TKD and they were trying to be a jack of all trades...but they sucked!
OK...My rant is done. Has anyone else seen a school like this one?
 

troubleenuf

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The ATA is a business first... TKD comes in someplace down the line. They make a TON of money, but they teach very little of value. But what the students dont know......

OK...First off I need to say that I have never heard anything good about the ATA. I have had several transfers into my school from ATA style schools and made each of them restart at white belt (I am WTF style). I recently had the chance to visit my Nephew who wanted to show his "Master Uncle" his TKD school.
When I went to visit they were having a class in self defense called Hagganah. It reminded me of the stuff I learned in the Corps but without the emphasis on Killing. I personally do not believe my 9 yr. old nephew needed to learn how to disarm a shotgun wielding opponent nor would he have the mental capacity to do so if needed. I went to eat and apon my return saw a class on Kettlebells and cardio Kickboxing.
The next day after breakfast I went by and saw a class practicing what they call XMA. A lot of spinning, handstands and bad stances followed up by looooooooooooooooong yells. I had seen 3 classes at this school but not one of them was in TKD.
That night I took my nephew to his "TKD class" and watched in disgust. Sure the teacher knew how to motivate them. Patches and stripes/stars in every class will do that for every kid. There was a decent amount of exercise and a lot of demonstration on how to do kicks the "right way" but very little practice of them and almost no correction.
At the end of class His "Sa Bum" invited me to a black belt class (My nephew told him I was a black belt) the following day. When I showed up it was me and 20 6-12 year old kids. They were all spinning "Numbchucks" (Nun cha ku) or twirling staffs. I watched a little and then asked politely if there would be any TKD practice going on that class. The Instructor seemed puzzled as I sat on edge of the mat not participating. He then stopped the class and asked me if I would like to teach them something.
I did the only thing I thought they could handle.....Roundhouse kick (off the line) drills. I had them practice for 20 minutes and then class was over.
Afterwards the instructor told me he thought my drills were too simple. I told him I thought the kids (Jr. Black belts) needed work on their basic's. He changed topic's and proceeded to invite me to "Roll with him". I guess he was too unsure of his kicking skills for a TKD sparring match and wanted to show me what they did in the schools MMA class. Maybe I should have told him that I had been practicing BJJ for 7 years. I am not the best Purple belt on my schools mats but I made that guy my B@$%H. In the end he shook my hand and walked away looking like he was ready to cry (I didn't even go that hard).
Fast forward 3 weeks...
I get a call from my brother telling me his son's favorite teacher quit and is now flipping burgers while attending college (A good career move). He said he wanted to pull him from the school but they can not get back the Black belt tuition.

My question to everyone is :
How in the hell can they call themselves a Tae Kwon Do Association? I have a 2nd dan ITF, 5th Dan Kukkiwon and a 5th dan Moo Do Kwan. I am not the worlds greatest practitioner/teacher but I have spent my share of time on the mat. There was very little being practiced that could be called TKD and they were trying to be a jack of all trades...but they sucked!
OK...My rant is done. Has anyone else seen a school like this one?
 

celtic_crippler

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I always considered the ATA schools "krotty fer kidz." They teach them some coordination and give them plenty of excercise and self-esteem, but I've never known any adult students.

Interesting to see somone with many years in TKD assess the org.
 

DMcHenry

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Your experiences are very similar to mine that I had watching a former ATA school (now in a split off organization but still basically the same thing).

Two of their adult students (which was just about all they had) that were very close to achieving their black belts began working with me and started over at white belts, and weren't even good white belts.

It was sad.
 
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msmitht

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OK....Good....It is not just me. Ant ATA Black Belts want to answer?
 

ATC

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When it comes to any school, master, instructor, style of teaching, ect..., I find it best if nothing good to say, say nothing at all.:asian:
 

terryl965

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When it comes to any school, master, instructor, style of teaching, ect..., I find it best if nothing good to say, say nothing at all.:asian:

I can only echo your thoughts
icon14.gif
 

searcher

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In a word, YES I have seen several schools like this. Some go by different names, but they all are the same...................Terrible!!

All we can do is educate the public one at a time and hope that it sinks in.
 

DMcHenry

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Funny thing is, many want this type of program. The instructor was a very nice guy (fairly good to IMO), and kids love it. It was very organized and seemed very friendly.

Personally, I just think their techniques sucked - never made ANY contact (not even light wearing full gear) and didn't even touch each other when doing a 'take down'. But they were having fun and felt they were learning something (which they were). They had to get fairly advanced to begin looking like a good martial artist.

Depends on what you are looking for, how much you are willing to pay, what type of social environment it is, and how much fun you have.

I don't do the 'fun stuff' either, that's why I don't have any students :)
 
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msmitht

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I guess what bothered me the most was that they were more concerned with keeping everyone happy then actually teaching them some valuable martial skills (which would eventually make them happy).
My mother told me not to say anything mean about others too. I was not trying to be mean or unkind...I was being HONEST.
 

chrispillertkd

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I guess what bothered me the most was that they were more concerned with keeping everyone happy then actually teaching them some valuable martial skills (which would eventually make them happy).

Boy, is this an overlooked truth these days. I have seen more than one school where the main focus is on keeping students enrolled. I'm not saying that the instructor should do nothing to motivate his students, but the biggest motivator of all, IMNSHO, is to provide excellent instruction and thus impart good skills to the students. That's going to result in not only satisfied students but technically proficient students, too.

Pax,

Chris
 

ATC

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I don't do the 'fun stuff' either, that's why I don't have any students :)
You can still have fun and run a good school in the process. Kids want to have fun so every now and then you have to do something that breaks up the monotony.

Every 2 months or so we have a week with 2 days out of that week where we do something fun in class for the kids. One example is dodge ball. We will do 30 minutes of actual training then spend the last 30 minutes of class doing a game of dodge ball.

Another example is that we may pick a day in advance and and call it buddy day. This day we have each kid bring in a buddy and let then train with their friends, great fun for the kids and a great way to recruit new students.

Plus with the young kids 6-9 we do many days of obstacle course training. This way they have fun and train their bodies to move, become, stronger, and coordinated at the same time. All fun stuff but still they are training and discovering their bodies and learning to control it at the same time, kids need this. Now adults are a different story, BUT, every 6 months or so we let them play dodge ball also. More of a competition than a game though. For dodge ball we use softball size foam balls, can't break any mirrors or windows with them. Plus no one gets hurt.
 

stoneheart

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OK....Good....It is not just me. Ant ATA Black Belts want to answer?

I've noticed they tend to stick to themselves. Very few on open forums like these will admit to being ATA black belts - probably because of the flack they would inevitably receive.

What can I say about the org, not being an ATA guy either? Well, at least they're promoting good character values to the children they cater to. These days with obesity rampant in US society, I think they have their place. Honestly, if you throw out ATA schools and their imitations I sometimes think you'd be throwing away half of the TKD schools here in the US. The landscape of for-profit TKD instruction is not how I would like it, but it is what it is.
 

Dave Leverich

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It's not just you, nor just ATA, it seems to be a sweeping thing through many TKD/Karate schools throughout the country.

When i started TKD in 85, it was the 12-30 men. Now the demographics seem to be 4-10 year olds making up 60% of the students in most schools.

It makes me think there needs to be 'Kids Martial Fun' and then 'Serious Martial Arts' type classes/programs etc. I know that there are schools in each, but it'd be nice to see a dedicated curriculum on both. Although, i suppose that would require admitting that the kids programs aren't martial training so much as character building...
 

troubleenuf

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Another thing the ATA does is make sure all of their, or most anyway, can advertise themselves as National and World champions. As I understand it they reach that through ATA tournaments that give them points. If they reach a certain number of points they are a National Champion. If they reach x number of points they are a World Champion. Again, they are a business first, and World champions make good advertisement.
 

celtic_crippler

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It's not just you, nor just ATA, it seems to be a sweeping thing through many TKD/Karate schools throughout the country.

When i started TKD in 85, it was the 12-30 men. Now the demographics seem to be 4-10 year olds making up 60% of the students in most schools.

It makes me think there needs to be 'Kids Martial Fun' and then 'Serious Martial Arts' type classes/programs etc. I know that there are schools in each, but it'd be nice to see a dedicated curriculum on both. Although, i suppose that would require admitting that the kids programs aren't martial training so much as character building...

In this area of the country many ATA schools actually are called "Karate for Kids." I'm not trying to be funny, it's what they have on their signs.
 
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msmitht

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I guess I see where they are coming from. My parents made me go rain or shine. Sometimes I was the only 7 year old in class. Most students were adults and they did not want to partner with me. The only games we played involved sparring or running. I actually use some "games" and drills that are carefully disguised as games to keep my classes fun.
I mainly wanted to see if my expierence was unique. I guess not.
 

d1jinx

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OMG>> Do I have an ATA story for you guys. Falls right in with the topic of this thread.

I was stationed in Fl. I had recieved my 3rd Dan Before I got stationed there. I looked all over for a WTF style TKD school. I found a few wacco's that should have been banned from MA for life. The only thing I found that came close to my expectations was an ATA school. Now hear me out. This wasnt the average ATA school. This one was run by Soon Ho Lee who is one of the 3 brothers who founded ATA. He taught a Black Belt class that people drove for hours to come too once a week. The instructor convinced me to take my "first Class" the night he taught. The Instructor introduced me to him and showed him I was a 3rd Dan. He told me to line up last in the back and said he'll see how I do. Let me tell you, he was insane. straight traditional korean style training non stop for an hour and a half. Some of the best I have ever had. They killed me in that class being the new guy and having to prove my 3rd Dan. I knew no one in class and Master Lee continued to single me out all night and have me demonstrate different techniques and more or less test my abilities. When he gave the class a break he had me do my BB forms and watched. He wore me out. So at the end of class, he decided to do some sparring. Yeah lucky me right. So the TKD school i grew up in as a kid and teenager did point sparring, continuous sparring and olympic sparring. We adapted and sparred in any competition we could find. So ATA does the point sparring with the headgear, boots and gloves, no hogu and medium contact. So about the 3rd fight Master Lee called me up against one of thier "NATIONAL CHAMPIONS". They loaned me some gear and Highly insisted I wear a headgear as they laughed. I heard the oohs and aaahhs from the people. This guy was about 6'8". I am 6'1" so he was taller than me. Right from the get go he started that damn hopping on one leg and pumping out a right leg roundhouse kick. I learned that trick when I was a green belt. I timed it and BAM... spin hook kick straight to his face and knocked him on his A$$. He was laying on the ground in shock. No one had EVER hit this guy in the face before. He got up seriously P.O'd. :rpo: He really wanted to hurt me then. So he tried that crap again and BAM.... again he went to the floor and the red welt began to form under his eye. Not wanting to be outdone infront of everyone, he got up and gave it one more attempt. This time he tried to switch it up a little and go on the defense waiting for me, I baited him in and spun the other way and POW. again to the floor. MAster Lee stopped the fight and everyone there was in disbelief. This so called National Champ had been floor 3 times with the same kick to the face by the NEW GUY. Master Lee ended the class. I must have done something right because He told me I could continue to were my 3rd Dan belt in his school and to line up with the 3rd dans from now on. Then he offered to Test me for his (ATA) 3rd Dan. He insisted I learn all the forms as quickly as possible and test as soon as I learned them. I really had no desire to test so I used lack of money as an excuse. I ended up training there for most of the time I was stationed there. He even offered me a job. But being in the military and always TDY, I told him I couldn't.

ALL in ALL, that was a decent school. The instructors were good. The students were average with a few exeptionals in the group, but that was only because it was MASTER LEE"S SCHOOL. the other schools, students and Instuctors I came in contact with were just as described in this thread. And yes, they are definatley

all business first, TKD second. I dont knock their system because it has some meaning to it. But somehow it was lost in the translation between Business and Taekwondo. The other schools and tournaments were not of quality. I will say that that was some of the best TKD classes I have taken, when Master Lee taught. But I will not say that for any of the others I have seen.

I learned a lot from him and thier school. Especially about the business side of it. Like everything in life, take the good, forget the bad, and you will be a beter person than when you started.

well that my story and I'm sticking to it... like a heel spinning though the air... meeting a new cheek bone... :uhyeah:
 

Dave Leverich

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Another thing the ATA does is make sure all of their, or most anyway, can advertise themselves as National and World champions. As I understand it they reach that through ATA tournaments that give them points. If they reach a certain number of points they are a National Champion. If they reach x number of points they are a World Champion. Again, they are a business first, and World champions make good advertisement.
Actually no, that's not correct.
The state champion program is set up that way, but the world champion program requires competition at the worlds tournament in which the top 10 people whittle down to the top 1 etc. The point system just gets people a shot at the title.
 

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