I LIKE my McDojang

Tez3

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Let me clarify just a little! Because I think their was a little confusion with my post. The students who came to my school did not get beat up at my dojo, they got beat up on the street and then came to my dojo for real self defense training! Their parents put them in the martial arts to learn self defense and self control, they learned neither at the mcdojo! They were at the local park and got cocky with a group of kids and tried a three ninjas attack and it back fired. They are now at my dojo and probably three of my best, most respectful students and now know they don't need to flaunt their martial arts. Sorry for the confusion and I never promote violence...ever!
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Well surely people didn't think you allowed kids to be beaten up!

I can just imagine these blackbelts thinking they were invincable and getting their tails handed to them. Funny to think of but dreadful in reality.
 

Steve

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First post to MT forum, and I hope it doesn't get me off on the wrong foot, but I see several recent threads about the McDojo/McDojang idea, and I feel compelled to jump in. I'm new to the forum and relatively new to martial arts (8 months), but I believe I'm a mature person and a clear thinker, so I hope you take my ideas seriously.

Il-do Taekwondo in Irvine, CA would qualify as a McDojang by the standards of many on this forum:
  • Black-belt Club (2 to 2 1/2 years, but not guaranteed BB)
  • Lot's of kids
  • Family programs - often all progressing at the same pace
  • 10 belt levels
  • Children and teenagers awarded black belts without true mastery
  • etc..
I'm coming into this a little late, but I'd like to post my reaction to the original poster before I read the rest.

If you are fully aware that your son isn't learning any actual, practical martial skill, great. The thing for me is it's about transparency. As many will agree, there are a lot of reasons to train in a martial art. Martial skill being the most obvious, but not the only one of value. If you're not in it for practical martial skill, but like the uniforms, the exercise and whatever else, great. More power to you. If you THINK you're developing some kind of martial ability, then there's a disconnect, and that's where I see the difference between an honest, if opportunistic, businessman and a con artist.
 

jks9199

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I'm coming into this a little late, but I'd like to post my reaction to the original poster before I read the rest.

If you are fully aware that your son isn't learning any actual, practical martial skill, great. The thing for me is it's about transparency. As many will agree, there are a lot of reasons to train in a martial art. Martial skill being the most obvious, but not the only one of value. If you're not in it for practical martial skill, but like the uniforms, the exercise and whatever else, great. More power to you. If you THINK you're developing some kind of martial ability, then there's a disconnect, and that's where I see the difference between an honest, if opportunistic, businessman and a con artist.
Nothing in the posts has given me any ability to judge whether or not the original poster and his son are learning any "real" martial skills or not. Without being able to see their training, I can't say whether what they're learning is effective or not.

But, the thing is, they're happy there, and it seems he knows what he's getting. I don't have a problem with that; the places I have problems with are the ones that deny what they're selling.
 

Steve

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It's real simple.

You know what you want for yourself and your son out of martial arts training. If you're getting that -- than the school you're in is good for you.

McDonalds isn't bad food. It's not great... but, y'know, there are times when I want a Big Mac or Double Cheeseburger. And there are times when I want filet mignon or just a good steak.
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I don't disagree with the sentiment here, but I think the choice of metaphors is particularly telling.

First, if you know what you want and think you're getting it, but aren't, you're in trouble. That's what a mcdojo does. It doesn't give you what you think you're getting. McDonald's IS bad food, by any definition of the word. It's unhealthy and often unnaturally processed. And these days, it's even more unhealthy than ever.

But when you eat a big mac, you know it's bad for you. Most mcdojos are like the grilled chicken. It's chicken. It's supposed to be a healthier alternative. Surely, if I eat the grilled chicken, I'm okay. Right? Unfortunately, the grilled chicken club sandwich is as bad for you as a big mac and still almost 30% fat.

Point being that a mcdojo is a business first. Profit uber alles, and, just like McD's, if the product can be shaved a little here, sliced a little there and corners cut to increase the profit, it will often be done even at the expense of the customer.

Final thing is the comment: "As long as you're getting that." Often, with regards to anything, the customer isn't educated enough to properly evaluate what they're getting. Where the vendor is also the only expert, there is a conflict of interest. If the OP is being told only by his sensei that he and his son are learning practical SD, there's a problem.

EDIT: I was with the OP until I read through the thread and saw him repeatedly mention SD techniques. As you said, it's impossible to evaluate his training without seeing it. I'm not saying differently. What I'm suggesting is that the OP is not a credible judge of what his own training is, and in the absence of a credible judge of the quality of the training, but accepting that this is admittedly a mcdojo, I see no reason to presume it is only partially a mcdojo.
 

Steve

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I too am in a similar position as the original poster. My daughter is 7 years she is currently a yellow belt.

But here is my take...when she is assigned a black belt, will she truely be a black belt? No. In my estimation it will take 10 years or more for her to be able to handle herself, maybe 15 years or 20 years of training. It will take that long to build strength, speed and the knowledge.

I don't believe in the belt system so much. I do believe in the importance of training. I try and teach my daughter is it not about the color of the belt but it is about the person wearing the belt that is more important. The belt only holds up your pants.

I train so I can be the best MA I can be and to be able to earn the respect of the black belts in my Dojang. One day I hope to beat them on all levels (forms, sparring, one step and any other measure I learn about along the way). My daughter will train (she doesn't know it yet) to beat me. I will be the hardest test she will ever encounter because I love her the most. Too much emphasis is placed on the stupid belt.
Okay, so then, on the one hand it's okay to enroll the kids in a mcdojo because they need the belts as rewards. But on the other hand... what? Are you telling her that her belts aren't real? When she gets a black belt, are you going to tell her that her black belt is meaningless? That seems unnecessarily cruel and destructive.

I'm hard pressed to think of any other activity in which we follow this line of reasoning for our kids. My son is playing the drums, but there are no belts, no formal recognition. And yet he hasn't quit yet. He might someday, but it won't be because he wasn't promoted to purple drumsticks.

My daughter trains BJJ, has been for about a year now. She's got one stripe on her white belt, and yet she still trains.
 

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Okay, so then, on the one hand it's okay to enroll the kids in a mcdojo because they need the belts as rewards. But on the other hand... what? Are you telling her that her belts aren't real? When she gets a black belt, are you going to tell her that her black belt is meaningless? That seems unnecessarily cruel and destructive.

I'm hard pressed to think of any other activity in which we follow this line of reasoning for our kids. My son is playing the drums, but there are no belts, no formal recognition. And yet he hasn't quit yet. He might someday, but it won't be because he wasn't promoted to purple drumsticks.

My daughter trains BJJ, has been for about a year now. She's got one stripe on her white belt, and yet she still trains.

What I try to instill in her is that the "belt" is not the be all end all of what Taekwondo is all about. The belt is just a marker. You train to be the best you can be, to hit the best you can, to kick the best you can, all the time. That is the reward. If you adopt this mind set, everything else becomes irrelevent.

Why does your son continue to play drums? Probably because he wants to be good? Does he need a belt, ribbon or medal to tell him he's good or to practice? No. He probably just wants to be the best he can be. He's not looking for a medal or a trophy. This very thing, is what I try to teach my daughter. You do it to be the best you can be, not so that you can wear the next color belt. This is a lifetime achievement. It never ends.
 

Daniel Sullivan

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Exile - If they gave patches or medals instead of belts to kids to keep them motivated, I'd be OK with that as an alternative, but they don't, and I'm okay with that, too.
On another McDojo thread, I suggested this very thing. Glad to see that the idea is not just popping into my own head:)

I'll make no judgements about the training you receive at your dojang: I haven't seen it. BBC's, lots of belts, kiddie blackbelts, and doboks that look like a Christmas tree are not a guarantee of poor training, any more than a lack of those things is a guarantee of good training. Life would be so much simpler if such a deliniation were so.

The fact is that there are schools that have some or all of the hallmarks of the typical McDojo, but still manage to offer excellent training. How does a BBC prevent the staff from providing good training? It doesn't. If the school has eleven colored belts before black, does it therefore follow that those belts are not tested for with lots of hard work and sweat? Of course not.

As you get further into the wonderful world of martial arts, if you seek information, you will find it. Eventually, you will be able to pick out what is good and what is filler.

So take the time to do what you're doing. Do it well, put in the work and get what you can get out of your school. If your school has sub par training, if you're training hard, you'll still gain some benefit, though you may have to take time unlearning bad habits later.

If your school is providing excellent instruction, then you'll benefit even more and truely come into your own as a martial artist.

Anyhow, I checked out the website. That belt on Master Kang looks very well broken in. How a master's belt should look.:) The instructors look like good folks.

And by the way, welcome to MT!

Daniel
 
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[/LIST]If you are fully aware that your son isn't learning any actual, practical martial skill, great. The thing for me is it's about transparency. As many will agree, there are a lot of reasons to train in a martial art. Martial skill being the most obvious, but not the only one of value. If you're not in it for practical martial skill, but like the uniforms, the exercise and whatever else, great. More power to you. If you THINK you're developing some kind of martial ability, then there's a disconnect, and that's where I see the difference between an honest, if opportunistic, businessman and a con artist.

Stevebjj - thanks for jumping in. I'm the OP, and I don't agree that my son isn't learning any actual, practical martial skill. There's no all-or-nothing in learning. He's learning to block punches and kicks, he's learning to punch and kick, he's learning to escape when someone grabs his arm or body, how to avoid being tripped.
He certainly won't have mastered them by age 10 when he presumably will get BB - which is why many would consider our school a McDojang (along with family classes, etc.).
I didn't start this thread looking for approval, but just to offer a different perspective - because that's what internet forums are all about. For now, i'm happy with the instruction we are getting, and I'm not bothered by the fact that my school awards belts to kids for mastery relative to their age and physical ability. As I get years of MA experience under my belt, maybe I'll think differently.
Anyway, good to have your perspective.
 

exile

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The fact is that there are schools that have some or all of the hallmarks of the typical McDojo, but still manage to offer excellent training. How does a BBC prevent the staff from providing good training? It doesn't. If the school has eleven colored belts before black, does it therefore follow that those belts are not tested for with lots of hard work and sweat? Of course not.

Yeah, exactlythat's what I meant: it's not either or, it's a gradient, and sometimes the things you mention here are indicative of a kind of predatory, exploitive relationship between the student and the school, and other times, they're just a good school's way of building in a bit of extra financial security in what is a very rough business to make a go of it in, for the small owner/operator. I think there are things to be said on all sides here.

The important thing, I believe, is that the studentparticularly the student who is a parent and whose kid(s) may be involved in the school as wellbe very, very aware of what the 'quality indicators' for the school are, the criteria that show transmission of real skills. It's particularly important that the parent be able to see that serious demands are being put on their child. I'm not talking about unfriendliness or harshness, but that children are being asked to give their best, and that the instructor isn't afraid to say: 'OK, but what I really want to see is that your knee is up here', or, 'You need to keep your wrist more in line with the rest of your arm when you punch, or you'll injure it', or stuff like that. Attention to details, praise when praise is due, but also a willingness to point out to the child that something can be done better and why it's important to do it better. It's not an infallible test, of course. But if you see instructors at a school asking their students constantly to rise to a higher standard, then, BBC or not, you're probably on the right track.... probably.
 

Gordon Nore

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...be very, very aware of what the 'quality indicators' for the school are, the criteria that show transmission of real skills. It's particularly important that the parent be able to see that serious demands are being put on their child. I'm not talking about unfriendliness or harshness, but that children are being asked to give their best, and that the instructor isn't afraid to say: 'OK, but what I really want to see is that your knee is up here', or, 'You need to keep your wrist more in line with the rest of your arm when you punch, or you'll injure it', or stuff like that. Attention to details, praise when praise is due, but also a willingness to point out to the child that something can be done better and why it's important to do it better. It's not an infallible test, of course. But if you see instructors at a school asking their students constantly to rise to a higher standard, then, BBC or not, you're probably on the right track.... probably.

Whatever the training, whether it meets the exacting standards of some martial artists or not, I would hope that a parent sees value in the learning. Is respectful behaviour being reinforced in the karate school, or are the kids simply running around? Is the teacher speaking to them in a respectful tone? Is the teacher offering meaningful life lessons about how training and self-defense benefit a person in ways other that being able to block / punch / kick, or is the teacher just spinning off a lot Zen-like one-liners?

A few years ago, we got a call at the community centre from a local elementary school principal. My Sensei was worried that one of our kids had acted out in some way -- which is difficult to control. On the contrary, the principal called because he had been brought into a very unruly classroom during the first of school, where, basically, the kids had all gone bug nuts. Turns out, this little boy, who had spent the summer with us, had been sitting in his seat, waiting for the lesson to start.

I can tell you, as school teacher, this is one of those cases where the adults simply have to ask: Why were you behaving so well? which they did. The little boy said that Mr Foster (my teacher) told him the most important thing is to 'pay attention and try your best.' Sometimes parents are looking for that little bit of reinforcement and will take it wherever it comes from.
 

exile

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Whatever the training, whether it meets the exacting standards of some martial artists or not, I would hope that a parent sees value in the learning. Is respectful behaviour being reinforced in the karate school, or are the kids simply running around? Is the teacher speaking to them in a respectful tone? Is the teacher offering meaningful life lessons about how training and self-defense benefit a person in ways other that being able to block / punch / kick, or is the teacher just spinning off a lot Zen-like one-liners?

A few years ago, we got a call at the community centre from a local elementary school principal. My Sensei was worried that one of our kids had acted out in some way -- which is difficult to control. On the contrary, the principal called because he had been brought into a very unruly classroom during the first of school, where, basically, the kids had all gone bug nuts. Turns out, this little boy, who had spent the summer with us, had been sitting in his seat, waiting for the lesson to start.

I can tell you, as school teacher, this is one of those cases where the adults simply have to ask: Why were you behaving so well? which they did. The little boy said that Mr Foster (my teacher) told him the most important thing is to 'pay attention and try your best.' Sometimes parents are looking for that little bit of reinforcement and will take it wherever it comes from.

Very gratifying story, Gordon—and I think it shows that children will rise to the occasion if you treat them as (at least in part, lol) rational beings and appeal to their sense of fairness and common sense. Most kids I've encountered seem to understand intuitively that the harder they work, the better they'll do. They don't resent the connection; to them, it's a natural. Even my 11 year old gets it, though he wishes it could be different (as I do sometimes also... )

The key thing that you pointed out that rings ultra-true is the issue of respect. Kids approach things with a kind of native intelligence: they'll accept that something is so if you tell them, but to really convince them, you have to show them, in a way that takes them seriously. In any school where that kind of respect for the child is demonstrated—and I do think that asking him or her to give their best is a sign of respect—you're probably dealing with people who don't see them merely as a commodity, a unit of profitability.
 
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terryl965

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Well I have been lucky with alot of the kids at my school, we treat them with respect and they treat us the same. We also are able to do what we ask of them, so they see us lead by example. This is one of the biggest pluses for us/ I try and treat everyone the way I would like them to treat me.
 

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Great story, Gordon! I love it. This may be kind of an obvious statement but I think for kids (and sometimes even adults) the discipline and respect of martial arts is the most important kind of teaching we can do. You may never have to physically defend your self but you will have to show respect and self-discipline to have a successful life.
 

Steve

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What I try to instill in her is that the "belt" is not the be all end all of what Taekwondo is all about. The belt is just a marker. You train to be the best you can be, to hit the best you can, to kick the best you can, all the time. That is the reward. If you adopt this mind set, everything else becomes irrelevent.

Why does your son continue to play drums? Probably because he wants to be good? Does he need a belt, ribbon or medal to tell him he's good or to practice? No. He probably just wants to be the best he can be. He's not looking for a medal or a trophy. This very thing, is what I try to teach my daughter. You do it to be the best you can be, not so that you can wear the next color belt. This is a lifetime achievement. It never ends.

Exactly!! I agree. And this is in direct contrast to the general "wisdom" regarding both kids and martial training. Many (if not most) people say that kids "need" the belts to keep them interested and motivated. And it's this same bogus train of thought that con artists use to excuse themselves.
 

Tez3

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Well I have been lucky with alot of the kids at my school, we treat them with respect and they treat us the same. We also are able to do what we ask of them, so they see us lead by example. This is one of the biggest pluses for us/ I try and treat everyone the way I would like them to treat me.


This is the thing above all others that matters to my mind!! so many adults don't treat children with respect and wonder what went wrong later on. They demand respect from the children but don't think they have to give it back as they are only children.

Terry I don't think its luck that you have good kids, it's you! :asian:
 

seasoned

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This is the thing above all others that matters to my mind!! so many adults don't treat children with respect and wonder what went wrong later on. They demand respect from the children but don't think they have to give it back as they are only children.

Terry I don't think its luck that you have good kids, it's you! :asian:



Very good point, respect bestows respect. Kids know more then we give them credit for. J
 

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