Is Tigers Martial Arts Group dojo good?

frank2

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Hello all, my son is turning 14 and is interested in learning Tae Kwon Do, so I'm doing due diligence. This dojo is close to our house and it was referred to us by my son classmate so that's why I'm interested in this dojo. I don't know anything about Tae Kwon Do so I'm reaching out to you guys in case there is anyone who have experience with them.

I came to observe a class of white belt and purple belt students. Here are some insights I have gathered.
1) All of the students appear to be younger than 13 (about 20 in white belt and eight in purple belt)
2) One of the black belt instructor is currently in high school
3) the lesson is about 45 minutes and half of it was devoted to warm up such as running and jumping jacks
4) the lesson I observed was them being promoted to the next rank and practicing kicking (probably not the right time to observe)
5) the dojo is a branch location
6) they offer other marital arts such as Judo, Youngmoodo, and Hapkido.
7) classes are held three time a week for purple belt and two formwhite belt. There is also two times where all belt can practice together.
8) throughout the lesson they played loud music which was a bit disorienting for me

I grab a leaflet that has their website and is a link to it.

The grandmaster is Song Kyu Lee and from reading the website he was awarded Black Belt 8th grade from the World Taekwondo Federation. However I tried searching for his name and came up with nothing. Here are some noteable passage I have from the the website.

With their focus on creating a POSITIVE, safe, injury free training environment, Tigers Martial Arts Group has earned the reputation in Katy of being the top martial arts and character development institute in the area.

WE ARE THE ONLY SCHOOL TO BLEND GENUINE OLYMPIC STYLE TAEKWONDO AND MIXED MARTIAL ARTS​

In our totally unique program, youll not only learn how to defend yourself and your family in virtually any situation, but youll also quickly (and safely) build muscle, melt fat, increase flexibility, and gain a greater sense of peace and quiet self-confidence.

Your children will learn to focus better, set and achieve inspiring goals, and learn how to relate to and get along better with others.

So far no big red flag appear, but I don't want to waste money and time for a McDojo (not sure if this is the correct term) as I rather have my child learn his interests the correct way. What are some reputable dojos in the Houston Area and is there a certification/ watchdog organization or agency that I can verify if the dojo is good?

Thank you for reading this, and looking forward to reading your replies.
 
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MadMartigan

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I'll hit a couple points that stand out to me.
3) the lesson is about 45 minutes and half of it was devoted to warm up such as running and jumping jacks
Physical conditioning is a huge component of many martial arts (especially Taekwondo). A body that is not prepared to execute the balistic movements found in TKD is likely to get injured frequently (strains, sprains, etc).

1 class is not a large enough sample size to know if all classes follow that framework, or just that particular night. It's not uncommon for some nights to be more fitness focused, and others more technical instruction focused.
8) throughout the lesson they played loud music which was a bit disorienting for me
This can be a sign of the 'mcdojo' concern you mention... but in and of itself is not definitive. Consider, many high level MMA gyms also have loud music playing while professional fighters train. While the 'Traditional' martial arts are not commonly associated with music during class, this doesn't mean music cannot be used.
is there a certification/ watchdog organization or agency that I can verify if the dojo is good?
Afraid not. The martial arts are far too varied and subjective a field to be able to govern by any objective measurement.
So far no big red flag appear, but I don't want to waste money and time for a McDojo (not sure if this is the correct term) as I rather have my child learn his interests the correct way.
Finally, this podcast comes at the 'McDojo' issue from an interesting perspective. Hope this helps you in some way.
* Cliff notes, what really matters is whether the product you receive has benefit for you (or your child).

 

skribs

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1) All of the students appear to be younger than 13 (about 20 in white belt and eight in purple belt)
2) One of the black belt instructor is currently in high school
3) the lesson is about 45 minutes and half of it was devoted to warm up such as running and jumping jacks
4) the lesson I observed was them being promoted to the next rank and practicing kicking (probably not the right time to observe)
5) the dojo is a branch location
6) they offer other marital arts such as Judo, Youngmoodo, and Hapkido.
7) classes are held three time a week for purple belt and two formwhite belt. There is also two times where all belt can practice together.
8) throughout the lesson they played loud music which was a bit disorienting for me

Let's look at each:
  1. Many schools separate kids from adult classes. Kids classes are where the money comes from. Without them, you most likely wouldn't have a school for very long.
  2. There's a few factors here. How long has that black belt been training? Is he an assistant instructor (moves around equipment, keeps kids lined up) or leading class? We've had instructors that age at my school. They've been training for several years already and have enough understanding of the basics to teach them.
  3. Some schools devote more time to conditioning, others to technique. It also may be "jumping jack day" or something like that. 30-60 minutes is normal for a kid's class.
  4. Promotion days are going to be a bad sample in an already small sample size. Not only do you spend class time on the promotion, but then you have to bring the energy back up or kids will lose focus after sitting through the promotion ceremony.
  5. This by itself means nothing for this discussion. It could be a bad branch of a good chain, a good branch of a bad chain, or any other combination. Similarly, a standalone school could be bad or good.
  6. This doesn't tell you the quality of the Taekwondo (or the quality of the other martial arts). It could be that it's good TKD, and they've dabbled in the others. It could be they're mediocre in all of them. It could mean they're good in all of them. With that said, Taekwondo and Hapkido have a bad reputation of poor quality control, and Judo has a reputation of good quality control. If they are high-ranking in Judo, that could mean that they know what they're teaching. If they're low-ranking in Judo, it could be they couldn't hack it in Judo and opened a school in an art with lower quality control. This is all speculation on my part, take it with a giant grain of salt. (I've never heard of Youngmoodo).
  7. 2-3x per week is normal for TKD. In my opinion, 3x per week is the optimum amount of class time before you start seeing diminishing returns, but 2 is normal for scheduling. It also makes sense they'd do 2 for the entry-level and 3 when you're more committed.
  8. I've heard of other schools doing this. Lots of people listen to music when they work out. It sounds like this school places a high emphasis on conditioning. Personally, I wouldn't do this during class, but it's not a red flag.

WE ARE THE ONLY SCHOOL TO BLEND GENUINE OLYMPIC STYLE TAEKWONDO AND MIXED MARTIAL ARTS​

A probably-inaccurate sales pitch. I imagine many schools teach the two (especially MMA schools with a TKD class). I don't see anything that really screams "punching." They may use a modern punching style, or they may just do traditional punches and the punching in forms.

Overall, I see a few things that are a little bit cringe, but overall sounds pretty normal.
 

Dirty Dog

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I came to observe a class of white belt and purple belt students. Here are some insights I have gathered.
1) All of the students appear to be younger than 13 (about 20 in white belt and eight in purple belt)
It's pretty common to separate classes based on age and rank.
2) One of the black belt instructor is currently in high school
Teaching students to teach requires them to, you know, teach...
3) the lesson is about 45 minutes and half of it was devoted to warm up such as running and jumping jacks
General conditioning is a good thing.
4) the lesson I observed was them being promoted to the next rank and practicing kicking (probably not the right time to observe)
Probably not.
5) the dojo is a branch location
In and of itself, this means absolutely nothing.
6) they offer other marital arts such as Judo, Youngmoodo, and Hapkido.
Unless you're thinking about joining the other classes, it means nothing.
7) classes are held three time a week for purple belt and two formwhite belt. There is also two times where all belt can practice together.
More important is how their class schedule fits your availability.
8) throughout the lesson they played loud music which was a bit disorienting for me
Learning to focus is a good thing.
I grab a leaflet that has their website and is a link to it.

The grandmaster is Song Kyu Lee and from reading the website he was awarded Black Belt 8th grade from the World Taekwondo Federation. However I tried searching for his name and came up with nothing. Here are some noteable passage I have from the the website.
No, he wasn't. The WT (the sports governing body formerly know as the WTF) doesn't award any rank. Nor do they have any curriculum. Nor do they have any member schools. Most likely he holds rank from the Kukkiwon. Many people use WT and KKW as if they are the same, but they are not. Some will say that doing so is like calling TKD "Korean Karate", which used to be done for name recognition. I think it's just sloppy and misleading.
 
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frank2

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Thanks for the helpful replies. The replies has corrected some of my misconceptions such as "Mcdojo" (thanks D Hall for the video), allayed me of some of my concerns, and I have learned something.

Yep, probably was not the best time to observe. Probably need to observe more classes and include the teen/adult classes. There is a free trial for one week, so I'm considering to take advantage of that.

* Cliff notes, what really matters is whether the product you receive has benefit for you (or your child).

That statement hit the nail on the head, as I want my child to explore his interest, and he is a fairly athletic kid. For TKD, I'm looking for a dojo that teach TKD correctly so he have an accurate expectation/perspective of what he learned and can applied it correctly if he need to. I don't want a place that have an emphasis on showmanship over practicality, teaching my child unsafely, nor pushing "life coaching/mentoring" angles. I want my child to have fun exploring his interest, while hopefully, learning an art correctly that could have an impact. This could been a lifelong journey or a brief entanglement, but hopefully, my kid look back fondly and can used something that he learned whether that is mental or physical. I probably looking for a middle ground between hardcore sparring and no contact, to see first what approach my kid leans toward.

There's a few factors here. How long has that black belt been training? Is he an assistant instructor (moves around equipment, keeps kids lined up) or leading class? We've had instructors that age at my school. They've been training for several years already and have enough understanding of the basics to teach them.
That black belt instructor lead the kid classes (white and purple) and has been training for two-three years total, from white belt to his current position. The rapid ascent kind of concerns me.

With that said, Taekwondo and Hapkido have a bad reputation of poor quality control, and Judo has a reputation of good quality control. If they are high-ranking in Judo, that could mean that they know what they're teaching. If they're low-ranking in Judo, it could be they couldn't hack it in Judo and opened a school in an art with lower quality control. This is all speculation on my part, take it with a giant grain of salt. (I've never heard of Youngmoodo).
Can I find out the ranking of a dojo?

No, he wasn't. The WT (the sports governing body formerly know as the WTF) doesn't award any rank. Nor do they have any curriculum. Nor do they have any member schools. Most likely he holds rank from the Kukkiwon. Many people use WT and KKW as if they are the same, but they are not. Some will say that doing so is like calling TKD "Korean Karate", which used to be done for name recognition. I think it's just sloppy and misleading.
Is there a way to verify if he really earn his rank (it's Kukkiwon)? The sloppy presentation is a bit alarming. Also does earning a rank mean anything, excuse my stupid question, a real qualification or an appeal to expertise/authority?

The dojo has very good reviews on Google (4.7 stars from 68 reviews). How much validity should I attached to them?

What are some ways, observation I should make, or questions I should ask to determine if this dojo or any others is right for my child?

Once again thanks for y'all replies.
 
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MadMartigan

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I don't want a place that have an emphasis on showmanship over practicality, teaching my child unsafely, nor pushing "life coaching/mentoring" angles.
That's a very tricky balance. Some of the most effective training, by necessity is as close to real as possible (often somewhat less safe with higher chances of injury).
From their website, the 'life coaching' seems to be a focus (at least in their advertising). This is probably why their review rating is so high; as that is exactly what a lot of people are looking for.
That black belt instructor lead the kid classes (white and purple) and has been training for two-three years total, from white belt to his current position. The rapid ascent kind of concerns me.
I'm a bad one to ask about that. I agree that teens taking a role in helping out with teaching is very important to developing good future instructors.

As far as the 2-3 years to black belt. That's fairly common (not my personal belief as a best practice... but it is the norm). There have been many discussions on this site around that subject. The majority opinion is that a 1st degree Taekwondo black belt is still a reasonable beginner rank.
Is there a way to verify if he really earn his rank (it's Kukkiwon)? The sloppy presentation is a bit alarming. Also does earning a rank mean anything, excuse my stupid question, a real qualification or an appeal to expertise/authority?
Someone affiliated with the Kukkiwon may be able to answer this better.

There are no objective licensing organizations, so technically anyone can say they have whatever rank they want. The real question it seems you have is whether the school head is lying about his rank or not. Perhaps someone plugged in with Kukkiwon could help confirm his rank... but the absence of traceable (over the open internet) ranks are not necessarily proof of dishonesty.
What are some ways, observation I should make, or questions I should ask to determine if this dojo or any others is right for my child
- What is the focus? (competition, personal growth, self defense)
- Are tournaments required?
- How many membership levels are there? (This speaks to cost. Is there a leadership team you have to join in order to sign up for a junior instructors class, plus a competition team... are there different uniforms and higher prices required for each level?)
- Can you sign up for monthly tuition or are year + contracts expected (approach those with caution).
- What is the full anticipated total for the first year? (Registration, monthly tuition, uniforms, test fees, tournament costs, sparring or other training gear). Anywhere above board will be happy to find the answer to these cost estimates.
 

skribs

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That black belt instructor lead the kid classes (white and purple) and has been training for two-three years total, from white belt to his current position. The rapid ascent kind of concerns me.
Some students have a real aptitude for the art. As @Dirty Dog said, in order to teach, you have to practice teaching. If he looks like he knows what he's doing, his age and training time shouldn't matter. If he doesn't know what he's doing, then his age and training time also shouldn't matter.

One thing to keep in mind is that a black belt in Taekwondo doesn't mean "martial art god." It means you know the basics. I'd say 2-3 years is a common time to get your black belt at most TKD schools.
 

WaterGal

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That black belt instructor lead the kid classes (white and purple) and has been training for two-three years total, from white belt to his current position. The rapid ascent kind of concerns me.

What "black belt" means varies hugely by style. In TKD, a 1st degree black belt basically means you have the beginner stuff down, so 2-3 years to get it is pretty normal.

The question I'd have is what kind of instructor training the teacher has had. In a lot of martial arts schools, regardless of style, the school owner will basically go "hey, you've got X rank and you're legally old enough to be employed, do you want a job?" and just throw the student in front of a lower-rank class and let them figure out how to actually teach on their own. Most new instructors are going to struggle to lead a class well with this approach, no matter how well they know how to do the material they're instructing. (I've been that person, and it was SO STRESSFUL.)

However, some schools do have an instructor training program, where they teach potential instructors how to teach their curriculum and provide mentorship. This allows the new instructor to be successful much more quickly than they otherwise would, and I think someone with a few years of training in a martial art and some decent instructor training can be a perfectly good instructor.

Is there a way to verify if he really earn his rank (it's Kukkiwon)? The sloppy presentation is a bit alarming. Also does earning a rank mean anything, excuse my stupid question, a real qualification or an appeal to expertise/authority?

Kukkiwon has a rank lookup on their website, but it requires that you know either the person's certificate number, or their date of birth, nationality, and exact full name that was used on their application. (So if you look up "John Smith", but they're in the system as "John Paul Smith", it won't come back with a result.) Sometimes, instructors will have their black belt certificate hanging up in the school. You can look up what a Kukkiwon certificate looks like.

However, your second question here is an important one. Honestly..... ehhh.

Kukkiwon rank is supposed to be about what you know how to do, not what you know how to teach. Knowing how to do Taekwondo and knowing how to teach Taekwondo aren't necessarily the same thing.

Also, up until recently, Kukkiwon allowed anyone with a master ranking (edit: so that's 4th degree black belt or higher) to test students for a lower level of black belt and submit an application for them to get a Kukkiwon certificate/rank. There are specific things that students are supposed to know and be tested on in order to pass, but KKW doesn't actually verify that. And some schools were, uh, not really doing that.

However, starting this year, Kukkiwon is starting to require that all masters have taken and passed a KKW instructor training course in order to put people in for promotion. (My other half took this course a couple years ago, and it sounds like mostly their goal at this point is to make sure that schools are at least teaching the correct material and holding students to the correct standard.) So hopefully that will help with some of the standards/quality control issue.

The dojo has very good reviews on Google (4.7 stars from 68 reviews). How much validity should I attached to them?

It just means that most of the parents/students like the school. But what were their goals? If their goal is "get off the couch and get some fun exercise", that's different from "teach me how to defend myself" or "become a high-level sport TKD competitor", you know?
 

Dirty Dog

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Yep, probably was not the best time to observe. Probably need to observe more classes and include the teen/adult classes. There is a free trial for one week, so I'm considering to take advantage of that.
That's always the best plan.
That black belt instructor lead the kid classes (white and purple) and has been training for two-three years total, from white belt to his current position. The rapid ascent kind of concerns me.
That's fairly typical for Kukkiwon schools. 1st Dan is considered a beginner rank. In Korea, one year to 1st Dan is considered the norm. 4th Dan is the first "teaching" rank. That also speaks to the number of baby black belts in that system. Doesn't really matter, since rank only has meaning within the system that awarded it. Adjust expectations accordingly.
By contrast, our 1st Dans have an average of 6-8 years training, and in 30 years we've promoted exactly 3 students to 1st Dan while they were still minors. Those three were all exceptional students. Two of them are currently attending Ivy League schools on full ride academic scholarships, the other combined academic and athletic scholarships during her undergraduate years, and is now finishing her PhD in physics. Our system considers 1st Dan a teaching rank.
Kukkiwon schools, in general, are very very sport oriented and have rapid rank progression.
Can I find out the ranking of a dojo?
Schools are not ranked.
Is there a way to verify if he really earn his rank (it's Kukkiwon)?
Only if you know his KKW number or his exact name, birthday, and nationality. But it's unlikely that the certificates on the wall are forgeries.
The sloppy presentation is a bit alarming. Also does earning a rank mean anything, excuse my stupid question, a real qualification or an appeal to expertise/authority?
I consider it sloppy. No doubt there are those who would say it's just me being pedantic.
High rank equals higher knowledge, basically. It also indicates the limits of a students progression, in some cases, since the convention is that you only promote to 1 rank below your own. High level promotions (how high varies) are generally done by a panel.
The dojo has very good reviews on Google (4.7 stars from 68 reviews). How much validity should I attached to them?
Not much. Best answer is go try it out and see how it fits. At this point you don't know if ANY martial arts training is a good fit for your son, let alone a specific school.
 

J. Pickard

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I haven't seen anybody touch on it yet (but maybe I missed it) but the first thing I like to ask prospective students it what their reason for training is. Why does your son want to train? if it's for self defense then based on what you described you may want to do a trial period at this school and a few others first to find the right one, if its just for recreation then what really matters is scheduling and affordability. Spending half of a 45 minute class on fitness is a great thing and probably isn't how every class is run. It's not uncommon for martial arts classes to stress the importance of physical fitness and spend 1-2 classes a week with that as a primary focus. A few things that are very common in TKD schools like this that I personally consider very dishonest to look out for are some of the following;
1. Large testing fees, and everyone always passes no matter what. New rank should be earned not bought but testing fees are common and not all bad. A good school that still has testing fees usually just use them to cover costs for belts and certificates and if any additional instructors help out they may give them some compensation. If your first testing is $40-60 and all you got from it was a $3 belt there is a problem. Some schools will also only allow students they feel are ready to test so that nobody fails (because who feels good about failing) but this should not lead to students that never make progress being rewarded just because they paid for it.
2. Special Invite only Masters class....but it's mandatory and costs extra. A good sign of a "mcdojo" is they will tell you that you need to learn certain things to get to the next rank but they only teach it in the "masters class" and that's invite only and also costs an extra $100 a month. It sounds exclusive and special until you realize EVERYONE is invited at a certain rank and it's mandatory. It's just a sneaky way to get extra $$$ Kinda like pay to win video games.
3. They claim they know methods of Taekwondo that are thousands of years old. This is a blatant lie and a sales gimmick.
4. Purely for the Self defense/practical martial arts side; Sparring/non-compliant partner training is a must even for beginners. Some schools don't let you spar full on until you have some training in and thats not unheard of but they will still do sparring drills with brand new students. After about 3 months you should be sparring as a regular part of your curriculum for any class marketed as a practical martial art for self defense/protection. If the school claims that you will learn self defense but you cant spar until you are 3-4 belts in and then you have to pay extra for the sparring class it's likely a "mcdojo".
 

skribs

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I haven't seen anybody touch on it yet (but maybe I missed it) but the first thing I like to ask prospective students it what their reason for training is. Why does your son want to train? if it's for self defense then based on what you described you may want to do a trial period at this school and a few others first to find the right one, if its just for recreation then what really matters is scheduling and affordability. Spending half of a 45 minute class on fitness is a great thing and probably isn't how every class is run. It's not uncommon for martial arts classes to stress the importance of physical fitness and spend 1-2 classes a week with that as a primary focus. A few things that are very common in TKD schools like this that I personally consider very dishonest to look out for are some of the following;
1. Large testing fees, and everyone always passes no matter what. New rank should be earned not bought but testing fees are common and not all bad. A good school that still has testing fees usually just use them to cover costs for belts and certificates and if any additional instructors help out they may give them some compensation. If your first testing is $40-60 and all you got from it was a $3 belt there is a problem. Some schools will also only allow students they feel are ready to test so that nobody fails (because who feels good about failing) but this should not lead to students that never make progress being rewarded just because they paid for it.
2. Special Invite only Masters class....but it's mandatory and costs extra. A good sign of a "mcdojo" is they will tell you that you need to learn certain things to get to the next rank but they only teach it in the "masters class" and that's invite only and also costs an extra $100 a month. It sounds exclusive and special until you realize EVERYONE is invited at a certain rank and it's mandatory. It's just a sneaky way to get extra $$$ Kinda like pay to win video games.
3. They claim they know methods of Taekwondo that are thousands of years old. This is a blatant lie and a sales gimmick.
4. Purely for the Self defense/practical martial arts side; Sparring/non-compliant partner training is a must even for beginners. Some schools don't let you spar full on until you have some training in and thats not unheard of but they will still do sparring drills with brand new students. After about 3 months you should be sparring as a regular part of your curriculum for any class marketed as a practical martial art for self defense/protection. If the school claims that you will learn self defense but you cant spar until you are 3-4 belts in and then you have to pay extra for the sparring class it's likely a "mcdojo".
I'm going to disagree with #1 and #4.

#1 - the school has to make money. What's the difference between a school that charges $80/month + $40/test (which are held every 2 months) and a school that charges $100/month?

The big kicker to me is whether or not everyone tests every time. Some students are ready every testing period, and some are not. For us, the real test isn't the test itself. It's leading up to the test - are you ready for it? If you're not ready, you're not ready. It's not about feeling good about not failing. It's about not wasting our time or theirs.

#4 - I agree with what you say after the bolded portion. I'd say sparring is a must for intermediates. Beginners may not be ready to spar yet. At that point, you're still learning how to do the techniques correctly in a "laboratory environment."
 

J. Pickard

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I'm going to disagree with #1 and #4.

#1 - the school has to make money. What's the difference between a school that charges $80/month + $40/test (which are held every 2 months) and a school that charges $100/month?

The big kicker to me is whether or not everyone tests every time. Some students are ready every testing period, and some are not. For us, the real test isn't the test itself. It's leading up to the test - are you ready for it? If you're not ready, you're not ready. It's not about feeling good about not failing. It's about not wasting our time or theirs.

#4 - I agree with what you say after the bolded portion. I'd say sparring is a must for intermediates. Beginners may not be ready to spar yet. At that point, you're still learning how to do the techniques correctly in a "laboratory environment."
Making money is one thing, highway robbery is another. Charging each student $40 per 2 months for a belt is inexcusable and just a way to milk money out of members. If the school gives out some really nice immaculate certificate to go with it then that may be justified but for just a belt and permission to wear it is ridiculous considering they are between $3-$6 for a normal student belt.

Learning technique is useless without application unless you are training purely for sport, recreation, or tricking type stuff, which is why I specified if it is marketed as "self defense" or a "practical martial art". It is very easy to teach a beginner how to spar the first week without actually letting them full on free spar which is why I also said sparring drills. If the school is marketed for Olympic TKD which is 90% sparring related, Self defense, or as "practical"/"effective" then every student should be sparring within a month at least and learning how to apply techniques against a non-compliant opponent in some way. I have met innumerable students from different schools (I was one for 4 years) that never did any non-compliant training or sparring that sincerely believed they Knew how to fight even though they never actually tested it. And guess what, they couldn't. If the school never implies that they focus on practicality or self defense and instead push character development or recreation and exercise or things of that sort as a priority then sparring really isn't important.
 

skribs

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Making money is one thing, highway robbery is another. Charging each student $40 per 2 months for a belt is inexcusable and just a way to milk money out of members.
Do you understand how math works? This is the same or less money by the customer. $100/month or $80/month + $40 test every 2 months is the same. However, if a student tests every 4 months instead of every 2, then it's down to an average of $90/month, which is less. Every 6 months, and the average is down to $87/month.
Learning technique is useless without application unless you are training purely for sport, recreation, or tricking type stuff, which is why I specified if it is marketed as "self defense" or a "practical martial art". It is very easy to teach a beginner how to spar the first week without actually letting them full on free spar which is why I also said sparring drills. If the school is marketed for Olympic TKD which is 90% sparring related, Self defense, or as "practical"/"effective" then every student should be sparring within a month at least and learning how to apply techniques against a non-compliant opponent in some way. I have met innumerable students from different schools (I was one for 4 years) that never did any non-compliant training or sparring that sincerely believed they Knew how to fight even though they never actually tested it. And guess what, they couldn't. If the school never implies that they focus on practicality or self defense and instead push character development or recreation and exercise or things of that sort as a priority then sparring really isn't important.
I have to wonder if you actually teach people. It sounds to me like you're a student with little-to-no teaching responsibilities based on this post. Beginners are not ready for non-compliant opponents. You start off with compliant drills until they learn how to use the technique well enough. You don't want beginners resisting beginners, because that's how you get injuries. Someone tries to resist and doesn't understand how or when, and ends up getting hurt. People sparring with no training in the proper form is another way people get injured. Either themselves (by not using the proper technique) or their partner (by hitting the wrong targets).
 

J. Pickard

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Do you understand how math works? This is the same or less money by the customer. $100/month or $80/month + $40 test every 2 months is the same. However, if a student tests every 4 months instead of every 2, then it's down to an average of $90/month, which is less. Every 6 months, and the average is down to $87/month.

I have to wonder if you actually teach people. It sounds to me like you're a student with little-to-no teaching responsibilities based on this post. Beginners are not ready for non-compliant opponents. You start off with compliant drills until they learn how to use the technique well enough. You don't want beginners resisting beginners, because that's how you get injuries. Someone tries to resist and doesn't understand how or when, and ends up getting hurt. People sparring with no training in the proper form is another way people get injured. Either themselves (by not using the proper technique) or their partner (by hitting the wrong targets).
If what you teach is really worth $100/month then charge that much. Don't undersell your service and then try to make up the difference by selling rank. this does 2 things; devalues your service and gives the message that you can buy success. I don't have a problem with testing fees, I have a problem with exorbitant pricing for testing when it's nothing more than a cheap piece of cloth. I've been to a lot of schools as an invited visitor and on this subject 2 stand out. One had $40 dollar testing fees and one had $60. I didn't have a problem with the $60 but I did the $40. It wasn't because of the fee itself it's because of what the fee was for. The $40 test student's got nothing except the belt (Cost them $3 and I know because they used the same local supplier I do), the test lasted less than 30 minutes, the student's were required to buy breaking boards from the instructor as well at $4/board (breaking was not optional). The $60 testing student's received a belt, a pretty nice certificate that probably cost about $15 plus a nice folder for it, a belt rank key chain to match their belt, didn't have to pay for board if they wanted to break, and the testing was a very thorough testing that took about 80 minutes. For our kids class we have a $15 fee, the belts don't cost much, but we do give them a professionally printed certificate with display folder, and supply boards if they want to break. Our total cost is about $10-$12 per student. Very reasonable to cover overhead and make a few on top of it.
EDIT: Forgot to mention the $60 testing fee also helped to cover the cost of the space they rented out to run the testing since it was a combined testing of multiple schools within the same organization.

I think we have 2 different definitions of non compliant. When I say non compliant sparring drills I mean 2 students pad up, one stays on defense moving and making it difficult for the other to land a shot and the other tries to hit a moving target with the instructed techniques or combination. Do this for 30 seconds or so then switch roles. It's super simple, easy to instruct on the first week, simulates real free sparring better than just pad drills, nobody gets hurt, and application to techniques are learned. doing this for about a month and the student should be ready to spar against the other students with an instructor supervising. If you can't teach a beginner how to safely spar then maybe don't teach beginners or find a sparring coach with experience teaching beginners and let them lead the sparring.
 
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mrt2

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Some good information in this thread already, but nobody mentioned the obvious. OP wants his or her son to do TKD, yet is watching a children's class. To do due diligence, go watch the teens/adults class. I practiced Tang Soo Do as a teen and I started in the adults class. I would have been embarrassed to start out training with children as young as 6 or 7, or even 10 or 11 as a 14 year old.

Even now as an old guy, I see younger children in the teens/adults class struggle because even though they are black belts and are supposed to be able to hang with adults and teens, a 10 year old who weighs 80 or 90 lbs will struggle against someone much bigger and stronger than he or she is. It isn't an issue for me as I never get match up against small children because I am one of the biggest guys in the class, but it isn't much fun for a teenager to be matched up against a small child.

Go check out the teens/adults class because that is where your son should be training.
 

chrstnkenpoist

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Hello all, my son is turning 14 and is interested in learning Tae Kwon Do, so I'm doing due diligence. This dojo is close to our house and it was referred to us by my son classmate so that's why I'm interested in this dojo. I don't know anything about Tae Kwon Do so I'm reaching out to you guys in case there is anyone who have experience with them.

I came to observe a class of white belt and purple belt students. Here are some insights I have gathered.
1) All of the students appear to be younger than 13 (about 20 in white belt and eight in purple belt)
2) One of the black belt instructor is currently in high school
3) the lesson is about 45 minutes and half of it was devoted to warm up such as running and jumping jacks
4) the lesson I observed was them being promoted to the next rank and practicing kicking (probably not the right time to observe)
5) the dojo is a branch location
6) they offer other marital arts such as Judo, Youngmoodo, and Hapkido.
7) classes are held three time a week for purple belt and two formwhite belt. There is also two times where all belt can practice together.
8) throughout the lesson they played loud music which was a bit disorienting for me

I grab a leaflet that has their website and is a link to it.

The grandmaster is Song Kyu Lee and from reading the website he was awarded Black Belt 8th grade from the World Taekwondo Federation. However I tried searching for his name and came up with nothing. Here are some noteable passage I have from the the website.





So far no big red flag appear, but I don't want to waste money and time for a McDojo (not sure if this is the correct term) as I rather have my child learn his interests the correct way. What are some reputable dojos in the Houston Area and is there a certification/ watchdog organization or agency that I can verify if the dojo is good?

Thank you for reading this, and looking forward to reading your replies.
There is a studio called Samurai Martial Arts in Houston. They teach Karate, JuiJitsu specializes in teaching kids.
 

mrt2

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There is a studio called Samurai Martial Arts in Houston. They teach Karate, JuiJitsu specializes in teaching kids.
I have no opinion on this place, but frankly, they all specialize in teaching kids. That is where the money is these days. The harder thing is to find a place with a robust program with a lot of older teens and adults. That is what OP needs. 14 is still a bit on the young side for a teen/adult class, but already a little too old for a children's class, as a lot of child beginners are as young as 6 or 7.
 

skribs

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If what you teach is really worth $100/month then charge that much. Don't undersell your service and then try to make up the difference by selling rank. this does 2 things; devalues your service and gives the message that you can buy success.
I guarantee you that none of the students at my school think they can buy success. I also guarantee you that nobody thinks we're underselling ourselves. Out of curiosity, did you get a degree in economics from Knee-Jerk University?

EDIT: Forgot to mention the $60 testing fee also helped to cover the cost of the space they rented out to run the testing since it was a combined testing of multiple schools within the same organization.
So, you understand there are more costs to testing than just the belt. This includes lost revenue from classes that are not held during testing week, paying judges for their time, the cost of boards and certificates, etc.

I think we have 2 different definitions of non compliant. When I say non compliant sparring drills I mean 2 students pad up, one stays on defense moving and making it difficult for the other to land a shot and the other tries to hit a moving target with the instructed techniques or combination. Do this for 30 seconds or so then switch roles. It's super simple, easy to instruct on the first week, simulates real free sparring better than just pad drills, nobody gets hurt, and application to techniques are learned. doing this for about a month and the student should be ready to spar against the other students with an instructor supervising. If you can't teach a beginner how to safely spar then maybe don't teach beginners or find a sparring coach with experience teaching beginners and let them lead the sparring.
That's exactly what I thought. A lot of students don't have the hang of hitting a stationary target yet. And you want them to start hitting a moving target? Gotta walk before you can run. Especially if what you're doing can hurt you or your partner. What you say works fine for the 25% of students that get it right away. I'd rather do something that works for 75% and let the upper 25% get promoted quickly to where they're challenged, than do something that works for the top 25% and let the rest slip through our fingers.
 

haga

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I'll hit a couple points that stand out to me.

Physical conditioning is a huge component of many martial arts (especially Taekwondo). A body that is not prepared to execute the balistic movements found in TKD is likely to get injured frequently (strains, sprains, etc).

1 class is not a large enough sample size to know if all classes follow that framework, or just that particular night. It's not uncommon for some nights to be more fitness focused, and others more technical instruction focused.

This can be a sign of the 'mcdojo' concern you mention... but in and of itself is not definitive. Consider, many high level MMA gyms also have loud music playing while professional fighters train. While the 'Traditional' martial arts are not commonly associated with music during class, this doesn't mean music cannot be used.

Afraid not. The martial arts are far too varied and subjective a field to be able to govern by any objective measurement.

Finally, this podcast comes at the 'McDojo' issue from an interesting perspective. Hope this helps you in some way.
* Cliff notes, what really matters is whether the product you receive has benefit for you (or your child).

I agree with everything D Hall said, plus I would recommend you on the topic "certification/ watchdog organization or agency" to try a contact directly with World Taekowndo and ask a confirmation about Song Kyu Lee ranks. To get a personal certification of this organization costs so much, so I would expect them to keep a record of the members and at least have a quick way to assert if someone is a member or not. Besides, I believe it is not disrespectifull to grandmaster Song Kyu Lee to double check who he is. If he is trully concerned about taekwondo teaching quality that would be a totally valid concern by someone like you.

If I were you I would send an e-mail to office@worldtaekwondo.org or any other available on this page: World Taekwondo
 
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