McDojos and 'The Worst Martial Art': A Controversial Question

Giorgio

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I've been on these boards for a while, though I don't really post as much as I should. I've noticed that a lot of people around here hold the firm opinion that no art is better than another, and that it all depends on the student's effort and willingness to learn. Although I can see the immediate appeal of this point of view, and the fact that it prevents a lot of arguments and useless insults, I have to disagree.

Another issue often talked about on this forum is that of McDojos. I'm sure we've all encountered them at one point or another in training, and have been angered by their treatment of classic martial arts such as karate, or by their home-brewed, 'ultimate fighting systems'. My question concerns the latter. The instructors at these McDojos often piece together their own martial art from what they believe to be the best parts of others. What results is usually, in my opinion, a poor martial art. It lacks integrity, the philosophy and psychology behind martial arts that have taken hundreds of years to develop.

To say that the 'ultimate fighting system' invented by someone with 5 years of martial arts experience is just as good a martial art as Karate, Tae Kwon Do, or Muay Thai is, I feel, to make a grave insult to these martial arts. So that's where I stand on that issue. Do you think that absolutely any martial art is as good as any other, or do you make exceptions?
 

Andrew Green

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Damn straight, Judo is absolutely horrid! Kano only had 5-years when he created it, not enough time by far! ;)

Change is important, some new styles might not work out as well as there parent styles, but occasionally a really good one comes along. Over time the good ones survive, the rest don't.

But had those same crappy style creators stuck to the style they learnt, they'd probably still be crappy instructors.

I think the sure fire way to kill a martial art is too just keep doing what you've been doing for generations of students, with no one trying anything different.
 

Hand Sword

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Taking the point of view of self defense, I feel all arts are of equal value. This "McDojo" stuff refers to the Business Practices of the managers, owners, etc.. It has nothing to do with the Art itself. In a "legit" style/ dojo, or a "McDojo" syle/dojo...same stances, kicks, and strikes are taught. As for the MMA stuff, same thing from the same point of view. Boxing skills, grappling skills, kicking skills, done differently, but still done like the other arts. All are effective for a fight, and take place in a fight by those trained and not.

To sum it up, comparing techniques--pretty much the same for all the striking styles. No matter where you train, you'll come across something familiar.

If your into the other stuff that a "legit" art does, meditation, creedos, how to run the business, teach, etc.. different argument all together.
 

Sukerkin

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Quite right, gentlemen.

I too was going to make the point that why 'style arguments' are fairly futile is that all styles are made up of the same basic elements. Those techniques most immediately applicable to improvised empty-hand fighting exhibit such similarity between arts that it is a non-sequitur to argue that anything makes much difference other than the skill and physical training of the person.

Some arts suit some people more than others and are more comfortable for certain body-types but that's about it. The bottom line from an individual perspective is that you may 'like' one art better than another but that reflects a personal choice rather than saying anything qualatitive about the arts.
 

Cirdan

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No, I do not think all arts are equal in any way.

Of course most arts are great when they are taught by a good instructor, be their focus traditional, sports, health, a mix or whatever. However there are also flawed concepts and arts out there that are now so well put together. If this was not so then all arts would not be equal, they would all be perfect.

McDojos are greedy liars giving the stupid and weak minded what they want. What more needs to be said?
 

Hand Sword

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I say that because all should be careful not to fall in the trap! Bad instructors are in every single style that exists. So, that can't be the criteria to judge a STYLE , and assume that it's inferior to another. For example, just because 1 Kenpo instructor is a McDojo is no reason to assume that all are, and therefore..Kenpo is a lacking style. Similarly, don't say that Shotokan, because taught in a traditional manner by a small, independent school is legit, making Shotokan superior to Kenpo, or vice versa. Upon a closer look at the STYLES THEMSELVES, NOT THE PEOPLE, shows more similarities than differences.

The differences are in the marketing of the schools, the quality of teachers, and the overall business practices. Don't fall into the trap of judging a STYLE based on those criteria.
 

Cirdan

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I would judge a style based on it`s techniques and principles and function, not how impressive the local club is.
 

Hand Sword

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Good! Exactly what you should do! Problem there is the striking arts Kung fu, Karate, Kem/npo etc.. have all of the same elements to them, same philosophies too when it comes to applying the techniques to an opponent. So, as styles, they are of equal value.
 

Cirdan

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Good! Exactly what you should do! Problem there is the striking arts Kung fu, Karate, Kem/npo etc.. have all of the same elements to them, same philosophies too when it comes to applying the techniques to an opponent. So, as styles, they are of equal value.

Not quite sure what you mean.. sure they are similar but not indentical.
Some use principles that differ a lot as well. The differences are part of what allows the arts to continue to grow and not stagnate.

Would it be impossible for two arts trying to do the same job to have different degrees of sucess?
 

azmyth

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To say that the 'ultimate fighting system' invented by someone with 5 years of martial arts experience is just as good a martial art as Karate, Tae Kwon Do, or Muay Thai is, I feel, to make a grave insult to these martial arts. So that's where I stand on that issue. Do you think that absolutely any martial art is as good as any other, or do you make exceptions?

I have seen this first hand. I know some people feel different. but In my eyes, there is no way someone with minimal experience in any martial art has the ability or know how to "create" a style and call it his own. There are just many variables, and too many different things to consider. Hell, I can go looking at books and videos and pick out the "cool" stuff and call it "Rex Kwan Do" and charge people 100 bucks a month to learn my deadly art that is a mixture of Okinawan Karate, American Kenpo, Penjak Silat, and Sambo. To me, it just means more to learn something that has been passed down for generations rather than something some schmoe from down the street stole from a book/video.

I know that martial arts are all created by someone at sometime. But, being a 1st or 2nd degree black belt in TKD or some other basic striking art doesn't give you the credibility to create some hybrid style with all kinds of crap thrown into it, and calling it by some awesome name that you came up with.
 

morph4me

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There are enough experienced people who have borrowed ideas, concepts and techniques from different styles and added it to their repetoire that I seriously doubt whether any style is practiced the way it was originally developed, and they never claim to have created a new style, so I have to wonder at all the "new styles" I hear about. Most are just an ecclectic rehash of styles that already exist.
 

BrandonLucas

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I have always loved these kinds of discussions, because to me, this is what really seperates the martial arts from eachother: the point of views of the artists, not the arts themselves. Sure, different arts focus on different points, but it's the ARTIST that makes the difference.

That said, I don't think you could truely make a judgement on which art is better unles you had a controlled environment. Everyone is going to react differently to a situation, and there's always different variables involved. The point is, the art is what is learned, and each artist is going to apply that knowledge differently.

Along the same lines..Steve Vai and Eddy Van Halen, 2 awesome guitarists, play the same solo at the same speed, at the same time...while the SCALE itself is uniform, the SOUND is going to be different, because it's the artist's take on that particular solo. Similarily, if 2 TKD students were faced against a 220 lb man kicking the same type kick to their groin, they may act the same, with the same counter, but chances are they are going to combat the move differently.

The point is, if you were to test the martial arts against eachother, what would be the criteria that you would base the decision on? Are the artists gonig to fight eachother? What if they're mismatched in weight, size, or age? IMO, the question is more of a paradox that truely has no answer.
 

MarkBarlow

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Taking the point of view of self defense, I feel all arts are of equal value. This "McDojo" stuff refers to the Business Practices of the managers, owners, etc.. It has nothing to do with the Art itself. All are effective for a fight, and take place in a fight by those trained and not.

I don't agree with this. The majority of the McDojos that I know of do not allow their students to compete in open tournaments, discourage them from interacting with other styles and do not produce anything resembling a martial artist. They are first and foremost concerned with earning money and they know that by stroking egos, charging inflated prices for any and everything and being willing to promote any age or ability level to black belt.

Money is not the problem. I know instructors who make a decent living from teaching and don't prostitute themselves. The problem arises when an instructor becomes more concerned with milking the students than they do teaching. What other reason can there be for 5 year old black belts?
 

dancingalone

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Money is not the problem. I know instructors who make a decent living from teaching and don't prostitute themselves. The problem arises when an instructor becomes more concerned with milking the students than they do teaching. What other reason can there be for 5 year old black belts?

I agree. By the way, any school where the instructors tries to sell you PRIMARILY developing self-confidence and personal growth is likely a McDojo. I recall visiting a new dojang in town a number of years ago when I was looking for a place to train, and I knew right away it wasn't for me. Umm, I'm an adult with a successful career. Your stupid chants and high fives are of no interest to me.
 

azmyth

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I don't agree with this. The majority of the McDojos that I know of do not allow their students to compete in open tournaments, discourage them from interacting with other styles and do not produce anything resembling a martial artist. They are first and foremost concerned with earning money and they know that by stroking egos, charging inflated prices for any and everything and being willing to promote any age or ability level to black belt.

Money is not the problem. I know instructors who make a decent living from teaching and don't prostitute themselves. The problem arises when an instructor becomes more concerned with milking the students than they do teaching. What other reason can there be for 5 year old black belts?

Some Mcdojos are so jaded and idiotic, they actually PROMOTE their students to compete.. even tossing them into MMA fights untrained..

its a sad day.
 

Grenadier

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There's nothing wrong with taking a traditional system, and incorporating elements of other systems into it. After all, Ohtsuka Hironori did this when he started the Wado system, by mixing Karate with Ju Jutsu.

It's not really about what systems are mixed together, but rather a matter of whether or not the instructor is any good.

Of course in Ohtsuka's case, he was already an expert before he started his Karate training... His situation was hardly the same as the guy who trains at one school for a few months, moves onto a different school and trains there for a year, then goes onto another school and trains for a few months, etc.

Remember, there's a difference between having 10 years of training, versus 1 year of training repeated 9 times.
 

azmyth

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There's nothing wrong with taking a traditional system, and incorporating elements of other systems into it. After all, Ohtsuka Hironori did this when he started the Wado system, by mixing Karate with Ju Jutsu.

It's not really about what systems are mixed together, but rather a matter of whether or not the instructor is any good.

Of course in Ohtsuka's case, he was already an expert before he started his Karate training... His situation was hardly the same as the guy who trains at one school for a few months, moves onto a different school and trains there for a year, then goes onto another school and trains for a few months, etc.

Remember, there's a difference between having 10 years of training, versus 1 year of training repeated 9 times.
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I have no qualms with this. this is completely acceptable. But what I do have a problem with, is taking bits and pieces from lets say, 5 completely different martial arts changing the name to "SUPER DUPER FIGHTING SOCIETY" or some other ludicrous name. and Claiming you "created" your own art. If went to a school that taught TKD, with some BJJ and whatever else on the side.. thats cool. But, I am not learning Ninja pan dido.. or whatever, that some guy with a 1st dan made up in a month or 2.
 

gblnking

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I have no qualms with this. this is completely acceptable. But what I do have a problem with, is taking bits and pieces from lets say, 5 completely different martial arts changing the name to "SUPER DUPER FIGHTING SOCIETY" or some other ludicrous name. and Claiming you "created" your own art. If went to a school that taught TKD, with some BJJ and whatever else on the side.. thats cool. But, I am not learning Ninja pan dido.. or whatever, that some guy with a 1st dan made up in a month or 2.

Hey, I think I attended that school. Mine was better though. It combined 8 differant styles and was mastered under a man that at the time was wanted in the United States for tax fraud. I didn't realize that I was a proud member of "crap fu do" until after I signed the way over priced contract.
 

grydth

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In all my travels, I have met exactly one man who I thought should have established his own system. He possessed wide knowledge, formidable skill, varied experiences in abundance.

Even though permanently separated from his system by the all too frequent and destructive "dojo politics", he felt the act would be disloyal and inappropriate.
 

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