The growth of an art, or Empire Building?

Flying Crane

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Sometimes people talk about helping the martial arts grow and spread and making it available to as many people as possible. The vehicles often used for this growth can include an expanding group of affiliated schools, seminars, bringing unaffiliated schools into one's organization, and video instruction to get the art into the hands of people who do not live near an instructor.

This is often justified as a way to help the art grow, and give more people a chance to learn it.

I dunno. I personally think that people just want to build empires. They want THEIR version of the art in the hands of more people, and they want to gobble up unaffiliated schools into their fold. They want control over other people, and I suppose it often leads to money.

I never understood the desire to build an empire. Why do people feel the need to belong to a larger organization? Why are many people not content to study under a good teacher, and leave it at that? Sure, you know and respect your lineage beyond your teacher. Why does it need to be bigger than that?

And why do so many teachers feel the need to start an organization that attempts to be bigger than their direct school, and formalize membership? What's wrong with simply having a school and teaching your own students? What's with the need to have a bunch of schools "under" you?

just sort of ranting again I guess...
 

Omar B

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There are some who would like to make a nice living off of their work rather than having a small dojo with just a couple students and barley making ends meet. Many actually have something to add to the martial arts that is valid. An empire is not built because one person wants it, there has to be a product and a consumer, if someone is successful it's most likely they have a great product that people want or a great business plan that works well with their product.

Nobody is forcing their version of anything on anyone. there are many choices offered and people are successful because of their product being what people want or their business plan being just that. Howard Hughes was not forcing his planes, engineering breakthroughs, satellites or anything else he and his company came up with, people wanted them.

It's capitalism, supply and demand rather than slogging away in obscurity and having your accomplishments diminish or dissipate after you are gone.
 
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Flying Crane

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Nobody is forcing their version of anything on anyone.

Not directly at any rate.

I think that people are mislead into believing that just because a school belongs to a big org., it must be better than a school that is independent, or a backyard dojo. This is not always, and not often, the truth in my opinion. But it's sort of a hardsell to the uninformed. Caveate emptor, I guess. And the empire grows on.
 

Josh Oakley

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One thing that I've come to like about big orgs it that the dojo will still be there even if the instructor flakes, retires, or otherwise leaves martial arts instruction.

I just found out my KFSS studio doesn't exist anymore.
 

Omar B

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So what you are against is a successful business model then? Nobody is being misled into spending their money on a product or service they don't want where the Martial Arts are concerned. Independent schools and backyard dojos are different animals, if you want to join one fine, if you can find one (or a good one).

As you yourself said " This is not always, and not often, the truth in my opinion" so you are generalizing based on a few scattered examples as to why you hate a sucessful enterprise then you say "caveate emptor" so you don know that it's up to the consumer still. so your argument colapses in upon itself, uninformed consumers make uninformed choices and informed concumers make informed choices and the Toyotas, Hondas, Kyokushins and TKDs of the world flourish because they provide a good product.
 

Xue Sheng

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Sometimes people talk about helping the martial arts grow and spread and making it available to as many people as possible. The vehicles often used for this growth can include an expanding group of affiliated schools, seminars, bringing unaffiliated schools into one's organization, and video instruction to get the art into the hands of people who do not live near an instructor.

This is often justified as a way to help the art grow, and give more people a chance to learn it.

I dunno. I personally think that people just want to build empires. They want THEIR version of the art in the hands of more people, and they want to gobble up unaffiliated schools into their fold. They want control over other people, and I suppose it often leads to money.

I never understood the desire to build an empire. Why do people feel the need to belong to a larger organization? Why are many people not content to study under a good teacher, and leave it at that? Sure, you know and respect your lineage beyond your teacher. Why does it need to be bigger than that?

And why do so many teachers feel the need to start an organization that attempts to be bigger than their direct school, and formalize membership? What's wrong with simply having a school and teaching your own students? What's with the need to have a bunch of schools "under" you?

just sort of ranting again I guess...

Its empire building.

Look at what the current Yang family did and it is much the same. And I am incredibly happy to not be part of it.
 

Xue Sheng

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So what you are against is a successful business model then? Nobody is being misled into spending their money on a product or service they don't want where the Martial Arts are concerned. Independent schools and backyard dojos are different animals, if you want to join one fine, if you can find one (or a good one).

As you yourself said " This is not always, and not often, the truth in my opinion" so you are generalizing based on a few scattered examples as to why you hate a successful enterprise then you say "caveate emptor" so you don know that it's up to the consumer still. so your argument colapses in upon itself, uninformed consumers make uninformed choices and informed concumers make informed choices and the Toyotas, Hondas, Kyokushins and TKDs of the world flourish because they provide a good product.

Actually in the case of one of the largest and most successful TKD orgs in my area.. uninformed consumers decide good marketing is good information and that equates to a good MA school... when in fact it doesn't. But then MA, IMO, at its best is not a business and it has been my experience in CMA at least that the very best CMA sifus have the smallest schools with the fewest students and they hardly advertise at all if ever.

But then I am talking CMA and it could be different for TKD I guess....except for one point... 2 Korean MA teachers one TKD on Hapkido. The one was rather impressive at TKD and had rather impressive students but he simply did not want to compete on a marketing level and he also was rather disgusted by the school I previously mentioned so he closed up shop and left. As for the Hapkido guy, he gave up trying to teach real Hapkido because he was loosing students to the better marketed school and he switched to teaching bad TKD and then made it a sideline because he did not wish to compete with the marketing either and the well marketed school with teachers of lesser skill won the day.

But it is a choice one needs to make if one wants to make a living as an MA teacher in many cases money or integrity in training…. Not all… but many.
 
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Flying Crane

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One thing that I've come to like about big orgs it that the dojo will still be there even if the instructor flakes, retires, or otherwise leaves martial arts instruction.

I just found out my KFSS studio doesn't exist anymore.

are you there for the dojo/style, or for the teacher?

I think if I was looking for a dojo I'd be more interested in the teacher. I don't tend to look at a dojo as a fixed entity with an interchangeable teacher. If the teacher left of retired, I would be surprised of the school did not close down because in my mind, the two are sort of one and the same. If it did not close, I would not automatically stay with the school if someone else took over instruction. Maybe I would, maybe I would not. But I would certainly need to evaluate who the new teacher would be first.

In my opinion, a martial arts school is not like a hardware store where the business could be bought and sold and come under new management and still keep selling the same products. It's not a simple business transaction in that way.
 
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Flying Crane

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So what you are against is a successful business model then? Nobody is being misled into spending their money on a product or service they don't want where the Martial Arts are concerned. Independent schools and backyard dojos are different animals, if you want to join one fine, if you can find one (or a good one).

As you yourself said " This is not always, and not often, the truth in my opinion" so you are generalizing based on a few scattered examples as to why you hate a sucessful enterprise then you say "caveate emptor" so you don know that it's up to the consumer still. so your argument colapses in upon itself, uninformed consumers make uninformed choices and informed concumers make informed choices and the Toyotas, Hondas, Kyokushins and TKDs of the world flourish because they provide a good product.

I'm not against a successful business per se, but I don't feel that martial arts are best treated as a business, nor that it's good for the arts when teachers make it into their primary or only source of income.

I think that unbridled greed and/or lust for power is often at the root of a desire to build an empire of any kind. While I don't object to successful business, I do object to unbridled greed in any venue.
 

Xue Sheng

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In my opinion, a martial arts school is not like a hardware store where the business could be bought and sold and come under new management and still keep selling the same products. It's not a simple business transaction in that way.

I agree, a good friend of mine that trained Uechi-Ryu trained at a dojo for years when the instructor retired to pursue other things and a couple of his senior students (that had not been there as long as my friend) bought it. They started to change many things including the belt system and curriculum and the quality of instruction changed drastically (for the worse) and they wanted him to fall in line with what they saw as the future of the school so my friend decided it was time for him to leave so he left

 

Omar B

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I'm not against a successful business per se, but I don't feel that martial arts are best treated as a business, nor that it's good for the arts when teachers make it into their primary or only source of income.

I think that unbridled greed and/or lust for power is often at the root of a desire to build an empire of any kind. While I don't object to successful business, I do object to unbridled greed in any venue.

I quite enjoy greed and lust for power. It's usually derided by mediocrities who can't equal it because they can't keep up intellectually or physically. You are not forced at gunpoint to joining Dojo A or Dojo B or Mac's unadvertised, badly equipped backyard Dojo. It's your choice and it that works for you fine, but sucessfull businesses are just that because they provide what the people want.
 
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Flying Crane

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I quite enjoy greed and lust for power. It's usually derided by mediocrities who can't equal it because they can't keep up intellectually or physically.

ha, you made me laugh with that. Thanks.

You are not forced at gunpoint to joining Dojo A or Dojo B or Mac's unadvertised, badly equipped backyard Dojo. It's your choice and it that works for you fine, but sucessfull businesses are just that because they provide what the people want.

which for most people is something easy and comfortable. Not often compatible with quality martial arts training.
 
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Flying Crane

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I mean it though. One of these days soon I'll be one of those evil business men with way too much money that people both hate and envy.


I know you mean it. And that's why I think it's funny. Thanks for the laugh.
 

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So what you are against is a successful business model then? Nobody is being misled into spending their money on a product or service they don't want where the Martial Arts are concerned. Independent schools and backyard dojos are different animals, if you want to join one fine, if you can find one (or a good one).

I would say that there are people who are being misled into spending money on a service they don't want in the martial arts. Some people want effective, realistic self defence instruction, and it can be quite hard to be informed about what to look for in terms of quality for the uninitiated. But then again some people are looking for a false sense of security and a lot of schools offer that. Some people would like martial arts that have evolved directly from a historical root, and to be relatively faithful to the source of the material. And again it is not hard to be misinformed when looking for the real deal. But then again there are some people who would just rather run around in 'ninja' suits.
 
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