Utility of an Independent Instructors Only Organization

MadMartigan

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Curious to hear some thoughts on whether organizations should be more focused on instructors, rather than collecting memberships of all said instructor's students.

I come from an Independent TKD background (our old Chang Hon style master left the martial arts... leaving no link or record of rank to any broader organization). We practice the old style (pre-syne wave) and had to go independent in order to continue with our style.

Many times we have looked at the idea of joining various organizations (as we have no one above to rank up our students beyond 3rd Dan). Every time, these organizations are mostly just interested in absorbing our schools into their curriculum (not right or wrong, just different training methods).

What about an organization that exists only to support and promote instructors... who then are responsible for their own club's learning methods? Where we don't have to all wear matching uniforms; but instead just worry about the actually important things (fundamental movement, patterns, sparring, and practical self defense ability).
Thanks
 

Flying Crane

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I guess you need to ask what is important in having an organization. It seems to me that having some standards with the curriculum would be one purpose. So how does an organization rank and promote instructors, without standardizing the curriculum? That seems to me to be a contradiction.

Im not a big fan of big organizations. I guess it depends on what you get from the membership, and you decide if those benefits are important to you. I dont see any problem with remaining independent, if you dont see value in the other options available to you. If you are running a solid program, then rank should not matter. But it is a reality of our times that people obsess over rank and it becomes important for marketing if you are running a school as a business. Personally, I think that is a screwed up priority. But that is just me.
 
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MadMartigan

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I guess you need to ask what is important in having an organization. It seems to me that having some standards with the curriculum would be one purpose. So how does an organization rank and promote instructors, without standardizing the curriculum? That seems to me to be a contradiction.

Im not a big fan of big organizations. I guess it depends on what you get from the membership, and you decide if those benefits are important to you. I dont see any problem with remaining independent, if you dont see value in the other options available to you. If you are running a solid program, then rank should not matter. But it is a reality of our times that people obsess over rank and it becomes important for marketing if you are running a school as a business. Personally, I think that is a screwed up priority. But that is just me.
Couldn't agree more. Rank should not matter... yet there is a place for it. I know 1 independent marial artist who has been actively teaching for over 40 years, yet is still a 4th dan (because he does not care about the stripes). The problem is, he should be able to have his views on training etc respected by the broader community. It seems like the martial arts as a whole only care about your rank when it comes to listening to your views on a subject (regardless of your actual knowledge).

As for curriculum, the standard is the text books. We use the 1972 TKD Encyclopedia. Whether you accomplish the end result through line work or sparring patterns should not matter in my opinion. The result (held up against the original standard) should be what matters.
 

jobo

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well it's a completly unregulated industry, if you want such an organisation start one and then see if anyone else wants one

its possibly pointless as the federations will just ignore you , so you still wont have your voices heard other than by yourselves
 

Flying Crane

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Couldn't agree more. Rank should not matter... yet there is a place for it. I know 1 independent marial artist who has been actively teaching for over 40 years, yet is still a 4th dan (because he does not care about the stripes). The problem is, he should be able to have his views on training etc respected by the broader community. It seems like the martial arts as a whole only care about your rank when it comes to listening to your views on a subject (regardless of your actual knowledge).
. Does the community not respect this person? I am not convinced that the community at large really matters all that much. If his local reputation is good and the quality of his students is good, that is all that matters. I do understand however that in terms of marketing, his competitor who advertises a higher rank, despite half the years training, is going to likely get better response in terms of his business income and gaining students. The general public isnt always educated about the topic and cannot always make intelligent decisions about this stuff.
As for curriculum, the standard is the text books. We use the 1972 TKD Encyclopedia. Whether you accomplish the end result through line work or sparring patterns should not matter in my opinion. The result (held up against the original standard) should be what matters.
You are following that particular curriculum, but if the larger organization that you might join is following a different curriculum, how are they in a position to Judge your teaching and give additional rank?
 
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MadMartigan

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You are following that particular curriculum, but if the larger organization that you might join is following a different curriculum, how are they in a position to Judge your teaching and give additional rank?
I guess from my point of view on the field; a stance is a stance. These are generally the same across organizations within the same 'parent' martial art. A good fighter, is a good fighter.

My complaint I suppose is that organizations seem more interested in controlling how you get there vs where you actually get. I see more utility in grading the observables:
- Are you performing the forms at an advanced level (regardless of slight differences in where you may chamber a specific block etc);
- How is your sparring;
and for higher level black belts,
- What have you contributed to the art (teaching etc).

I wonder if I'm one of the only ones who thinks that organizations would be most effective if they just trained and supported the instructors... who could then deal with their own students.
 

dancingalone

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Curious to hear some thoughts on whether organizations should be more focused on instructors, rather than collecting memberships of all said instructor's students.

I come from an Independent TKD background (our old Chang Hon style master left the martial arts... leaving no link or record of rank to any broader organization). We practice the old style (pre-syne wave) and had to go independent in order to continue with our style.

Many times we have looked at the idea of joining various organizations (as we have no one above to rank up our students beyond 3rd Dan). Every time, these organizations are mostly just interested in absorbing our schools into their curriculum (not right or wrong, just different training methods).

What about an organization that exists only to support and promote instructors... who then are responsible for their own club's learning methods? Where we don't have to all wear matching uniforms; but instead just worry about the actually important things (fundamental movement, patterns, sparring, and practical self defense ability).
Thanks
If you have gone independent entirely, you don't really need the trappings of added rank, do you? Just keep 3rd dan as your terminal rank and go on happily practicing and doing whatever you are doing.

If you would like to continue gaining rank, your instructors can find a compatible sabum to train under. Nothing says you have to take the school along and thus have to compromise on the curriculum.
 

Flying Crane

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I guess from my point of view on the field; a stance is a stance. These are generally the same across organizations within the same 'parent' martial art. A good fighter, is a good fighter.

My complaint I suppose is that organizations seem more interested in controlling how you get there vs where you actually get. I see more utility in grading the observables:
- Are you performing the forms at an advanced level (regardless of slight differences in where you may chamber a specific block etc);
- How is your sparring;
and for higher level black belts,
- What have you contributed to the art (teaching etc).

I wonder if I'm one of the only ones who thinks that organizations would be most effective if they just trained and supported the instructors... who could then deal with their own students.
Fair points, and I dont have the answer for you, rather Im giving one perspective.

some inconsistencies that I might anticipate is, yes a stance is a stance as you say, (sort of, but thats a different discussion). If you might actually be doing an entirely different group of poomsae than an org. If your group is still practicing the older poomsae that came from the Shotokan kata. My understanding is that they are very different from the more recently created sets in the Olympic TKD schools.

as for sparring, your intentions and approach could again be very different from what an Olympic org might be doing. So the very intentions of what it is accomplishing could be completely contradictory. So again, I question whether they can pass that judgement to give more rank, if you arent training in their approach.
 

dvcochran

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It is a valid question but I feel you know many of the answers already.
1.) You are following a very established curriculum that goes all the way up to 9th Dan (maybe 10th I am not certain).
2.) You do not have an instructor(s) beyond 3 Dan so this is your testing limit. This in itself can present problems. That said, having a lot of 3 Dan's means you have very good retention rates. A Great reflection on your school.
3.) Gathering your curriculum from books, even the official encyclopedias, as your only source of information is very, very bad. I get the impression you already know this.
4.) I am curious where/what you are forming your conclusions about organizations from? Since you are not, and I am assuming have never been part of an organization I am not clear on this. Especially since you are following an established curriculum, it seems logical that you should already be following an established set of parameters for promotions.
I have been in and around a Lot of organizations and have never seen a school censored such that they do not have some leeway on what/how they teach. Even the almighty WT/Kukkiwon does not censor in this way. Sadly a great many WT/Kukki folks never get any other exposure.
5.) Standards and maintaining the standards. This is the number one priority for any organization worth dealing with. Integrity is the number one battle for traditional martial arts. If you are not dealing with this kind of culture you are looking at the wrong organization.
That Segway's into the fact that there are some really, really crap organizations out there in the martial arts world. It is imperative that you research any organization and know what you are getting into.
Standards. How would a body that has no government control and maintain the standards? Yes; I get that your school may be the exception and never have a problem with maintaining the standards. But what about all these other ungoverned schools/instructors who join your organization purely to have something to add to their advertising campaign? It quickly sounds like a recipe to discredit your school more than promote it.

I fully expect there would be some changes to go through but when you see them in the rearview mirror I truly believe you will see more positives than negatives.
I have worked with a several schools that have made this transition. The easiest way I have found to do it is to find a school near you (not close enough to be your business competition) that has a high ranking instructor and 'join' that school. Joining school did not require any change in names nor were there any measurable changes to curriculum or outward appearance. It really, really puts the onus on the instructors looking to advance since they literally have to go back to school. Since your limit is currently 3rd Dan and 4th Dan is usually considered instructor rank you are at a good progression level.
Naturally, there is dwell time between starting the process and actual movement in promotion.
Some of the schools I have dealt with have very long time master instructors who are very accomplished. Some had no problem with more physical changes to the business model since they were able to skip test closer to time in training. No ego involved. It was purely about promoting their business/model.

In conclusion, I would discourage you from trying to create a 'workaround' for your problem because it would create one hell of a can of worms. And the MA community has enough problems with crap organizations.
Assuming your logical integration would be with ITF I would expect there to be many tools available to you the help in this effort. Another no name organization is going to be pretty much worthless.
 

Dirty Dog

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Isn't an organization of independent instructors something of an oxymoron?
And on a technical level... how can this oxymoron decide who has earned promotion if they don't know the curriculum? Honestly it sounds like a paper mill whose sole real world purpose is to generate cash.
 
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MadMartigan

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I fully expect there would be some changes to go through but when you see them in the rearview mirror I truly believe you will see more positives than negatives.
I have worked with a several schools that have made this transition. The easiest way I have found to do it is to find a school near you (not close enough to be your business competition) that has a high ranking instructor and 'join' that school. Joining school did not require any change in names nor were there any measurable changes to curriculum or outward appearance. It really, really puts the onus on the instructors looking to advance since they literally have to go back to school.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I agree with you that new organizations are really just unneeded noiseand rarely helpful.

What you described in this paragraph was really what I was driving at. I see more benefit from an organization that is strictly there to train the instructors. A mentorship group focused on developing the black belts only.

Anyone can print a certificate that says whatever they want. I'd love to see a way that independent teachers can collaborate on the important issues and mentor those coming after them... without trying to build their own little kingdoms and make money from them.
Just a pipe dream I guess, but alas.
 

WaterGal

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What are you looking to gain by being part of an organization?

I don't say that to discourage you, but rather to possibly point you to some resources that already exist. Maybe a federation isn't what you need.

If you're looking to network with different martial arts school owners/instructors and keep up with what's going on in the industry, there are a bunch of Facebook groups for that purpose. They're usually run by someone who's trying to sell you something, but they can still be a great resource.

If you're looking for someone to help you learn new classroom drills and instructional methods, there are a number of groups/programs that offer that service to instructors.

If you're looking for someone to improve your advertising, business processes, etc, there are about 473912581 people out there that are very eager to help you out with that in exchange for money.
 

dvcochran

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Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I agree with you that new organizations are really just unneeded noiseand rarely helpful.

What you described in this paragraph was really what I was driving at. I see more benefit from an organization that is strictly there to train the instructors. A mentorship group focused on developing the black belts only.

Anyone can print a certificate that says whatever they want. I'd love to see a way that independent teachers can collaborate on the important issues and mentor those coming after them... without trying to build their own little kingdoms and make money from them.
Just a pipe dream I guess, but alas.
I would say with certainty they exist in the major organizations, by proxy if nothing else.
Everything steers through the growth and promotion of the BB instructors. The organizations themselves have little to nothing to do with gup promotions since they are at the local school level.

If you really want to stay accredited with an organization there is really no way around aligning with one of them and doing the time in grade unless you can prove a skip test is justified. There are strict guidelines in place for this in WT/Kukki and I assume in ITF as well.
For me personally and on the business level this is definitely the way to go. Yes, several people have charted their own course. But most of them were in a very different MA climate and business environment. All those guys were less about their MA's as a tangible, sellable product and more about self accomplishment and competition, at least in the beginning.
If you really believe you have a product worthy of going it on your own I commend you and wish you all the best.
 
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granfire

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Isn't an organization of independent instructors something of an oxymoron?
And on a technical level... how can this oxymoron decide who has earned promotion if they don't know the curriculum? Honestly it sounds like a paper mill whose sole real world purpose is to generate cash.
It sort of is, but also isn't.
the one I used to train under originally billed itself as a group of independent schools
Then, maybe 15 years ago they turned their 'independent' members into franchisees.

the organization can provide some help with the legal aspect of modern life, such as insurance...
One can share ideas with like minded practitioners and cultivate a sense of cooperation, to where the instructors can continue training and learning.
Sadly around here, those black belt classes were short lived, as the organization reared its ugly head. Long story there, and a good reason not to be in an organization.

And yeah, after the 7th dan the rank became more of a symbolic gesture anyhow
And is apparently (depending on organization) paired with a price tag.

don't let sine wave be the determining factor....there are bigger differences than that.
Some of the changes to 'my' organization were rumored to be due to the inability to copyright the existing, traditional forms.

the industry is full of guys with egos. why not develop a healthy one and run your place the way you see fit. That is the huge difference between organizations and franchisees. The leaders believe it is theirs to lead and make other pay to follow.

Not directed at you, DD.
Just throwing this out there, generally speaking
 

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It sort of is, but also isn't.
the one I used to train under originally billed itself as a group of independent schools
Then, maybe 15 years ago they turned their 'independent' members into franchisees.

the organization can provide some help with the legal aspect of modern life, such as insurance...
One can share ideas with like minded practitioners and cultivate a sense of cooperation, to where the instructors can continue training and learning.
Sadly around here, those black belt classes were short lived, as the organization reared its ugly head. Long story there, and a good reason not to be in an organization.

And yeah, after the 7th dan the rank became more of a symbolic gesture anyhow
And is apparently (depending on organization) paired with a price tag.

don't let sine wave be the determining factor....there are bigger differences than that.
Some of the changes to 'my' organization were rumored to be due to the inability to copyright the existing, traditional forms.

the industry is full of guys with egos. why not develop a healthy one and run your place the way you see fit. That is the huge difference between organizations and franchisees. The leaders believe it is theirs to lead and make other pay to follow.

Not directed at you, DD.
Just throwing this out there, generally speaking
That pretty much proves my point. If you want to band together to get a group deal on insurance, that can work. But as soon as this group has any say over promotions, especially when it involves unrelated systems, it becomes nothing more than a rubber stamp cash cow.

In my area, we do have a non-style specific organization. It has nothing to do with insurance or promotions. What it does do is promote and arrange a gathering every 2-3 months. The gatherings are limited to advanced students but with no firmly defined standard for "advanced". For systems that use belt ranks, most people seem to interpret it as Dan ranks only. But I've taken a couple of Chodanbo students, and at least one 1st Geup student and nobody objected. For systems with no belts, it's left to whoever runs the school to decide. The gatherings are 3-4 hour sessions where people have the chance to exchange ideas, demonstrate techniques, engage in free sparring, talk about school management, whatever.
It's a good group, and I've enjoyed the gatherings I've attended. So have my students.
 

andyjeffries

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And yeah, after the 7th dan the rank became more of a symbolic gesture anyhow
And is apparently (depending on organization) paired with a price tag.
I don't know if you're meaning in general, but I'm looking forward to going to Korea to test for my 8th Dan on the floor in front of 3 grandmasters, including the President of our Kwan. It's certainly not symbolic, although it has a lot of meaning for me (good and bad)
 

dvcochran

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I don't know if you're meaning in general, but I'm looking forward to going to Korea to test for my 8th Dan on the floor in front of 3 grandmasters, including the President of our Kwan. It's certainly not symbolic, although it has a lot of meaning for me (good and bad)
I was able to test for my 7th Dan MDK in front of GM Chon, Jae Kyu about a year before he passed. Emotional, symbolic and any other positive adjective you can think of.
My 5th Dan Kukkiwon was in front of a board in Chicago; five GMs, mostly Korean and all higher up in US Kukkiwon but it did not carry the same weight to me.
 

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Couldn't agree more. Rank should not matter... yet there is a place for it. I know 1 independent marial artist who has been actively teaching for over 40 years, yet is still a 4th dan (because he does not care about the stripes). The problem is, he should be able to have his views on training etc respected by the broader community. It seems like the martial arts as a whole only care about your rank when it comes to listening to your views on a subject (regardless of your actual knowledge).

As for curriculum, the standard is the text books. We use the 1972 TKD Encyclopedia. Whether you accomplish the end result through line work or sparring patterns should not matter in my opinion. The result (held up against the original standard) should be what matters.
It has been my experience that most experienced martial artists understand rank varies from group to group. Of course, we all have a bias to view rank as it has been used where we trained, but most understand the difference when they are given a chance. I think rank can get in the way initially, if the rank is obvious (so, at a seminar, where everyone has their rank on their waist).

And there are some folks who are VERY rank-conscious. To them, it won't matter what others know, unless they hold a rank that person respects (which often means a rank near their own). This isn't so different from the way some folks fail to respect views from different approaches. If someone is very emotionally invested in rank or training approach or whatever, they'll tend to be dismissive of things that aren't that - it's an internal mechanism to protect them from having that view challenged.
 

gpseymour

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That pretty much proves my point. If you want to band together to get a group deal on insurance, that can work. But as soon as this group has any say over promotions, especially when it involves unrelated systems, it becomes nothing more than a rubber stamp cash cow.

In my area, we do have a non-style specific organization. It has nothing to do with insurance or promotions. What it does do is promote and arrange a gathering every 2-3 months. The gatherings are limited to advanced students but with no firmly defined standard for "advanced". For systems that use belt ranks, most people seem to interpret it as Dan ranks only. But I've taken a couple of Chodanbo students, and at least one 1st Geup student and nobody objected. For systems with no belts, it's left to whoever runs the school to decide. The gatherings are 3-4 hour sessions where people have the chance to exchange ideas, demonstrate techniques, engage in free sparring, talk about school management, whatever.
It's a good group, and I've enjoyed the gatherings I've attended. So have my students.
Man, I'd join a group like that in a hot second.
 

gpseymour

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Isn't an organization of independent instructors something of an oxymoron?
And on a technical level... how can this oxymoron decide who has earned promotion if they don't know the curriculum? Honestly it sounds like a paper mill whose sole real world purpose is to generate cash.
The only instructor-based organization I can think of would be something focused on better approaches to teaching and testing, specifically. So, no focus on promotion for testing, but perhaps a certification based on having learned and demonstrated good teaching skills. The organization wouldn't be assessing whether the instructor is teaching good technique, but whether they are using good teaching techniques.

Other than group-gathering purposes (joint seminars, insurance, etc.) I don't think there would be other value besides getting instructor support like that.
 
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