What school?

Tait

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Unfortunately, I live in a city where the selection of schools is limited. The three "larger" more structured schools are an ATA Karate for Kids (with a busy adult class), a Villari's Kempo and a CNS (Chuck Norris System) school. Personally, I prefer structure in my life and feel structured schools operate better, although on that note, don't want my school to be a McDojo either. I understand I said my area is limited on school selection, yet I stated there are three "major" nationwide schools. I've heard a lot of negatives on all three schools in general, which is why I'm asking for opinions. I will say I believe ATA schools have clear and defined programs, although I hear most are the epitomy of a McDojo. Any insight from you all?
 

dvcochran

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Take a trial week/month at all three schools. See which one resonates with what you are looking for the most. I think choosing a school is something that should be eased into instead of a hard, finite decision from jump.
The journey is a marathon not a sprint so make sure you are on the right trail before you get too far.
 

JR 137

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Forget any preconceived notions. I’m in the Seido karate organization. We all follow the same syllabus and have the same expectations. Yet there’s big differences between individual dojos. Some seemingly cater to kids and point-fighting. Others don’t. The dojo I’m at is an older and more mature crowd. There are kids’ classes, but there’s no mixed kid and adult classes. We compete occasionally (once a year in our organization’s annual tournament), but it’s certainly not mandatory nor emphasized. We’ll have special classes outside of the regular schedule for anyone who wants to compete.

If all I saw was the handful of schools filled with kids and tournament pictures, I’d have overlooked my school. Also, MAists are horrible advertisers IMO. Forget about webpages and the like. Visit the schools. What’s most important is who you’re learning from and who you’re training alongside. Seeing them do their thing and how they’re doing it will tell you what you need to know. If it were for websites, I’d have never joined either dojo I’ve trained at. I probably wouldn’t have even visited, to be honest.
 

Headhunter

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Turn up see if you like it, repeat this until you've been everyone choose the one you like most
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Villari Kempo will definitely have he structure that you are looking for, just based on their curriculum; I can't speak to the other two. Keep in mind though that just because a school isn't large, that doesn't mean it lacks structure/a set curriculum. As others have said try them out and see what you like, but also don't neglect to try out the smaller schools just because they're smaller schools.
 

Steve

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I don't know where you're at, but there are only two CNS schools in Florida, but that American Martial Arts school has some concerning language. It could be that the guy is a terrible writer, but his bio is word salad. He lists a lot of things listed that should be easy to verify. He also lists John Will prominently on his BJJ page. There is no doubt that John Will is legit. But that doesn't mean that this guy is competent to teach BJJ. Also not sure what Champion Martial Arts is, so it's hard to know what a 5th degree black belt actually means in that style. Lastly, I'm very leery of language like, "studied extensively in many other... arts." Is that one month? 6 months? 10 years?

"Master Hammersley has trained and taught martial arts for over 35 years and opened American Martial Arts in New Smyrna Beach in 1985. Master Hammersley also is a 5th degree black belt in Tang Soo Do, 5th degree black belt Champion Martial Arts,1st degree black belt Kuk Ki Won Tae Kwon Do, as well as having studied extensively in many other forms of martial arts, most notably, grappling (BJJ) Hombu Akido, MMA and full contact fighting competition, as well as mastering many different styles and types of traditional weapons."

Looks like the other CNS school is loosely affiliated with American Martial Arts, but the instructor has a brown belt in BJJ under Jay Pages who seems to be a legitimate Caio Terra affiliate. I think it's worth checking the school out, if you're in the area.

To be very clear, martial artists have notoriously crappy websites, so it's worth checking them both out. But I think the Leader Martial Arts seems a little more solid to me and I like that he's got a clear BJJ affiliation and actual rank.

Other than that, I can't speak to Kempo or TKD. If it looks fun, knock yourself out.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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I don't know where you're at, but there are only two CNS schools in Florida, but that American Martial Arts school has some concerning language. It could be that the guy is a terrible writer, but his bio is word salad. He lists a lot of things listed that should be easy to verify. He also lists John Will prominently on his BJJ page. There is no doubt that John Will is legit. But that doesn't mean that this guy is competent to teach BJJ. Also not sure what Champion Martial Arts is, so it's hard to know what a 5th degree black belt actually means in that style. Lastly, I'm very leery of language like, "studied extensively in many other... arts." Is that one month? 6 months? 10 years?

"Master Hammersley has trained and taught martial arts for over 35 years and opened American Martial Arts in New Smyrna Beach in 1985. Master Hammersley also is a 5th degree black belt in Tang Soo Do, 5th degree black belt Champion Martial Arts,1st degree black belt Kuk Ki Won Tae Kwon Do, as well as having studied extensively in many other forms of martial arts, most notably, grappling (BJJ) Hombu Akido, MMA and full contact fighting competition, as well as mastering many different styles and types of traditional weapons."

Looks like the other CNS school is loosely affiliated with American Martial Arts, but the instructor has a brown belt in BJJ under Jay Pages who seems to be a legitimate Caio Terra affiliate. I think it's worth checking the school out, if you're in the area.

To be very clear, martial artists have notoriously crappy websites, so it's worth checking them both out. But I think the Leader Martial Arts seems a little more solid to me and I like that he's got a clear BJJ affiliation and actual rank.

Other than that, I can't speak to Kempo or TKD. If it looks fun, knock yourself out.
Where are you seeing the website?
 
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Tait

Tait

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I don't know where you're at, but there are only two CNS schools in Florida, but that American Martial Arts school has some concerning language. It could be that the guy is a terrible writer, but his bio is word salad. He lists a lot of things listed that should be easy to verify. He also lists John Will prominently on his BJJ page. There is no doubt that John Will is legit. But that doesn't mean that this guy is competent to teach BJJ. Also not sure what Champion Martial Arts is, so it's hard to know what a 5th degree black belt actually means in that style. Lastly, I'm very leery of language like, "studied extensively in many other... arts." Is that one month? 6 months? 10 years?

"Master Hammersley has trained and taught martial arts for over 35 years and opened American Martial Arts in New Smyrna Beach in 1985. Master Hammersley also is a 5th degree black belt in Tang Soo Do, 5th degree black belt Champion Martial Arts,1st degree black belt Kuk Ki Won Tae Kwon Do, as well as having studied extensively in many other forms of martial arts, most notably, grappling (BJJ) Hombu Akido, MMA and full contact fighting competition, as well as mastering many different styles and types of traditional weapons."

Looks like the other CNS school is loosely affiliated with American Martial Arts, but the instructor has a brown belt in BJJ under Jay Pages who seems to be a legitimate Caio Terra affiliate. I think it's worth checking the school out, if you're in the area.

To be very clear, martial artists have notoriously crappy websites, so it's worth checking them both out. But I think the Leader Martial Arts seems a little more solid to me and I like that he's got a clear BJJ affiliation and actual rank.

Other than that, I can't speak to Kempo or TKD. If it looks fun, knock yourself out.

Yes, AMA is the school I am referring to. Years ago, I actually went there. I did so because after a visit or two I was extremely impressed. I realize admitting this kind of negates my initial posting, although this was almost 15 years ago and the style has gone from Chun Kuk Do, to CFS (Chuck Norris Fighting System), which I think is kind of silly. It's just a name change, but again, I don't know the legitimacy of the style, or what other disciplines Master Hammersley has studied. He seemed like a good teacher for the kids, but I didn't gain much from him during my short time there. Looking back, I guess I should not have included AMA in my post, considering I do have a knowledge of the school. My biggest issue with them is I had no idea what I was learning. Was it TKD, TSD, MDK, Karate...??? Even going on the UFAF (Governing organization of the arts) website, doesn't really explain it.
 

Earl Weiss

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Best advice above is to go and watch or take several classes. At any given class a particular topic may be stressed and my give you the mistaken impression that the entire curriculum which may provide much more is limited to what you see one time. There may also be different instructors and seeing different classes may let you see how they are different. Ask for info on their curriculum and ALL FEES involved. Tuition, uniforms / equipment, Tests, support materials. Organizations have their function but at the end of the day the school is your experience.
 

JR 137

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Best advice above is to go and watch or take several classes. At any given class a particular topic may be stressed and my give you the mistaken impression that the entire curriculum which may provide much more is limited to what you see one time. There may also be different instructors and seeing different classes may let you see how they are different. Ask for info on their curriculum and ALL FEES involved. Tuition, uniforms / equipment, Tests, support materials. Organizations have their function but at the end of the day the school is your experience.
Definitely see if you can watch several different teachers at one place. Specifically the ones teaching classes you’ll potentially attend. If all I saw was a specific assistant instructor at my school, I wouldn’t have joined. She’s a great person, very knowledgeable, and has been a great help to me on a one-on-one basis when I ask for help with something, but I’m not the biggest fan of how she runs a class. Others like her teaching, but it’s just not my thing. I only take her class when she’s filling in for my CI on my regular day. I have no problem with that, but I wouldn’t take her class regularly.
 

dvcochran

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Best advice above is to go and watch or take several classes. At any given class a particular topic may be stressed and my give you the mistaken impression that the entire curriculum which may provide much more is limited to what you see one time. There may also be different instructors and seeing different classes may let you see how they are different. Ask for info on their curriculum and ALL FEES involved. Tuition, uniforms / equipment, Tests, support materials. Organizations have their function but at the end of the day the school is your experience.
Earl Weiss makes a very good point that I will reiterate. We have heard some horror stories on this forum of how some schools are nickel and diming people for every little thing. If you have to sign a contractual agreement make certain what is and is Not included. A good list of the usual items is listed above.
A good for example is the commonly offered "black belt program". It would be easy to assume this would include everything (all promotions) to become a black belt. I have read about many people who got to the black belt testing level only to find out there were additional fees for the BB test.
It is getting harder to find with business models being what they are are these days but a pay as you go (month to month) program is a much simpler format for the consumer.
 

Steve

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Couple of quick points.

First, the business practices of the school can be really sketchy even if the quality of the instruction is high. The two are not necessarily related. That's a choice you may need to make.

Second, watching a class is helpful, but it can also be misleading if you don't know what you're looking at. The quality of the instruction may look really cool, but be completely unrealistic. Just suggesting that you not be taken in by the sales pitch.
 

JR 137

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Earl Weiss makes a very good point that I will reiterate. We have heard some horror stories on this forum of how some schools are nickel and diming people for every little thing. If you have to sign a contractual agreement make certain what is and is Not included. A good list of the usual items is listed above.
A good for example is the commonly offered "black belt program". It would be easy to assume this would include everything (all promotions) to become a black belt. I have read about many people who got to the black belt testing level only to find out there were additional fees for the BB test.
It is getting harder to find with business models being what they are are these days but a pay as you go (month to month) program is a much simpler format for the consumer.
My uncle signed up for the “black belt program” after a year or two at a TKD school. It covered tuition and testing fees up to and including black belt.

Once he signed up for it, he somehow kept getting pushed to promote faster. He held himself back a few times, then waited an extra year to test for black belt because the whole cash grab thing he saw it become sickened him. He passed his black belt test, then they tried to charge him $250 for the belt itself. Fine print: test was included, the physical belt and certificate weren’t. There was no outside organization like KKW for the school to pay, and the belt wasn’t anything special; a $50 embroidery included at best belt.

He told them to keep the belt and certificate. He was done with them before that point anyway.
 

Steve

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My uncle signed up for the “black belt program” after a year or two at a TKD school. It covered tuition and testing fees up to and including black belt.

Once he signed up for it, he somehow kept getting pushed to promote faster. He held himself back a few times, then waited an extra year to test for black belt because the whole cash grab thing he saw it become sickened him. He passed his black belt test, then they tried to charge him $250 for the belt itself. Fine print: test was included, the physical belt and certificate weren’t. There was no outside organization like KKW for the school to pay, and the belt wasn’t anything special; a $50 embroidery included at best belt.

He told them to keep the belt and certificate. He was done with them before that point anyway.
Did he learn anything?
 

dvcochran

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My uncle signed up for the “black belt program” after a year or two at a TKD school. It covered tuition and testing fees up to and including black belt.

Once he signed up for it, he somehow kept getting pushed to promote faster. He held himself back a few times, then waited an extra year to test for black belt because the whole cash grab thing he saw it become sickened him. He passed his black belt test, then they tried to charge him $250 for the belt itself. Fine print: test was included, the physical belt and certificate weren’t. There was no outside organization like KKW for the school to pay, and the belt wasn’t anything special; a $50 embroidery included at best belt.

He told them to keep the belt and certificate. He was done with them before that point anyway.
You hear stories like this Way too often. I don't get it at all. It is not like any school is running out of physical room and a warm body is usually a good presence every way imaginable. It takes a really big pair to try and pull crap like that.
 

dvcochran

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Unfortunately, I live in a city where the selection of schools is limited. The three "larger" more structured schools are an ATA Karate for Kids (with a busy adult class), a Villari's Kempo and a CNS (Chuck Norris System) school. Personally, I prefer structure in my life and feel structured schools operate better, although on that note, don't want my school to be a McDojo either. I understand I said my area is limited on school selection, yet I stated there are three "major" nationwide schools. I've heard a lot of negatives on all three schools in general, which is why I'm asking for opinions. I will say I believe ATA schools have clear and defined programs, although I hear most are the epitomy of a McDojo. Any insight from you all?
I will add this; what is the definition of a McDojo? I think it is a rather personal definition. Especially when you say you are looking for structure. some of the typical criteria are mutual. I don't think being structured alone makes a McDojo. If the structure builds to a full, robust program what is wrong with that? Life gets in the way quite often so being able to jump off and back on if necessary is a good thing. Time is the bigger factor to me. Too much time off regardless of the program necessitates a do over for a lot of people.
 
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