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  1. #11

    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    New England
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Thank you, good suggestions.

  2. #12
    I decided I'd have a pretty avatar for a while.

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Sheffield, England
    Student Jutsu
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Didn't know whether you meant this coming Friday or this which you may have done a couple of days ago, but as I can't sleep I'll do this version now.

    I'll try and keep to Ameri-English spelling, due to the base of the site.

    I haven't checked the links (due to switching between many windows) so if I say something stupid about them, ignore me.

    Here is my corrected version:

    1) Executive Summary

    2) What Is A McDojo? What is Bullshido?

    3) What are you looking for?

    4) Initially Shopping for a School Online

    5) What to look for when you visit a school

    6) Indications that a School Has Low Training Standards

    7) Indications that the School is out for the Buck

    8) Ways Martial Arts Schools Make Money off you: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    9) Contract issues

    10) Bullshido tales you might be told

    A) Historical lies
    B) Military Combatives Bullshit
    C) Latest Trends - Watch out for ‘Krap’ Maga as verses Krav Maga

    11) Lies Instructors Tell About Themselves

    12) Selecting a Martial Arts School for Your Child


    The most common question we get from martial arts novices here at Bullshido is "what martial arts should I take?" The next most frequent question is "which one of the following martial arts schools is the best for me." The unstated question is 'how do I avoid a crummy school?" Most of us at Bullshido have shared the experience of having a bad instructor, but good judgment is often the product of experience which in turn is the product of previous bad judgment. This is a guide to how to find a good martial arts school the first time around, and how to spot schools and instructors that have ‘issues’. Since our detractors tend to accuse us of being "sports oriented" if you really, really desire a "traditional" martial arts school you might want to also consult the following essay by Rob Redmond. He's also much more polite then we are.


    Here at Bullshido we use the term "Mcdojo" describe a school in which the quality of instruction and training is watered down by the instructor in order to make money. Similarly a McDojo may be occasionally run by someone who is sincere but is the product of bad training and a martial arts franchise approach. "Bullshido" is bad behavior, typically involving deception that a martial arts instructor does, frequently at a martial arts school, which is very often a Mcdojo.

    To provide obvious examples, if a school tests people for a black belt within a year after they start this art, they are obviously dropping their grading standards and are a McDojo. If your martial arts instructor is insisting he can trace his martial arts lineage back 4,000 years or that he teaches secret Special Forces hand to hand combat techniques you are probably witnessing Bullshido which is a substantial deception or untruth in a martial arts context. Either is a compelling reason to avoid training at this school.


    The most important thing for any martial arts student to know when they are out shopping for a martial arts school is what do they really want? Here at Bullshido most of our members are interested in studying a martial art primarily as a method of fighting, rather then for health and internal cultivation (Tai Chi) a workout, (cardio kickboxing, Tae Bo, and many forms of Tae Kwon Do) or as a study of a foreign culture. (Aikido, Kendo).

    Here at Bullshido we believe in ‘Alive’ training which is training which has three key elements, movement, timing, and energy (resistance). If you are missing any one of these then it is not ‘Alive’.

    Resistance means working out with people who are non-compliant, they resist the application of your techniques and you have to learn how to make them work under pressure. If your training is not alive, it will not be useful in a real fight.

    When asked, Bullshido tends to favor arts which tend to train in an 'Alive' manner. Usually this includes Brazilian Jiu jitsu, Sombo, Judo, Western Boxing, Western Wrestling, Muay Thai Kick Boxing, Any form of full contact kickboxing, etc. This is not a complete list, and any so called traditional martial art can use ‘Alive’ training, in short it is the training methods used, rather than the name of the art that produces people who can actually fight.

    The bottom line is if you do not know what you want when you go shopping, you won't find it.


    Before you go to visit a particular dojo you should search on line for the websites of schools in your local area and see what sort of prices they are charging. This will give you some basis for comparison for the numbers that are thrown around when you visit a school in person. It will also help you spot if a school is charging above market value rates. There may be a good reason why an instructor is charging more then the norm for his area. Many of us would for example pay premium rates to study with say, Mario Sperry or someone who has world class grappling skills, but there should be a clear reason why you are paying more to attend this school. Additionally if a school lists its rates openly you are more likely to be dealing with an honest instructor and not be victimized by any one of a number of deceptive sales practices.

    Look for other things, is the instructor claiming to belong to any "Halls of Fame"? What does he call his Youth Class? Do the pictures on the site show techniques that look very complicated and ridiculous? How many martial arts are being offered? Do they list class times for each art offered? We will explain the importance of each of these questions below.


    Let’s make this simple. Stripped of romantic "Karate Kid" notions, a martial arts teacher is basically a physical education teacher who is paid directly by you rather than by a school system. If you don't think this individual would be able to supervise a bunch of students playing football then they probably aren't a good choice as your instructor.

    What physical education teachers are supposed to do is the following: Using a basic understanding of body structure, mechanics, learning theory, and sports psychology, they will train you to carry out certain techniques and establish a context or strategy for using such techniques.

    a) Here is how to kick the soccer ball.

    b) Here is how to pass up-field.

    c) This is why you pass instead of trying to bring the ball up-field against three defenders.

    d) Now let's practice drills focusing first on kicking accurately, then on passing.

    e) Later we will have you practice passing against a defender trying to take the ball away from you.

    There are various teaching methods which first seek to show the move done properly, practice it in isolation in order to build attributes such as the ability to kick the ball far enough, and then reintegrate the movie into the context of either resistant training, or the soccer game itself. If you ever want to see a model for this instruction borrow some Gracie Jiu Jistu tapes and watch Rorion and Royce Gracie go through some of the moves step by step. You are looking for someone who can provide that level of clarity and attention to detail.

    Importance of Cross-Training

    There are many different types of combat that need attention in order to become a well rounded martial artist. These are kicking, boxing, clinching, throws, takedowns, grappling and submissions. Some schools might rule out a particular range of combat, telling students not to go to that range. This should be a big red flag. Combat is unpredictable, and wishful thinking will do nothing to stop a fight from going to that level. Neglecting any range of combat is ignorance. A system that completely avoids any range of combat will teach its students very one-dimensional skills. An experienced adversary will be able to sense their opponent’s weakness, and take them out of their game to a range of combat where they are helpless.

    Just because a school’s style typically focuses on one specific range, it shouldn’t stop them from incorporating other styles into their curriculum. For example: A Tae Kwon Do School could incorporate Judo, a Jiu Jitsu school could incorporate kickboxing, or a Boxing school could incorporate Wrestling. Incorporating additional styles so that all ranges are addressed will make an otherwise limited system more complete. When it comes to martial arts, variety is truly the spice of life. Look for open minded instructors that can help fill your bag of tricks, or risk being trained as a one-trick pony.

    We would recommend a teacher who has extensive experience, and if possible, a competition record in a full contact martial art, who teaches classes instead of primarily serving as salesman-in-chief. Who rolls with his students while grappling. Who prefers to be called coach to grand master. Who is level headed and does not tell ‘black belt fables’. Who is grown up enough to have decent people skills, not just sales skills. Who explains his fee structure clearly. Who does not look like he's assembling a cult of personality. Who is not overtly paranoid, but who has experience with the way criminals actually function (Law Enforcement Officers usually have such credentials).


    a) There are more then one or two children under the age of sixteen running around with black belts on. This indicates they promote the students in their kiddy program often and early. The school will tend to water its training down to this class’s level, for example no contact in their sparring.

    b) They let these kids teach their lower ranking belts.

    c) They have people under the rank of brown belt teaching their beginners.

    d) They make extensive use of pre-black belt students to teach their full classes, typically for free.

    e) Their sparring is no-contact, both for beginners and for advance students.

    f) Advanced Students only do ‘point sparring’. A form of light contact sparring in which they simply have to touch their opponent, and the match is restarted. This encourages really bad habits.

    g) People need permission from the instructor to hit the punching bag in the school.

    h) Students above the rank of yellow and orange belt are flailing around and their strikes show no focus or power.

    i) The instructor wastes more time in class talking about himself rather than instructing.

    j) The school mixes children and adults into the same class, bad idea; they need to be taught using different methods.

    k) The school says that it teaches multiple martial arts, Karate, Aikido, Bando, Boxing, and does not have a separate class for each of these disciplines. "Well we teach the Aikido through our Karate class", yeah, right!

    l) The school teaches Extreme Martial Arts, also called XMA. This crowd pleaser involves the more gymnastic side of martial arts and while kids love the flashy kicks, it's worthless for self defense.

    m) The Instructor discourages or forbids you against going to open martial arts competitions where you will compete against members of other schools. Similarly he prohibits you from cross training in other martial arts, Gee I wonder why?

    o) Schools, typically Kung Fu Schools, that train people using Chi or Qi for self defense. While such internal energy may exist, we are unaware of any documented example in which such internal power was successfully used in a real fight, sport or otherwise.

    p) The school teaches ATA Tae Kwon Do, or Ninjutsu, we've had more complaints about these two styles then anything else. For information on the ATA see:


    a) The instructor will not answer questions about his pricing structure in a clear or concise manner.

    b) His rates are well above average for your area without a really good explanation.

    c) He makes a point of saying that you will receive certain services and discounts and which are not mentioned in the text of the contract. SUCKER!!!!!!!

    d) There is a lot of add on equipment that needs to be bought to test for various ranks. This technique has occasionally included a different colored uniform per rank.

    e) Prices for rank testing generally, and over $25 specifically for lower belts, anything over $100 for a Black Belt test is ridiculous.

    f) He tries to sign you up for a contract that lasts more then a year telling you that you'll lock in a low price. He might also tell you can cancel but such language is not in the contract. SUCKER!!!!!!!!

    g) He tells you that you can sign up for a program that will take you all the way to black belt. (We've known of people who have dropped $5,000 on such programs and wanted out of their contracts a couple months later. SUCKER!!!!

    h) His students are wearing various patches denoting their membership in various sub-organizations, and competition teams. Yes they had to pay to play :(

    i) They call their children's class "Little Ninjas" even though they don't teach Ninjutsu.

    j) The school teaches ATA Tae Kwon do, they're the worst of the TKD schools in this regard.

    k) The instructor is a member of a Martial Arts Hall of Fame that is not run by Black Belt Magazine. These are generally ‘pay to play’ organizations and/or back slapping circle jerks with a few legitimate members for window dressing and a whole lot of wannabes. If the instructor belongs to more then one such Hall of Fame he is almost always a professional credential hunter and his whole resume is suspect. This becomes a certainty if he works this topic into the sales conversation.


    A commercial martial arts school will keep itself afloat through the tuition of its students. So there is typically a basic rate. Let's say $120 a month. Sound simple? It no longer is, with the proliferation of Martial Arts Management groups the same school may offer as many as three or four different contract packages to a new student. A student will be offered a "basic membership", a "Black Belt membership" or a "Masters Membership"; similarly, these could be called silver, gold, and platinum memberships. The point is, that the basic membership is a false economy since you will usually not be able to spar, and will have a limited number of class opportunities a week. However its existence allows the school to offer a low price over the phone. At Bullshido we dislike any plan which implies that by paying your fees that you will become a Black Belt or Master. Similarly we dislike such programs because as soon as the student joins as a basic member there will be efforts to have the student upgrade to a longer, more expensive contract. Bait and Switch anyone? We strongly suggest a school that has one basic rate for instruction.

    The other way schools make money is by add-ons. You need to buy a uniform, sparring equipment through the school, weapons like sai or tonfa for your weapons tests, and attend paid seminars with the instructor's master. One week camps in the summer are expected in order for you to test for belts and finally the dreaded belt testing fees! Typically these will start at $25 to $50 for the lower colored belts and go as high as $500 to $1,000 to test for a black belt in many schools of Tae Kwon Do. You may then be charged an additional fee for ‘registering’ the rank with their home office. :P This is a great money making venture but it gives the examiner a strong incentive to pass people which has had horrible consequences for quality control in the martial arts.

    It can be expected that a school will sell you uniforms and sparring equipment, but find out ahead of time what the going rate is for a simple Karate and Judo gi (the Judo gi is much thicker to prevent ripping while grappling) if they are charging well above the going rate for sparring equipment it will tell you something about their business practices. Similarly ask them what they charge for belt tests and watch to see if they do any backpedaling. Incidentally most of these add-ons are costs that are not specified in the contract you will sign, except for a provision that you have to use equipment in class that is permitted and required by the instructor. When you visit the school and the instructor/sales person has their attention diverted make sure to ask one of their students casually about these add-ons.


    A contract is a legally enforceable promise between two parties in which in exchange for instruction the student promises to pay either month by month, or according to various lengths of time such as three months to a year or more. In most states martial arts studios are regulated as health clubs or gyms and the provisions of their contracts are identical. Therefore before you sign anything it is in your interest to go on-line, or to your the law library at the local court house, yank the index volume to your state statutes off the shelf and look up the law regulating health clubs, gyms or martial arts studios. Many states also require health clubs/martial arts schools to list portions of the law on the contract itself so make sure to check the back of anything you are considering signing for relevant text which may include whether you can cancel the contract within the first day or so after you sign it.

    Be aware that regardless of what the instructor/salesman says, if what he promises is not in the written contract it is probably unenforceable. "Attend this school and I promise Winged Monkeys will teach you Oz Fu". Watch out for one-time only offers, "sign up now and get this special one time deal", this is typically a pressure sales technique. If you feel uncertain say you want to go home and think about it. If they don't let you carry the contract out the door something is probably wrong. Ask if you can take a free class, or at the very least watch one. Some schools will also charge you a one class mat fee; this is far preferable to signing up for a year or more on the spur of the moment.

    The biggest problems we've seen have come with long term contracts of over a year. Sometimes these are described as joining a "Black Belt Club" a "Masters Program" implying great skills will be yours if you fork up several thousand dollars. Don't do it, at the worst you'll get locked into a lengthy agreement when you hardly know the school, at the best you will basically be buying rank from the instructor regardless of your effort.

    Some tricks to watch out for include, contracts that automatically renew themselves, sales pitches that try to sign you up for longer contracts within a short time after you start at your new dojo, hidden add-ons for required equipment purchases through the school store, belt testing fees, and required seminars with Grand Master Cold Cash. Before you sign on the dotted line observe the equipment, uniforms, sparring gear that the students bring in and ask the instructor how much a typical equipment package will cost, and what is required to fully participate at this school.

    Many schools will want you to sign an agreement which will allow them to remove money out of your bank account directly. For obvious reasons we don't recommend this however before you do this you might want to take a copy of the agreement to your local bank and find out how you would actually cancel this agreement if necessary. They'll probably tell you something different then Joe Instructor will.

    Look especially at the provisions of the contract which covers what happens if you move more then a certain distance from the school, are injured, or what happens if your school closes and the instructor transfers the contract to another school at his pleasure. A fair contract will have provisions for dealing with what happens if the school, or the student moves, or if the school closes or the student gets injured. If the contract does not cover these areas you probably don't want to sign it. We should also warn you about contract transferability, we've seen one case in which a school closed, the instructor claimed he transferred the contract to someone else, and the billing company chose to believe the instructor over the students. You do not want to sign any contract that does not give you a choice in this matter.

    In most states if there is a provision in the contract you find unacceptable, you and the instructor can cross this provision out and both initial this change. This does not work in all states however so check with local counsel beforehand. Finally I do not recommend signing a contract for more then a year under any circumstances. It is much better to sign a contract for three months or go month to month when you start at a school in case you change your mind. Never sign a contract for more then three months with a child, they change their minds even more then adults do. "I don't want to do Karate Daddy! I want to do Ballet!" "Just tell that to their ruthless collections lawyer, honey!"

    Finally, for a more detailed, better discussion of martial arts contracts read:

    This is a guide to martial arts contracts written by a Bullshido member who practices law in Florida. Hmmm, will you have the smarts to spend 20 minutes reading an article that could save you thousands of dollars down the road?

    You also might want to read: which has a good discussion of billing agencies and hidden costs.


    Bullshido is a substantial untruth told to promote a martial arts instructor or art, often, but not always, for financial reasons. Such lies come in many forms; most typically they include the background of the instructor or the art. At Bullshido we advise you that if you discover such lies you should not train with that art or person. You can find someone better.

    Unfortunately, instructors at many types of martial art schools will also make inaccurate claims such as the ease of learning techniques, the effectiveness of their style/system, and the necessity (or lack thereof) of certain techniques in learning a martial art. These claims may be made for several reasons:

    - to cover up a deficiency in the style/system (note that most individual martial arts have gaps in their area of instruction, such as Muay Thai's lack of groundwork)

    - to entice, scare, or encourage consumers into purchasing lessons

    - personal biases on the part of the instructor against another type of style/system

    As an example of the second reason, an instructor may try to convince a consumer that their style/system can teach an individual enough skills and techniques to fight off any assailant in a street or bar fight within months, compared to the "years that other styles/systems" take. In other words, a promise of better results faster than what anyone else can provide, very similar to how diet pill companies claim their pill will make you lose more weight with less effort. However, like losing weight, developing martial skill is a long-term investment of time, dedication, and effort. While a consumer can indeed learn a number of techniques within a short period of time, effectively utilizing those techniques is a much longer process. Be wary of any instructor who makes ‘too good to be true’ claims of being a deadly fighter. This also goes for instructional videos and books.

    Similarly some teachers of striking-centric styles (such as Karate) may place so much faith and emphasis on stand-up and striking skills that they'll claim these skills can fend off any assailant who tries to tackle them or take them down to the ground. Colloquially, this is called the "anti-grapple," referring to the alleged invulnerability of an expert striker from takedown attempts. This is alleged because in innumerable situations, grapplers and groundfighters have taken down these karateka or kickboxers and submitted them, since the strikers had zero knowledge of what to do.

    A) Lies about Martial Arts History

    A fighting art raises or falls on its own merits, regardless of its history. However as part of the marketing pitch, the martial arts new comer is likely to hear a number of historical untruths. The first is that a particular art is connected to the Shaolin Temple in China; the second is that the art is two thousand or so years old, and the third is that this particular art was formed for combat purposes on the Oriental battlefield. If the instructor didn't bring up this swill, it would be irrelevant but since its being used as a marketing tool we'll discuss it. The greater the role these falsehoods play in the sales presentation, the more likely you want to avoid this place.

    Many martial arts have claimed a pedigree to the Shaolin Temple because of the prestige associated with such an institution. Be aware that many Asian martial arts like to claim a heritage that can not be supported by historical methods and is frequently the product of what one master told his student orally many years ago. Such assertion therefore is better described as "folklore", unless your master himself flew over to the rebuilt, recreated Shaolin Temple in China, to train. The martial arts world is deluged by westerners who do not speak any foreign languages who claim that they were trained by a mysterious monk in childhood who left no forwarding address. Generally these claims are worthless, and if you care so much about this connection you can book a flight to the People's Republic of China yourself train at the new Shaolin temple and cut out the middleman.

    Other arts, typically Tae Kwon Do, claim that they are the product of 2,000 years of history whereas the best scholarship indicates that TKD was synthesized in South Korea from Japanese Karate, in the late 1940s and 1950s. Similarly arts such as Aikido, Shotokan Karate, and Judo were all synthesized from older arts after 1870. The Black Belt that your potential instructor wears was not used by any art other then Judo before the 1920s.

    There are also arts with no historical connection to what they claim, for example Koga Ninjustu. The claims of ANYONE to teach authentic Ninjustu are highly questionable at best and the schools which did not originate through Masaaki Hatsumi generally have no basis in anything that can be traced to Japan's feudal period, the last time there were real Ninjas running around "keeping it Ninja".

    In short, martial arts are fluid, not static, and arts change from generation to generation, and instructor to instructor. Therefore a person who usually tries to sell you on studying an "unchanged" art, directly from the hands of the Samurai, (unless its a few of the sword arts) is fooling himself and you.

    In his book "Real Fighting", Payton Quinn properly identifies the following canard that has been circulating in the martial arts community. "Karate is the result of more then a thousand years of development, and its techniques are the ones that have survived and proven themselves on the battlefield" (p. 116) Quinn writes:

    "Can you imagine the following scene? A few hundred guys on one side of the battlefield raise their naked fists and cut loose with martial arts cries, while the on the other side of the battlefield, a few hundred guys do the same. Next, the two forces clash and decide the outcome with fists, feet and throws. It has never happened, people, and it is not likely it ever will. Weapons have been the first choice in both war and individual combat since prehistoric times."

    B) "I practice the Special Forces Deadly"

    Since Jerry Peterson promoted SCARS in the 1990s with the claim that his system was used by the U.S. Navy SEALs, (see for an introduction to this controversy.) there has been an upsurge in people advertising that they teach military combatives. The pitch is that since a particular unit of fierce warriors practices their particular hand to hand system, it must be the best. This is a gross simplification because the military spends much less time training people in hand to hand fighting skills then it does training them in ‘gun fu’ or ‘artillery ryu’ which are much more effective way to kill your fellow man. The military also frequently switches hand to hand combat programs based on the whims of its commanding officers. For example SCARS was only the official hand to hand program for SEALS for several years before they pulled the plug on this method of instruction. Similarly, in the 1990s the Marines used to learn a system called LINE which has also been replaced.

    Certain units have been instructed in various systems of martial arts by their NCOs whose influence did not extend beyond their platoon, company, regiment, or base. Finally, many martial arts instructors have volunteered to teach day long seminars for free, or have taught an occasional class on base to service men and women or their dependants. This has produced a whole slew of people who have claimed to be military hand to hand instructors even if they only spent an afternoon instructing their local National Guard unit.

    Military hand to hand training is almost always by design, abbreviated in nature. Some simple, usually effective techniques like the chin jab will be taught and its on to the next block of instruction! Those military men who do have a deeper interest in honing the martial arts usually have a more detailed background in non-military arts which they will use to increase their proficiency. So if some instructor claims that you should study hand to hand combat with him because he taught the Green Berets, take it with a grain of salt. He may know what he is doing or he could have been hired by the same bozo that paid $600 for a hammer, or several thousand for a toilet seat.

    Finally to quote Richard Marcinko, formally of SEAL Team 6: "I never engaged in hand-to-hand combat unless there was absolutely no alternative. To me, the combat knife should be a tool, not a weapon. All the whiz-bang, knife fighting, Karate/Judo/Kung Fu b.s. you see in the Rambo-Jambo shoot-‘em-up movies is just that: bullshit. The real life rules of war are simple and effective: stay at arm's length whenever possible and shoot the **** out of the enemy before he sees you." Rogue Warrior, 1992, page 118.

    C) Krav Maga - The Latest Flavor

    In the military combatives field in 2006, you are most likely to be instructed in Krav Maga which was originally developed as the hand to hand system used by the Israeli Army. Bullshido has nothing against this system. Unfortunately this art has been over licensed by the largest Krav Maga organization in the United States, Krav Maga Association of America (KMAA) so you are going to have to be careful when choosing a Krav teacher.

    There is a conflict in the United States between the Krav Maga instructors like Rhon Mizrachi and Eyal Yanilov who learned the system in the Israeli army, and Darren Levine who learned Krav Maga as a civilian through the Wingate Institute in Israel. We'll skip the politics, but needless to say, Levine typically licenses American Martial Arts studio owners to teach Krav Maga after an abbreviated if intense series of week long courses in Los Angeles before they return to their home school. That being the case, the KMAA instructor in your hometown could have a decade in the art, or have just spent a week or two in LA. You want to avoid the latter. There also seems to be high turnover in the KMAA ranks with a number of schools joining and then dropping the Krav Maga program. For that reason you also want to avoid the brand new Krav Maga Schools.

    Under Levine, Krav ranks people according to Belts and Phases. Belts indicate the instructors rank in the system but the Phase indicates what the individual is allowed to teach. Levine's Krav Maga has five belts, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown, and black. Phase A through C will allow an instructor to teach material through green belt, and he is allowed to award belt rank up to one step lower then himself. So if you have a Krav Maga blue belt he can award a green belt as long as he's completed the courses that allow him to instruct green belt material. It’s at Blue and Brown belt levels and their attendant phases that (KMAA) teaches its weapons disarms, and other material that most outsiders think of as Krav Maga. These phases are typically called the 'Expert Series' with KMAA Krav Maga black belts being quite rare. Now the KMAA is referring to ranks up to green belt as Level One, and Blue and Brown as Level Two. Labels aside, for actual information about the KMAA Krav Maga Curriculum see this guide.

    We would advise you to ask your potential instructor if 1) he is a certified instructor or an instructor trainee? 2) If they have completed Phase A through C, and whether they have completed any additional phases? 3) What belt they are? and 4) How many years have they studied Krav Maga? 5) How long have they taught Krav Maga at this location. (If they keep moving locations they may do so again shortly. They should be a certified instructor, have completed Phase C, and we recommend a Blue Belt with five or more years of experience in Krav Maga. We would also suggest you write the KMAA to confirm what this potential instructor tells you before you sign any paperwork. We've seen at least one example of someone licensed by the KMAA exaggerate their ranking authority, probably to the complete ignorance of this parent organization.


    Unfortunately there are many people in the martial arts world who are less then truthful about their background, and even tell lies to recruit students. Below are some quick warning signs.

    a) Beware of instructors who sell their martial art by mentioning they were in the CIA, SEALS, Special Forces, or did other clandestine work. People who really do that sort of work generally do not publicize their prior occupation in casual conversation.

    b) Instructors who claim high military decorations, or POW status from Vietnam. Unfortunately there are a lot of people making such claims who are not telling the truth. Be careful and contact some of the following links to check such claims out.

    c) Instructors who show any hesitation to provide the name of those who trained them, or claim such a topic is secret. As soon as you hear the words "Shaolin Monk"and "I don't know where they are now", run for the door.

    d) Instructors who claim a full contact, no-holds-barred fight career, which can't be verified online or through any sports governing organization. "I swear, I killed him in Hong Kong, but only the Triads were there!" (See Frank Dux for a claim of this sort).

    e) Instructors who claim that their art can knock people out through the use of "no-touch" pressure point strikes. See George Dillman or Yellow Bamboo.

    f) Young twenty-something guys with high dan ranks. If Joe is twenty five and is a fifth degree black belt something is very wrong. Unless he has been training twenty hours a week it should take him three to five years in a legitimate system to earn each black belt rank. (Or up to 2,000 hours per dan) So even if Joe trained as a child, he is much too young to have so much rank. So there are four possibilities. 1) he made up his rank. 2) He belonged to a system, (most usually a form of TKD but occasionally a variation of Kempo) which has absolutely no quality control. 3) He is the son of the system's grandmaster. or 4) He is incrediably talented and is a martial artist with potentially the skill of Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee, or Joe Lewis. The chance that 4) is true is well under 5%.

    g) There are more wacky people teaching Ninjustu then any other martial art. As a result unless you really know what you are doing we would suggest avoiding this art.

    h) Instructors who claim that they studied the martial arts in the Orient for years but who cannot speak fluent, or next to any, Japanese or Chinese.


    That's the original text done for SPG only. Minor changes were made, but mainly for clarity or grammatical reasons.

    Things I noticed (all notations based on viewing text in MS Word on an 8pt font):

    Section 2, paragraph 2: The McDojo example. This isn't entirely clear as McDojo IMO, it could be Bullshido training techniques or quality standards that cause a BB test in a year, not a specific McDojo indicator. I'd probably suggest using the 'Revenue Rainbow' as a better example.

    Sec 4, Para 1, Line 1: I have removed "per month" as it presupposes that all schools charge by the month, the sentence and intent are intact.

    Sec 5, Para 1, Line 1: I'd suggest changing "Karate Kid" to "Hollywood movie".

    Sec 5, Para , Line 3: Changed 'dodgeball' to football as it's more universally recognisable, and it fits the later football analogy.

    Sec 6(c): I'd add GKR to this list, especially at the rate they're expanding. Possibly FSD with their supposed "BOOM!" over Eastern Canada.

    Sec 8(j): As much as I hate to play Devil's Advocate, this is pure opinion at best, and libel at worse.

    Sec 10B, Para 1, Line 6: "gun fu’ or ‘artillery ryu’ " should be changed to something along the lines of 'ranged combat with firearms'. Adding fu and ryu to the end of words is an in joke amongst martial artists, if the understand this joke, they don't need the FAQ.

    Whole Text: It is obviously writing from a US POV, due to the nature of this site w should at least, if possible, offer relevent information for other English speaking countries where Bullshido has a prescence. I'm think Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand here. Specifically any section on legal and contract matters.

    Whole text: If it's a true 'noobie' FAQ certain basics sshould be added like who people like Royce and Sperry are in brackets after their first mention. Only has to be simple like (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Xth Dan, 3 time UFC Chamion) etc.

    That's all for now, LMK when there's updates and I'll do another pass at it for you.

  3. #13
    Lane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Houston, Texas
    Muso Shinden Ryu
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Other things:

    1) Ask what organization the training group is part of. Most major martial arts have professional associations that can act as a form of quality control. An instructor should generally be certified through this office.

    1.1) This is particularly true of Japanese arts. Every instructor should be able to produce his ranking certificate (or menkyo, in a koryu art) that certifies that he is able to teach, and he should have no problem allowing you to verify this directly with the home office. Tell him you are not questioning his credentials, but double-checking to make sure you've found a good place.

    2) Ask to observe a class before you start. You should be allowed to do so, and participate if you want. If you are required to go through any rigamarole to do this, it's a good sign that the instructor is attempting to hide something.

    3) Look at the general level of physical fitness of the other students, especially the higher-ranking ones. If they are out of shape, it's a good bet that the art isn't physically taxing enough.

    4) It is strongly recommended that one join an art that competes. Competition is healthy and fosters a sense of camaraderie among trainees. Non-competitive arts are fine, but arts with competitions provide opportunities to measure the skill of onesself and one's instructor against others.

  4. #14

    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    New England
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    What is GKR? Can you provide me with a good link to their misbehavior?

    I know of the FSD.

    Isn't there some shaolin temple kung fu in Canada that is dodgy?

    People from the commonwealth are invited to suggest sentences like. "In England, check with X concerning certification" ect.

    I stand by section 8. There is of course opinion in this FAQ and it does not pretend to be a Wiki entry i.e. it does not have a neutral point of view.

    Thank you for your effort.

  5. #15
    I decided I'd have a pretty avatar for a while.

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Sheffield, England
    Student Jutsu
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    GKR stands for Go Kan Ryu. They're an Australian no-contact Karate McDojo franchise that's spread to the Uk and the States. They're the people who have yellow belts teaching wearing black and white striped belts.

    The search function doesn't work as the terms are too short but I found the following:
    And that's only going back as far as July in the General BS forum.

    Dunno about Canadian Shaolin, I only know of the FSD due to the threads here.

    I don't speak the legalese myself, but if we have lawyers from the other countries that post here it could be very helpful.

    Of course the FAQ isn't NPOV, I was just wondering whether the definitive statement 'the worse' rather than 'one of the worse' or 'towards the worse end of the spectrum' could be considered libel. But as you speak the legalese, and I don't, if you say it's in the clear then I've evidently been watching too many court-room dramas for my own good. Damn Hollywood.

    As I said, give me a shout when the next draft's ready and I'll give it the once over if wanted.

  6. #16

    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    New England
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Worst of the large TKD organizations may be more precise. And yes, a statement like that contains a certain amount of legal risk but if they were to sue us I would use discovery to obtain all their sales and marketing paperwork. I don't think they would like that.

  7. #17
    I decided I'd have a pretty avatar for a while.

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Sheffield, England
    Student Jutsu
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Absolute genius! Didn't know you could do that, or even think of that.

    That's probably why you're the lawyer and I'm the Film Student though......

    More GKR threads, this time from the IAOMAS forum. I think you need a membership to view, but it's just a standard free forum sign-up:

  8. #18

    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Northern Westchester County
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Here at Bullshido most of our members are interested in studying a martial art primarily as a method of fighting, rather then for health and internal cultivation (Tai Chi) a workout, (cardio kickboxing, Tae Bo, and many forms of Tae Kwon Do) or as a study of a foreign culture. (Aikido, Kendo).
    One thing that I am wary of is the calling out of specific styles. The issue being that there are exceptions, and different dojos of the same style train in a unique manner. Your sections where you cover what to look for are excellent, but by grouping all dojos under the umbrella of a certain style together without any disclaimer of (Dojo's all train differently as warranted by their instructor, the only way to truly determine the fit for you as a student is by checking the place out) or something to that effect, that it is a bit unfair to the better schools. My two cents.

    I might chime in regarding the ordering of items in the FAQ as well, those individuals with attention spans of fruit flies might miss out on some important information because they only read the beginning and are intimidated by the the length of the article. I need to finish reading the entire thing before I make a final opinion submission on that.

    Looks fantastic otherwise, very informative even to those familiar with the Bullshido stance!

  9. #19

    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I wanted to touch on picking a martial art or school for kids.

    Personally I always recomend judo/bjj/wrestling for kids.

    My reason has very little to do with martial arts, and much to do with the mindset of children. Children tend to grapple naturally for fun. Punching and kicking is usually seen by them as something they do to hurt someone. I beleive fostering this wrestling is fun behavoir is good for a child. My nephew never used to punch or kick me when we played. He would try to pin me. After starting him in TKD now all he ever tries to do is kick me in the nuts or punch me. I've had this behavoir with several kids. I find this a dangerous line to walk. It seems hard to teach children where that line lies.

    I think grappling is easier for a child to comprehend when it is apporpraite to use without a lot of policing. Plus I know a lot of really fun games that lend themselves to teaching grappling. If I was going to run a childrens program, it would be a grappling program. However, the club I train at has both kinds of programs (bjj and boxing) for children.

    I know when I have kids, it's judo, bjj, or wrestling for them. Then as they mature into pre-teen's/teens they can feel free to move into striking.

  10. #20

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Kanagawa, Japan
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel Browning
    h) Instructors who claim that they studied the martial arts in the Orient for years but who cannot speak fluent, or next to any, Japanese or Chinese.
    Great FAQ - this is the only point I would disagree with. I'm not an instructor but I've been living, working, and training in Japan for 4 years. I don't speak Japanese worth a damned. I just have no interest in learning it - we don't use it in my office, the wife and I speak English at home for the kids, etc. I've met folks who have been here more then 10 years who speak Japanese at the same level I do.

    Now If I were to decide to make this move permanent instead of temporary (I was suposed to go home 2 years ago, then in April, now March of 07) I would probably be motivated to learn the language - but right now it's just not that much a priority for me.

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