Here's looking at you, squid.
Posted On:1/30/2007 1:54pm
Style: Ke?po, MMA ultra-newb
Has anyone seen a previously reputable school make the slide toward McDojo-ism?
Up until a few months ago, I attended a pretty decent ke?po school. Yeah, there was kata and belt testing, but resistence started early and instruction was good. It provided what I was looking for and gave me a wide range of tools that I sucessfully used on multiple occasions when I was an LEO (for just under 5 years).
After a while, the 'old school' people left for various reasons (mostly moving out of town), and the 'newer crowd' didn't seem to be as interested in resisting. More reliance was put on memorized techniques (and the number you had learned) and the classes for advanced students became, almost without exception, a kata class. The school wasn't offering what I wanted any more, so I cut my attendance down to 'infrequently' and starting looking around for something new. Motivated by the kind, gentle, caring people here on Bullshido (both of them), I found a local MMA club that I've attended all of once (but am looking forward to more).
Not to be philosophical about it, but I wasn't entirely sure if *my* desires had changed or if the school environment itself had changed.
Last week, I happened to drive past the ke?po school and I noticed that the sign outside read, "Mixed Martial Arts and Self Defense." I haven't gone in a few weeks, but there was no one with any actual MMA background when I was there (as opposed to having experience in several styles and calling THAT MMA)...to be fair, I haven't bothered to check if there is anyone with MMA creds there. I'm just finding that as another symptom of commercialization.
This thread is not intended to school or style bash - I enjoyed the school while I was there. As is typical on Bullshido, I don't have a problem with anyone making their living from MA - I am interested in hearing if anyone else has watched a school they were involved with become commercialized.
"Reason is a choice. Wishes and whims are not facts, nor are they a means to discovering them. Reason is our only way to grasping reality -- it's our basic tool of survival. We are free to evade the effort of thinking, to reject reason, but we are not free to avoid the penalty of the abyss we refuse to see."
- Terry Goodkind, "Faith of the Fallen"
Posted On:1/30/2007 3:14pm
I experienced this a bit when I was younger, and as someone who helped run a dojo I can attest to the fine line between keeping true to your art and not losing recreational practitioners.
When I was younger I was in a Goju karate place that was great. Lots of hard contact sparring, some decent bone conditioning and a master who seemed to really know his stuff. However over time as more and more people came in, the focus on the harder stuff seemed to shift. People would come in for a week and see what we were about and would leave. As a result it seemed our training got less and less hardcore and more and more traditional kata, light sparring. More and more kids came into the place and before I knew it we were just like every other Karate school. However they were able to change locations to a bigger place, etc.
I can attest that it is a fine line, many dojos find themselves changing so that they can make ends meet. I can't tell you how many times the senior leadership of my dojo (the Judo one) had to come out of pocket to pay our bills. In fact if it wasn't for our kids program (the most consistently paying group) we probably wouldn't have been able to afford it at times. And this was a place that trained National Champs and Olympians.
We were very hardcore for quite a while, we had enough people that even if we lost people due to our strenous workouts that we didn't mind. As all the old school people left (College, life, marriage, jobs, etc) we struggled to find new students who were willing to endure the punishment it took to become really good. Often times because we worked with new people we made it easier for them, realizing that there was a difference between a recreational practitioner and someone who was serious was probably one of the better things I ever learned as a coach.
The recreational practitioner wants to know the basics, generally spar with other general practioners and we allowed them to learn at their own pace. Often times we still lost general practioners as we had old habits to break. (Forcing people to randori, pushing people too hard) So while we maintained that focus with our competetive serious players, we let those who wish to sit on the sideline do so. However we would still lose people because they wondered why they didn't get the individual attention that those who were serious were getting.
Or they would go out on the mat and constantly get worked by people who put their time in. We were fortunate to find other groups of people like minded in their pursuit of Martial Arts, and were able to keep our place open by having multiple schools in our small, hot, rough ass dojo.
Hence the reason I know the MMA guys I currently work out with. They were a group of people that shared our dojo space, quite a few of them did some Judo with us, and some of us did MMA with them.
But I have seen the commercialization shift, and had to endure the hard part of trying to keep a place open. I can understand why some people do it, I think it ruins a school's reputation, but when it comes time to play the light bill it can get real tempting. We never did contracts and we ran our whole thing much like how the MMA place is (Try us out for a month, if you dig it then we can talk prices.)
Great thing about Judo was being able to have a kids class at earlier times, which is really where the money is. Mcdojo's don't make money off of adults (they make some) but the real money in Martial Arts is getting kids and doing contracts. I think it is a horrible practice myself (the contracts). But I have watched many dojos aimed strictly at kids and parents who did not do any Martial Arts. They prey on those people.
Seeing a school cash in on the MMA craze or the self defense craze is pretty standard now a days. It's a way for some schools to try to establish some legitimacy, and gain another demographic.
It always sucks though when a place you love and respect starts to take a turn towards that. Just like it sucks to find a place that claims to represent your art, yet does a bad job at it.
But I feel you man, I have seen a dojo go that route and have helped run a dojo that had to avoid going that route and trying our best to stay true and had to pay out of pocket to keep up with our bills. I think any quality place has some times like that. (We have had to do that with the MMA place in leaner times as well, I know Brian has forked out a lot of dough to cover bills).
It's tough, but sometimes people feel that pressure and cave in.
Posted On:1/30/2007 3:28pm
Thanks, bro...I put a lot of time and sweat into that school, so it's tough to see it make the transition to something other than what I always found it to be - a fairly rough ke?po school with little tolerance for nonsense and less for BS.
Posted On:1/30/2007 4:03pm
Yeah man, I understand. It always a shame and I have seen many quality schools go out of business instead of changing ways, while you have to respect that for truly staying true to their system and beliefs, it is a damn shame that those places have to close while the places that begin to water down stay open.
Meanwhile places that are belt factories (like the TKD place over on Cap Circle near Killearn) who have kid black belts, do nothing but forms, and have a ton of gear and merchandise are the ones who are buying up lots, making additions on to their school, and whose instructors are teaching full time.
Hard to not look at that and be pretty envious. It totally sucks bawls but there are places that treat Martial Arts like a business and end up making some good money in the process. I know a guy who makes a damn decent bit of money doing the whole self defense thing and "grappling". I tell you I can't knock his hustle, but at the same time I don't have a whole lot of respect for the guy. Especially when I can tap him out, and there are guys with far better credentials in town to be teaching that sort of stuff.
However, can I blame him for having the foresight to do it? For having the business sense to get in the door to the local gyms and work his angle? I think he is profiting off of a martial art one that he is only mediocre at. But still, hard to knock someone's hustle for getting out there and doing it.
Some people are willing to pay the price to their repuation to make a buck. It sucks, but I find the people who lie about their credentials to be a little worst (aka Coda Scott).
I feel for you man, it's a hard loss to lose a place that you love to the almighty dollar.
Posted On:1/30/2007 4:33pm
Whenever I rode my bus I would always see this hole in the wall dojo that taught Judo/Jiujitsu. It didn't try to advertise and the sign was very simple, I don't think there was even a name just "judo-jiu jutsu" and there were always people involved in randori that you could see through the windows. The location was good (a very central street) and everyone knew about the place so I don't think it was a question of advertising. When I left my gym and was looking for an MA place closer to me I decided to take at look at the school I've been mentioning. I can't tell you how pissed off I was to find it turned into a TKD school with a bright-colored awning and some cheesy name as well as a signpost they erected nearby (think the McDonalds spinning pole) that was equally colorful. The people inside were all kids doing forms and there were a thousand new trophies in the display regardless of the fact that the school just opened....
Now I have to take a train to the Judo school I train at.
Posted On:1/30/2007 10:10pm
lol - I guess that shows that it could always be worse...it could switch to TKD.
Jiu Jitsu - Sometimes passing just isn't an option.
Posted On:1/31/2007 12:53am
Style: BJJ, Unauthorized Judo
I've never seen it myself as I started my MA journy only about 3 years ago. I do understand how you feel. I think you have to know how to walk that fine line. An example would be the kids Judo and in some ways cardio kickboxing. I think that for those who aren't fully interested, the cardio kickboxing is great to get them interested, get them in shape, and ultimately bring them to the full kickboxing program for more. If not, then they can be one of the many people who help keep the school open. As long as the instructor lets them know that there is more "cardio" in cardio kickboxing then actual "kickboxing". The same with Judo. You can do it in such a way that the kids can work more on sweeps positioning, a few "parent friendly" submissions, etc., and as they grow older and decide they want to take it to the next level, then provide a means to do so. As long as they know that the only way to really excel is to go at it full contact (in Judo that's almost a given but not so much in Kickboxing; not that it should be that way, but striking is a very tramatic thing for a lot of people).
Anyways gents, thanks for the read. I am greatful to this site for allowing me to fully understand that for most schools to stay open, there has to be a bit of the "McDojo-ness" to pay the bills, but at the same time making it known that there has to be a limit that it; i.e. 2 d34dly two spar!
Posted On:1/31/2007 12:55am
Oh and OnceLost, I see you are still using the "MMA (TKD Aikido & Irony)" phrase in your style field from either the "TKD Sensai" or "PMA" threads.
Misguided style basher
Posted On:1/31/2007 1:45am
As a rule of thumb, it's a million times more commercial in US than UK. There are a few McDojos, and plenty of watered down training there, but few clubs are full time and even the McDojo teachers tend to have real jobs in the day and teach and rent a corner of the local YMCA a few times per week.
You are a total Douchbag. Train more, post nevermore.
FickleFingerOfFate -08-21-2007 08:59 AM
just die already. Plasma - 08-20-2007 11:45 PM
Best MA website ever!!!!!: http://www.dogjudo.co.uk/
Posted On:1/31/2007 8:03am
Style: Boxing; Sub. Grappling
I used to go to a place that was pretty laid back. They did a little bit of everything there:Muay Thai, BJJ, Silat, and even Wing Chun. There was no uniform required except a gi for BJJ in the winter. Over time things started to change. First they made you buy a school t shirt and you had to wear it to every class. They then started making you you bow in and out of the building and after every drill or sparring session. Next came the titles. You were supposed to call the instructor sifu and senior members sihing. The Muay Thai class was the next victim as they cut it and replaced it with a class they called superfit. The sparring class was also cut. By this point I was contemplating quitting. The last straw was when they told me I had to buy school shorts and wear them to every class. I'm pretty poor so at the time I didn't buy any. I came in for an open training session and one of the senior (not by much) students was there and the main instructor was not. This fucking guy tells me that I have to do 100 pushups for not wearing school shorts. I told him to **** off to which he replied he would call the head instructor and tell on me. I left and never went back.
Now lovely Lucifer, in hell so stark
King, and lord of sin and pride
With some mist his wits make dark.
He send thee grace to be thy guide
HE LOOKS LIKE A TINY BEAR MIXED WITH A CAT, AND THAT IS THE MEANEST ANIMAL MIXTURE EVER, BEAR FOR FUCKING STRENGTH, AND CAT FOR FUCKING MEAN!!! ************.
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