Zen Do Kai
When I did it way back when , all sorts of things seemed pretty good.
The problem, was, that you just cannot "add" any traditionalism, any japanese bowing, belts or respect or whatever, to what should have been , basically, an informal mma class. Imo.
Anyone practice it now, or can provide feedback? Has the bob jones empire devolved, evolved,or did it just "switch" to mma stuff? Which it was, at its basics, anyway.
IIRC, the black belt gradings were truly fucking brutal, and to get a "pass"to do a grading, you had to do "xyz" number of hours actual bouncing, before you could even go for the grading.
I'm just wondering, where this "school" is at now, basically.
No idea what's going on with them now, but I was peripherally involved (not as a member of the organization) at the height of their major McDojo expansions through Australia and New Zealand during the 1980s.
My strongest memories are of witnessing a truly bizarre mass grading, which featured a very elaborately choreographed opening ritual with people wearing sort of Star Trek/Samurai type color-coded uniforms. There was also a version of the "hundred man kumite" in which candidates for black belt, wearing padded gloves, shin-pads, etc. rotated through light-contact sparring for about an hour. After that "ordeal" they all fell about embracing each other as if they'd survived Armageddon.
I remember that they charged ridiculous $$$ for gradings and that students were required to buy entire new uniforms, not just belts, as they advanced through the ranks. They were also very favor-of-the-month when it came to the actual curriculum; during the '80s ninja movie craze they came out with "ZDK Ninjutsu", which was weapon kata performed in ninja suits.
And then there was the time virtually all of the ZDK New Zealand instructors were arrested en masse. Apparently they had been using the organization as a front for a trans-Tasman drug smuggling operation.
Class act ...
Originally Posted by DdlR
Lol, never heard that-the reason the Gi's were "different" as explained to me, was marketing, the grey /black, they didnt want to "look" like a traditional Karate-which is a good thing, because it wasnt, but also because to get younger people in, it had to "look" cool. White Gi's were "not" cool at the time.
I meant "brutal" in the sense of physically arduous (enough for me, anyway-watching it, that is), the first Dan grading I watched went on forever, one ended up with a broken jaw, numerous broken noses, one retired witha broken arm from the "semi-contact". sparring. Then, they had to stand in-I dont recall the position, but they had to stand there for half an hour or something, after all that.
The guy from our dojo, was the only one standing at the end, and he had a cracked rib-damn. He was a strong karateka, whatever the heck that actually means.
I was at a rural dojo, nearest judo dojo was two hours round trip, no way-there was traditional jiu-jitsu, but had even more japanese rubbish than I could stand.
Talked to a judoka freind about martial arts years later, mentioned I had this green belt, he sort of laughed, and pointed out to me, that in a neighboring town, zen do kai had a bad rep-because the club members there for some time went around beating up on other dojo's/styles members etc, using, naturally, the "bits" they werent supposed to use, the liverpool kisses, the thai elbows and knees etc.
Depended a lot on the dojo it seemed, and sempei. (ugh, I dont even like using the word).
If I could summarise my experience, it boiled down to "heres how we do this technique, and heres how some other martial arts do this technique", from kung fu stuff to plain boxing-you name it, we were exposed to it, which was good.
Very open minded, encouraged to cross train, it was great from that respect-but the ever looming mercenary nature of ithe franchise was overbearing at times, by which I mean, the costs.
Liabilty insurance was shutting down a lot of small dojo's of every style across the country at the time, and when your basically learning stuff that could just as easily be taught in trackpants and a T-shirt, without the gi's , grading costs, or bowing/japanese wording, It bagan to seem preposterous.
They never said the chinese word for a particular kung fu technique, why use japanese for a roundhouse?
Still, it was mostly more positive than negative, they were not preaching anything ultimately.
Interesting, you say "peripherally invloved", I take that to mean, perhaps a marketing consultant? Or possibly legal consultant? Promotions manager?
I understand If you dont want to elaborate.
No, just as someone who was active in the MA/self defense scene as an instructor and generally "interested party".
FWIW, the first generation of ZDK probably were tough customers (bouncers and bodyguards); I was mostly exposed to their commercial expansions into the middle-class market.
Ah, interesting. Cool.
Originally Posted by DdlR
It did occur to me, even then, what better way to recruit for a security organization, than-start your own style, and have compulsory bouncing for a grade?
Didnt work so well in practice, I talked to people at the time, who said "oh, was at xyz bar, this ZDK black belt was at the door-I kicked there ass, one punch" etc ad nauseum.
Amazingly, drunken half wits will pick a fight JUST to say they whipped a black belt, (who would have thought?)when the whole point of that program, was to teach awareness, and diplomacy basically.
Any bouncer knows, get them out the door, least problems, diplomacy is great, but.
Yeah, class act overall.
Well, a Muay Thai / kickboxing place I drop in on now and again is labelled Zen Do Kai. It's a pretty solid joint; no strange gi activities or weird gradings though; no gi at all in fact. Just seems like a Muay Thai gym.
If you get the chance read the book 'Let the good times roll' by Bob Jones. It may explain a few things. ZDK took me to 2nd degree black belt. It was 30 x 2 minute rounds for that a personal kata, Saenchin, Saifa and Sanseru Kata. I trained hard and was rewarded with passing very well. That may be the 100man kumite you speak of. Nowadays its 25 rounds of pad work and 5 rounds of sparring. Plus the katas. In a way the latter could be considered harder because a bag don't give you a rest.
Its true ZDK was and still is an amway based organisation but I believe more than this that it is a bit headless as it now has under its banner Kali, MMA, Karate, Muay Thai, Some sort of aerobic karate plus whatever comes next. The head instructors all want to change the curriculum because they feel it doesn't reflect the 'now'. If you break up all the katas they teach in zdk you will find a plethora of 'now' They need to focus on that and not so much on the everything in progression bullshit. [IMG]file:///C:/DOCUME%7E1/TONY%7E1.PEA/LOCALS%7E1/Temp/moz-screenshot.jpg[/IMG]As for the star trek samurai uniforms that is a ceremony called Senjo. From what I understand its a battlefield ceremony where the ranks centre around the shogun. certain new ranks like nidan (metsumidan) are recognised by the reishiki (etiquette master) and brought forward to become Monjin (deciples) This is probably lost now on todays ZDK practitioner but it was a valid system of recognition. The various colours were yellow red and blue forming a triangle around the shogun (White) then around them were purple, black, blue etc all meaning different virtues. Most of Bob's original ideologies centred around Peter Urbans philosophies ie.
Nothing Is Free
All Start At The Bottom
I have the deepest respect for Bob Jones.
Originally Posted by hijiri
He wrote a book to? I shoudn't be surprised, his workload over the years must have been phenomenal. Certainly no doubting his credentials as a truly hard bastard, either.
I started at 11 IIRC, and the sempai also had a black belt in a "traditional " Karate, don't recall the style-for a kid, seeing an adult, who was humble, open minded, showed respect and interminable patience, and had their head screwed on properly, was something of a revelation really, truly impressive.
Your comments about kata are interesting, I took the time to deconstruct the ones I knew, sure enough, there's food for thought in them-but the same is true of tai chi, hidden away in abstracted movements, there are some remarkable moves and concepts.
I have no experience of it's "new" stuff, the different style stuff under it's logo, but I really felt even then, they were trying to cover to much ground in the ZDK karate.
I mentioned, my dislike of the japanese formality-instructors were encouraged to change things up, do something off the wall different in classes.
Well, nothing says "lets examine what I'm actually doing here" than the hall being double booked, and doing an entire class on a football oval, or on one ocassion, a park.
Suddenly, you realise your in gi's, in public, doing what the class normally did-strangely, I felt really awkward about it.
My bro got his brown belt, but he was kinda strange in the crazy violent capacity anyway, he didnt need a belt of any sort. He joined the army, enuff said.
Honestly, had Bob Jones turned up a decade later, I wonder if he would have started ZDK karate at all, to me, it seemed his school should be if nothing else, physically based, Ie, mma, proper gyms, proper contact etc.
FWIW, I would not mess with a ZDK black belt of any description.
Yeah, ZDK/the BJC is of course still around, but it's not the powerhouse it was in the 70s, 80s and even early 90s. I know they still do the mass gradings, but from what I've heard, they're fairly soft. I'd bet there are still individual dojos that are a bit more hardcore, but it's mostly pretty standard tappy-tap karate.
All the biker gang/security industry connections are gone, I think.
The flavour-of-the-month style changing continues. The latest is aikido and systema.
On another note. The early zdk had around 36 kata and waza to black belt! Imagine that! The higher ranks should consider putting that in there curriculum instead of reinventing the wheel.
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