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Belts - the mark of a McDojo?

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    Belts - the mark of a McDojo?

    Hi, I've been reading all the posts and articles lately, and it seems to me that one of the most surefire marks of a McDojo is its belt promotion system. Guaranteed belts based on payment, fake tests, etc seems to show a dojo's real character.

    I took judo all throughout highschool at a place (now closed) that was definitely not a McDojo. In those four years I went from white belt to green belt (white - yellow - orange - green just as I graduated and had to leave). I remember training very hard for the tests. I never failed, but this was partially also because our sensei would never test us until he felt we were really ready (had our techniques down flawlessly in class, went to tournaments and showed a certain level of skill).

    Having that background of tough and rare testing I find it amazing that a dojo could offer guaranteed promotions. I mean aren't promotions supposed to be based on how much you know, how hard you train in class and how hard you practice outside of class? You can't just say that a student will know this amount of stuff that well in that number of weeks or months. It obviously depends on how hard the student works in and out of class!

    As for fake tests, I think its appalling. I can see if the kid is nervous during the exam but has shown during class that they know whats going on then you could help them along, but if the kid hasn't been paying attention in class / hasn't been caring and just wants his belt but can't do anythings that's just an embarrasment. I remember thinking similarly when I was an 8 year old taking Tae Kwon Do and got my yellow belt. I got up there to be tested, and I realized I couldn't remember the kata I was supposed to perform, and not because I was nervous, simply because I'd never memorized it. It must've been ugly to watch, but I still got promoted. Hence I was happy to go around babbling about how I was a yellow belt but a) not really knowing anything and b) not having learned an important life lesson.

    These dojos always talk about building character and spirit ecetera but a lot of times they skip the most basic character building lesson of all huh?

    Anyways just my two cents

    BELT ,per say, are not the problem.


    Kano designed the belt system to give markers on a students progression. HOWEVER pple, mainly westerners, took this and ran WILD with it. A BLACK BELT was a status symbol. It has been perverted to such an extent that it means nothing. This is truly sad.

    ANYONE that gaurantees a belt rank, especially if they have a price scale on it, is a McDojo.

    As for BUILDING CHARACTER well very few MA instructors are acutally qualified to professionally BUILD someones character. And I find this whole concept in MA to be hypocritcal and illogical.

    Xiao Ao Jiang Hu Zhi Dong Fang Bu Bai (Laughing Proud Warrior Invinsible Asia) Emporer of Baji!!! THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE AGAINST THE UNITED AUSSIE FRONT!!
    Xiao Ao Jiang Hu Zhi Dong Fang Bu Bai (Laughing Proud Warrior Invincible Asia) Dark Emperor of Baji!!!


    Didn't anyone ever tell him a fat man could never be a ninja
    -Gene, GODHAND

    You can't practice Judo just to win a Judo Match! You practice so that no matter what happens, you can win using Judo!
    The key to fighting two men at once is to be much tougher than both of them.
    -Daniel Tosh




        Making students pay for gradings/belts is a proper McDojo thing to do.
        I agree with what was just said, the instructor should give the student the belt when they are ready and have proved through hard work they deserve it.
        "You realise the transformations give a man enough strength to destroy a truck with his bare hands!?

        "Sport ? That kind of thing's not my bag baby!" - Sammy Franco

        "This system was developed with the help of notible BJJ fighter Ribbon Muchado." - "Sifu" Anthony Iglesias


          Just because an instructor charges for tests and promotions does not make the school a McDojo. An instructor has a right to make as much money as she or he desires; however, gleeming every red penny possible from a student is McDojo warning material and a guarantee that the instructor in question is a scumbag.

          Expensive schools are not necessarily McDojo. When they guarantee promotions . . . that's McDojo!


            The object of a test is to weed out who does and doesn't know the information and have the technique...McDojo's have decided that by "weed out" they should "charge extra"...


              I don't feel that a belt is that important for adults, however for a child to train & train and have no incentive or movement, sucks for that kid, they need that.
              We have probably 2 kids a month that DON'T make it in our testing, hell, I've flunked a You can't pay for a belt change where I teach, the kids do work very hard & sometimes, they have to do it again.
              They only pay for one change though, you flunk, you come back the next month & try again..

              <img src=icon_smile_blackeye.gif border=0 align=middle> Sam


                I have to admit, if you want to make $$ teaching, you need a rank system. I come from a system that has 5 level (although traditionally there were only 3). When I decided to open a public club (comming soon!!!) I felt it was nessasary to include a 9 colored sash ranking system.

                I will also be running a traditinal program with no ranks, only certificates for those interested.

                But to be frank, the program is geared towards the general public, and the system must reflect the clientel I will be dealing with (Soccer mom types and thier kids). That means teaching more material that they are ready for due to low attention spans of the populace, lots of rank promotions. 9 levels is too much in my opinion, but probually not enough for the public. And point tournaments for the "Feel Good" aspect.

                Just to keep my self respect, I plan on farming the masses for talent, and building a real competitive team to fight in the Kuo Shu. That way I can at least say I haven't fully sold out.

                As for testing, I learned through my Kid's Kung Fu programs it's best to review a student before testing. That way, only those who can pass the test are allowed to test in the first place.

                I plan on making the reviews free, and the test fees no more than $50. I feel I can make more than enough $$ to support myself on just the enrollment fee's.

                So tell me, does my plans for a rank promotion make me a Mc Dojo? Or does my plans for a full contact competitive Kuo Sho team make me a real Kung Fu studio?


                  Royal Dragon,

                  Actually, the question is whether you are compromising your responsibility as a honest businessman, as an instructor, or as a martial artist. If there is a "yes" anywhere, I suggest that you re-think your approach.

                  What you must make clear is that everything must be earned, not bought, begged, or handed out. Patches, plaques, pieces of paper, trophies, and belts are merely outside displays designed to assuage the psychological needs of the student, parent, and/or instructor. Make them useful. I have some ideas if you care to hear them. I doubt that they are unique or new, though.


                    I don't see anything wrong with offering McDojo type programs for kids, beginners, and those who are just into it for recreation and fitness. Just don't pass it off as "real" martial arts. Too many McDojos try to pass off what they are teaching as some kind of deadly, secret, easy-to-learn fighting system.


                      What you must make clear is that everything must be earned, not bought, begged, or handed out. Patches, plaques, pieces of paper, trophies, and belts are merely outside displays designed to assuage the psychological needs of the student, parent, and/or instructor. Make them useful. I have some ideas if you care to hear them. I doubt that they are unique or new, though.

                      Everyting must be earned, but the lower leves require little more than memorising the curriculem for that level. It's not unitl after level 3 that performance satndards start to kick in. Before that the performance is based on knowing the material, and how long sudents can hold each posture consecutively from the basic set Wu Bu Chaun. Leve one must memorise it, level 2 must hold 26 second, and level 3 54 seconds.

                      After level 3 you must hold 72 seconds to get to level 4, and also have proper postures, inlcuding the Iron Chair, twisted Horse stance and the Snake stance all done as deep as they go.

                      Level 5 students hold 90. This is the time I also introduce some free sparring as students should have a good arsenal of functional techniques and should be well conditioned. Also, those who have been bitten by the Hard core bug have memorised a complete martial system and will be ready to concentrait on getting really good with what they know. Rank will not matter to them by this time.

                      The main stream student will have the rest of the curriculem basically just to keep their interest and keep the $$ flowing in to support the hard core guys.

                      Level 6 is Wu Bu Chaun 108 seconds.

                      By Level 6 they are expected to hold the stances perfectly and comfortably the entire time.

                      By Level 7 they now pracitce the 18 louhan hands instead of Wu Bu Chaun.

                      No matter What course of study a student wants, they can not get past the 7th level with out strong performance in selfdefence. This is the point where most mainstream students either turn hard core or quit. A mainstream student who is dedicated enough (A half mainstream, half hardcore) can get up another level or two, but only those who are seriously dedicated will be taught the Cannon Fist, and usually it will be those who went hard core by level 5 and really really mastered the Hong Chuan system.

                      You can't get to the Cannon Fist unless you are a hard core traditional martial artist, and you can't get a Black Sash without learning the Cannon Fist as it is an expansion on both the Louah and Hong Chuan sets. It is the advanced set, and you have to be able to "USE" it to pass the test in my system.
                      Also, conditioning and strength requirements must be maintined to pass the Black Sash test. For exapmle the 18 Louhan hands is a 36 posture form, and each posture must be held for 108 seconds. Because of the extra lenght (over Wu Bu Chaun) and the difficulty of many of the stances, it is considerably harder than holding only the Wu Bu Chuan set for 108 seconds.

                      I also have standards for conditioning, and the Black sash condtioning system is 40-50 minutes of HARD pushups, situps and other body weight conditioning exercises. prior to holding.

                      Only those who can hold thier own in competiotn either inside the school or through sacntioned competitve events (NOT Point sparring) can even be offered to test for Black Sash.

                      So no, I don't comprmise my standards, I just draw the training out for those that are not black sash material so I can serve several different demographics at the same time.


                        Hey I got an article coming about this subject.



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