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ATA... Full Circle

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    ATA... Full Circle


    I am glad I found this site.

    Long story short:

    I have been studying TWD for many years. I have a BB in ATA from the early years (When I was 14). I am now 38. I have studied several types over the years (because of moving and job changes). Anyway, I have a 4 year old daughter that likes to take class as well.

    We had been taking classes from Seo's National Karate in Broomfield, Co. (Tang Soo Do TWD). It was great at first, but then the instructor (over a year) just looked like he hated it there. Also, the main school had all these so-called "great BB", but they NEVER came to help with class. It was the instructor (who seemed like he hated it) and a young kid teaching all the time. All the students had bad form. Anyway, logn story short we are looking for a new school in the Broomfield area.

    So, I looked on line and found "ATA karate for Kids" in Broomfield. I took my daughter there and also learned they teach adults (despite the name). They are very nice and taught my 4 year old more than she had learned at Seo's in a year in one class. I then took the adult class and it was OK. The woman who taught the class was nice, but mentioned this “block teaching” method. I then stated to look on line for reviews of ATA and found bad comments on the ATA itself as a “Mcdojang”. Of course all the forms were different and such, but I did not mind starting over. It was also VERY expensive. However all in all, I was excited to start this… But since I got burned so bad at Seo’s I decided to really look around.

    I then went to a small school in Broomfield by the name of : Saeng Myong Martial Arts. I was surprised at the professionalism. I then took a class and it was fine. My daughter took the kids class and it was longer than the ATA classes and she did not get as much individual attention. The instructor seems to care about actually teaching. This school is not associated with a large organization either. His instructors are retired… I asked how he could increase in rank and he said his instructor (GrandMaster Jung) could test him. Also , this is a form of Tang Soo Do, so I would not have to throw away a years worth of study at Seo’s

    I am sort of torn here and after writing this I guess I seem to have my answer… However the ATA seems a bit better for my daughter, but I want her to go to the same school as me.

    Are there any opinions or there either way? Do you see any issues with Saeng Myong not being affiliated with a national school and only having one main instructor?

    Sorry for the rant...

    Oh you are not in "newbietown" you may be eviserated for not "USING THE SEARCH FUNCTION n00b!!!!". But, you are on the verge of making what many, including myself, will feel is a bad decision for you, your daughter, and your money. Read these articles.


    and search the forums for referrence to ATA. Hope this helps you with your decision, and welcome to Bullshido.



      How you looked for Other arts such as Judo. Judo is great for kids (and adults) and is usually fairly cheap.

      Stay away from ATA.


        Originally posted by GoldenJonas
        Oh you are not in "newbietown" you may be eviserated for not "USING THE SEARCH FUNCTION n00b!!!!". But, you are on the verge of making what many, including myself, will feel is a bad decision for you, your daughter, and your money. Read these articles.


        and search the forums for referrence to ATA. Hope this helps you with your decision, and welcome to Bullshido.
        apco25, these two links that GoldenJonas shared with you I've read. Trust me when I say, before you make your decision, READ, READ, READ! Do not browse through it and scan it, READ IT. This decision does not affect just you but your child. Do you want to put her through that?


          Here is a Newbie FAQ we are testing:

          1) Executive Summary

          2) What Is A McDojo? What is Bullshido?

          3) What are you looking for?

          4) Initially Shopping for a School.

          5) What Is Proper Martial Arts Instruction?

          6) Indications that a School Has Low Training Standards or is a McDojo.

          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 Art for Your Child

          A) Most of the Same Rules Apply When Selecting a School.
          B) Some Business Considerations
          C) We Suggest Grappling Rather Than Striking for Young Children.


          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 judgement. 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. For some interesting descriptions of McDojos which also practice Bullshido please read:

 by Bunyip
 (Funny and quite vulgar)


          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."

 (Fused with Great for finding out if schools or instructors are legitimate in BJJ. )

          We also prefer head instructors who; actually teach classes instead of primarily serving as salesman in chief. Who rolls with his students while teaching 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 classes 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) The higher-ranking students who are not yet fifty or sixty are quite out of shape, this indicates that the art isn't physically taxing enough.

          h) People need permission from the instructor to hit the punching bag in the school when class is not in session.

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

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

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

          l) 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", yeh, right!

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

          n) A good indication of a McDojo is the ridiculous amount of trophies. While not always true, if a place holds tons of trophies and medals everywhere, it generally tends to be McDojoish. Ridiculous uniforms are also not a good sign. It indicates the school likes to play dress up, which is the first step towards "Live Action Role Play". See

          o) They have a demonstration team as verses a competition team. Like boards, demonstrations don't hit back. Similarly there is no good reason that people should practice musical kata/forms. They have nothing to do with learning how to fight.

          p) Goofy stances equals goofy fighting. Real people generally don't fight like insects or dragons.

          q) The school or its leader has an at home study program that gives rankings to those who study via DVD and or videotape from home.

          r) 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?

          s) 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.

          t) Many McDojo websites put up kanji symbols without understanding what they mean. Find someone who knows Japanese, (on forums like these), and see if the Japanese is actually legitimate. Its hard to have a legitimate Japanese Martial Arts lineage when the words on your certificates make no sense in Japanese.

          u) 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:

          v) The instructor will not let you view a regular martial arts class before you sign up. Most McDojos will not do this but if it happens this is an extremely bad sign. And no we're not talking about their advanced class, we're talking about viewing the one you'd be placed in as a beginner.


          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, are over $25 specifically for lower belts. Anything over $200 for a Black Belt test is ridiculous. If you have a school that has subranks within its belt. (green belt, 1 stripe, etc) casually ask how much it costs to test for each stripe. You'll know that they use this system when you see members with electrical tape on their colored belts.

          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 suborganizations, 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 large TKD school chains 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 want-to- bes. 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.

          j) This chain of martial arts schools is expanding very rapidly. This warning sign can also be considered a quality control and McDojo warning sign. Usually what happens is that when many new schools are added, the organization will allow assistant instructors to teach at the new locations who have much less experience then one of their regular black belts. Some organizations have even given these newbie instructors special instructor belts, so that visitors do not realize that the teacher is actually say, a green belt in the art, because he's wearing a combo black and red, or black and white belt around his waist. With new schools to fill with new students, the marketing and sales operation becomes increasingly important and drives decision making within the art. We do not know of any martial arts schools since the 1950s which have expanded rapidly and NOT experienced quality control issues at a substantial number of their locations.

          k) One such martial arts chain to avoid is called Go Kan Ryu which started out in Australia and has now expanded to England. This chain has also shown up in Houston Texas. Based on the discussion at their method appears to be the following. 1) Recruit a bunch of younger students as "self defense consultants" who then go door to door recruiting new students. 2) These SDCs report to a manager who supervises sales and when the SDC make enough sales they are able to teach themselves. 3) The SDCs are in an intensive three nights a week training program, but depending on their success they can be teaching their own class within a year or two and wearing a black belt with a white stripe which conceals their actual sub-black belt rank. 4) They will also charge you, the student up to $160 for a separate insurance fee which is ridiculous for a non-contact Karate school. Even assuming half of what we hear about their business practices is true, we suggest you avoid these people.

          l) We're also hearing rumors that Fang Shen Do up in Quebec and Ontario is set to start a rapid expansion in the number of their schools. Please take a look at this article before you sign up with these people. A search of will turn up several lengthy threads on this art, and one of the points that is made by posters is that that soon after reaching the Black Sash or Black Belt level, students tend to either leave FSD or buy their own school. If this is to be believed, then FSD has already deployed almost all of their black sash caliber students to teach and will have to dip into its lower ranking students to staff such an expansion. If you decide to take FSD we would not suggest doing so with either a new instructor, or at a new school.


          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 low color 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 or charged for testing for stripes within the subblack belt ranks. (Example: Orange belt, first stripe) . :P Testing charges are a great money making venture but it gives the tester 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. 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.

          9) CONTRACT ISSUES

          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" or 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. Sometimes this pitch comes in the form of an "assistant instructor" program where you have to sign a long term expensive contract to help them teach their classes for free! It's difficult to say to people who telling you that you are "special" and worthy of "advanced training" to be an instructor, "NO", but for your financial health we strongly recommend you do so.

          Some other 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 Karate 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 to 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.


 by the same author.


          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 ground fighters 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 rises 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 and train in one of the schools in the Shaolin Village itself which are separate from the Temple. (there are approximately 80 of them!) Not surprisingly there is much argument about what is the actual, authentic, Shaolin experience. Taking an oath to one of the several hundred actual Shaolin monks out there? Studying in the village for a day, or two years? Getting an audience with the head abbot after a weekend of working out? Be careful, the Shaolin temple experience has been commercialized with the usual fun results.

          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 to be 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 Ninjutsu. The claims of ANYONE to teach authentic Ninjutsu are highly questionable at best and the schools which did not originate through Takamatsu Toshitsugu (who taught Masaaki Hatsumi and Ueno Takashi) 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 instuctor. 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 practice 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 a 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 who 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 shit 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 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 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 program. For that reason you also want to avoid the brand new Krav 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 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 blue belt he can award a green belt as long as he's completed the courses that allow him to instruct green belt material. Its 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. These phases are typically called the 'Expert Series' with KMAA Krav 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 Curriculium 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? 5) How long have they taught Krav 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. 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 activities. 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 bar fight career, which can't be verified on line 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). Similarly if they claim to have fought in the last five or so years and their name doesn't show up at all at the following links, they many be falsifying their record.

          Links to fighting records:


            Perspective from a kids teacher...


            I've been teaching kids for the last several years, and am currently teaching pre-school, which is mostly movement classes and fun stuff for the kids. But I've taught kids classes at my last martial arts school for older children and after all that crap I gotta say, go with judo and go watch the kids classes carefully for the following things:

            Yelling is not okay....I don't mean raising your voice to be heard over a bunch of noisy kids, thats okay and it won't scare them. But yelling at individual children in either real or mock anger to force them to behave, no way.

            Do instructors work equally with both gifted students and those that struggle?

            How do they motivate them?

            Also, second vote for judo, after teaching a striking and forms based system to kids, I would much rather have be able to teach something like judo and I wish I had started with judo as a kid. I started with Tae Kwon Do.....HUUUUGE waste of time.

            Plus judo is competition and competition in a healthy setting is fun. Also, he learns to actually defend himself, and he'll learn body mechanics that'll stick with him.
            Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
            and remember what peace there may be in silence.
            As far as possible, without surrender,
            be on good terms with all persons.
            Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
            and listen to others,
            even to the dull and ignorant;
            they too have their story.

            -excerpt of the poem called "Desiderata," by Max Ehrman, 1927.



              thanks for the responses! I will definately read the links supplied. I already read this (beleve it or not):

              I also did a lot of browsing here and also head that (ATA related) it really depends on the school. I am glad I got these comments... it really helps!


                However I bet their contracts and forms are all the same :) Just don't complain when the collection agency comes a calling.


                  I really try not to be an art-knocker, but why are you hellbent on taking Tae Kwon Do? There are other forms of martial arts, you know. And while you may have the possibility of running into a good TKD school, you'll have a greater possibility of running into good schools of other arts (Judo, Sambo, BJJ, Boxing, Kickboxing, Kyokushin, etc.). So why not shop around even more than you have been?


                    MacWombat and All,

                    I am not really hell-bent on taking TWD. It's just what I am used to and have put a lot of time into (years...). You guys are right, I will look around at other styles.


                      Sorry to waste another post, and I'm not trying to bash you or make you feel stupid, but why do you keep calling it TWD when in your style field you have the T, the K, and the D capitalized? TKD is how its normally abbreviated, I believe.


                        Originally posted by Samuel Browning
                        However I bet their contracts and forms are all the same :) Just don't complain when the collection agency comes a calling.
                        FWIW, I'm an ATA club owner and I do not use contracts with students - I know several others that do not as well.

                        Matt White


                          Originally posted by whitematt
                          FWIW, I'm an ATA club owner and I do not use contracts with students - I know several others that do not as well.

                          Matt White
                          Pity there aren't many dojangs like yours out there.


                            I commend you then, and don't know how you survive the commercial pressures referred to in the article written by an ATA 4th degree Black Belt which is in our article section.


                              This site is pretty Anti-ATA.... so you won't hear much of anything good about it here. As said earlier, that link that Golden Jonas gave is about what you will hear from this site.

                              Also said earlier, you can look into other arts. Most here would steer you to a grappling/MMA type of school.

                              My advice is to try to avoid extreemly long contracts or extreemly high dues.



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