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    Looking for some perspective and feedback on some of my notions

    Hello,

    I took some Kenpo for about year when I was 17, but I was unimpressed with my sensei who was arrogant and insecure.

    I'm 46 now with kids.

    My wife signed both of our girls and myself up (coincidentally) with USSD. I have to say the recent experience seems far more legit. The Sensei is super fit. There is far more emphasis on conditioning, sparring, hitting the bags and being a competent fighter that doesn't gas out in 30 seconds, than my last expereince. I do enjoy learning the forms, cause they're so fun to do. Some of the other guys from a sister dojo have experience in MMA competetions and they offer some Jiu Jitsu classes so you can work on your ground game if you want.

    Buuut, there is still time in class spent on self-defense techniques that seem dubious, and there is the testing fees if you want to advance and all that.

    I have no fantasy about becoming an amateur fighter or anything. I just don't want to piss my families time and money away in a BS gym. I haven't been to enough gyms to have a good idea of what I should expect from a program. I would like to hear from some of you with deeper experience.

    I also have some notions about what makes a legit style/ fighter. However, outside the gym I don't really know any fighters to ask, and inside the dojo they are patient but its still a kenpo class, not a MMA philosophy class. So, were not going on ad naseum about theory.

    I look forward to your feedback,
    Thanks

    #2
    Hello, Broomie, and welcome to Bullshido.

    I've moved your introductory post to a more appropriate forum.
    Consider for a moment that there is no meme about brown-haired, brown-eyed step children.

    Comment


      #3
      Welcome to Bullshido. I don't know much about USSD other than it's an offshoot of American Kenpo. What I can tell you is that if you're not drilling and then sparring in an unscripted manner under qualified supervision during the majority of classes, you are not really picking up how to actually implement what you are learning. Only in the controlled chaos of free sparring can you be able to find out if you can pull off what you have been practicing during the drilling phase of class.

      It's a red flag your instructor tells you what you are learning is too deadly to practice. Better instead to learn techniques you can execute at close to full speed against a resisting opponent. That means you have the muscle memory necessary to perform the move without thought in a high stress situation.
      Shut the hell up and train.

      Comment


        #4
        Welcome to Bullshido. You'll find, if you do some research, that USSD is not well regarded here. To me, they're a textbook example of everything bad about Mcdojos:
        -high cost and emphasis on money

        -hard sales pitches

        -long contracts

        -tests that are basically not failable

        -dubious self defense techniques and training methods

        -lack of live training, in either striking or grappling

        -using point sparring as the only live training

        -a fat mulleted man at the top of the pyramid who gave himself a high rank and clearly puts a lot of stock in rank in general

        -promoting teens and unqualified people into instructors, to meet the demand for teaching weekly private lessons

        -lack of competition in any outside venues

        -when grappling is taught, having it taught by unqualified karate teachers

        -emphasis on forms that are neither good for fighting or a great workout

        I know this is newbietown and I'm not trying to insult your decision. I am approaching this from the perspective that martial arts are, first and foremost, fighting arts, and that divergence from that is a bad thing. USSD is very divergent, and divergent for vain purposes (getting belts, etc). Many disagree with me on these points. A lot of people practice martial arts strictly for non-fighting reasons, and if they get a good workout from it, the place has that going for it. In my experience kempo isn't even that great of a workout though, compared to an actual gym. I mean, this guy is the top of the pyramid:


        If my job was to rake in money from franchises, I'd have plenty of time to work out and become the poster child for my empire.
        Last edited by Permalost; 3/15/2016 5:40pm, .

        Comment


          #5
          Some required reading for you. Make sure to watch and understand what this video is explaining when you want to assess your martial arts school:





          You said your school spars, so maybe you've already got this covered, but it's probably best to be careful and consider what Matt Thornton says here because we've seen people try to pass stuff like this off as sparring (watch at 1m16s):

          Comment


            #6
            Hello again, Broomie. I apologize for not responding in more detail, earlier, I was literally on my way out the door. There are some good responses, above, you should heed them, especially with respect to aliveness.

            My first post bears striking resemblance to yours, at least in my memory. My kids had started at an "MMA" school, and I got suckered in. Best thing that happened to me was - before I started there, I started coming here. Took me about 18 months I think to a) get out of current contracts; b) the kids lost interest; and, c) I got schooled by a fellow Bullshido member, who wiped the mats with me using his rudimentary BJJ.

            In my opinion, the best thing you can do for you and your kids is to look for the school and style that best suits your goals. If flashy katas and board breaks are your thing, great, more power to you. But, if you want and your kids to become competent to defend yourselves, I would start looking and planning to move to a school that focuses more on actual sport combat, and less on frilly pajamas and everyone-gets-a-trophy type stuff.
            Consider for a moment that there is no meme about brown-haired, brown-eyed step children.

            Comment


              #7
              Thank you all for the quick, respectful, and thorough replies.
              From what I've seen and heard here it seems the dojo I'm attending has its good and bad.

              This thread is helpful. I'd like to expand it a bit.

              -We started in January 2016. I'm relatively fit and coordinated. My background is cross country and triathlon. I have a decent cardio base for a guy my age, but the movement patterns and muscles recruited for fighting are waayyy different so I have a steep learning curve on just throwing a punch, footwork etc.
              -We do light sparring with headgear and gloves. Because I'm a newbie, its supervised and the emphasis is on basic boxing: practical guard, footwork, timing, angles and ranges. This has the "aliveness" that the words of wisdom video mentions. Because I am such a hot mess, in addition to the the free sparring we've also done some sparring drills where instead of attacking, I go a round only defending so I can get used to seeing a punches and kicks come in without overreacting, staying composed, and using my guard effectively. Then we switch and as the attacker I practice basic combinations: Jab, Jab, cross, etc.
              -The sensei sets up punching dummies in a gauntlet, so-to-speak and we go through it with a pre-planned set of strikes. He says that the idea is developing overall coordination and proprioception. Its definitely challenging and fun.
              -So far the fees go they seem reasonable and we pay month to month, not a contract. I'm not sure if we're getting some special rate so if you want to know how much we're paying I can pm it.
              -of course we're doing forms.
              -and we're doing the kempos, defense maneuvers or whatever you want to call them. This is where the school seems to fail. I've been in fights before and no one has ever opened with a front 2 knuckle punch to my solar plexus. On a side note: an old intern of mine did (try) to get into a bar fight with (he didn't know at the moment) a professional MMA fighter who IMO was gracious and restrained enough to only punch my intern in the solar plexus so hard that the intern had the wind totally knocked out him and unable to fight, or even stand for a few minutes, but otherwise unscarred or damaged. Quite funny actually. Perhaps the Kempos only work on professional fighters?
              -there is no one there who knows how to do a focus mitt workout.
              -I've watched boxing training and I've seen some drills that could be considered "dead". What initially comes to mind is slipping and bobbing practice. Is there something I'm missing?
              -I spoke to my wife about my concerns. She and my girls (who are 7 and 9) are 100% satisfied, for now. Its more like soccer or softball for them.

              Now that that is said: if was was to go to another gym what should I be looking for? I understand that the best program isn't much good if I'm not putting in my best, too. I seem to be getting some benefit at USSD simply because I'm willing to work hard and I have been. And even in my running career with good coaches, there seemed to be an amount of BS you had to politely ignore in order to participate. But I don't like the idea of being limited because of lack of access to facilities or forced to practice things that seem dumb. I've seen the dubious stuff in forms other than the karate shape. But I know I haven't seen it all.

              I want conditioning, coordination and a handful of useful skills some socializing and light sparring. I'll be honest, in my area most of the gyms seem to be more commercial recreation enterprises than anything else. Its overwhelming the choices, Jiu Jitsu gyms are constantly coming and going, there's Krav Maga, UFC, MMA bootcamp somethings, Karate, Tae Kwon do, Capoeira. But they all seem to have sprung from nowhere, and the pedigree and bonfides of the people running them are uncertain. gaaaaah!

              I welcome guidance and feedback on any or all of my post.
              In the meantime I think I'll schedule some visits to other programs in my area.
              Thanks again
              -Broomie

              Comment


                #8
                I think I figured it out

                Hi,

                I was just thinking about what I just posted. I realized wrote the kind of post that made my eyes roll when I read this kind from other people. In fearing I made a bad choice I spill my guts in some unconscious hope that I won't have to deal with it and internet strangers will say, "oh well its not that bad. you'll be fine."

                I think the reality is: My dojo is run by a decent guy who is well intentioned but, it still is a USSD dojo, so its a closed system designed to make the consumer feel good.
                Fortunately I'm not in a contract, but our family has already made friends so leaving the dojo is a bummer for me.
                My wife and girls are happy there. Whether they stay is a family decision. I totally get its not real fight training. But I'm not so sure my little girls want that, anyway.
                I want something more legit. I need to find it and figure out if its doable. But I know I won't be happy where I'm at.

                I still appreciate your personal thoughts on what makes a good gym.

                Thanks for listening. Just letting me type this out helped me clarify a bit. Who do I pay for this therapy session? :)

                Comment


                  #9
                  Thanks for the feedback

                  I replied to the thread earlier, but my reply seems to have disappeared.

                  I don't feel like typing it all out again. But, I would really like to say thank you for the respectful straight talk. I think I have a sense of where my current dojo sits on the spectrum. Not all bad but not that great either.

                  I have some other gyms to check out. I noted in the "How to choose a school" article, there are more warnings about what to avoid than what to look for. Beyond the newbie article any personal thoughts on what you like to see in a school?

                  Thanks again,
                  Broomie

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Thanks

                    Thank you for the direct and respectful feedback.

                    I'm pretty sure what I need to do. The Dojo has some good qualities, but its not for me.

                    The sparring instruction has been pretty good for a novice. There's equipment to use. But, they're teaching the same things they were showing me when I was 17. It makes me kind of sad to see that it hasn't evolved.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Welcome back, Broomie. I apologize for being slow on the uptake, getting your pending posts approved. As soon as is practical, you will be free and clear of the necessity for said intervention.
                      Consider for a moment that there is no meme about brown-haired, brown-eyed step children.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Broomie View Post
                        -We do light sparring with headgear and gloves. Because I'm a newbie, its supervised and the emphasis is on basic boxing: practical guard, footwork, timing, angles and ranges. This has the "aliveness" that the words of wisdom video mentions. Because I am such a hot mess, in addition to the the free sparring we've also done some sparring drills where instead of attacking, I go a round only defending so I can get used to seeing a punches and kicks come in without overreacting, staying composed, and using my guard effectively. Then we switch and as the attacker I practice basic combinations: Jab, Jab, cross, etc.
                        This sounds pretty good.
                        -The sensei sets up punching dummies in a gauntlet, so-to-speak and we go through it with a pre-planned set of strikes. He says that the idea is developing overall coordination and proprioception. Its definitely challenging and fun.
                        Gauntlets can be good or pretty useless depending on how they're done.
                        -So far the fees go they seem reasonable and we pay month to month, not a contract. I'm not sure if we're getting some special rate so if you want to know how much we're paying I can pm it.
                        The question of if its worth it can really only be answered by you. Commercial dojos seem to like to make it a bit of a secret though.
                        -of course we're doing forms.
                        Boo!
                        -and we're doing the kempos, defense maneuvers or whatever you want to call them. This is where the school seems to fail. I've been in fights before and no one has ever opened with a front 2 knuckle punch to my solar plexus. On a side note: an old intern of mine did (try) to get into a bar fight with (he didn't know at the moment) a professional MMA fighter who IMO was gracious and restrained enough to only punch my intern in the solar plexus so hard that the intern had the wind totally knocked out him and unable to fight, or even stand for a few minutes, but otherwise unscarred or damaged. Quite funny actually. Perhaps the Kempos only work on professional fighters?
                        I can tell you with confidence that kempo techniques do not work better on pro fighters than average joes. In fact its usually an attacker's average-Joeness that makes them vulnerable to kempo.
                        -there is no one there who knows how to do a focus mitt workout.
                        That's a shame. When I trained at a similar place (kung fu with recently-added kickboxing) we actually did lots of padwork.
                        -I've watched boxing training and I've seen some drills that could be considered "dead". What initially comes to mind is slipping and bobbing practice. Is there something I'm missing?
                        If their kickboxing is reverse engineered from kempo, there's a good chance they think the back should always be straight when fighting.

                        -I spoke to my wife about my concerns. She and my girls (who are 7 and 9) are 100% satisfied, for now. Its more like soccer or softball for them.
                        Frankly I'm not sure a good fighting gym is the place for a 7 or 9 year old girl anyway, but a lot of them have kids programs these days to keep the lights on and they're quite good, and will possibly prepare them for a good future in kickboxing, wrestling etc.

                        Now that that is said: if was was to go to another gym what should I be looking for?
                        I feel like dojos like USSD have such a commercial vibe that you can see it almost immediately. When you feel like you're being read a script when you ask questions and all the answers make the school sound like the best, there's a good chance you're at a Mcdojo.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Broomie View Post
                          My wife and girls are happy there. Whether they stay is a family decision. I totally get its not real fight training. But I'm not so sure my little girls want that, anyway.
                          I want something more legit. I need to find it and figure out if its doable. But I know I won't be happy where I'm at.
                          My girls got bored with our krotty, which was part of my impetus to jump ship. Now, they are taking a casual interest in BJJ, though not training at this point. In the interim, I had a son, who is growing up to be a bona-fide brawler. He will be getting BJJ whether he likes it or not. My point is, if your goals are not the same as your family's goals, you should maybe step in and help redefine them.
                          Consider for a moment that there is no meme about brown-haired, brown-eyed step children.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Permalost View Post
                            . Frankly I'm not sure a good fighting gym is the place for a 7 or 9 year old girl anyway, but a lot of them have kids programs these days to keep the lights on and they're quite good, and will possibly prepare them for a good future in kickboxing, wrestling etc.
                            This. Bjj,Judo,Muay Thai, csw, boxing, Sambo
                            Competition driven arts are what work.

                            All of them have kids programs but make sure it's what they wanna do.

                            Martial arts are a blast. But good ones are hard, exhausting both mentally and physically, and you don't always win. A good martial arts school doesn't tell you or your child they are doing good if they are not.
                            Some people really love the Mcdojo culture of unjust verbal fellatio. Good martial arts remove these sorts of delusions that mcdojos encourage.
                            Last edited by Raycetpfl; 3/17/2016 3:33pm, .

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Success is determined by
                              What are the goals,
                              How are they being measured,
                              And are you satisfied?
                              Now Success can also be impacted by the impact of an external stressor, whether expected or not.
                              The external stressor in martial arts is usually considered to be the ability to defend oneself from a violent or potentially violent aggressor.
                              On the playground that might be push and shove or verbal,
                              On the street it could be anything,
                              And in real combat the expectation is serious weaponry,
                              including firearms and other nasty things.
                              We often get carried away imagining the what if's
                              But on the other hand it is an evil world.
                              Hand to hand skills are better than nothing
                              But a force multiplier such as a legal concealed weapon and some training with same are the best self defense choices I know of outside of avoidance strategies and tactics.
                              Not always the same kind of physical work out, though.
                              And sometimes -God forbid- we find ourselves without our weapon(s) of choice and just our natural person.
                              And then some type of striking, even basic boxing, and some grappling fundamentals can come in awfully handy, as well as some knowledge of useful/dirty tactics.
                              Frankly, martial arts are fun, and done right a healthy and wholesome activity.
                              Just realize that we are all -all of us- a bit full of sh*t and often wrong.
                              Last edited by Dr. Gonzo; 3/17/2016 4:53pm, .

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