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RMS86's picture
Ronald McDojo vs. Unqualified But Good Samaritan-Sensei

Hi all,

I've been trying to write an on-point blog defining what exactly a McDojo is.  It occurred to me that there is actually a huge difference between a teacher who is in it for the money and one who is unknowingly unqualified.  Both these individuals may seem just as bad at first thought but it's been my experience that a teacher who's heart in the right place will be willing to right his/her own mistakes.

So my questions are,

1.  What are warning signs of a Martial Arts instructor who is only in it for the money? 2.  What are the signs of an instructor with good intentions although unqualified?

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

What percentage of McDojo's are solely about money?  I suspect it's actually much smaller than people think.

I've always wondered this, it's not as if Martial Arts teaching is a particularly lucrative field. I suspect many places that people label McDojo are driven more by ego and weird social dynamics than just desire to make money, though certainly that exists.

You can really only evaluate someone (especially someone you don't know, like a martial arts teacher you suspect of McDojo-ism) by their behavior and what they are doing on the floor, trying to guess their intention is difficult, and wrapped up in all kinds of complex stuff. There are plenty of people out there teaching under the banner or "martial arts" that I personally wouldn't train with, and I don't think much of their method...however I still would not call these places McDojo by any stretch, I also would hesistate to say whether or not someone is qualified to teach martial arts, without knowing what they actually mean by "martial arts" - as we all know there is no standard to what this term means.

Jon Jepson
Jon Jepson's picture

I agree , i dont think its as wide spread as people think this `McDojo-ism` (Great phrase) . But i have to say the warning signs are there if you look . Thing`s like having to buy your club branded Gi , from the club . Having to buy your sparring gear from the club for `insurance purposes` ? . Its true also of course that making money is difficult (From instructing) , and for most of us its not our full time job . Its a subject that often crops up in our club , and that of my good friends nearby club , we both used to train with/under a guy who was slipping into the Mcdojo world , and so , together with a few more senior grades , we left . And i think thats the think isnt it , we are all free to do our own thing and go our own way .

As for the unqualified v qualified , what is qualified ? . How does one become a qualified instructor in Martial Arts ? . I study under two very different instructors , one is a Jujitsu guy whom ive known since childhood , and one ia a MMA guy who i dont really know much about , but its never even crossed my mind to wonder if any of them are qualified , because there competant . So to me that makes them qualified .

Jon .  

RMS86's picture

Awesome!  Great feedback so far.  Thank you  guys very much.

In retrospect, using the phrase "in it for the money" is a little off point.  Sorry about that.  Maybe the "well, I need a job" guy might be a little closer to accurate?  I mean, some people do manage to make a decent living from running their own school.

As far as unqualified, I was thinking more along the lines of someone who wasn't trained and/or taught properly.  The kind of person who might have been grosely misinformed about his/her own style or has never been made to go through a vital training excercise.

Again.  Thanks a lot for the great feedback.  I really appreciate it.

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Regards to "In it for the money" There is nothing wrong with making a living out of Martial Arts, Some of my favourite Role models, Iain included, work hard for what they have and as you know it has not made a diverse effect on their Martial Arts or the quality of their students.

When we have McDojo's it where its treated as a business, its people in grade them every 2-3 months regardless of whether they have met the standard for that grade and move them on. Take one school that is the anagram of Kan-ga-roo, they have Instructors who predominantly are Black/White stripe belts who've only had 6 -12 month training themselves. They haven't had the time to truly understand what it is they are studying themselves let alone Teach it to someone in good faith.

I must say that there are some genuinely good martial artists in this segment of martial arts. I must say too that as Miyagi Sensei says, No such thing as a Bad Student, Only a Bad Teacher....." (or something like that)

Most McDojos tend to have a different ethos, ethics and direction of training. If one is looking for a bit of keep fit and a little bit of Confidence without the fear of getting "hit" then a McDojo IS the perfect place for them. As long as the Student realises and has been informed by their Instructor that the chances are they may not be able to effectively defend themselves if they are attacked as there is a different reaction once once has been hit "for real" including " the Freeze" etc.

I have spoken with Instructors who went from part time Instructor to Full Time Dojo with 100's of students "trophies" along the walls etc. I asked one in particular "How do you prevent yourself from becoming a belt Factory/McDojo?" his response was "It pays the bills, He has to do the Belt Factory to carry on." His ethos changed from teaching Martial arts for self- defence he know teaches martial arts for winning Trophies only!!!

In other words he is not preparing his students for what martial arts was meant for, dare I be bold and say he is mis-selling his school. If some one is teaching Sports Martial arts they SHOULD say we train specifically for Competitions with a little bit of self defence thrown in. A XYZ championship belt does not guarantee that the "fighter" would effectively be able to defend themselves in a self defence situation.

If some one is teaching Self Defence Martial Arts they SHOULD say we train specifically for street defence with a few competitions thrown in. etc.

My Ethos is " Teaching Karate for the Streets, Not just for Trophies"

Good Thread and good posts, OSU