Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Enter the McDojo: The Problem with Commercialized Martial Art Schools

Commercialized martial arts schools (or “McDojos” as I call them), like the piss-take version shown here in this clip from the movie Napoleon Dynamite, exist in most major cities. They often have great facilities, convenient schedules and flashy demos that entice many people to sign up without looking around for alternatives.

I generally advise people against joining McDojos for a variety of reasons. First of all, they are usually run as a business first and foremost and secondly as a martial arts school. Unfortunately, when a school is run for profit the students’ technical development tends to suffer. The reason why is that most students want to feel as though they are progressing quickly. And if they don’t go for the belt tests fast enough for their liking, students tend to quit.

To combat this, McDojos often promote students to their next belt levels, regardless of their level of skill in the required curriculum. By the time these kind of students get to black belt, they have a myriad of bad habits and lack true skill.

Other McDojos will create more level divisions, either more belts or “stripe” tests between belts. The school will then require the students to pay for these extra tests, an often costly addition to their regular tuition.

Ultimately, if profit is the main goal for a martial arts school, it shapes the way the school is run, often to the detriment of the art. At a school with which profit is not the main goal, if a student doesn’t have the required patience to develop towards true mastery he or she just drops out and nobody minds. That’s because the school simply wants to develop the good quality students who strive to achieve technical excellence and embody the true spirit of their art.

For more information about choosing a martial arts school, check out this article I wrote for my Jiu-jitsu website:

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