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Karate Schools – How to pick the right one

Karate schools - Shotokan Karate - Ura Mawashi Geri by Sensei Tanaka

Karate – for years seen as a path to self-knowledge and a self defense, now moving more and more away from this. as now most Karate schools are now focusing more on other aspects. One of the reasons behind this is represented by sport oriented schools. And by this I mean schools where you practice ether Kata ether Kumite. Don’t get me wrong. Everyone competes but focusing on just one aspect of Karate is like eating only the upper slice of an sandwich. Anyway, what I think to be the main reason behind this is represented by the so called McDojo!!!!

Why is this the main reason?

Because this kind of dojos are led by people who’s only concern is to get the money out of the students pockets. In most cases, Instructors that work in this kind of Dojo’s have no teaching skills or knowledge in the art they are teaching. Those who run such schools are good at one thing: business. The main objective of this Karate schools is to keep the students happy by entertaining them so they will come every next time. Usually, in such Dojo’s students get what they ask, not what they need. We all know that most of the beginners are generally looking after two things: belts and the next form. And yes, McDojos have everything a student wants, except that is poor quality. Most of this schools have their own belt sistem, even if both X and Y school teaches the same style.

What is bad about this kind of schools?

  1. First of all, this kind of schools tend to be more and more popular, taking out of business gifted teachers that really love martial arts and have something to pass to the next generation.
  2. The techniques learned in such a school may not work in a real confrontation – this is why we practice martial arts. So we can defend ourselves when it comes.
  3. McDojo’s teachings have no philosophy behind it. Every martial arts is build around a certain philosophy. Take that away and it becomes poor gymnastics.
  4. The lack of knowledge in both martial arts and body mechanics will led to poor executed techniques that will eventually produce serious damage to anyone who’s practicing in such places.

How to make sure you are in the right spot?

  1. Make sure the instructor wants to see discipline in his dojo. This is usually a sign that the instructor doesn’t likes to play around and wants to see the result of his work – and I don’t mean money!!! People who are in to martial arts just for money don’t really care about this as long as you  pay them.
  2. He (the instructor/owner) is never in a rush to promote you to the next belt or to teach you the next kata. Also, is not afraid to say that you are not ready and/or need more work for it. Usually instructors that are not afraid to loose you if you don’t test or don’t learn a new kata are instructors devoted to the martial arts they teach.
  3. If you see tape stripes on the belts get out of there as fast as you can. This are schools that are to motivated to keep students through any mean necessary. They will give you stripes an belts just to keep you there. Unfortunately this kind of martial arts business is the most popular one, especially for kids.

Before I end this article I will like to let you know that my intention si not to offend anybody. Everything I had written represents my personal ideas about how a martial arts school should look. I had learned Karate the old way and I like to teach it the same way. To me discipline and perseverance ar the main ingredients that shows both good instructors and good students.

I also know that many schools use the stripe belt system on order to motivate de kids. However, I don’t think one should be promoted just for reaching a certain number of classes – this is how usually the stripe belt system goes. My main reason for being against this kind of belts system is that if one shows there everyday, but without any kind of involvement doesn’t mean he deserves a new belt. If one is getting a new belt just for showing up, what do I offer the other kid? The one that pays attention and is serious about it. I think that by rewarding the first kid I’m actually discouraging the second one to work hard and be better. I believe one should be promoted for the work he has done and dedication shown, and not just for being there.

Again, this are just my personal ideas so please don’t feel offended. There are much more to say about this but I feel this should be enough.

Thank for reading and have a nice day!

All the best,
George Paun.

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Comments (8)

  • David John 2 years ago Reply

    So how do learn to run a dojo with also building your business . ?
    I totally understand your above view but really good dojos and instructor should also be properly ripping in good cash…so any suggestions

    George Paun 2 years ago Reply

    Good instructors attract students by offering then quality classes. They are more occupied with making students understand what is required in order to become a martial artist. They try to make students understand that real karate is not about belts, katas, winning other tournaments, etc. Make you students understand that Karate is about being better then you where last time and they will stay with you. Once they will understand that you are not there just for the money they will know you are a great teacher. And for that will stay with you.

  • bantal silikon 2 years ago Reply

    This is a very delicate subject. Especially when everyone on the internet is trying to be nice in other not to loose their popularity. I’m glad you have the courage to discuss this. Choosing the right karate schools can be very hard. especially when is your first interaction with martial arts. You provide good information for everyone who love martial arts. You have my respect sir. OSS

    George Paun 2 years ago Reply

    Thanks a lot. Is wonderful to see my work is apreciated

  • Sensei Michael 2 years ago Reply

    I do agree that being business orientated is the easy way, but if you have high aspirations from yourself traiditional karate is the way. Both as a student and a teacher.

  • Collin 2 years ago Reply

    This post is written in a very raw way, however it says the truth for sure. Due to business orientated schools, in most places karate does not teach the way anymore.

    George Paun 2 years ago Reply

    Thank you. I’m glad to find people that think the same way

  • Gregg Zillman 2 years ago Reply

    There is a lot more to add here. But you definitely picked the strongest arguments.

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