What is a McDojo?

What is a McDojo and should we care?  Let's start by defining what a McDojo is.  A martial art's school that is substandard. 

Here's a quick history of what happened?  With the explosion of martial arts in the 1990's and the teaching of martial arts to kids, we saw an increase of martial art's schools being run like a business.  Many of these professional martial art's schools grew significantly.  More traditional garage dojos would call these professional schools, McDojos.  Was it justified?  Possibly.  Most of these professional dojos would sign students up for a 'blackbelt program'. This was a contract for a specified number of years that would guarantee the student 'earn' their blackbelt. The shorter period of time would help the school financially and gain more students.  Another term used was 'blackbelt factory'.  I hope you can see how this happened.  We saw many 6 and 7 year olds walking around Walmart wearing their blackbelts.  The mystic of the blackbelt quickly faded away.  Martial arts over the next decade became child's play.  Most adults stopped training.    Martial arts became big business.  Most owners of dojos didn't even train.  Things have changed over of the years.

Today, adults are looking to start training again. Adults are getting back into martial arts little by little.  However, the McDojo has changed.  The new McDojo is marketing toward 'self defense'.  Martial art's instructors are claiming to be self defense instructors.  This poses a big issue.  On one hand, these instructors claim that their martial art is for self defense.  Another problem is that some only teach avoidance and awareness and say that this is really all you need.  Some may say that by feeling more confident(learning their martial art) you will not need to defend yourself.  Granted, avoidance, awareness, and self confidence can go a long way. However, what happens when it fails and you need to rely on your physical  martial arts training.  This may come as a shock to you, but many of the instructors only teach wrist releases for self defense.  Some may add a few static 'self defense' attacks and call it a day.  This is only fueling a false sense of confidence.  

Yes, you should care about McDojos.  These instructors will advertise toward everything.  They will make you a world champion and capable of handling a group of thugs in no time.  Visit several martial art's schools in your area.  Try out a few classes.  Learn to question what the instructor says.  Don't assume that they know everything. 

Self defense training must include several factors to be complete.  Now, you don't have to get all of your self defense training from one instructor. Most of the time you can't.  Here's a list of things that it needs to include.  An awareness of your surroundings, understanding of your capabilities and limitations, a mindset of self worth,  how to strike effectively, how to grapple(standing and on the ground), an understanding of weapons(offense and defense),  know when to walk away.  This list is by no means exhaustive.  

Tell me what you think.

Shawn Vicknair



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