FAQ - What is a McDojo and How Do I Spot One?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by aikiwolfie, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. Mark 42

    Mark 42 Senior Newbie

    Kukiwon charges a lot - the instructors can only do so much to keep the cost down.
  2. Aegis

    Aegis River Guardian Admin Supporter

    Ultimately associations can only charge what people are willing to pay. The more people that say "no" to the quite often extortionate rates for black belt tests, the more these organisations will be forced to reassess their pricing models.
  3. Tenderfoot

    Tenderfoot New Member

    Just wanted to give an update on my situation.

    I had class tonight and the Master pulled me aside at the end to say I was ready for my second test on Saturday. I decided to take the opportunity to ask him a few questions.

    First, I asked if there was any leeway in the cost of testing. I mentioned that everyone pays $55, but everyone else receives a belt for that cost. I don't, so it doesn't make sense that I pay the full price. He stated that it was the price I agreed on and he wasn't willing to compromise.

    I asked a bit about the black belt test. It is $450. I asked if it was at his dojang or elsewhere and if it was him that judged or someone else (In a roundabout way I was trying to get how a 6 year old who can't do a roundhouse kick has a black belt). Apparently a KKW judge comes in and he told me this person's name. I had recognized the last name because I was looking at the other people's KKW belts (which have the owner's full names on them) and saw that last name on one of the people. I do pride myself on my quiet observation skills, lol, so I have a right to believe that this woman is related to the Master and married to a family member of this judge. This makes me believe that these two families are working together in some way to benefit financially.

    So then I mentioned the second option he had given me when I signed up, which was to learn just what I needed for the black belt test instead of testing for each belt from white up. I said that now that I had gone for a couple of months I wanted to know if maybe that option was better for me. It took him a while to understand what I was saying (largely because of a language barrier) but when he got it he said he never gave me that option. He said that he told me up front that I would need to test out of each belt before I could test for black. That is NOT what he said. I verified this with my mom and we both know this is either a lie or his memory is downright awful. Which the latter may be the case since he then tried to list all of the belt colors I'd need to test through, and he got stuck trying to list them. ....? I mean, even I can list all the colors in order, so it's a little mind-boggling that a Grand Master can't list the colors of his own school...

    Anyway, I asked what would happen if I didn't test. After this test I will also need to pay $150 for sparring gear... This is getting quite expensive, fast. He said that I could not progress and he wouldn't teach me the next form and everything. So basically he was trying to force me to test. He noticed I was getting a little irritated and I did get a bit abrupt with him. I am seeing where I stand now. Just another dumb American to milk for money. So I left saying that we would have to agree to disagree on what he told me when I signed up.

    I don't think I will return to this dojang after this conversation. I really truly hate to be out money ($400 total for the remainder of my contract) but I feel so disgusted and betrayed that I don't think it's worth my frustration. Tomorrow I plan on checking out a couple of the other TKD schools I listed above, this time coming prepared with a long list of questions. I may also check out other styles of martial arts. I am so sickened that of all the values I was taught as a kid taking TKD (honor, respect, integrity, etc), I have not seen a single one taken to heart by any school I've been to thus far.
  4. Count Duckula

    Count Duckula Valued Member

    Good on you. At least now you know where you stand. Still doesn't mean they were not teaching properly, but they were milking you for it.

    That is one of the common side effects of people running their dojo as a business to generate their income. It becomes more about the bottom line than about teaching or love for the art.
  5. Aegis

    Aegis River Guardian Admin Supporter

    Good call, but I would also try to get out of the remainder of what I owe by pointing out that the full costs were not disclosed, options were changed mid-way through the contract and you have serious doubts that he even knows his own offering at this stage.

    Over here it would likely be a combination of breach of contract (i.e. changing options) and unfair terms in consumer contracts (i.e. non disclosure of all pertinent costs up front), but I'm not sure if you have equivalent legislation.

    There's no way I'd just pay up though, not without a fight.

    For the record, once this is over, would you be prepared to name the school/instructor to help others avoid the same problem?
  6. Manila-X

    Manila-X OSU!

    I decided to study Shotokan Karate but left after getting my orange belt.

    It is because I was learning it in a Mc Dojo despite it being one of the largest and most respected in The Philippines. I'm not going to say the name of that group.

    My reason why I consider it as one due to it being too commercialized. Other is, the dojo is more sport oriented karate rather than for self defense or at least the traditional aspect of it. The training that you get is more for those karate tournaments. Plus yes it charges you for every belt test plus the belt itself.
  7. Manila-X

    Manila-X OSU!

    I lived in HK for 2 years back in 1996-1997, the last years of British rule. While there, I enrolled in IWTMAA which is runned by Sifu Leung Ting. I only enrolled for 3 days and stopped since the school was located around Yau Ma Tei and I was staying at HK Island at that time around Mid-Levels.

    Yes this is HK so there are various Kung Fu schools including Wing Tsun.

    But it has it's Mc Dojos as well such as this.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NDklcTzCvA"]Modern Chinese Kung Fu @ Heng Yue Yen Long Kwon - YouTube[/ame]

    I did visited their branch in Causeway and checked out their rates. It cost more than Wan Kam Leung's Practical Wing Chun school in which the later is more effective.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2c5OvTpGlM"]Sifu Wan Kam Leung Practical Wing Chun l - YouTube[/ame]
  8. Meitetsu

    Meitetsu Valued Member

    Adam Mitchell of the Jinenkan puts up a lot of information about running dojos/ how they should not be run.
  9. Xanth

    Xanth Valued Member


    So sorry to read about the struggle you've had with TKD. Please don't give up hope, there are real instructors out there who care about their art and have pride in making sure you earn the belt you wear. If you are open to change, please consider a Kuk Sool Won school (if there is one in your area, of course). I was TKD back in the late 80's during High School and loved it, however once I started in KSW, I found it more fulfilling and it gave me everything that I wanted from a martial art. Also consider why you are taking a martial art, is it fitness, is it self-defense etc. I’m not trying to disrespect TKD schools, but TKD is the official SPORT of Korea for a reason. You’ll find some TKD schools have to supplement with self-defense techniques from an outside source, like Hapkido etc. My TKD school taught forms, a hand full of basic self-defense techniques and we sparred….a lot… I mean a whole lot. Again, not to disrespect anyone, but there are other options out there and you might find the “love of your life” in a martial as I have.

    The WKSA homepage has a option to find schools, and can be located here:
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  10. Mark 42

    Mark 42 Senior Newbie

    We were lucky enough to find a good TKD school.
    It was the fact that we didn't have to sign a contract that sealed the deal.
    It's not inexpensive, but the instructor is excellent, and there is almost nothing
    in the area that is less expensive and suits what we are looking for (It is
    our kids' P.E. class for home school, and TKD is very aerobically challenging).

    BTW, the black belt certificates for WTF come from Korea, and they set the
    costs. There are U.S. based organizations which cost less, and our instructor
    offers that option as well (he even recommends it and discusses the trade offs
    of the two options). The main benefit of the WTF Kukkiwon certificate is that it
    is recognized almost everywhere - so if a student might move to another state,
    the national organization may not be recognized by as many schools.

    Here is some info about WTF:
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  11. aikiwolfie

    aikiwolfie ... Supporter

    Won't they all operate in a similar fashion given they are all part of one organisation or the other?
  12. Tenderfoot

    Tenderfoot New Member

    Well unfortunately I think I'm SOL with this one. The contract I signed was a generic payment agreement, and did not specifically state our agreement over the options I had, or the cost of testing. I don't have a place to stand in court and I'm sure he knows that. I paid upfront since I didn't want to deal with writing 6 predated checks, so it has already been cashed. So I cannot even withhold payment at this time.

    Next time, I am going to get every damn thing in writing. I learned that lesson for sure. Never had a reason to believe anyone would do something like this, so I just didn't think of it at the time.

    Well, I'm hoping it's kind of like doctors. Some doctors are corrupt and belong to the American Medical Association. However, just because a doctor belongs to the AMA doesn't mean that he or she is corrupt.

    Anyway, I called two different schools (or "clubs"?) tonight and I feel even better about my decision. One said that I didn't have to retest for my BB to get a KKW one; I only had to submit an application along with a fee and a copy of my previous BB certificate. So, that is $450 I was told I needed to spend when I didn't need to. Both schools are much less expensive. I was paying $100/month to go for two 40 minute classes a week. It was $150 if you wanted to go an unlimited number of times. One school is $108 for unlimited, and the other is $80/month for unlimited (no contracts for the second one). So, that is a huge difference right there.

    The one school wants to start me at 1st dan and just play catch up, then start working towards 2nd dan. The other school said they would have me learn from white up, but I wouldn't need to pay to test like I did at my previous school. This other school also impressed me by suggesting another school a bit closer to me (though I don't feel this school is as good of an option for me due to having very few classes).

    Both schools also gave me a free trial class (something my other school never did, even though I asked). I have one set up for Monday, and I may go to one on Saturday depending on my schedule. I'm feeling a lot better right now, and feel like these will be much better options for me, even though they are a tad farther away.

    I do have one last question. How important is Kukkiwon, really? The second school I mentioned is not affiliated with them or any other organization at this time.

    Edit - Oh also someone asked me if I would be willing to name this school I was going to. No, I'm not comfortable stating that here. However, I do plan on writing an honest review on Google.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  13. 47MartialMan

    47MartialMan Valued Member

    Unfortunately, nowadays, it has resulted to having to "save"......:(
  14. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    How do people get away with this?
    40 minutes? I did an hour and a half of Karate yesterday and the warm up was over 30 minutes in itself.
    The TKD classes I go to are all at least an hour long.
    40 minutes is barely long enough to get a sweat on.
    40 minutes classes are that long for one reason and one reason only.
    To make more £$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£ by squeezing in more custo...I mean students.
    I'd never train anywhere that did 40/45 minute lessons.
  15. Aegis

    Aegis River Guardian Admin Supporter

    I get disappointed when I have to end my sessions before the 2 hour mark... 40 minutes would be simply ridiculous.
  16. querist

    querist MAP Resident Linguist?

    I'm with you there, Aegis. Our classes are scheduled for two hours but often run longer.
  17. pascalywood

    pascalywood Valued Member

    I used to practice Fang Shen Do "kung-fu" for four months and left because I felt something was not right there. Look at what I found www.patenaudegin.com

    More about the GIN here http://gintruth.com/gnt/Blog/Blog.html

    When a martial arts school starts to talk to you about "the law of attraction", "knowing the secret" and financial freedom, its time to look for some place else.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  18. Blade96

    Blade96 shotokan karateka

    I changed my mind

    I guess some McDojos would have their advantages. :p
  19. Aegis

    Aegis River Guardian Admin Supporter

    Ouch, sounds like a very lucky escape!
  20. Blade96

    Blade96 shotokan karateka

    Oy. Doesnt even look a martial arts school to me.

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