Why has GKR been allowed to spread when it is the epitome of McDojo?

Discussion in 'Karate' started by Paoquan, Feb 25, 2021.

  1. Paoquan

    Paoquan New Member

    I was on youtube watching some stuff my Jessie Enkamp and found lots of videos of GKR.
    Now I remember years ago when GKR were recruiting door to door and giving grades to people for getting others to sign up to their pyramid schemes.
    They would push students with 6 months experience to open classes, and of course the infamous non-contact sparring nonsense.
    Now there seems to be a GKR on every street corner, teaching very low quality karate and handing out belts for money.
    Just wondering why legimate Karate hasn't put a stop to this fakery?
  2. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    How would you suggest “legitimate karate” (whoever they are, and however you define the term) put a stop to it? Walk through the door and beat up the teachers? Where I live, that gets you prosecuted.

    Like it or not, the world of martial arts is very much caveat emptor. So unless someone wants to commit criminal assault, or otherwise spend a bunch of their own time and energy and money to run a smear campaign which, where I live, might get you sued for defamation or something, I don’t see much to be done about low-quality martial arts schools.

    And before you go down that rabbit hole, I would bet there is someone out there who thinks your skills suck and you should be barred from teaching. We all suck to someone. Life is funny that way. Be careful of what you wish for.
    axelb, Paoquan and Mitlov like this.
  3. Paoquan

    Paoquan New Member

    Flying crane, I agree it is not an easy situation when there are so many variables.
    Here in the UK we have governing bodies that are meant to regulate quality standards, but all they really are interested in is ensuring the coach/sensei/instructor has covered things like DBS, health and safety, equality and diversity, etc etc. What none of the governing bodies actually regulate, is the quality of the martial arts being taught, the qualifications of the instructors or the methodology of there business structures.

    I supppose an analogy would be, I if knew an unqualified plumber, or one who was producing substandard work, or any other similar, They can be reported. There are regulators who can ensure certain standards for quality & process.

    Now, I don't want or really like the idea of enforced regulation in our activities, but it is about the public being taken for a ride.
    I know there are many GKR students who are happy with what they get for their money, but is that like how people used to just accept that Windows 95 used to blue screen every day. People just accepted because they didn't know any better.

    On your last point. Absolutely, there are many people who think the arts I practice have no practical use, are to complex to be applied, whatever. I understand that. But there is still, I like to believe some sort of empathy or understanding of a different approach, they may not agree with, but can at least see a level of genuineness in the activites.

    It's just seems a shame to me that so many honest hardworking folk get wrapped up in things like GKR which is a method of pulling in and keeping, yes all systems do that to a point. But it's still about the ethics of instructors knowing that they are or are not giving their students that best they can.

    Complex, yes. is there an answer, probably not.
  4. Dan Bian

    Dan Bian Neither Dan, nor Brian

    If someone wants to learn to swim, they may go to the local swimming pool and sign up to classes.
    The classes will be taught by a local instructor, who will go through some basic strokes, and basically make sure you don't sink.

    If you then decide you want to do a charity swim, your local instructor might recommend an instructor who has experience in training swimmers for this kind of event.

    If you do well in your charity swim, you might decide that you want to try some competitive swimming. So your charity-coach would recommend you to a competitive swim-coach who specialises in training swimmers for races.

    In Karate/martial arts, 99% of practitioners are happy with local-level classes. They want to feel like they're doing some exercise, a bit different to going to a gym, usually family focused.
    Those start off in "McDojos" and want to go further, if they're serious will explore the scene for themselves and find a dojo that provides the training they want.
    axelb likes this.
  5. PointyShinyBurn

    PointyShinyBurn Valued Member

    The difference is that the local swim instructor actually will help you not to sink, and you'll test this by getting in the pool in every class. The situation is a bit more like if there was an enormous proliferation of lifesaving courses where people were taught to mime swimming strokes in the air, and if they asked about getting in the pool the response was "We're not really interested in competitive swimming here, I'm afraid".
  6. Dan Bian

    Dan Bian Neither Dan, nor Brian

    The question is what we understand as "sinking" in the context of this discussion.
    Hence my final statement about the 99% of practitioners. They're getting what they want. Some fun, gentle family exercise with a theme.

    It's easy for us, as people who are invested in "deeper" martial arts practice to acknowledge that the majority of the world doesn't care whether GKR is "good" karate or not.
    I wonder how many families would be interested in carrying on their classes if their classes were suddenly changed due to enforcement from on-high.

    I used to be rather militant about challenging mcdojos. These days, I try to look for the positives where I can. GKR get families active, and spending fun time together. And I recognise that this is enough for the majority of their clientele.
  7. PointyShinyBurn

    PointyShinyBurn Valued Member

    No problem with any of that if they were honest about what they were offering, like health tai chi or cardio kickboxing. If some substantial number of the clientele aren't being fooled on this point, why do you think they don't advertise honestly? I'm not "militant" about it in the sense of trying to organize a dojo-storm or whatever, I just think when things are objectively bad we should be able to say so...

    Additionally this outfit seems to be run as a pyramid scheme, rather than just a normal McDojo, which is another level of unethical.
  8. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    In my mind the real question is, who gets to decide what the standards are of “acceptable” training and quality and then regulates it and issues licenses for schools to operate? Is it some panel of MMA champions because they have the most “fight experience” and who will forbid the practice of kata because they believe it is irrelevant? Or is it a panel of 8th -10th Dan TKD black belts, because they have the “highest” rank? What about a different group of TKD 8th-10th dan folks who are in competition with the first group and claim the first group folks just suck? Or is it the wing Chun guy and his cronies who happens to have government connections? Or must the panel members have military or law enforcement backgrounds and need to show that they have killed with their bare hands while on active duty? And once the regulating body is established, what happens to the folks teaching something about which these people know nothing and have no experience? Does it become illegal to teach methods that fall outside the scope of the experience of the members of the panel, because they are unable to evaluate the methods and the curriculum?

    I cannot imagine how a government regulating agency could possibly hope to enforce standards that would apply to all or even a majority of martial arts schools. Even if there was an attempt to bring in advisors from different systems, there are often no consistent standards from one group to the next within the same system, and often there is competition and even hostility. So does one group use this as an opportunity to drive the other out of business? My Sifu teaches in his back yard to a very small group of people who have been with him for years and decades. I know he would ignore the regulations and just keep doing the same. And there are so many different systems and off-shoots, there will always be more folks left out than are included.

    I think it’s a real can of worms once people think they want to do something to shut down “poor quality” schools. I don’t like the fact that some schools are teaching junk, but I can’t imagine what there is that I can do about it, other than choosing to not train there myself and giving an honest opinion if someone else might ask for my guidance in choosing a school. I’ll do what I can to educate them, but the final choice is theirs.

    I think maybe the UK has it right, if the regulations mainly consist of business licensing and background checks for those teaching kids, liability insurance in case of injury, and perhaps records of CPR and first aid training for those teaching and running classes. Beyond that, it’s a real can of worms that i think shouldn’t be opened.
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  9. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    I think you can say so if anyone is asking for your guidance in choosing a school. Of course you can speak up where it is appropriate.

    I don’t know anything about this outfit. Why do you say they are more like a pyramid scheme?
  10. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    I wanted to comment on this particular bit. I don’t feel this is an accurate comparison. A plumber needs to perform to a standard in his work to ensure the safety and health of those who need a safe and clean water supply and sanitary sewage disposal. This is critical for the overall health and safety of our society. And plumbing techniques and methods are standardized to ensure quality work. So a plumber needs to be regulated and held to those standards.

    A martial arts school is very different. Most reasonable people can get through life without ever needing to defend themselves. So how do we measure the standards of the instruction they have received? They are gaining instruction in an activity on a theoretical level, that they may never need in real life. The health and safety of society at large does not depend on whether GKR Karate is teaching quality or junk. Every person taking the class is different in terms of their physical abilities and mental capacity to internalize the training and to use the skills on another human. One person might receive the training and be a real beast. Another person might receive the same training and be a dismal failure. So where does the fault lie? Is it in the teaching methods or is it the fault of the student, or is it simply the fact that this particular school was a bad match for this particular student, and the student should have gone to a different school, never mind that this school is great for a different student?

    There is just too much gray in this evaluation. I think we all know a bad school when we see one. But that doesn’t mean it equates to a need for the same kind of regulation as a plumber falls under.
    Mitlov and Dan Bian like this.
  11. PointyShinyBurn

    PointyShinyBurn Valued Member

    Do you seriously believe that some people are becoming "real beasts" doing line drills and non-contact sparring?
  12. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    That comment was not meant to be specific to this particular school or organization. It was meant as a recognition that different people benefit differently from the same training, in a more general sense.
  13. PointyShinyBurn

    PointyShinyBurn Valued Member

    Well, exactly, there's a spectrum of good practice which this kind of thing falls well outside. We can agree that martial arts probably doesn't need special government regulation without denying that fighting skill exists in objective reality or pretending that any random combination of flapping your arms around wearing pyjamas is equally likely to impart it.
  14. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    I am sure you don’t actually believe this is what I was saying.
  15. Paoquan

    Paoquan New Member

    I've been trying to find out but not got any real clear info on this.
    The governing body for Karate in England is the English Karate Federation.
    Does anyone know if GoKanRyu is affiliated with the EKF?
  16. Paoquan

    Paoquan New Member

    It's ok, I found the info.
    GKR is not affiliated to English Karate Federation. They are members of Nakmas. An independent group that often takes in other groups with questionable legitimacy.
    The question I should have asked is not if they are affiliated to the National governing body, but why are they not?
    Even the association I'm a member of, have no love for our governing body, but we are affiliated because they are the Govt approved governing body.
  17. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    So it is possible to not affiliate? What are the ramifications?

    What do you get, for affiliation?
  18. bassai

    bassai onwards and upwards ! Moderator Supporter

    There is no “official” government body , my Shotokan group is affiliated with FEKO.
  19. PointyShinyBurn

    PointyShinyBurn Valued Member

    Sports aren't regulated like that in Britain, recognition for the organisation opens up some government services and occasionally funding, and can make it easier to rent facilities, get insurance etc. but it's in no sense legally required. Good thing too, because if it was BJJ in this country would probably have never got off the ground.
  20. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    So are these government regulatory bodies, or are they private industry affiliations?

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