Warning: 93 Signs Your Dojo is a McDojo

By Jesse Enkamp 

Imagine the fear:

You have been training in your dojo for many years now, but a weird feeling is slowly creeping up on you, giving you that uncomfortable sensation in the pit of your stomach.

You don’t really know what it is, but something is definitely wrong.

As a matter of fact, going to the dojo seems harder and harder.

  • Sure, you’re still training as usual.
  • And yeah, you’re still teaching classes sometimes.
  • But it’s not the same anymore.

You gradually start noticing things. You start seeing stuff in a new light, and day by day you realize that perhaps your sensei isn’t the “godlike” master of universe you once thought he was.


Know what I mean?

And then one day… a horrifying thought pops up in your head:

“My dojo is a “McDojo”!”

Suddenly, it’s like a weight drops off of your shoulders!

But… is it?


You start to doubt yourself.

You start thinking. More and more. Too much. You’re questioning it all. Your head is spinning. You’re going crazy!

So, you send an e-mail to Jesse-san.

Yeah. You know, that Jesse dude over at KARATEbyJesse.com, who, besides being irrationally good-looking, seems to enjoy answering e-mails about Karate issues from readers. Perhaps he could help?

And indeed he answers.

And he even asks his facebook fans for help.

And he writes a blog post for you.

This is that post.

You are reading it.

Right here.

Right now.

Let’s go:

93 Warning Signs Your Dojo is a McDojo

1. You wear multicolored uniforms.

2. The dojo advertises as “Non-Contact Karate”.

3. You wear a thousand badges/patches on your gi.

4. You are awarded black belt in 1-2 years.

5. Advancement to the next rank is an expense (and a hefty one at that), instead of an honorful achievement.

6. Prospective students are required to become a member/subscribe before even trying a lesson.

7. Your sensei is a “grandmaster” with 7th dan or above, yet is 30 years or younger.

8. There is a “special course” that’ll get you black belt in 6 months or less.

9. (And yes, that course is super expensive.)

10. Your sensei won’t spar/fight with you because he “doesn’t want to hurt you”.

11. Individual development and personal expression is virtually non-existant. Instead, a strong conformist mentality is encouraged, since this inflexible mindset is what makes it easy for a sensei to rule the dojo.

12. You are never taught bunkai (applications) to moves.

13. If you are taught bunkai, they never work – except when your sensei does them.

14. Instructors wear special ‘instructor belts’ rather than regular belts reflecting their true ranking.

15. There are many claims of being an “award winning dojo”, with little or no solid evidence to back this up.

16. Your sensei studied marketing longer than Karate.

17. Instructors are required to have the dojo’s decals on their car.

18. You never practise low kicks.

19. There is a sign that says “Guaranteed Black Belt”.

20. There are 11th dan, 12th dan, 13th dan or even higher grades.

21. Your sensei has one of those grades.

22. …and he “got it in Japan”.

23. Your style was created by your sensei, yet it’s still “traditional” – and it has several “special advantages” over all other styles. Oh, and most likely, the name of the style is absurdly long.

24. There are camouflage belts.

25. You have stripes on your belt that signify how much you have paid (rather than what rank you have)

26. Gradings are fifteen minutes long.

27. There are 7-year old black belts.

28. The dojo sign has the words ‘traditional’, ‘commando’, ‘classical’, ‘effective’, ‘100%’, ‘original’, ‘Okinawan’, ‘dragon’, ‘Japanese’, ‘secret’ and ‘elite’ in the same sentence.

29. Between belt grades you get colored tabs on your belt to denote ‘half’ or ‘quarter’ ranks.

30. You can grade via mail order.

31. Wearing/buying the dojo merchandize is mandatory.

32. Your dojo is cluttered with trophies. So cluttered that every time you take a step towards any direction in a kata, you’re actually stepping on a trophy.

33. Speaking of kata; there are waaaay too many of them.

34. Your grandmaster is 14-times World Champion (WKITSKTFKTAF)

35. You are not allowed to compete. It is not “honorful”.

36. You are required to compete. It is “honorful”.

37. Cheesy sales tactics are used to effectively bind up loyal customers (a.k.a. “students”).

38. You are doing kata to music.

39. If you use weapons, they glow in the dark and weigh a maximum of 3 oz.

40. The instructor uses students as punching bags.

41. Movements don’t have names – they have numbers.

42. The dojo’s web address is printed on the back of your uniform.

43. The dojo’s phone number is printed on the back of your uniform.

44. The instructor refuses to teach you certain techniques, because they are “too deadly”

45. (When in fact, the instructors is just holding you back for fear that you’ll get better than him.)

46. The instructor demands respect. He doesn’t earn it.

47. Red gi for the grandmaster, black gi for instructors and white gi for regular students.

48. You must pay for an entire year up front, no refunds (long-term contracts with no termination clauses).

49. Your sensei sounds and acts like a motivational speaker.

50. Besides teaching Karate, your grandmaster also teaches ‘cardio kickboxing’ (or similar).

51. Reference is repeatedly made to the notorious “street”, and what works/doesn’t work there.

52. The dojo has an official mascot.

53. Your sensei can’t explain the meaning of any given technique.

54. Nobody ever fails at a grading.

55. Kids’ classes are more games and chaos than actual Karate.

56. First thing that greets students when they enter the dojo? A cash register.

57. Senior students are required to recruit new members door to door.

58. Your dojo website doesn’t say anything about the actual style of Karate, but instead makes lot of reference to “empowerment”, “mindfulness”, “concentration” and tournament results.

59. Time-based progression through ranks, rather than achievement-based.

60. Your sensei has registered his fists as ‘deadly weapons’ with the local police authorities.

61. Your grandmaster rarely teaches stuff hands-on (he has assistants for that).

62. There are “forbidden” techniques that only certain students are taught.

63. You’re wearing a taekwondo uniform.

64. Cross training is discouraged.

65. Other schools are talked down.

66. Kyu grade students are recruited to become instructors early on, and put in ‘accelerated learning programs’.

67. Your grandmaster has a habit of dating students.

68. “Sensei, when will I learn my next kata?”

69. “When you buy the DVD!”

70. You are rarely taught philosophical concepts, strategy or theory.

71. Doing stuff that’s “correct” is seen as more important than doing stuff that actually works.

72. You practise harnessing your ki/chi power.

73. Quantity is encouraged over quality – both physical and theoretical.

74. The sensei is always right, everybody else are wrong.

75. The style is always right, everything else is wrong.

76. The dojo is always right, everyplace else is wrong

77. Questioning the style, teacher, lineage or dojo is a big no-no.

78. New students aren’t allowed to watch a class; “Just sign the dotted line.”

79. Your sensei adds/changes/removes techniques when he feels like it. Which is basically every week.

80. Your sensei teaches crescent kicks as disarming techniques for handguns and knives.

81. You train defense against baseball bats by blocking with your forearm.

82. Your sensei invokes fear.

83. You bow to a huge portrait of your sensei hanging on the wall.

84. There are “hidden” techniques in kata.

85. When you practise self-defense, it’s always based on a scenario where your opponent steps towards you with a straight punch and then leaves his/her arm dangling in front of you as you execute 5-10 different finishing techniques.

86. Your sensei knows the ‘no-touch’ K.O.

87. Your memory to recall techniques is tested more often than your actual skill in performing techniques.

88. Your instructor prefers to use “grandmaster”, “master” or “sensei” rather than his real name. Both in print and person.

89. Showing techniques you learnt from someplace else is frowned upon.

90. The dojo equipment can’t stand full contact use.

91. Students scream more than they bow.

92. If you make a mistake, it’s quickly (and often loudly) pointed out by your sensei. But when you make something correct? Crickets.

93. You practise backflips.


Disclaimer: Possession of a few of these traits are not “proof” that a school is automatically a McDojo. Many legitimate martial arts schools will have some of these signs if only for the purpose of keeping the dojo in good financial standing (and in this economy, who can really blame them?). Just like some traditional schools out there might teach crap techniques, some places that teach valuable techniques might just run their business model like a McDojo! So try to use your brain, folks. It’s not rocket surgery.

PS. Which ones did I miss? Leave a comment.

PPS. Again, thanks to all readers who helped me out on the KbJ facebook page.

About the author

Jesse Enkamp is a self-titled Karate Nerd™, #1 Amazon best-selling author, national champion and founder of Seishin - the world's first crowdfunded & crowdsourced gi. He thinks you should become a Karate Nerd™.


  1. Luis

    January 30, 2013 at 12:41 am

    Priceless. Here in Mexico there are too many mac doyos (yes, with a Y, ’cause they don’t deserve better), and this list reminds me a lot of them, as I happen to know many grand masters that fits most of these.
    I agree with your disclaimer, that a single sign of these doesn’t mean you’re on a mc Dojo, and that sometimes you can find treasures among all the trash.

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      True, McDojos exist in pretty much all parts of the world, not just the land of hamburgers.

      • Iko Uwais

        September 9, 2014 at 4:26 am

        ive been doing systema for about 6-8 weeks now, and thankfully, none of this applies. some wont by default, such as the katas and “not practising low kicks” or “bukais” as they are not in systema, but even the ones that could applie, dont. its not even a year, and i once (though this was by accident) put two finers in my teachers mouth for leverage and he just shook it off.

        • Dale

          October 23, 2014 at 7:04 pm

          Yeah, I’ve practiced Systema for a few years, and it seems to be very anti-McDojo, with no forms, katas, belts, etc. Just come in, practice, and get better, at least where I was at.

        • anti mcdojo

          December 31, 2014 at 4:59 am

          That’s funny since Systema is known for being a bullshit style (bullshido) and most case underground but growing mcdojo in the commando LARPing category in which instead of katas you’ll be LARPing with multiple “opponents” and doing “too deadly” compliant drills without any full contact sparring and instead of inherited in the secret masters of Japan it would be “from the spetsnaz”.

          Even Russian sambist laugh at them

          • Jean-Yves Salve

            March 23, 2015 at 9:50 am

            You’ll find that Bullshindo is Bullshindo themselves. They are very much focused on MMA and BJJ in general. And if you disagree with them on their site well the all get together and even the site itself will change your profile picture to something insulting. lol All styles have good and bad, effective and non-effective. And well Systema is used by the Russian Forces isn’t it so must be ok. Considering that Sambo used to be the official style then there would not be an un-biased view from those who do it. 😉

          • Mat

            March 23, 2015 at 6:33 pm

            I despise Bullshido. The premise of getting together with your little judgemental clan of assholes to criticise those that you deem unworthy seems so small minded. The fact that they form little cliques and attack anyone who disagrees is exactly the kind of bullying that many of us teach our students to defend against.

          • osirisgothra

            May 18, 2015 at 6:58 pm

            Uhh Russian forces? You mean the ones that implement a convict fight-release program where if you are a convicted criminal you can get a pardon by being put on the front line (which is kinda like a death sentence + a coin toss). I wouldn’t put ANY stock in anything they consider just ‘ok’. That would probably translate to ‘terrible’ for anyone else. (Just take a look at the pics of their front line forces currently in Ukraine, enough to make you lose your appetite!) As for mcdojos tho, I see them all over the place here in PA, I only took instruction like 20 years ago, living in colorado. I remember it being a time in my life where I was fighting alot but you know I never had a single fight after going there, never had to because they taught me also how to avoid violence unless absolutely needed, though we did learn a TON of stuff (grading took forever and i nearly passed out from exhaustion..) And there was no grandmaster i dont think, I had one instructor and she had her sensei and that was about it, we had all the usual stuff but personal expression was a very important part of it, I was gonna put my kids into a dojo down the street from here, just AWFUL, I think it had EVERY rule broken in the above list… (they even had that guarantee on the sign, plus the logo plus a blown up picture of the master with his belt and medals all on a florescent light-up sign) plus there was one ‘practice room’ and it was like a converted office space (still with the office lights and ceiling!) and I was like… uhhhhhhhh NO. My kids were angry but I told them as soon as they could come up with a HALFWAY legitamate place I would let them, but in PA out in boonies with a few hohum redneck towns, that isn’t exactly easy… w/o driving to a large metropolis like Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. So What is the point of learning anything if you aren’t going to do it right, most these places could be outdone by self-taught internet students.

      • Seijin

        March 1, 2015 at 4:44 pm

        Jesse-san is there any mcdojos that exist in japan? Is jka a mcdojo?I’m just curious about it. By the way, I’m a shotokan karateka from the Phillipines.

      • Anton

        August 6, 2015 at 10:35 pm

        Hello Jesse-san, here in south africa there is a “style” where (94) you have to pay for your trophy at a tournament if you win anything!
        Ps. I love all your articles :)

    • Paulo José

      February 20, 2015 at 7:56 pm

      94. The instructor and students are fats and they avoid to do excercise or any kind of warm up before training

  2. Emilio

    January 30, 2013 at 1:11 am

    81. You train defense against baseball bats by blocking with your forearm.

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      Tell me ’bout it!

      • Viking

        February 1, 2013 at 5:18 pm

        I had an insturctor who was teaching with a plaster cast as he had blocked a baseball bat with his forearm, the week before as, he was getting into his car.

        So not sure if it qualifies…

        • luna

          April 13, 2013 at 1:45 am

          At least it was his arm and not his skull that was broken, just saying…

    • slim

      February 2, 2013 at 3:32 am

      HAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA aint that the truth…

    • Matt

      March 5, 2014 at 4:03 am

      In my dojo we use a foam one, but like we don’t have a specific name for it (we don’t call it a baseball bat) does it still count?

    • courtellis

      October 24, 2014 at 7:18 am

      Scary that whole baseball bat thing huh?

  3. Taylor

    January 30, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Another McDojo rule:

    Brown and black belts train in a special area and THE KOHAI ARE NEVER ALLOWED TO WATCH THEM (you don’t want your beginners to find out that your advanced students suck).

  4. Alessandro Timmi

    January 30, 2013 at 2:10 am

    My favourite :-):
    “51. Reference is repeatedly made to the notorious “street”, and what works/doesn’t work there.”

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      Yet, mysteriously enough, nobody has ever really been to this “street”…

      • Damien Martin

        January 30, 2013 at 4:13 pm

        They never tell you where the ‘street’ is, because if they did you could avoid it and wouldn’t need their advanced street applications class.

      • Leo

        February 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm

        It’s always se same street.

  5. Kresimir Kralj

    January 30, 2013 at 2:13 am

    How is wearing a TaeKwonDo uniform a sign off a McDojo and the one that was missed was where a overweight teacher is a teacher.

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      Well, Kresimir-san, I’ll make sure to let you know the day I see a traditional Japanese sensei, in a real dojo, wearing a taekwondo uniform! 😉 Yet, I don’t really see how being overweight is directly connected to being a McDojo sensei? Medical issues, upbringing, environment, social norms and genetics play a huge role in obesity. Sadly, not everyone know/can maintain a healthy physique… Still, I get your general idea; there seems to be an abnormal correlation between fat senseis and McDojos.

      • CrazyJoe

        January 30, 2013 at 4:34 pm

        Well, rather one overweighted Patrick McCarthy (few years ago, now, he’s back shaped) than 3 sporty-looking McMasters.

      • Quinton

        March 15, 2015 at 2:59 am

        What exactly do you mean by taekwondo uniform. Isn’t wearing a gi what you are supposed to do? I would say if your sensei is wearing everyday clothes its a mcdojo

        • Scott Rutherford

          March 17, 2015 at 12:42 am

          In Tae Kwon Do, you wear a dobak, not a gi.

        • Matt

          August 5, 2015 at 9:50 pm

          In Taekwondo you wear a dobak instead of a gi, and you learn in a dojang, not a dojo.

          If you’re learning karate while wearing a dobak or taekwondo while training in a dojo, you’re being taught by a fake.

      • Nijil Jacob

        March 28, 2015 at 9:06 am

        Our grand master used to be in good shape but ever since his sensei passed away he has become slightly overweight.

    • maxim

      November 23, 2014 at 11:29 pm

      My sensei is a bit overweight but still faster and stronger than most students

  6. Alberto

    January 30, 2013 at 2:39 am

    How much you learn is determined by how much you pay!
    I see this one a lot!
    “Our basic class only teaches this, but when you sign up for our advanced program (long term commitment and more expensive) you can learn that”

    Also, ANY place that requires a contract to get to black belt is a McDojo. Nothing else needed.

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      Alberto-san, your comment is sad but true!

    • sancho

      January 31, 2013 at 8:02 am

      Most of the Dojo now are like this…no exemption about this.

  7. Darshan

    January 30, 2013 at 3:42 am

    13. If you are taught bunkai, they never work – except when your sensei does them.
    LOL, It’s reminds me a kung fu federation which I’ll not name.

    63. You’re wearing a taekwondo uniform.
    mmm, Why?

    I suggest:
    94. Altough the sifu/sensei says “Our style is compact and direct and easy to learn!” there are a lot of different blocks and strikes (which are often subjected to rule 13) that you can learn only if you take the next rank by paying an exams.

    95. Drills practiced are designed to advantage the highest ranked partner (see rule 94)
    (yeah, same kung fu scool)

    • Damien Martin

      January 30, 2013 at 4:15 pm

      and you can add that this ‘karate’ school is called a dojang…………and the teacher is referred to as sifu

      • Jesse

        January 30, 2013 at 5:09 pm

        And they’re wearing turbans 😉

        • Brad Lee

          August 26, 2015 at 10:21 am

          And belts with like four colors on each one.

  8. Stephanie

    January 30, 2013 at 3:45 am

    94. Your Sensei has just released his E-book (which is a spin off of the Power of Now)

    95. Your Sensei references his work on television programs (where he teaches people to chop wood in one hour) regularly.

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      That made me crack up!

    • Taylor

      January 30, 2013 at 8:19 pm

      Your kata may be perfect and you may be able to disarm a band of thugs with one finger, but you will not be promoted unless you sell the instructor’s ebook to at least 10 people (who suddenly become your ex-friends).

  9. Darshan

    January 30, 2013 at 4:03 am

    oh, another 3

    to get certain ranks (typically pair ranks or odd ranks) you need specials stages taken by the super-mega-awesome-master that travel across the country to visit all the federated dojos.
    of course, that stages costs a lot!
    (and you need them, see point 95-94)

    the super-mega-master is a violent arrogant asshole.

    You pay expensive federation insurance even if you don’t go to tournaments.

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      Darshan-san, you’re on fire today! 😉

      • Darshan

        January 30, 2013 at 6:59 pm

        I had some bad experiences.

        By the way, I’m also a (WTF) Taekwondo black belt, and I still like wearing a Dobok (the taekwondo uniform).

        I see TKD as a combat sport not as a martial art, if the master tell you that it’s a true effective martial arts than you are in a McDojo.
        But otherwise you are simply studying a sport, and there is nothing wrong about it.

        Now I’m studying Muay Thai and I’m happy with it.
        (I would be happier with Kyokushin Karate or Joseikan-budo but i can’t find an appropriate dojo near home)

  10. Samir

    January 30, 2013 at 5:53 am

    Jesse-san, could I translate the list (well, it’ll take some time, let’s say in the future) and show it to some of my friends practitioners?
    Off course I’d keep the credits and link (once I start my own blog — your link should be already there anyway).

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      Samir-san, be my guest! Looking forward to seeing the result 😉

  11. Lee Richards

    January 30, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Your students scream Osu! Spell is either oss or oos and have no idea what it means or how insulting it can be the way they are using it…

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Lee-san, that’s a controversial one for sure!

      • Merlin

        February 3, 2013 at 9:59 pm

        Well ‘osu’ (silent u, usually) is Japanese slang for ‘hi’ used by males between friends, and can also mean ‘to push’ and I think I recall a Japanese friend of mine saying it can be used as encouragement in some Japanese dojo (like ‘push on’, etc.) So I just sort of guessed that (at least in the shotokan world, as I’ve not encountered it in Goju Ryu) it became common use.

        In a dojo it’s not offensive, but if you said it to a Japanese person you’d not befriended it’d be very offensive and my friend used it once on some exchange students and they never spoke to him again, and used in any context except to say ‘hi’ you’d sound weird too. Source: Japanese Undergraduate student.

        • Dale

          October 23, 2014 at 7:18 pm

          In a Japanese dojo, osu is used everywhere you’d use hai, which can explain how it migrated to the US dojo. I can see how Americans could screw it up in other contexts, the whole formality levels thing is an alien concept in English, but I’m still surprised that a foreign exchange student would be offended by it. The Japanese seem to expect a certain level of rudeness out of foreigners, especially Americans, a fact that I took a ton of advantage of when I lived there.

    • bena

      November 27, 2013 at 3:36 am

      This was a conversation that I had with another instructor about spelling and meaning. lol

    • Golden Silence

      May 28, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      OMG…that is a good one! A few years ago when I was in a martial arts school, we had to say that as soon as we entered the building and when leaving the gym. I thought it was tradition to do this, but did not realize this could be a sign of a mcdojo. But in this case we said “oos.”

      • Clonosaurio

        July 15, 2014 at 1:44 am

        Actually, when I use to train Kendo in Japan, we used as a salute just as we enter, and when we leaved the dojo as well. It is a way to hail our dojo comrades, so it is not a sign of a Macdojo. Of course, when you refer to the sensei, you use more polite words (but then, you will need to know enough Japanese to be able to have a polite conversation…which is no sign of Macdojo neither I think, if you cannot, as it is not your native language; what is needed is to follow some protocol of mutual respect with every student of the dojo, and with the sensei.
        Well, thats my apport, just to avoid some confusion, and well, I insist as the writer of this said at the beggining…use your criteria! :)
        Osu! :)

      • Rob

        August 4, 2014 at 5:18 am

        OSU has a very deep meaning. OSU is short of Oshi Shinobu (Endure under pressure) It is part of traditional dojo etiquette like Kyokushin and Shotokan and possibly other styles. And Yes, you have to OSU upon entering the dojo.
        Osu means patience, respect and appreciation. In order to develop a strong body and strong spirit it is necessary to undergo rigorous training. This is very demanding, because you must push yourself to what you believe to be your limit, and you want to stop; to give up. When you reach this point you must fight yourself and your weakness and you must win. To do this you must learn to persevere, but above all you must learn to be patient. This is OSU!
        There is much much more to the meaning of OSU but not enough space here.
        It is true that you would not say it to a girl or people on the street, it would be considered disrespectful.
        I’ve been training Kyokushin karate since 1980 and Shotokan since 2004 and have to painfully admit that many, many karatekas don’t have a clue what OSU really means. And when they say OOS or even USH, it drives me craaazy.
        I would love to post this Mcdojo warning signs on my website if Jesse doesn’t mind. I love it. My dojo is surrounded by Mcdojos and I do my best to educate the public about such so called “black belt academies” Unfortunately they do attract many. People love to live in denial nowadays, Oh well..

        • kevin goodman

          November 10, 2014 at 12:13 am

          Guys, thank you so much for your insight into the meaning of OSU. Is there an official spelling? (Oss or Osu?)
          I train in okinawan goju ryu and most senseis & students, use this term as well as hai when responding to the sensei during the lesson. I spent a few years in a mcdojo (gkr omg!!) And everyone just said hai. I’m positive they would be bewildered by osu! Let alone any traditional Japanese/Okinawan terms. Big up Jesse your insights are on point!

  12. RH Gutierrez

    January 30, 2013 at 8:40 am

    great list, you can also add;
    Sensei has a high rank from the main dojo in Okinawa/Japan yet nobody in the hombu has heard of them

    Sensei has extremely high ranks in more than 5 completely different martial arts

    Sensei has you call him Dr. but has never received a degree from any University but his own.

    The dojo has “University” in the name yet does not belong to any academic institute

    Instructor calls his style a “Martial Science” without the understanding of what a science is

    Style is a 2000 year old system taught to the sensei by monks and he does not know the language the monks would speak

    The style is ancient yet nobody has ever heard of the style in the place it was formed

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      Haha, great ones! 😉

    • Damien Martin

      January 30, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      So a PhD in martial science isn’t a valid qualification? Who knew?

    • shankar

      October 6, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      “Sensei has extremely high ranks in more than 5 completely different martial arts”My earlier Mcdojo master had such high ranks in martial arts such as pentjak silay[forgive the spelling,kung fu,karate he even made his own martial art.I kept on learning it until I got bored and finally my Dad signed me up to the nearest JKA dojo, and by the way have you heard of wander lee karate:genuine bullshit, they say Morihei Ueshiba is crap

      • bena

        November 27, 2013 at 3:42 am

        lol. wanted to send my son to another instructor when he was younger until the KID said that he possess a 3rd and 5th dans in 2 or 3 arts and he was only 25years old at the time. LMFAO on the phone as i slowly hung up on him. lol

      • Rob

        August 4, 2014 at 5:31 am

        I recently opened my own traditional dojo. After couple of weeks I got a visit from owner of one of the Mcdojo’s in the area introducing himself and telling me that there’s enough work for all of us. I was thinking “I’m definitely not one of you self made masters and wannabies” but decided not to hurt his feelings and let him live his “daydream”. Later that day he sent me an email and at the bottom of the message he listed all his ranks in all the federations and styles from outside of this world. He claimed to be a 7 dan in 4 or 5 styles, taekwondo, hapkido and other funk. He is around 40 yrs old. According to this theory, I should be holding rank of around 25dan after training for 34 years LOL.

      • David Satya Hartanto

        October 11, 2014 at 11:19 am

        Pencak Silat. And Silat has a lot of styles. Just ask him what style of Silat he practiced. If you happen to watch Merantau, The Raid and The Raid 2 (they have Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian, both of them are Indonesian and practiced Silat), their style of Silat is different. In Merantau, you’ll see both of the practicing Silat Harimau (Tiger style Silat), a Minangkabau style of Silat. (a place in Sumatra, where the people do “merantau”). In The Raid 1, Iko uses Silat Betawi (Betawi is an ethnic native to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, and Iko himself is Betawi) while Yayan uses silat that is more akin to street fighting.
        Just ask him, and he doesn’t understand it, he’s bullshit. If he claimed to master any kind of Silat, just prove it. Silat is like Malay/Indo kungfu. We have a lot of school and styles, to name a few, Merpati Putih, Hikmatul Iman, Perisai Diri dll. And since those three styles are pretty common in Indonesia, if he doesn’t know it, he is a bullshit. And even the style like Tarung Drajat was somewhat influenced by Silat. And if you really want to know about Pencak Silat, just ask him about the first word of it. Pencak. Silat is a martial art, and Pencak makes it more beautiful. Pencak without Silat is useless, Silat without Pencak is dull.
        While I’m not a Silat practitioner, a lot of my friend practiced it and I sparred few times (I use my experience in real life street fight), and they sometimes tripped me with cunning moves and Silat uses cunning moves since Indonesian people didn’t have a monstrous body to begin with. And if your master uses stronger punches rather smart moves, he’s not a master in Silat.

        Well now I’m starting to learn Aikido since I used to fight 2 men and seriously injure them. But I happen to live in a country where Silat is actually native to the region. I hope my explanation helps and forgive my English.

        As a matter of trivia, you can write Pencak Silat as Pentjak Silat. It’s the same and sounds the same. But the latter is the old Indonesian writing system (we used to be Dutch colony), and the first was the revised edition.

    • Neil Bower

      December 17, 2013 at 9:07 am

      Michael Jai White is a legitimate holder of 8 black belts [his most recent was Oct. 11, 2013] in 8 different styles, he is not an instructor, but I just wanted read your post and wanted to point that out.

  13. Je

    January 30, 2013 at 9:59 am

    There is no resistance allowed during “self defense” drills because any resistance means your arm will get broken.

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      Of course, Je-san. That’s why we should all stay home!

    • Brad Lee

      August 26, 2015 at 10:30 am

      This might actually be a sticky one; I can’t imagine what it might be like teaching the knee-break using a stomping kick without telling my students to “be ready to do that side-fall,” first. Now, if they’re learning to repel chokes while the aggressor’s arms are completely straight and their hands are wide open, that’s a horse of a different color!

  14. gilga

    January 30, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    McDojo Nr. XX: If you are asked to give back your gi, after training with for two years…

    McDojo Nr. XX+1: If your senser/instructor had never a real fight.

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      Gilga-san, that first one is nasty! :O

  15. kai-ru

    January 30, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    An important message to get out the the masses. The only sign that made me cringe a little was “uses crescent kicks to disarm pistols and knives,” I only cringed because oh I have done it but not at a McDojo and not in a choreographed drill.

    I was actually at a decent “reality self defense seminar” which was pretty decent though at some points I was curious as to whether or not it should have been called bar fighting 101.Any ways we were doing a drill where one guy had a knife and was attacking a few others.

    I know that sounds little weird. The over all scenario was kinda hokie but it did get the point across as to how fast a knife could become lethal even if it were against several opponents. I was the only person who managed to disarm the attacker and I did so with a crescent kick. I had always really liked Hangetsu.

    In the end it left me fairly confident that I would be able to use a crescent kick if I had no other choice to defend against a knife. Not a overly active knife but a threatening one. So what do you think could a crescent kick in shoes be a decent defense against a knife or was I just lucky? What are your favorite applications for the crescent kick.

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      Cool! In my personal opinion, any kicks higher than groin area are high risk/low payoff moves for self-defense. What works in a “sterile” training environment against a complying (= predictable) training partner might not work in another setting; since a lot of additional external and internal conditions change. This is especially important when it comes to kicks; think about your clothing (tight jeans?), weather conditions (slippery?), environment (amount of free space/distance for kicking) adrenaline rush/dump (directly affecting your dexterity) emotions (fear, anger etc.) and so on. I prefer to use crescent kicks in a clinch/grappling situation (on the back of my opponents leg/thigh for pure damage, takedowns/leg trips), or against his kidneys (if I’m on the ground and he’s sitting in my ‘guard’ position). …but against handguns?! Get outta here! 😀

      • Suzanne

        February 2, 2013 at 10:37 pm

        I’m a big fan of the crescent kick! I think if you are fast, flexible while maintaining power that it can catch your opponent off guard and be effective. That one made me cringe too because I love it and would use it on the ‘street’. Ha, ha.

      • shankar

        October 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm

        high kicks will have high payoff if time it properly but I don’t think it should be used too much because it exposes the groin

        • Chad Tower

          December 8, 2014 at 6:27 pm

          Exposing the groin doesn’t matter much against a knife. Nobody is going to intentionally stab you in the balls.

          Exposing the femoral artery to a knife is a much much much more dangerous thing. We’re talking dead on the ground in minutes.

      • DeLue

        November 7, 2014 at 5:48 am

        Agreed that a crescent kick could be used against a knife; but one could make a case that it’s irresponsible to teach empty-hand techniques against knife-wielding attackers without a thorough discussion of why there is almost always a weapon of some sort around (chair, broom, pool cue etc…) and why that might be a far better option than an empty-hand technique. Okinawan kobudo comes to mind (farm implements turned weaponry). Great discussion, though! Thanks! :)

    • Alfred Rodriguez

      November 7, 2013 at 9:35 am

      Attacked by a knife?

      Yes, many ways to disarm the weapon -- Crescent Kick, Front Kick, Roundhouse Kick, etc.

      Me? I’d just RUN away!

  16. MJ

    January 30, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Another one: Your Dojo is part of a chain of franchised dojos.

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      “Can I get a McHanshi with that?”

      • DeLue

        November 7, 2014 at 5:49 am

        LOL McHanshi!

  17. Dewayne

    January 30, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    If you or someone in the school is a probationary black belt.

    • Taylor

      January 30, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      This is a good one. My sensei (who is originally from Tokyo and now teaches in New York)once told me about one of his former students who left to start his own dojo — which quickly mutated into a McDojo. This guy gave “probationary black belts.” My sensei told him “There’s no such thing. You’re either a black belt or you’re not.” It turned out that this guy used the “probationary” rank as a way to collect two promotion fees for the same rank (one for probation and another for permanent).

      Don’t fall for it, folks!

      • Jesse

        January 30, 2013 at 10:58 pm


      • Chad Tower

        December 8, 2014 at 6:34 pm

        How about Junior black belts? Some traditional styles have a lower age limit on Dan promotions regardless of how many years the student has been studying. A kid who has 11 years of training but is 5-10 165lb and has the skill of a Dan sometimes gets a Junior black belt that basically says “passed a Dan test and is waiting to reach the minimum age.”

    • Devi

      February 20, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      hi. :> so, yeah. in my dojo, we have those “Probationary Blackbelts”, but not because they haven’t payed or anything, but because the sensei knows that the student can do better but couldn’t at that examination (promotion) (maybe for some reasons like sickness and etc) and wishes to see that student perform again after some time. 😀 sometimes it’s because the student lacks something that the sensei is looking for. :> if the sensei sees that the student has gotten the correct form (or power, etc), then he/she will be granted the black belt. 😀

      • Jeff

        December 7, 2013 at 12:28 am

        It’s honorable to defend your Sensei, but if you didn’t get it right then you shouldn’t get a black belt. It’s that simple. My Soke does interm black belts too, I think it’s crap but what can ya do? Just pay for 2 tests to get a Shodan or start over somewhere else…it’s not so bad as long as you understand exactly what it is…

  18. Luis

    January 30, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    They teach you cartwheels as a mean to inflict a super duper mega strong kick… also, you look more like a power ranger than a real martial artist when you go to tournaments.
    Speaking of tournaments, any touch counts as a point, doesn’t matter if it was a proper technique or you was only trying to shush away a fly on your opponent’s gi.
    When you go into shizen tai, or yoi dachi, you must scream your lungs out.
    Your bows are longer than anyone else’s, and sometimes you need to make one too many circles.
    All your kata have one or many of the next: mawashi keri, tobi mawashi keri, backflips, ushiro tobi mawashi keri, indiscriminate use of shutos (like if your were chopping salads).
    Instead of calmness, you look like if something exploded inside and caused you an immense amount of pain when you’re gonna start performing your kata, so you need to shout everything at everyone.
    They encourage you to kick many times a la Chun Li, never letting your foot to touch the ground.
    My god, there’s too many signs to spot a Mac Dojo

    • Fabio

      January 30, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      I always disliked karate championships because of that “any touch counts a point” thing. Punching/kicking strenght and resistance should be taken into account when we are talking about FIGHTS!

      • Jesse

        January 30, 2013 at 11:15 pm

        In other words; effectiveness!

      • Luis

        January 31, 2013 at 12:44 am

        Well, at least on the WKF sanctioned competitions, they ask you for something that resembles a full technique. On those open system tournaments, you’re awarded a point for the mere action of touching your opponent, doesn’t matter if you’re technical or not. You touch, you score, even if you fall. So you find people waving their hands and trying not to punch, but to only touch.

        • Ronald

          May 24, 2013 at 4:52 am

          We have these kind of things, but it is heavily dependent on the judges. The judges usually determine the point scoring. When I judge for black belts or older students/higher ranked, I look for a clean hard technique. If it is for the younger ones, I may give then a little touch point here and there. Though these are Kajukenbo tournaments. And hey man, we do claim street stuff because Kajukenbo was a martial art born from the streets for the streets. In the Palma settlement in Hawaii. And those punches, though I don’t agree with how we do the SD techniques, the straight punch, it’s a pretty legitimate claim, right crosses or haymakers are a common occurance in street fights. If you can close the distance, and stun them with the initial counter, they won’t have the time to throw that second punch.

      • Claude

        October 7, 2013 at 2:43 am

        I was once invited to be a ring referee at a tournament, and was chastised by the ring judge for not calling points. In my opinion the techniques were poor and there wasn’t any power in the techniques. Needless to say I never went back.

    • Davis

      January 18, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      The practice of cartwheels and backflips do not constitute the definition of a McDojo. Hapkido, of which I was trained in, trains doing those things as part of conditioning the body and attaining flexibility . They are not techniques for use of self-defense. Styles similar to hapkido utilize the same practice to teach how to fall, or how to roll. I have been insinuations where I fell in a workplace from dangerous heights and minimized the damage from the fall by having the ability to land correctly, or roll out of a fall.Also, a defining aspect of Korean martial arts is the kiyop, the yell. It may be argued on the reasons for its use, but it is not a sign of a McDojo.

      • Dr hadi

        August 14, 2014 at 9:53 am

        I agree. Theres too much generalisation.

      • Brad Lee

        August 26, 2015 at 10:38 am

        There’s a massive difference between doing foundational acrobatics and tumbling for fitness and teaching cartwheels to kick people in the collar bone.
        And vocalizations should NOT sound like you just got your toenails pulled off with a pair of pliers, ki-hai, ki-hap, or otherwise.

  19. Cecil Ryu Taekwondo

    January 30, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    I think the only one I take real issue with is the idea that there are no hidden moves in kata. I would not call them “hidden” or even “secret”, per se, I think that there are things in kata that people understand and things they don’t.

    This article says it better:


    I used to mock the mcdojos, but now, I don’t. Why? Because the public wants mcdojos. The public actually thinks there is something wrong with you if you are NOT a mcdojo, or, if you are not doing MMA, or cardio kickboxing, or something else they understand. They want to be the next cage champion, or they want six-pack abs, or they want to see their widdle Snookums get a black belt in 6 months.

    • Samir

      January 30, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      @Cecil Ryu Taekwondo,
      I think you’re right, sadly great part of the public wants mcodojos. Martial arts aren’t a product, but they’re made to be one at a certain point, and the public wants it just like that. No want to feel pain, no want to sweat, to get tired, to have patience… no want to learn, in the truth. That’s why in small cities there’ll be very few people interested in a more authentic dojo.
      Internet is a great place, anyway, where many martial artists can meet to share there interests and learnings. :)

    • Karato

      January 30, 2013 at 10:48 pm

      Yes a agree: the public wants mcdojos.
      Regarding kids training the parents first look for a pretty cool looking entertainer in an stylish environment and they expect instant effects on their plump TV and junk-food addicted kids.

      And Adults…mostly expect the same. Why they should offer their spare free-time for a obscure mostly rude sport in which most the time they train pre-school-techniques like marching oi-tsuki for years whithout concrete targets to reach? (Especially in a style which lost against Bruce Lee? ;-))
      So the ones who afer many years want to teach to get a revenue have to adopt and offer mac-lessons for kids and still-kids.

      Please contradict when you see a proven alternative.

      • Mohammad Khan

        February 3, 2013 at 7:11 am

        The only time parents don’t want their kids to go to mcdojos, is when the parents themselves learned tough martial arts.

        • Melissa

          March 13, 2014 at 12:45 am

          @Mohammad Khan,
          Actually, that isn’t the only time. When we started our son in martial arts, we really knew nothing about it; but we did know that we wanted our son to work hard, sweat, learn patience, learn to take a little pain, and earn his advancements. After searching through multiple McDojos, we were so fortunate to find a dojo that meets none of the McDojo requirements, and our son (now 13) has been attending 6 years -- and I have since started up too. His advancements never came easy and he almost gave up a time or two; but he would be the first to tell you how much each advancement that he did earn meant to him -- even bringing tears of joy at the last one. Parents don’t realize what they are robbing their kids of when they take the easy way!

      • Rob

        August 4, 2014 at 9:04 pm

        People love to live in denial nowadays. Sometimes I wonder if it’s really unconscious or they are fully aware of it. I’ve seen so called “black belts” coming to our dojo lasting one day, they were barely able to stand on their own feet before the class never mind after, if you know what I mean. Those marching oi-tsuki’s you’re talking about might be boring (depending on the student’s frame of mind and how badly he’s been brainwashed by the media and others about martial arts), but they develop the foundation. Anybody can learn a sequence of fancy movements, in fact you can have the whole library of them memorized in your head, but if you don’t have the solid foundation, all of those fancies are useless. Although I do believe that kids should be kids and we should let the children be …you know..children. That’s why when they come to my dojo I try to educate the parent first and then send them to the neighboring Mcdojo where they can DUMP their hard earned money for useless S$%t.

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 11:15 pm

      Can I get an amen!?

    • Cecil Ryu Taekwondo

      January 31, 2013 at 12:04 am

      Here’s another McDojo stamp: they do kids birthday parties. That’s an idea I may have to adopt if I ever decide to go full time with a storefront. Apparently they work.

      • Jesse

        January 31, 2013 at 12:13 am

        Oh! *taking notes* …and how much could I charge for those again? 😛

        • Marcel de Jong

          October 14, 2013 at 2:26 pm

          What’s wrong with birthday parties? I don’t do them very often, but do find them usefull to get across the message of what we’re doing. They get kids aquainted with our art, so they have a choice to come and train with us, or go and kick against a ball in their spare time…

    • Brad Lee

      August 26, 2015 at 10:40 am


  20. Szilard

    January 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    The newest student had brown belt in taekwondo 15 years ago, he can keep it with a 2nd kyu rank after paying a belt transfer fee.

  21. Shaun

    January 30, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Just a few observations.
    Our dojo has “stripes” for children that are like check points on their way to their next promotion. They are sort of like a reminder of how long they’ve currently been at their current rank. Each “stripe” is a period of 4 months. They have to train in the dojo for at least a year before they can go up in rank. I think this is a good way for Sensei to quickly glance at the obi to see how long the child has been training at their current rank.
    Also, we have a probationary black belt we call a Shodan-ho. Our dojo uses this as a means to test the character of the Shodan. We require they show positive character, assist in classes and generally don’t allow being a black belt to go to their heads. Arrogance and abuse of rank is strictly frowned upon. After a year they submit an essay about what karate has done to positively affect their lives. Then they can test for certification. There is little money involved at all.

    I will say that I was in a DIFFERENT dojo than the one I’m currently in, where to learn Kobudo, which was required for rank testing, you had to pay an extra monthly fee on top of your basic dues. Now THAT is a McDojo!

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      Shaun-san, one or a few stripes between ranks are customary in many a fine dojo. Nothing to worry about. However, when the stripes start to become more expensive than the actual belt, and when there are more stripes than you can count on your fingers, then, well, your “McDojo sense” better start tingling 😉

    • Dewayne

      January 31, 2013 at 12:39 am

      I was thinking of a local Take My Dough school where you are charged a testing fee and you are tested quite often. With all due respect our probationary black belts are called brown belts :-)
      We have used up to three stripes on a kyu rank belt to enable an instructor to know at a glance what kata they should be learning. It also gives encouragement to goal oriented students.

      • Jesse

        January 31, 2013 at 1:50 pm

        TakeMyDough! Hah!

        • Rob

          February 1, 2013 at 10:45 pm

          I always called it pay-your-dough karate, lol. At our dojo we developed a system where we separate classes. We have group 1, 2 and 3 all the same mix of belts from white to green. group one are the kids and adults who have shown they want real training, group 2 are the ones who have potential and group three are the pay-your dough kids. They are never in class together, we schedule them many hours apart. There is no extra cost to be moved into each group just hard work and sweat. Brown and Black belts assist with all the classes and have a say in who moves into which group. Majority vote is how we select.

    • Frank Cantrell

      March 16, 2013 at 3:56 am

      Simpler to just have everyone line up according to rank. :-)

      Shodan-ho -- :-) Sounds like they are ready to work the street!!!

    • Jeff

      December 7, 2013 at 12:36 am

      Our style has Shodan Ho also, back in the day it was used for any students under 18 to get a Black Belt and they couldn’t test for full Shodan or higher until they were 18. Over the years it has become a step between 1st Kyu and Shodan for everyone, which is garbage.

      By the time someone is eligible to test for Shodan the Sensei should already know your character, and I disagree completely with that “rank” tossed in there to collect extra test fees, but unfortunately it isn’t up to me to decide whether the Ho rank is done away with or not…

  22. Karato

    January 30, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Yes, and here are my adds:
    13-b. If you eventually propose some usefull bunkai your sensei rejects it when the attack is more complicate then some uke against oi-tsuki (especially you claim it as usual in other styles, like goshin-jitsu.)
    80-b. Your sensei teaches turning-and-reverse-empi-uchi against a knive stabbing attack.
    91-b. Students bow more than they punch.

    Please give more such enlightining hints!

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 11:11 pm

      Love that 80-b! 😉 It’s just too darn easy to defend against being stabbed in the back nowadays, know waddimean?!

  23. Antonio

    January 30, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    Muy chocante el artículo. Pudieran dar el mensaje con menos rollo. Si la idea es ridiculizar los Dojos de Karate (porque el 99% de las escuelas presentan algunas de esas características), entónces digan cual es el Dojo adecuado, los Maestros adecuados, el sistema administrativo adecuado. Por favor…

    • Samir

      January 30, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      Dear Antonio,
      I believe this post has a lot of humor, and sometimes we even have to laugh at ourselves, too — and assume our own mistakes (everyone has mistakes after all). 😀
      Some of those “warning signs” are even present at our own dojo, too, what doesn’t mean the place should be viewed as a mcdojo. Not to mention sometimes we have to use a few “mcdojo tactics” to survive. But I believe “ballance” and honesty are the keywords for this, and we have also to understand what’s not acceptable under any circumstances.
      However, remember the list was made in a collaborative way — the KbJ fans themselves showed what they saw as a mcdojo. :)

    • Fabio

      January 30, 2013 at 10:39 pm

      Antonio, não falo espanhol mas acho que me compreenderás em português. O artigo diz que ATÉ MESMO DOJOS SÉRIOS apresentam alguns destes itens. Mas se o dojo tem MUITAS DESTAS CARACTERISTICAS ele é um McDojo.

      • Jesse

        January 30, 2013 at 11:03 pm

        (Note to self: Start learning Spanish again.)

        • Jesse

          January 30, 2013 at 11:04 pm

          Also, Portugese, apparently. (Thank you Google translate).

          • Samir

            January 31, 2013 at 12:22 am

            Many Portuguese speakers are showing up! I thought of answering in Portuguese, too (very similar to Spanish), but once the language used here is English, I assumed Antonio would understand me as well.
            Fabio, se és brasileiro, é uma grande satisfação ver mais um por aqui! Conheço muito poucas pessoas no Brasil com uma compreensão mais adequada do que vem a ser essa arte que apreciamos tanto e que chamamos de karate.

          • Fabio

            October 14, 2013 at 4:57 pm

            you do not need to learn Portuguese, but that would be very good to you, because there are great portuguese-speaking karatecas around the world.

            But, the truth is, there are serious senseis ans and McSenseis in any country, at any time. It´s very easy to be a McSensei.

            You see, here in Brazil, specifically in Rio Grande do Sul State (the southernmost state in the country) we have a 6th Dan Goju-Ryu master teaching for 35 years, and he is very, very serious about karate. He trained with Akira Taniguchi himself, and pays attention to every single small detail in any kata, in any stance.

            He is the kind of teacher who makes you repeat the same simple movement over and over until you do it perfectly right.

            This 6th Dan black-belt´s name is Arthur Xavier Oliveira Filho. I do not train with him because of the distance between where I live and his dojo. I usually train with his equally serious disciple Francisco, a 1th Dan black belt.

            But… I lost myself presenting the sensei…

            What I wanted to say was: Arthur has a good number of students, but far less than some McSenseis I have known around. And here, in our small-town environment, Francsico and his karate classes have a very small number of practicioners, while McTae-Kwon-Do classes near here are always full. It´s beautiful to watch them throwing their legs to the ceiling, jumping against the wall and jumping back by “kicking”the wall, in a “Jackie-Chan-esque” (and useless in real life) way.

            Also there are many MMA teachers in town, who mix some jiujitsu, some muaythay, and mix everything… and then teach dozens of gullible youths.

            In fact, it,s quite easy to me a McMaster of anything. You just have to know the basic techniques and put a lot of hype over it.

            And with the proliferation of “championships” (some one-night events in bscure clubs), you can have a bunch of trophys and medals on the wall to show.

  24. Mark A

    January 30, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    They have their own shuttle buses, and use them to pick kids up from school.

    They have a after school and summer kiddy krotty kare program.

    They have photos on the walls, of themselves with famous and respected Martial Artist. And use them to claim they trained under them, when it was actually just a seminar or 2.

    The dojo has a “demo team”.

    Some may take exception to these. But where I live, if you see any of these, you are guaranteed to be at a McDojo that teaches bullshido.

    • Shaun

      January 30, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      It’s funny you say “Demo Team” because the very same place I used to train that made you pay extra for Kobudo lessens also has a Demo Team and that place is surely a McDojo. Good call!

      • Merlin

        February 3, 2013 at 10:11 pm

        What exactly IS ‘kobudo’ if you want lessons in it? In Japanese the word kobudo ??? just means ‘traditional/old martial art’, which is roughly defined as fighting styles that were used in the 1800’s or so. A good few Karate styles, Aikido, Judo and various schools of jujutsu/jujitsu are all termed gendai budo ???? or ‘modern’ martial arts started in the 1900s. So the word kobudo in this context confuses me.

        • Abbo

          August 8, 2014 at 1:31 am

          What is kobudo? Another self-employment gig, selling self-esteem, where you can persuade people to give you money for 3 years for the “romance” of swinging a club while wearing a gi and having coloured belts while learning dubious techniques that look Japanese. It attracts the brainwashed karate crowd.

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 11:05 pm

      Kiddy Krotty Kare Program cracks me up!

  25. Craige Thompson

    January 30, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    You missed out the instructor wearing his giant solid gold chain, big massive sovereign ring and rolex (probably fake) whilst training.

    • Jesse

      January 30, 2013 at 11:06 pm

      Dang it, knew I forgot that one! I’ve seen fat gold chains and watches on way too many sensei, way too many times.

    • Luis

      January 31, 2013 at 12:52 am

      Don’t forget the omnipresent cigar in their office, and the too-much-makeup mistress that goes with him on every trip and isn’t the wife

  26. Te'o

    January 30, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    An additional one that I know exists at a school near my home is: a Street Combat Course. This is a separate course you pay for, and it teaches you to fight in the street. Completely separate from the school’s TKD curriculum. They are a McDojo for sure!

  27. Maria Wayne

    January 31, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Oooh such snobs in martial arts! I left an organisation because it was too McDojo for me -- and I emphasise the “for me”. This organisation has many students still (especially children) who enjoy their training, gain something from it and move on to ballet or whatever eventually. The adults involved are committed and dedicated, if a bit delusional, and their loyalty and training ethic show that they have grown in character. Most importantly, they are happier, somewhat fitter than they would have been and have friends. It is not much different from religion, food preferences, brand orientation, hairstyles, tattoos or anything else where personal choice plays a role. Everyone unto their own -- just don’t talk to me about it :)

    • Jesse

      January 31, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      True indeed, Maria-san. There is something to gain in everything.

    • Mark A

      October 13, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      Perhaps I am a snob, I’ll take that. But I am not looking down my nose, but rather trying to keep my jaw from hitting the floor at stuff I see. Having kickboxed most of my life, I would take exception to cardio kickboxing being promoted as an effective blunt force trauma delivery system.. But the very label helps delineate it. That is where the McDojos that teach bullshido fail. Not only do they not provide a disclaimer, they often do the exact opposite and make exaggerated claims regarding the efficacy of their system. Particularly where self-defense is concerned. Invited to a “fight night” at a local dojo, where several local dojos all participate. I was warned that the stand up and grappling are oriented “for the street” not that tournament stuff! What ensued was bizzaro world. Immediately stopped and warned for punching their best fighter in the head (controlled of course). No punches to the head allowed. Because no one tries to punch you in the head in a street fight right? /sarcasm. Grappling should have been called crappling. And that is to put it kindly. Yet here they were proclaiming, no, actually warning, that it is a martial art that is street defense centric. That is irresponsible and hazardous to the students health. So if deriding these charlatans is snobbish, again I’ll take it. Because if all they managed was to get fitter and have fun, they will just make a healthier corpse or victim of violence when their delusions of competency are quickly dispelled in a real confrontation. And I am fully aware no amount of training, regardless of the quality, is a guarantee. However it can significantly swing the odds and probability of the outcome in your favor.

  28. Silvia

    January 31, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Hi… I would like to add:
    You are in a McDojo when your sensei says:
    “I am going to show you a kata that Matsumura Sokon in person taught me when I was in Japan”.

    I’ve seen this scene with my eyes 2 weeks ago. This Sensei was about 45 year old… perhaps Matsumura appeared to him in a dream… However his students did not hesitate, and this is the thing that worries me most.

    • Frank Cantrell

      March 16, 2013 at 4:06 am

      Sensei Sokon would roll over in his grave! He was Okinawan!

  29. Master Ken

    January 31, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    You have a McDojo if you are not taking Ameri-do-te.

    All other martial arts are bull$hit. 😉

    • TRTKD

      February 7, 2013 at 9:30 am

      Ameri-do-te ROCKS!!! All other martial arts are BULL$H!T! Long live Master Ken and the Hurticane!!

      For those of you who do not know what this is, go to YouTube and search “Enter the Dojo”. Absolutely hilarious. Picture “The Office” set in a martial arts school.

      • Dene

        April 2, 2014 at 10:08 pm

        OMG, I’m crying -- how is it I did not know about this before? Where do I sign up for Ameri-do-te? I desperately need a sleeveless gi!

    • BigHatLogar

      March 16, 2013 at 8:45 am

      Only Ameri-Do-Te has techniques to defend against yourself.
      They call this technique….You-jitsu

  30. Jimmy

    February 1, 2013 at 3:02 am

    I got some good ones from a place I very briefly attended…

    “You must address Students using traditional Japanese words! These words are then written as Kohigh, Senpigh and Sensay” (because obviously during your long stay in Japan you learnt how to write the language)

    “The grandmaster has a name/title he invented which sounds Japanese but doesn’t translate into what he thinks it does”

  31. Viking

    February 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    I am absolutely green with envy of all McDojo’s as I sit in my office if I only had the courage to charge people. I love shiny uniforms with stars on.

    Free training will drive people to the nearest McDojo.

    They are for people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  32. Randy

    February 2, 2013 at 2:59 am

    The the name of the style you are studying has your teachers name in it. Example: RandyRyu

  33. eddie

    February 3, 2013 at 1:49 am

    So let me get this right, in stead of developing your own system and club you waste time wrighting this pile of shite.
    If i were you i would worry about my own bubble before I try and burst some elses.
    If new students and parent cant see the light through the dark thats their problem.

    • Lyric

      December 8, 2014 at 9:10 pm

      Your comment might be taken more seriously if it seemed a bit more literate.

  34. Mohammad Khan

    February 3, 2013 at 7:26 am

    I used to train at a Karate dojo and a TKD dojang. The Karate one has a few of these qualities (like the stripes, but not expensive, and offering a cardio kickboxing class), but the sensei goes out of his way to help everyone learn as much karate as possible, even if they can’t pay much. That man earned everyone’s respect, and clearly was a true master. Even at age 90, he strives to learn new martial arts (right now, a kung fu style)

    On the other hand, the dojang started out quite tough, like those schools from the 70s, before, over the course of 5 years, turning everything into no-touch competitions and fees, with no self-defense aspects, and really high kicks. It’s sad to see the evolution of a legitimate school into a Mcdojang. The funny thing is that the older students from the 70s could beat the shit out of all the newer “black belts”, even with their advanced age.

  35. Mark

    February 3, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    McList on a McWebsite, get off your high horse and go do something about it -- like teaching good quality alternatives to McDojos that work.

    • Martin

      February 3, 2013 at 10:20 pm

      I don’t think he’s on a high horse at all. There are way too many people duped by mcdojos that this information could be useful to. The good news is there already are a good amount of legitimate schools of all styles, you just have to know how to look for them. Information like the above is helpful for said search. Look up schools online, and if the instructor by chance has any videos up on youtube; READ THE COMMENTS. There are alot of trolls out there on youtube, but when the majority of people react to martial arts videos, you’re usually hearing an echo of the martial art’s community on the video (distorted by a few non martial artists), and therefore they have good weight. When i moved to where i am now, i researched schools around me online via what other people were saying on youtube or other sites until i found a gem, it’s an hour drive, but totally worth it.

      • Martin

        February 3, 2013 at 10:21 pm


    • Jack M

      April 3, 2013 at 11:22 pm

      Jeez, what’s your problem Mark? It was a decent ariticle on an excellent website, if you don’t like it, don’t read it. Don’t listen to ‘im Jesse, we all love you!

  36. Martin

    February 3, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Lol and i think the people that are talking smack on here are a little angry that they themselves are part of a Mcdojo. I just read down the list with a smile because my sifu and kwoon are not guilty of any of them. We all even wear the same color belt!

    • Jesse

      February 4, 2013 at 12:23 am

      That’s commendable! …and hey, haters gon’ hate 😉

  37. Dr.Strangelove

    February 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    The McDojo article was posted by my sensei on Facebook because this is a MAJOR bone of contention with our city. There are dojos in our city that train improper kinetic movement or reaction movement with regards to hits and strikes. They encourage their students to wear cups while practicing, and then hit each other in the groin. The biggest issue we saw with this is that the McDojo, even after correction was offered, refused to correct their students training guidelines and continues to allow mistakes of this sort to continue. The key mistake is the idea that you can strike the groin area, and then do a hip throw once the individual is below the belt line. This is no longer a hip throw, and requires a different positioning of body and legs. However, McDojo is telling their students that once you hit the groin, you can easily throw the attacker over and you will be fine. Stunned look on our faces when our Sensei chose to demonstrate this without a cup on a senior belt to show that once you strike the groin, the attacker would almost fall over making any throw almost impossible anyway because they would be on the ground by the time you would throw them.
    The McDojo loves to show the fancy breakfalls off of anothers shoulder, which would probably be great in a gymnastics class, but if you are on concrete, that’s probably not going to work too well.
    Another McDojo teaches that if you do a half assed block, that’s okay. You don’t have to worry about the other hand attacking you. You know, because most people have one hand. Or only fight with one hand. YIKES!!!! I guess that goes for the guy who is attacking you and only has one leg too!
    I think standards are required for real martial arts and a separate standard for sport. I think sport martial arts should make it clear what they teach is for sport and clearly explain the differences before taking the student in. I also think that all sport dojos should have access to Senseis from real self defense martial art dojos so that they can redirect the student and vice versa.
    Students can benefit from the exercise regime of a sport martial art dojo versus a training dojo for self defense. Some of these sport dojos are better equipped gym wise.
    To level the playing field, not for sport competitions must be held at the regional level. All dojos should be represented. This would “clarify” this issue more clearly. And perhaps change the public view of for sport dojos versus real self defense training dojos.

    • Mahhn

      February 8, 2013 at 3:58 am

      Dr. Stange. I use’d to not wear a cup, until I got a nut crushed when the guy throwing me slipped, his knee landed on my left nut and I felt it crush on my femur. It sucked. I now wear a cup to every class, for one reason lol. Groin strike are real, and even accidental. Don’t mean to bust your balls to much but, break falls and rolling are important. I learned on a mat and have done and demonstrated on concrete and pavement for fun (affter years of training). It came in handy more than once. Once falling on ice, kept from breaking my hip and hitting my head, another time at a night club while working as a bouncer and slipping while pulling people apart. I am one of the nicest bouncers you may ever meet, but if needed I will help you out the door.
      Love my dojo and Budo.

  38. Josep

    February 7, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    I think the main difference between a proper Dojo and a Mc one is that the first one may need money to survive and the second one exists with the only goal of making money.

    • Jeff

      December 7, 2013 at 12:49 am

      I think you hit the nail on the head. My Renshi is trying as hard as he can to teach good Karate and not charge students for knowledge, but when the rent is due sometimes you have to bite the bullet and decide what is ok to compromise on and what isn’t.

      I am proud to say that selling belts will never be a compromise made, the dojo will close before that happens…

  39. Devi

    February 20, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Your memory to recall techniques is tested more often than your actual skill in performing techniques.

    well, i agree, but memory is still important ince it indicates your focus and how often you practice. if you practice more, Katas become instantaneous and your body knows where to go without much effort of remembering. :>

    Your instructor prefers to use “grandmaster”, “master” or “sensei” rather than his real name. Both in print and person.

    this is funny, tho. XP but in cultures like mine, we always have “title principles”, like we emphasis on Mrs., or Dr. and stuff like that. we call our teacher “sensei” out of respect, and not because she demands it. 😀

    • Darshan

      February 25, 2013 at 11:34 pm

      >>Your instructor prefers to use “grandmaster”, “master” or “sensei” rather than his real name. Both in print and person.

      Yes, but “sensei” and “sifu” are relative title.
      “sensei” means “who came before” and “sifu” means “father”, used out of contest they are totally senseless.

      My sifu is not your sifu, It’not like being a school professor.

      • Devi

        February 27, 2013 at 6:16 pm

        the kanji “Sen” indicates that the person came before you or was born before you, technically.. that’s why we have SENPAI (a person of higher rank) and SENSEI (teacher). “Sifu” is a chinese term, yes, and may also pertain to master. :> we call our teacher sensei. 😀 and yes, we do respect him/her like we respect a school professor.

  40. Nixon

    March 5, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    >> Your dojo’s main training area consists of 4 walls and a roof on top (hopefully!). There’s one wall which non of the students can touch, lean on or let alone gaze at. Simply because this a “sacred’ wall which only the sensei and his douche bag “grandmaster” (a.k.a. father of all karate in the flesh!) have the right to physically interact with<<

  41. Brian Hobson

    March 7, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    You might be a McDojo if…
    In your bo katas, you twirl the weapon in between your fingers and also throw them in the air as you turn around three times before attempting to catch the damn thing.

    • Jeff

      December 7, 2013 at 1:07 am

      I stopped training with bo when the Sensei couldn’t explain the bunkai to me…I understand blocks and strikes with a stick, got it, but some of that stuff is just plain silly.

      Now I prefer to play with swords, the bunkai makes a lot more sense =)

  42. Len Pellman

    March 9, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    I operated a very successful dojo in the ’90s, and I have to admit that I used a lot of McDojo tactics to make it successful. For most of this century I have taught exclusively at a major university and a handful of club settings where I have been able to proudly hold myself above such “underhanded” tactics, since the dojo didn’t have any bills to pay. But I’m getting ready to launch another public dojo, and quite frankly I don’t see how I can make it financially viable without reverting to some of those McDojo tactics … in fact, the strategy I’m considering is using an outright McDojo for children and adolescents as the “bait” to lure students in then gradually converting them to authentic budo as they advance. Would this bait-and-switch tactic make me even WORSE than a run of the mill McDojo???

  43. Cazwik

    March 18, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    I just read this and got a good chuckle. My first dojo was a Mcdojo to the core, but if not for that Mcdojo I wouldn’t of found the teachers I have now.

    So here is one I don’t know if anyone posted.

    Your class is not required to wear a full gi. Only a Gi bottoms and a T-shirt with their obi. Any color you want.

    Also commenting on a poster before.
    ” Your Sensei has never been in a real fight.”
    I don’t think that is a bad thing. Considering Karatedo teaches us not to fight unless its the last possible resort never being in a fight could mean your doing something right.

  44. Samba Ba

    March 24, 2013 at 9:41 am

    This video shows that a crescent kick does work. Most real fight do not involve two highly trained fighters. Attacks are over-committed and techniques that won’t work on an MMA ring do actually work on the street. The likelihood that you will be defending yourself against a trained weapons expert or an MMA expert is very low.

  45. Jack M

    April 3, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    94: breaking boards is part of the warmup each lesson
    95: the boards have a curious seam down the centre…
    96: “The Crane” is an actual move

  46. KyokushinGuy

    April 10, 2013 at 2:25 am

    -- ‘Karate for Christ’

    -- ‘Christian Kung Fu’

    -- ‘Jiujitsu for Jesus’

    -- Campy/corny acronyms that make up the name of the style (RIP, DOA, FIT, etc)

    -- Teens yelling ‘KEY-EYE’

    -- Kids yelling ‘HI-YAH’

    -- Coupons

    Just a few that make me chuckle. And then throw up a little.

    • Phillip Hoffeld

      August 11, 2013 at 4:27 am

      Okay. Stop there. I have been a member and a large supporter of the Karate for Christ organization for years. There is nothing wrong with teaching Karate to children who believe in Yahweh and Yeshua. I promote Christian values in my dojo, always have; always will. The Iranians, Pakistanis, Indians, and others promote Karate through their faiths also.

      • Kai-ru

        August 12, 2013 at 7:58 pm

        Karate for Christ… Now I agree with you “there is nothing wrong with teaching Karate to children who believe” in christ or any other deity. I also do not see a problem if promoting basic Christian values in your Dojo as basic values such as don’t cheat, steal, lie etc are all values that are not exclusive to Christianity and should be valued by any human being.

        Where I do have a problem with your comment is when you attach a religion to a nation state. No nation is religious onto its self. Many nations embrace certain religions more openly than others but truly there is no such thing as a Christian or a Muslim country as there are always outliers.

        My second problem is in the idea of using Karate as a promotional tool for Christian doctrine. I have a problem with this because it creates a exclusive rather than inclusive practice. Now of course if you are open about your choice to teach Karate to only the Christian community and perhaps your Dojo is active inside a church rather than a community centre then there is not much to be said on the matter. It is your Dojo and you may do as you will.

        However I do feel it is sad to use a tool like Karate which can be used as a medium for uniting people to promote a doctrine that immediately excludes any one who is invested in another faith or someone who chooses not to take part in organized religion.

        It also seems a little strange to try to re-compass Karate away from its Ryukyu, Shinto and Buddhist backgrounds and focuses it on Christian values and beliefs. I believe Karate is a amazing tool that can allow for one to peer into history and explore many practices that are being over looked in contemporary society.

        That being said Karate is the practice of the “empty”, “vast”, or “vacant” hand and perhaps it is only natural that it act as a vessel to carry and strengthen any belief structure it’s practitioners bring with them. The Japanese by no means fought to preserve Karates Ryukyu roots so why should others fight to preserve what the Japanese have impressed upon the beast we call Karate?

  47. Nomis2170@hotmail.con

    September 24, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    What are your thoughts on gkr karate?

  48. Craig

    October 14, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Meeting a local ”Master” i.e. 8 -- 10th Dan who cannot find his Dan grade certificates from the Japanese masters because he a) lost them b) that japanese master is now dead and cannot verify his award and was ‘verbally’ given to him. c) No ones seems to have ever heard of the japanese master, let alone find him d) after translating one of his ‘found’ Dan certificates, states nothing of the sort about the martial arts e) keeps swapping styles to earn grades

    Sorry, I have all of mine, could never warrant loosing mine from either Yamaguchi or Yamamoto

    Unfortunately a few around Oz now just like that and just fool their students into the same old story telling BS.

  49. Marcel de Jong

    October 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Great list, and I’m glad we don’t commit too many of it 😉

    In the end (IMHO) it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re honest about it. If I had the time I’d teach cardio karate, nothing wrong with that, as long as you don’t tell the students that you can defend yourself with it. Whenever I get the chance I participate in so called kick-fun classes at my local gym. I get to practise basic bag work and get in shape at the same time. Again, nothing wrong with that.
    Just don’t tell people you teach them self defense when you don’t, and don’t tell people you trained somewhere or with someone when you didn’t.

  50. Aaron

    October 26, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    I think it is a good list. I do not agree with it 100% but understand where it comes from. I thought 65 was kind of funny since in a kind of round about way, the list is talking down other schools. No hate here, just an observation …

  51. Aaron

    October 26, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    I thought of another one … velcro belts …

    • Jesse

      October 26, 2013 at 11:33 pm

      Classic, Aaron-san!

  52. Stefan

    November 11, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Dojos which advertise that obtaining a black belt will make you an expert in which ever martial art practised.

    And Dojos that only teach full-contact once you’ve been awarded a certain belt or practised for a certain amount of time or only ever teach kata -- how can you perform a kata if you don’t know the feeling of a punch/kick/block/throw/lock etc?

  53. bena

    November 27, 2013 at 4:01 am

    You know in the 90’s, there were companies that popped up, teaching dojo’s how to have a revolving door dojo and fill your pockets at the same time. Those companies got rich by turning dojos into mcdojos and it is still going on.

  54. Jeff

    December 7, 2013 at 1:00 am

    You are definitely in a McDojo if your dojo has a daycare and the kids practice in gi pants and t-shirts. Ever. Even if there is no daycare, if you ever see students having class wearing anything but the prescribed uniform (white gi and an obi) it is a pretty big flag that should tell you the Sensei/Renshi/Shihan is a moron and has no respect for traditions.

    That being said:

    When I see after school programs/daycares at a dojo my first thought is “haha, ya’ll suck.”

    After some contemplation I have come to the conclusion that I would LOVE to run a daycare dojo -- can you imagine how AWESOME those kids would be if they were taught good Karate? 5 days a week you make the kids do their homework first (let’s be honest, as much as I love Karate school comes first for my kids), then you have them for an hour or two for training. How many of us can block out that amount of time to train 5-6 days a week? The problem is that I don’t know of any daycare dojos that DO teach good Karate, they are busy selling belts and teaching Iaido with cut up foam pool noodles as bokken…and charging for the Iaido “seminar.” Wonder if the kids get to keep the fun noodle at the end of the “seminar”?????

    • Mahhn

      December 7, 2013 at 2:52 am

      I don’t like to be counter people if I don’t’ know them and it doesn’t matter, but
      your comment: “if you ever see students having class wearing anything but the prescribed uniform” is about disrespecting tradition or being a moron is absurd.
      We have informal classes frequently. Gi’s are only mandatory when they are needed for grappling, and even then we go without them to simulate real world situations. Sure formal most of the time, but to think there is something wrong training is your street/work cloths is a little to unrealistic.

      The kiddy daycare dojo sounds fine, and maybe profitable. Have fun trying to get little kids to stand still for 5 seconds.

      • DeLue

        November 7, 2014 at 6:26 am

        @Mahhn -- Agreed completely. To suggest that wearing anything other than the white keikogi currently used in most (traditional?) Japanese and Okinawan dojou is somehow against tradition may reflect a lack of knowledge, or at least perspective on the subject. I mean no offense to anyone, as this is certainly a commonly held belief in many circles. However, the white gi seems to have been popularized by Kano in the late 19th/early 20th century -- along with the concept of using belts to denote rank. A good example of this is Motobu Choki’s book “Watashi no karate-jutsu”, in which there are many photographs of the author (a teacher of Nagamine Shoshin) demonstrating techniques in what appears to be little more than a loin cloth! One might even make a case that the widespread and mandatory use of “traditional” white gis was originally part of the shift in karate toward the exoteric -- which, in my opinion, paved the way for the aforementioned McDojos! :) Food for thought, at least!

  55. Bena

    December 7, 2013 at 4:56 am

    Bottom line…what ever programs that teacher has in their dojo doesnt matter as long as they are teaching the student what they need and not what they want. I feel that if that is what has kept the doors open and lights on, that should be ok. No matter how we look at it, it always looks different from the outside looking in. Just because a teacher is wealthy , doesnt mean hes a mcdojo maneger. A mcdojo is a dojo that sells sells sells sells everything in it and sells karate the way the students want it ( have it your way). There are teachers out there who have all the mcdojo signs and then you step on the floor with them and get your ass handed to you on the $1 menu. The dojo to worry about is your own and how are you going to keep it running. Some people happen to like martial performing arts. Ive been 40 years in this game and i have seen alot of sh#%. Ive seen bad teachers have good students and good teachers have bad students. The best way to judge is to experience the dojo and the teacher, then make a judgment. But remember its only your opinion.

  56. Laura

    January 9, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    Uhm why is Kata to Music not good?

    My sensei told me I should try this to perform my moves more naturally. Instead of concentrating to my moves I should try to perform them in Rhythm. In Germany we have “Sound Karate” (for children) to teach them the moves playfully and it’s accepted by the Karate Association.

    • Dene

      February 7, 2014 at 10:15 pm

      You generally have music available when you fight? Kata is one side of a fight. Despite what you see in the movies, we usually don’t have a soundtrack. If you want to mess with your head a bit by playing music while you practice on your own, ok, but music has no place in the dojo.

  57. maja

    January 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    well, I think it’s safe to say my dojo is not a mcdojo. it’s way too cheap, I’m honestly a bit worried about them because I don’t see how they can even afford running the school! they don’t even charge extra for me joining the advanced class after the beginner class is done (they used to stop people from doing this for fear us poor whitebelts would feel discouraged, but when they realised that it’s actually opposite they stopped caring about it) even though they totally should because seriously, it’s only 300kr more and I would not have questioned it at all if they asked me to pay the same amount as everyone else joining advanced class. they also do not hold back on knowledge and sensei has on several occations stayed after class to help me for hours (I really just think they enjoy teaching) and then drive me home because it’s so late. to top it all off they let me train with them for about three weeks without signing up (I actually had to ask them how to sign up because I felt bad training without paying) and it seems their main concern about getting us all to is so we’ll be covered by their insurance.

    gotta say, having something for the kids may not be only a bad thing though. while it’d probably bore me to death I kinda wish they’d find ways of making it more fun for the kids by having a game once in a while. they keep giving up because they have to learn the ”boring” basics. (I don’t get it though, basics are so fun! it’s like seing the foundation being made and realising that it’s gonna become a huge, absolutely awesome building!)

  58. Fabio Salvador

    January 28, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I have been rethinking a lot about karate these days… I have always been the kind of “no, no sports” karateka, and liked to believe that it was a martial art, aimed at self-defense and real life.
    But as I resumed training after more than 10 years, I kinda changed my views.
    1 — Weeks ago, I trained kumite with a guy who thinks training with light contact is for the weak. He punched me in the chest several times, it wasn´t a big thing… but it left two dark marks, which did not hurt (I am, after all, a somewhat tough guy), but I had to explain it to wife, friends at the beach, and it was sincerelly annoying.
    2 — When was the last time I had been in a real fight? 1995, in my 8th grade.
    3 — What if a man attacks you in a bar? Well… I really don´t go to the kind of bar where it is common to see people brawling.
    4 — What if an enemy decides to attack you? My “enemies” are business peolple and politician, they usually sue each other or argue a lot, but very very rarely exchange punches.
    And even when they do… we´re talking about untrained, overweight men, who I am amble to stop with only raw muscle power and amaterurish moves like pushing and throwing small office desk objects.
    5 — Let´s talk about criminals… stop criminals with karate? In Brazil, where even teenagers try to tob you with guns?
    I mean…
    I… I don’t have, at age 32, any use for “real life karate”.
    And I´m starting to think it´s more useful for me to train more “sports-oriented”, to go to championships, collect some medals, and, of course, climb the black belt mountain.

  59. Dene

    February 7, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    Your dojo is in a strip-mall…

    Love the article; looking forward to reading more!

  60. David

    February 26, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    54. Nobody ever fails at a grading.

    Whenever I visit a dojo, where I feel the standard is sub-par, I just attend their next grading as a spectator. And guess what, Nobody ever fails at grading.

    If a dojo doesn’t physically appear to be a Mcd’s dojo, but Nobody ever fail at grading, place your order for that McFeast…

  61. Felician

    April 29, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    Heh. My Dojo is not a McDojo. My Sensei(s) also fights with me and other students. He also teaches us low kicks. We dont have all this expensive and multicolored stuff.
    My Sensei(s) is/are just AWESOME!!! :)

  62. Luzbel

    May 16, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    I really like the article, it’s a shame many legitimate dojos and kwoons have to resort to some of these sales tactics to keep afloat. My Sigung (teacher of teachers) always had a hard time keeping his kwoon afloat. Already every 3 years we would have to move location due to rent and use his garage or a park. We had so many students come in and not be able to handle the training saying it was too physically demanding (never hurt anyone just strong exercise) so we always had a proud few that would stick with it. He would never however, bring the price up just to keep rent. He would say it was nice to have a good place but training is training, no matter where you do it! Now I feel like this article has a few jabs at gung fu and I understand there are quite a few wushu based dancing schools out there but some of the most powerful martial arts like baguazheng, taichichuan, and traditional gung fu have strong focus on developing Qi. There are plenty of scientific research proving the internal training. call it Qi or stimulation and building of the medulla etc. That makes a one inch punch happen and a 100lb man toss a 200lb man seem effortless. In gung fu we call or teacher Sifu, his teacher Sigung, and that’s all respect I’ve known and trained under my Sigung for so long it feels weird calling him by his first name and I salute even in public. I also trained in a karate dojo. Traditional people with defined lineage to otzuka. They have a huge dojo and I see them do probation belts sometimes, specially for kids, who really don’t deserve it and I can always see the heart break in my senseis eyes when he has to do it and he looks at the traditional students with an apologetic look. He has never done it for black belt though. I do believe if you have to put food on the table and that’s your income we can overlook one or two slackers and make it known to them. Moral of the story, if you want to be respected in martial arts would don’t sell your soul to the corporate devil, teach as a passion not as a business, train hard, teach hard, cultivate yourself, help others, learn from everyone, and you don’t have to worry about being a McDojo.

  63. Bernadine

    May 25, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Hey, great site :) this is a gem! Let me just tell you that my God guided me to this resource. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Let me just also add these to your list:

    * Favoritism
    * White belts and higher belts students are utilized as “teachers” to newer students when there are just too many.
    * Summer class white belt for sale for those who badly want it.
    * Different senseis have different standards in how one should strictly perform katas & safety on executing techniques.

    I train in a branch of an old karate school in my city. The old school started out traditional karate but now it has evolved into training both for ring MMA and for real life MMA, where almost everything is, well, mixed including defenses against common street weapons, but excluding guns. It is indeed more attractive in theory, but the Mcdojo about it is some students are allowed to graduate from white belt in 2 months just as long as they are “really dedicated” even without earning the emotional maturity in applying the techniques — meaning some of these “advance” students are not made to discipline themselves enough to NOT be someone who is a “just let it all out show off” during sparring with other students that results in leaving other students with no choice but to compete back the next session rather than actually learn from each other. And the worst thing I think is some senseis do practice blatant favoritism — coaching a student or two how to fight certain students in sparrings while not giving the same “tips” to others. Is this how a legit dojo should be? A “dojo” that makes other students feel like entering into a ring competition masked as “training” when going to the dojo instead of entering it to learn as much as he/she could. Sometimes, one sensei himself even tries to compete with white belts in sparring making them feel inferior (of course they still are!) for being amateurish, showing off how fast and skillful a blackbelter he is despite his miniature height! Giving the students off handed compliments on their improvement at the same time not making them forget how lousy they still are.

    Is that fair? Ethical? I definitely do NOT think so. The forms and basic techniques taught in a number of martial arts disciplines from a number of countries are fairly legit enough in my view based on my own research, but how inconsistent the standards are for these techniques and how a sensei manages his ego are just plain McDojo LOUSY.

    • Golden Silence

      May 30, 2014 at 4:43 am

      I can relate. When I first read your comment I almost thought you were in the same school as I, which at another time I intend to into further detail discuss. What stood out of what you said is the favoritism at the school. This was one of the reasons I left and I had a few more months in my contract to go but I had enough. I wish I would have found this website or that Jesse would have discussed this at the time I had my bad experience. And I spent years beating myself up thinking I left a good school because the training was good but the instructor ( as shihan) was difficult to work with and egotistical. He made it sound like this was the best school and that no one would ever get the high quality training anywhere else and that whoever left could not handle the training. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  64. JSL

    May 27, 2014 at 1:27 am

    You left out -- They greet each other with OSU! but are a Taekwondo school. osu is a Japanese word, not Korean, Then the instructor gets furious when you point this out!

  65. light

    May 31, 2014 at 2:55 am

    are you the one on America’s Got Talent?
    If so

  66. Peter G.N. GRIFFIN

    June 1, 2014 at 7:25 am

    To All Who Read This,

    Couldn’t pass up the opportunity now having read “93 Reasons your Dojo is a McDojo” ! -- I am sure Jesse will find more to add to this list.

    It took me many years to grade Shodan under the SKIF, many years again to Grade Shodan in Judo, and I’ve only recently graded Nidan in Kyokushin Karate. Believe me, you may all think WHY so long to grade ? That was just the way it was back then -- hard, very hard.

    Since those early days my teachers have constantly sent me to Boxing Gyms, other Dojo’s where there are plenty more and far better students than myself -- this I’ve found to be the ONLY way to truly grow. Painful at times, but necessary. Thus McDojo’s have a ‘NON-CONTACT’ policy ! You HAVE TO GET KNOCKED TF OUT IN THE RING otherwise good luck when someone actually hits you in the head on the street.

    Yes, its frightening getting in the ring with International Kyokushin / Muay Thai / K-1 fighters, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu Yudansha, Olympic Asian / European Judoka’s.

    Either way, if one is not placing themselves in these uncomfortable situations at training the room for growth is significantly less which defeats the purpose of Martial Arts all together.

    Having travelled backwards and forwards to and from Canada a few years ago; it was time to find a Dojo to attend. Unbeknownst to me I attended a McDojo in the Toronto area to find that upon returning back from my home country just two years ago I was told I had to wear a white belt. Despite being shocked I was told by two of his senior instructors that my abilities made his other more senior Yudansha look bad !, considering I always paid respect to all whom trained in this McDojo. Thus I knew I was never going back. Seems breaking baseball bats with one’s shins or punching solid concrete walls with gloves was seen as inappropriate behaviour of a black belt. One need only travel to Thailand, and parts of southern Burma to witness this IS how the Mauy Thai fighters train and continue to do to this very day.

    Ultimately everyone’s metal will at some point or another be tested on the street, and when that day comes, your preparation will be what decides whether you live or die ! As silly as this sounds this is the truth.

    One way to avoid McDojo’s is to go to a respected Law Enforcement Agency who deal with real felons / dealing with members of the public that have shown aggression, and ask what Art forms they use and why. This way, you’ll find yourself being sent to the source rather than another drive-thru McDojo.

    Oh, and there’s a reason the Gi is all ‘white’ -- because it was meant for ritual dress. When the Samurai committed themselves to ‘Seppuku’ (ritual suicide), they generally wore ALL white. So McDojo’s wearing Gi,s with lots of patches etc, is just not correct.

    One should attend training with Junior Lefevre Sensei’s philosophy that you are attending training to learn to kill. Hence the saying , “if you want peace, be ready for war”. Therefore accept you are already dead, and you’ll find yourself subconsciously walking into a genuine Dojo; not that idiot seated in their car, dressed in their 50 Patched Black Gi asking for a BIG-MAC at the Drive-thru !

    Good luck !

  67. Peter G.N. GRIFFIN

    June 1, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Again, if you’re not in the ring banging and going home once in a while with a limp, or to the ER better you take up miniature golf ! McDojo’s are everywhere because IT IS how people are in the world today.

    (1) People are happy to lie about their achievements given no one bothers to check up on them, and
    (2) people are happy to sell their soul to the devil for money.

    Thank God for UFC and for Keeping it real ! No belts, no ranks, just sheer determination and the will to never lose !

  68. chris

    June 2, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    First off, I like your articles. this one applies to other martial arts as well. Some counter points:

    16 -- Not if your instructor works in marketing as a career.
    25 -- Applies to the Taekwondo school I am in, 10 ranks so tips are used, saves student’s money, not that many colors to chose from anyway.
    36 -- The only other one that applies to my school, we are a self defence only style so no competitions.

  69. Tushar

    June 5, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Hey Jesse, I am joining a Karate class soon. Ain’t there a school left which is not a McDojo. Many of your warnings match my sensei. He says if i do good I CAN BE A BLACK BELT IN 6 months to 1 year. Is It True?

    • Jesse

      June 5, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      If you and your sensei are exceptionally talented -- maybe yes! 😉

  70. Kiwi Aaron

    June 7, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Tushar, take special note of that “Wink”!

    My last two years of regular training has only blessed me with 7th kyu, so I still have at least another 3 years to get Shodan Black Belt.

    No Rush, in life and karate it’s the journeys that count, not the destinations.

  71. Katie

    June 15, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Question: How would you find out if places that teach other martial arts (kenpo, kickboxing, MMA, aikido, taekwondo, muy thai, etc) are McDojos? I’ve been looking around to start in some martial art, but I’d like to keep my options open.

  72. Justin

    June 30, 2014 at 7:07 am

    There is no reference to the specific style of karate you are taking
    Their website is weebly or similar
    Their website downloads ransomed are to your computer
    There is a move where you stick your younger out at someone and they fall over
    No asking questions… Ever
    When becoming a black belt you must open your on school and give your grandmaster 25% or profits and he must give his grandmaster 15% who must give his grandmaster 5%
    Your parents must also take karate for you to advance
    You are thought by watching the karate kid
    You are thought there is no defense against a crane kick
    The dojo is located inside a mcdonalds
    You call the head of the dojo eternal grandmaster

  73. nic868

    July 21, 2014 at 3:29 am

    I am referring to my senseis as ‘sensei’ here for the first time like ever. It was always “Aunty” Maureen and “Uncle” Lex. Non-blood family.

  74. doug

    July 26, 2014 at 2:23 am

    We have a camo belt but it’s for the Lil kids 5-10 yes they have to earn it know kicks blocks etc we also have notches but we must earn them know our new form before testing etc we learn roughly 3 new forms and kicks or kick combo per rank also one step fighting you can get a black belt in about 2 and a half years but the test is no joke all your forms all your kick combo all your 1 steps about 30 or so of them spar etc etc

  75. KCO

    July 27, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    A funny sitenote, in the 60’ies, after Karate had been introduced to Denmark in northen Europe, everyone who practiced karate was by law required to be put in the police database of “people who know karate” as it was seen as being just as dangerous as having a gun.

    • Bob Sandusky

      July 28, 2014 at 1:14 am

      did they also have to register their hands as deadly weapons?

  76. cordell

    August 14, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    “no other local schools show up to your tournaments”

    My son is in one of these mcDojo’s, he got his black belt in a little over 1 year, and 2 months later got his 1st degree. My question for you, (am under contract) Is it worth keeping him in this school, it is the only school in my town. There are schools about 20 miles away though. Anyway, he does seem to enjoy it, he is only 11 so he does benefit from the classes in some ways. My wife says to leave him because he feels he is accomplishing something. I would say about 4 months into his attending this school we started having suspicions. There is a little girl whom is about 9 that is a black belt, she is so shy and timid, she struggles like crazy to break a board. You can see them bending the board inwards to help it snap, it is pathetic. Not the girl attempting to break it, but the help she is given to keep the mcDojo pace of a belt every 2 months. They do nothing to teach these kids how to fight at all, nothing. This is what i thought I was signing my son up for, learning to protect himself, not buy iron on patches. and now that he is a 1st degree, he must get his belt and uniform embroidered, another $100… when will it end, or when will he learn to fight?

  77. dioaclu

    August 25, 2014 at 12:43 am

    Great list…its unfortunate how many people buy their belts nowadays, i 3 1/2 years ive only gone up two belts at my dojo, its no rush. Although do tend to block club attacks with my forearm ( i condition them) if i cant block at the wrist i think id rather have a busted forearm then head.

  78. Donald

    September 2, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Good comment, mcdojos… The schools where students get to play tag, kids get babysitted and time your little boy turns 12 he will eventually be going up for his 2nd degree black belt. I know what it’s like at a traditional karate school, luckily for me I just happen to get the right school first try. I’m almost certain I know a TKD mcdojo i remember watching one day they were going over pressure points and two young kids probably anywhere from 8-12 one a green belt another a black belt and while they were doing that the kids were doing there own thing and nobody seemed to care. Maybe there was a reason but I also noticed most of the students had sloppy stances and couldn’t punch right.

    But that’s just my understanding atleast thanks for the post though we’ll informing

  79. Zach

    September 8, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    72. You practise harnessing your ki/chi power.
    What do you mean by this? Are you saying you can’t “harnesses your chi” because its a life energy always with you or are you saying the concept of chi is unreliable and fake?

    I’m not taking a side of which i believe in, i would just like to know what 72 means.

  80. Karateka

    September 12, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Hello Jesse-san,
    Thank you for this article. I am from Southeast Asia. I am 13 years old. I am Shotokan Karate black belt. I started learning Karate in 2009 and I attained 1st dan in 2013. My father is my teacher. My father received certificate from Masatoshi Nakayama, official JKA in 1981 after he became the Chief Instructor in 1978.
    I read all of your 93 signs and I want to suggest one sign I know of.
    The sign is “Flexibility-focus than Karate techniques.”
    Please read.

    Have you ever heard Scorpion kick? Would I let him come near? Would I wait him draw near? I would have dodged and counterattacked. Who would be fool enough to wait him until he comes near in real situations?
    Only unskilled Karateka or mcdojo student wouldn’t know either to dodge or counterattack.
    Scorpion kick is not a Karate kick. It derived from some gymnastics-like kicks created by some posers. I have good flexibility but I know the techniques both from bunkai and kihon. In my opinion, having great flexibility don’t indicate this man or that man is a Karate expert. If so, all gymnasts in future will be given a great martial artist title just after looking at the flexibility.
    Gymnastic is gymnastic. Martial art is martial art.
    Then why need flexibility in some martial artists? To me, “Flexibility” in martial arts is some supplement to kicks or for exercise (stress relief for example).
    We want our kick we’re aiming at to hit the target. Flexibility is redundant if it weren’t for this reason.
    “Flexibility” are often misused by some dishonest posers. They don’t know REAL martial art techniques other than flexibility.
    So they do non-martial art methods and focus only on flexibility. One example technique is the Scoripion kick. It had never appeared in real Karate techniques.
    And if the poser opened a Karate dojo, they learned a bit from Taekwondo for few months, Jiu Jitsu for few days, kickboxing for few days, wrestling for few days. They DON’T know anything particular to master level. They don’t have one obvious style and are master of none in particular art.
    Such posers’ schools were often named as “Karate-MMA or a style never heard in ancient times (not referring to styles like Kyokushin, SKI, founded by Kanazawa Sensei because they were students of Funakoshi or Nakayama).
    And I think appearing in “MMA” title is more frank than posers hiding secretly under the name of “Karate.”
    Posers often wear strange clothing like black, red, and mixed colour uniforms in place of Karate white uniform (Karate Gi) as some posers just wear pure Karate uniform and deceive people.

    Just as the “Poser teachers” don’t know how to punch (then they learn kickboxing or they might say KARATE IS LACK AT HAND TECHNIQUES!!!) how to approach range, how to kick, so do their students.
    That so-called Scorpion kick is created first by such posers, claiming that this new unseen technique is “KARATE KICK!!!” Of course they don’t know real Karate techniques so they start creating non-Karate methods. They punch before within their reach in competitions. Didn’t they taught to use leg for reaching long distance? They near the range by running straight toward madly and frantically. Didn’t they learn how to approach the opponent with steps or dodge?
    I find most Karateka in SEA games and some Championship competitions were just mostly doing hook kicks and frantically run here and there. Do they know how to punch? Is there only hook kick in Karate techniques?
    Apart from this, I wonder how come Karate turns out like this? Their actions disrupt the image of real ancient Shotokan Karate when Gichin Funakoshi alive. Any great Karate Sensei like Kanazawa, Enoeda, Nakayama would turn in their grave if they knew today Karate became this disappointment…
    I don’t blame the students. I DON’T LIKE their teachers, or posers, or mcdojo owners!
    They’re rich so they outshined the dojo absolutely. Pretend as respective Karate master. They may even give students black belt within two days (hyperbole).

    REAL Shotokan Karate has kicking techniques, hand techniques, dodges, and approaching techniques. Ancient Shotokan Karate techniques are lost by decades except for Karateka learned from Nakayama or Funakoshi. That became worse after Masatoshi Nakayama death.
    Even Taekwondo which is largely a synthesis of Shotokan Karate, look smarter compared to today FAKE Karatekas (or mcdojo students). General Choi Hong Hi, founder of Taekwondo learned under Funakoshi (Father of Shotokan Karate) and attained 2nd dan in Shotokan and 9th dan in his Taekwondo.
    Some Karatekas don’t even know they are mcdojo…

    However, one day all people who say Karate bad will know me. I will apply ancient Karate techniques in competitions. I had a fight in real life. KARATE is PRACTICAL both in real and in competitions (if used real Karate techniques and not be FAKE karateka).

    Thank you for your time for reading, Jesse-San.
    I hope you understand my comment.

    • David Satya Hartanto

      October 11, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      What part of SEA? I’m Indonesian.

      To be frank, yes, posers are bullshit. Even the untrained myself could handle the brown belted posers easily and without sweating and still capable of throwing them off their stances with nothing but a kick to their knee, hence, their poor skills of defending or dodging or even making a correct stance. But against a proper blue belted TKD practitioner, my eyes were bruised for days after being hit by his punch and sore waist after being hit by his kick. Against red belted one, I have to rely my brute force just to stop his kicks but even I stopped his kick, another of his kick hit me. I tried to break his guard, but his training shrugged off my kick and another kick landed to my face.

      Even the mediocre ranked one could be dangerous if he was properly trained. Even the higher ranked one could be defeated easily by the untrained one if he was improperly trained.

      Well, I’m currently learning Aikido since I have a lot of brute force just to break somebody’s jaw, and I don’t want to hurt people badly.

  81. Shaun Yap

    September 29, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Hey Jesse, just look at this shit. It’s at my school and it’s probably the worst mcdojo I’ve seen so far.


    • Shaun Yap

      September 29, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      Oh and Jesse, does this look like a mcdojo to you?


      • Kuang E

        March 7, 2015 at 7:54 pm

        This look like one of the Kyokushin clubs. Definitely not a MacDojo to me.

    • Stuart Wilke

      February 2, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      94. Your instructor refers to the martial art you’re learning as Tae Kwon Doe and Karate interchangeably.

      No, I’m serious. Though my family and I always referred to the classes as just “Martial Arts” when deciding what sessions I wanted to go to that week, it was made very clear when I first started that the martial art I was learning was Tae Kwon Doe. However, I did start to notice later on that occasionally the instructor would refer to it as “karate”. At the time, I just considered this a minor slip of the tongue, but looking back, that’s a pretty major mistake to make if teaching martial arts is your JOB, right?

    • Kuang E

      March 7, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      I can’t tell whether it is a MacDojo from this demonstration video however, most of them are good looking young chicks!

  82. Marco

    October 5, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Hi guys, I think that cardio training is essential and fit boxe is good for cardio. Today 99% of the dojo are Mac dojo. Almost everyone does pay 200-300 euro or dollars to hight ranks tests. All major federation ask for a lot of money for registration, exams, seminars, etc.

  83. courtellis

    October 24, 2014 at 7:24 am

    I found this site and as I was reading some of the comments, I was like wow. There is always a poor reference of Taekwondo, and remember there are different schools that actually don’t teach WTF, for instance Chung Do Kwan. I do believe this list is quite accurate though, and to the person who added 94-96 much Kudos;

    97; The instructor is way, way out of shape!
    98. Older instructor play around with younger students keeping them unfocused.
    99. Way too many stripped belts
    100. My God I’m in a Mc Dojo HEEEEEEEEELP!!

  84. Marthinus Boshoff

    October 29, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Jesse- you have studied kung fu as well as karate. I always thought a lot gets unlocked in martial arts like karate and kungfu once you learn to harness your qi. I personally make qigong part of my training and it had really awesome results.

    Next- Are crescent kicks really that wrong for disarming armed attackers? Why?

    The other points I understand well and can nod my head in agreement to as I have experienced things like that first-hand, but these two things do not make sense to me.

  85. chris sands

    November 6, 2014 at 2:50 am

    sign that says birthday parties are avaible

  86. Siejin

    November 7, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Good evening Jesse-san , I’m so happy that I am able to read about your blogs about Karate , especially about Mcdojos ….. sadly I lately knew that my dojo is a Mcdojo… luckily I knew about your blog so I am going to share my experience about it.

    I started practicing Karate way back year 2011 , I was 13 at that time , The dojo is small and The people in there are great but not as good yet they learned the wrong way, yes they are good people but the problem is they made some changes in kata especially , adding strikes that are not congruent to the kata itself… for example , in the Kata Heian Sandan , instead of doing fumakomi in the last part , they’ve changed into crescent kicks..

    I was puzzled then I did research on Youtube about Kata , watching greatmasters such as Sensei Hirokazu Kanazawa …. from then on I went on to do the correct kata rather than doing their “Kata”..

  87. Reuben

    November 27, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Balmain. Northstar marital arts.
    I taught there for two years.
    I felt blessed to get a job like that.
    But signing up students and giving out a filtered version while the head instructor who didn’t go by the way of sensei because he has a background in Dai ty ru aiki jujitsu
    (He was expelled in disgrace and still promtes that he is an active student)
    The fees and the gradings are a sham.
    You can’t train in other styles and every way but his way is wrong.
    I haven’t practiced martial arts in years due to injuroes but to also come to terms I’m not a great as I thought I was and the blood sweat and tears I poured into ot and into teaching children and adults were just a way for him to make money…

  88. Isa

    November 30, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    To be fair, in Japan when you get your black belt you actually do have to register with the police… I think this is where this concept came from.

  89. Ken

    December 9, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Couple of things here… While I would agree that blocking a baseball bat with your forearm isn’t the best option, it is better than getting hit in the head. Get out of the way if you can,but if you can’t then do the best that you can.

    I wear a Karate uniform and practice Tae Kwon Do. Does that make me some sort of bad Taekwondoist? All the uniform is is clothing and a sweat mop for me. Doesn’t make me anything else. I know it’s not traditional, but I’m comfortable and our Grandmaster never had a problem with it. (He’s wasn’t 30 and was a very traditional Taekwondo instructor.)

    As far as the overweight comment made… well technically I qualify (by BMI) as overweight, but I’ve recently run a 5 mile race. I’m happy with my endurance and ability. Would I like to lose some weight? Yes, but I like my ice cream more than I want to lose the weight. Not everybody who is overweight is in “bad” shape.


  90. Nicole Siaw

    December 31, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Well guys, I need your opinion on well not a mcdojo, but a mckwoon. (For Wushu, if you’ve heard of it.) I am a karate-ka. But before I was a karate-ka. I learned wushu. Now in my area, there’s one wushu master. He goes from school to school to teach and he holds quite a reputation. The reason I quit was that for one whole year, we never learned anything else. And there were GRADINGS. As I understand there aren’t supposed to be gradings in chinese martial arts. I was actually joining a smaller class at first. Which I enjoyed. We practiced the same things over and over again. Which wasn’t wrong. But the thing is, the master never told us if there was anything wrong in our stances or if there was anything right! I thought maybe I was good, but everybody had different stances and if nobody got corrected, does that mean anything is correct? Well after that I went to his larger class. And it was HUGE. There’s about a hundred students. But I didn’t see that he really teaches anybody there, appart from about a group of 6 seniors. the rest of the class are divided into small groups, the master was sitting in the middle observing the class and shouting at people. Most of which are inaudible. His other student’s would teach the newbies, but because they didn’t explain anything correctly, within my group of 6 students. There were 6 different stances. I was young back then though… I think I was 9 or 10. I didn’t know anything. I thought the seniors looked cool and by doing this. Eventually I’d look like them. After that class, my father didn’t allow me to go again. At first I didn’t like that decision, but I accepted it (Btw, my father is a martial artist as well with the difference that he learned one of the more traditional styles instead of the mordern performance arts) It would be a year later when my father accepted my request to learn martial arts again. At the time, there was only one other master. (That I know of) Which is a karate sensei actually. with the difference that this sensei (which is still my current sensei) Actually tells what was wrong and right. And I quickly saw the difference with my previous sifu’s. The class is with an ideal number of student’s which about 10-15 per session and my sensei would corrrect us if we’re slacking and not his students. I’m happy with my decision to change but I’m still confused as when I checked the news, my old sifu’s students are winning nationals and international competitions. I just want some of your opinion wether my old sifu’s training center was a mckwoon/mcdojo or is that he only trains prodigies in my class. I’m just conffused that’s all :)

  91. ldretzka

    December 31, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    Im not sure who to ask this but thought you could give an opinion on this. My 10 (almost 11) year old daughter has been taking, and very much enjoying, karate and is at advanced Purple level. After asking about how much for the next level I was told the (bad) news. Over $6,000 (48 months to finance) to get to second degree black belt and says it could take about 5 years to get to that level. There are no other options to continue, no monthly or yearly options, that’s it. So basically I am agreeing to buy karate classes for a 10/11 year old for the next 5 years thinking. or hoping, that she still likes it in 5 years when she is 15/16. If she does not want to take classes any more well too bad…..no options. I still have to pay for the membership. This seems so crazy! Please let me know your opinion on this. Its very hard since my daughter and I do like the place and it has been the only thing that she has stuck with for about a year so far. I really do want to continue but feel like I am being taken advantage of.

    • Nicole Siaw

      January 3, 2015 at 5:29 am

      Well, I’m no expert but… I’m advising you NOT to take that.

      Okay, first of all, it’s good that your daughter is enjoying karate. it’s always important that she enjoys the class.

      Secondly, you’ll need to think these points trough.

      1) since the sensei is asking for you to pay years ahead of the current training. It’s sorta like a contract for you to stay 5 more years.
      2) Now, if you pay for this sorta membership, that means that the only goal for progress for your daughter the next 5 years would be getting a blackbelt
      3) Training any kind of martial arts with the purpose of only gaining ranks is a bad mindset to live with. Because then, by the time she reaches a blakbelt she’d think that’s the end of her training and start slacking off.
      4) A proper mindset when training is always improving oneself. And once she understands that during training, she should be able to apply that concept to everything she does. (Such as studies. etc) That’s the true essence of martial arts. Self discovery.

      You should think trough this points first before making a decision. If you still can’t. Then ask her what she likes about it there. Is it the sensei? Does she have some close friends there? Does she like the senior there. Or does she like the teaching methods they use? It’s up to you to choose. I would suggest to change a sensei or learn a new martial art altogether but that’s completely up to you. I’ve been in this situation when my sifu (Wushu) was cheating money on us and any progress we’ve made was a lie. I started a new system altogether (Karate) And I’ve had no regrets on my decision.

  92. Keith Nylund

    January 3, 2015 at 7:19 am

    What is the difference between a dojo rank and a rank of an organization

  93. Patrick Duffy

    January 18, 2015 at 1:45 am

    Interesting list and mostly true. However I know why they exist. They focus on making karate fun. They get people to sign contracts because my experience is that I see people come expecting that belt quickly and having tp pay keeps them there. I teach for gratuity only and when you invest your time into their first time then you do not see them again actually getting a thank you is rare. This a western trait of instant gratuity.

    The real Masters in Okinawa tend to say “Call me Sensei” they do not promote themselves as masters and will not let you call them master. No headbands, no coloured Gis, no showing off. Sweat, sweat and more sweat.

  94. Clance

    January 19, 2015 at 1:21 am

    Rocket surgery? :-) Good article!

  95. Shaolin101

    January 29, 2015 at 3:07 am

    I only disagree with 72. Developing ones Chi/Ki is a real method of creating and unleashing power. I’ve seen it being used in my Dojo to break wood, stones and other objects. Don’t take my word for it, do some research and see the results for yourself.
    Here are some clips from National Geographic:



  96. Mat

    February 11, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Ahh, judgemental martial artists telling the rest of the world how it OUGHT to be done. Talking about “traditional arts” in a discipline that is little over 100 years old, and has been in constant flux every day of its life.

    Because you know, nothing in the world has improved since the start of the last century. Least of all fight science. Nobody understands how to motivate students better, getter fitter or healthier, and of course Funakoshi and Miyagi retained 100% of their students thanks to their awesome teaching. Hold on… No, none of that!

    Gotta love the myopic, brainwashed arrogance -- especially of a man who trains in a mutant karate style and practices MMA. lol

    • Patrick Duffy

      February 12, 2015 at 1:32 am

      Mat -- I think you went over the top there. Te, the original predecessor to Kara-Te, goes back to the 14th Century and includes many of the Kobudo arts also. The philosophy & culture of Okinawa also plays a part to make up Okinawa Karate as we know it today. We compare this to the “sport” of Karate which we in the traditional way do not recognise as true karate.

      You have to admit that a lot of fraudulent stuff is taught under the guise of being Karate and gets it a bad name. The biggest grumble is so many calling themselves “Masters” or “Grand Masters” operating in franchise dojos in the Mall. This goes against the culture of karate being humility and honesty. I have heard several of the leading Okinawa techers rueing the day that they thought sending a Marine away after 18 months with a black belt was the right thing to do. They did not realise that an Okinawan would take that as an honour and an invitation to “start learning” rather than a prize that said to him “I am an expert now!”

      • Mat

        February 13, 2015 at 4:51 pm

        Karate has adapted to the times, just as it always has. People wearing black belts to which they are not “entitled” is no more fraudulent than the original “masters” putting on black belts and awarding themselves high dan grades in the first place. It’s all marketing, and if society were not so superficially bewitched by black belts, such a thing would never be an issue. It’s only because karateka have engaged on this ridiculous arms race to out dan each other. But as always, Caveat Emptor.

        I have NEVER seen a dan grade above 4th or 5th and been much impressed because at that level it’s all politics and opinion, and no small measure of ego.

        Even your comment about karate being about humility and honesty is a somewhat idealised view, which has been mythicized in the modern era. Certainly SOME karateka followed a set of standards that followed this ethos, but I don’t believe it was ever codified into the structure. rather, like democracy, you can look at modern societies that claim such things, but with only the more cursory scratch beneath the surface, they are revealed to be old boys’ clubs that favour the wealthy and the powerful.

        All of that said, instructors who’s primary intention is to deceive their students in order to use them as a cash cow do fill me with contempt, because for me, EVERYTHING is about delivering to the students, the best that I can. But this article was sickeningly judgemental, simply declaring everything that Jesse doesn’t deem worthy as being a sign of a McDojo. It was the product of a small, indoctrinated mind that cannot think outside its own sphere of experience

        • Patrick Duffy

          February 13, 2015 at 8:17 pm

          Dojos seem to encourage learning more kata makes you a better Karateka. Shotokan now has 26 at the last count but Funakoshi only knew 3 or 4 when going to Japan. You earn more dan grades by more kata. What about the deeper philosophy? Iaido is much the same. Do you believe that Musashi practised lots of different kata? Not really I would suspect he practised over and over just a few moves that became his nature. Likewise Yagyu Munenori. Read the Zen Master Takuan Soho and it is clear. Same in karate. In tournament karate you need many different strategies because if you its had 2 or 3 then your opponents would learn them. In life or death combat you just need one. That is why most self defence classes are useless -- their objective as with karate, is to get you to pay to attend to learn something new. The undisputed combat expert of the 20th century was William Fairbairn who taught 20 techniques and suggested choosing just 10 to know very well and that was more than enough.

          • Mat

            February 15, 2015 at 1:38 pm

            That’s an excellent example, and one that I completely agree with because kata has become used as a padding or an aesthetic. Also, people train today, differently to the way they trained in the past.

            I particularly like your example of William Fairbairn, which actually closely matches my own stand up fighting philosophy.

  97. da0neman

    February 12, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    I studied for many years in a traditional martial art. I completely agree with a lot of the list. As you state, the appearance of one or more of these in your own dojo/dojang doesn’t necessarily make you a MacDojo. I even understand the contracts and fees for everything. It’s hard to keep students and to keep studios running.

    The one thing I always wrestled with was how my training would prepare me for a “real world” experience or for the honks: The Street. The nature of the training develops your confidence and your awareness to such a degree that you cease becoming a target. You also don’t seek out confrontations. At least, that’s how martial arts matured me.

    I’ve had varying degrees of contact in class in and tournaments. I’m crazy enough to actually like a bit of contact. However, I take some issue with people thinking that all non-contact training/contests are BS. You can’t just let students wail away at each other. Someone will get KTFO every class. Not to mention all the torn tendons, broken bones and law suits. I guess like everything else, you have to strike a balance. It’s hard enough to train in MA all by itself. There’s always something that can get hurt just doing the moves time after time. Add in a couple of good punches to the jaw and kicks to the knee and you’re in a whole different ball game.

    All in all, I’m quite happy with my experience and thank all that is holy that I never wound up in a MacDojo.

  98. Jennalee

    February 13, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    In my Dojo, our teacher Amadou wears a normal gi just like the students and often wears the same one as the adult students…multicoloered uniforms and Camoflauge belts….for real????? lol

  99. Nijil Jacob

    February 19, 2015 at 10:35 am

    I only found 54 to be true. but jesse-san do you think my dojo is a mcdojo here is the link https://www.facebook.com/AimKarate
    So our school was created by Sensei moses thilak
    and here is a link about him http://www.shito-ryukarate.com/karatehistory.html and http://www.championkarateacademy.com/daisensei.htm
    Our organisation is now managed by sensei George sunu and Neil moses (indian team coach) but mainly by the latter. The sensei who instructs us is a second dan black belt

  100. JR

    March 1, 2015 at 9:09 am

    Great article. I’ve moved 3 hours away from my dojo of 15 years and have to find a new one. I guess I was really lucky that I fou a great one before, because I’m really struggling to find a legit one now.

    If the head of the school has a patch that says “Expert,” you’re in a McDojo. I know there’s an exception to every rule, but I can’t find one here.

    One comment I’d like to make… No one ever failed a promotion at my old dojo. My sensei viewed promotional tests as a formality. If you allowed to test, you had already proven yourself. Not everyone was allowed to test.

    Another McDojo warning -- A friend trained at a school where everyone failed their shodan and nidan test the first time. Every single person, regardless of ability. That instructor told sandals it was to build character. More like charging $150 twice instead of once. The $15 black belt and $5 certificate weren’t included in the testing fees. They cost you an extra $75. The instructor claimed he didn’t make money on that one either.

  101. JR

    March 1, 2015 at 9:12 am

    Sorry… That instructor told SANDANS, not sandals. Damn autocorrect.

  102. Igor Hunchback

    March 21, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    Another sign: your reputation as an expert is solely from contriving arguments that other styles or schools are fake ‘bullshido’, based on your own lack of knowledge/training and some video taken completely out of context. You spend more time pointing out the real or imagined faults of others that you do trying to learn or improve your own skills.

    • Mat

      March 21, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      Hear hear!

  103. Patrick Duffy

    March 28, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Fundamentally any commercial Karate dojo is not true the the arts. The principle of Karate, Iaido etc is attaining perfection and enlightenment. To achieve this we follow the guidance of the Tao & Zen teachings. Ego is the enemy of enlightenment. In fact all the religions teach against being egotistic also.

    Takuan Soho teaches in his book on the art of swordsmanship that ego is a cause of the mind resting in one place. The mind resting makes your sword defeatable. A swordsman who does not let his mind rest when he draws his sword can defeat a 1000 men. You will notice how most of the Okinawan teachers show little or no ego. They do not cover their Gi in patches and do not insist on being called “master”, just sensei. Chasing Dan grades is all about ego but western teachers have to focus on that because it is the western nature to strive and try. The Okinwan lets it come through sweat.

  104. Jeff

    March 30, 2015 at 6:23 am

    Reading some posts I feel lucky reading some horror stories out there, our Sensei doesn’t do one penny from teaching us, we only pay to rent the dojo (Which is actually a dedicated college dojo). It was around 150$ for 4 months. In fact he made some money, because we gave him some on last Christmas (on a voluntary basis), we all gave something. And for the equipment, when necessary, we make a big order for every student so it’s cheaper.

  105. Mat

    March 30, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    There is NOTHING wrong with teaching karate commercially, so long as commercial concerns never override delivery of quality karate.

    Your sensei apparently teaches karate as a hobby, fitting it in around his regular life. No matter how passionate or committed he is, that cannot compete with someone who earns a livelihood from it. At any time, financial pressures in his daily life, or even changes in hire costs can take him away from you, whereas a full-timer plans to ensure continued and high quality of service.

    There’s NOTHING your sensei does that cannot be exceeded in a commercial environment.

    • Patrick Duffy

      March 30, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      Hi Mat -- I do not have a sensei having started Martial arts with Judo in 1963 at 13. I train daily but there are no dojos within 150 miles which teach the forms of karate I enjoy. Hope to get back to Okinawa this October for the Goju centery

  106. Jeff

    March 30, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Matt-san, First of all please excuse my writing as it is not my first language. I never wrote that there was anything wrong in teaching karate commercially. In fact, I even agree with you to some degree. Every one has to earn a living, I can understand that.

    My point was to tell people who might not know that there are still people who teach martial arts because they have the passion, that they want to help their communities in some positive way and for the fun of it without ripping you off in the process
    (I hope that you already have a teacher like this or that you meet one in your life)

    (Actually, I was refering to my Aikido sensei, My Karate dojo, is as a legit shotokan dojo as it can be, but that not the point here.)

    Where I don’t totally agree with you is when you wrote:
    “Your sensei apparently teaches karate as a hobby, fitting it in around his regular life. No matter how passionate or committed he is, that cannot compete with someone who earns a livelihood from it. At any time, financial pressures in his daily life, or even changes in hire costs can take him away from you, whereas a full-timer plans to ensure continued and high quality of service.

    There’s NOTHING your sensei does that cannot be exceeded in a commercial environment.”

    Well I could say: At anytime your sensei could become ill and be unable to teach for the rest of his life or worse. Or he could even be himself in a bad Financial situation for whatever reason and be force to fill for bankrutcy. So your sensei could be taken away from you as easily as mine. That’s just life my freind, temporary. And a full-timer and or commercial dojo does not ensure a quality teaching, or there would be no McDojos in this world and we would not be here arguing about this.

    So I could also say: There’s NOTHING your sensei does that cannot be exceeded in a non-commercial environment.

    Well obviously, I don’t put everyone in the same boat, there are excellent sensei who does this for their living and who teach with passion. In the end it all comes down to the individual and to chose you dojo well before suscribing of course if you have the option in your area. Or else, better do something else than being ripped off and having been taught stuff that could put you in danger or simply hurting you instead of helping you someday.

  107. Jason Epps

    April 25, 2015 at 3:40 am

    “Absurdly good looking” is an understatement!

  108. Bryan

    April 29, 2015 at 5:39 am

    Try this one. This is a “form” of kung fu modified in Taiwan, where the karate gi was added.

    So, a Chinese martial art that uses a Japanese art’s gi, AND has “katas”. The Grandmaster (who actually only tested to 5th degree before being named the next Grandmaster sometime in his 20’s) that learned the form from another Grandmaster that the Shaolin temple has NO record of, knows almost 1,000 forms, which is vastly more than any “respected” master of a martial art.

    Oh not to mention a 7 year old black belt.

    I literally counted 19 items in the list that apply to the form I am studying. I am only doing it because my daughter loves doing it, so I do it with her. Besides, it’s helping my fat ass get back into shape. LOL

  109. George Philip

    May 5, 2015 at 2:08 am

    94: Fake sick receive free Dan degree
    95: Bigmouthed dumbfucks get mentioned honors at the Federation
    96: The Grandmaster feels pity for motivated wussies and gives them black belt
    97: The diploma shows Japanese language that even Japanese do not understand
    98: The Grandmaster is an egotripper autistic who talks with animals
    99: The toilet of the dojo is congested and no one can shit safely
    100: Long members skip Dan degrees by doing nothing

  110. Glenn

    June 7, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    There is a Mac Dojo where I live and the sensei is a millionaire through his chain of clubs in England. While there’s nothing wrong with a man making his money at something he loves, unfortunately his whole karate organisation is set up for one thing: making money.
    I was a member of the club for five months in the nineties and the whole club was like a kindergarten, with kids running around and such meaningless things as junior black belts( for a considerable fee), and the karate that was being taught was about as effective in real life as a toy gun. It was all about selling you gis, that were badly made and would fall apart quickly( so the club could make more money), gradings that existed only to make money, and badgering people to grade faster and enter competitions. When a brown belt told me the club was a joke and he was changing styles, the game was up.
    Sadly the same organisation is around now, placing fancy adverts in the press and at sports centres, and duping people.

  111. Glenn

    June 7, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    While much mention is made of karate and TKD, which both seem to be riddled with politics and some clubs are only in it for the money, in England judo seems to have kept itself largely pure and united. All clubs have to register with the BJA, only the very top people in judo make any kind of money, and the style is the same wherever you go. It still explains why judo still has a big following here.

  112. Grail

    June 10, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    About the only thing on the list I disagree with is the techniques having numbers. Were a Muay Thai/ MMA school and techniques have numbers there is a name as well for them but the number is used during matches.

  113. Suntop

    June 24, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    I trained as a teenager/young adult with the A.T.A. style of Taekwondo and I do know that Taekwondo is both a sport and martial art. I seem to think the actual Martial Art is harder than the sport. American Taekwondo Association is certainly not a McMartial Art as it took me nearly 4 years to get to Recommended Black Belt. It is not as difficult as the ITF tho. I train at a local school. I think that where it takes a very long time between promotions in black belt are likely to be more legit.

    My ATA (Songahm style) teacher Master Goins taught me a lot and I am a much different person that I would of been without the training. I was going down the path of a petty criminal (shoplifting and stealing), my mom told me I need to find a better outlet than doing petty things. I learned respect, loyalty, perseverance and courtesy plus self-control and discipline to “grow up” and become law abiding thanks to the help of this martial art. I worked hard to prove to myself I could do this and EARN my belts. I did FAIL a test once too and I was heartbroken and he told me that he would retest me again after a short while meanwhile he gave me the next belt level (Without the black stripe to indicate that I was recommended at that belt level) and I took the re-test after working very hard for a few weeks and I became full rank. Then I moved and I couldn’t continue to train due to the fact where I moved to there is only one school and it is over 200 miles away from where I am at.

    At the current school since I am learning a new technique/style (ITF) I had to start over again although I was 2 belt tests away from 1st dan, I restarted at 10th gup/White and I just tested for 8th Gup (Yellow) and Passed with a decent score. I believe that what makes a difference between a McDojo and a real dojo is the time it takes to go through the belt system. it takes about 5 years to become a Black Belt in ITF according to my teacher and I agree I did train about that long to get to 1st level of recommended 1st degree black belt in ATA. I was a lot younger when I was training in ATA too. 20 years younger…

    I am the 2nd oldest student in class, the oldest student is now a 2nd Dan so I am the oldest color belt student and my training partner (or the student at my belt rank I train with the parts that require another student is 24 years my junior and we work together to help each other out. Very honored to have someone the same rank and that is that much my junior that is willing to train with me to help me learn the form. I was lucky and was the junior to the partner I trained with in ATA.

    Grandmaster General Choi Hong Hi is the grandmaster of the style I am learning now the other now Eternal Grandmaster H. U. Lee impressed me with their accomplishments.

    But thank you for this article and it made me laugh with a the signs # 47, 30, 44, 45, and especially #49 which reminds me of the McDojo part of Napolean Dynamite where the teacher wears an american flag pants uniform that did speak that way. :)

    I will read the article you sent by email hoping it will help me with my training. I hope the HACK will work. And I will bookmark this site and share it with my teacher so that he can read the 93 signs.

  114. bad moe foe

    July 23, 2015 at 1:31 am

    i play that record every body is kung fu fighting when i read these message- reply`s.

  115. Karate_Practioner

    August 14, 2015 at 1:34 am

    Definitely stay away martial arts instructors who are involved with metaphysics. They are really crazy. My old martial art instructor said he could heal people based on astrology lol.

  116. John

    August 18, 2015 at 4:49 am

    Dojos that offer multi-colored belts (different colors and the same belt). It’s amazing how many people fall for that.

  117. Ali Khalid

    September 23, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Welp, all the places in my area are all mcdojos……. guess I’ll have to take that one Muay Thai place that apparently doesn’t have any of this. Should’ve went there in the first place.

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