Imagine the fear:
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.
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.
So, you send an e-mail to Jesse-san.
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.
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.
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”.
12. You are never taught bunkai (applications) to moves.
13. If you are taught bunkai, they never work – except when your sensei does them.
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”.
24. There are camouflage belts.
26. Gradings are fifteen minutes long.
27. There are 7-year old black belts.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
86. Your sensei knows the ‘no-touch’ K.O.
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.
93. You practise backflips.
PS. Which ones did I miss? Leave a comment.
PPS. Again, thanks to all readers who helped me out on the KbJ facebook page.