Warning: 93 Signs Your Dojo is a McDojo

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.


  • Luis
    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.
    • True, McDojos exist in pretty much all parts of the world, not just the land of hamburgers.
      • Iko Uwais
        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
          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.
          • A random google adventure lead me here and I was very surprised to see you. Cheers to chance.
        • anti mcdojo
          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
            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
            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.
          • 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.
          • so true
          • Josepsh
            I just want too get my brown belt ?. .
      • Seijin
        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.
        • Sammy
          I am I JKA too. I'm from England.
        • Rob
          Hi Seijin in, the JKA is the Hombu (Headquarter) dojo for Shotokan, so to answer your question, no it's not :)
        • Russell
          No in Japan martial arts has a government type body. They watch over all schools. Each school has to have papers just to open a school.
          • Jubei
            There are definitely fake teachers, fraudulent martial arts, and McDojo in Japan. But they're not quite as widespread as they are in the West. Furthermore, since judo and other arts are so widespread (it's common for offices, police stations, etc to have their own dojo where the employees can train for fun) that means there's a certain inbuilt quality control. But this claim, that "No in Japan martial arts has a government type body. They watch over all schools. Each school has to have papers just to open a school." This is not true.
          • PHO
            I saw where someone said this is not true. If it's not true now, it most certainly "used to be". There was a governing body of Sukis where the wannabe-dojo had to apply and show lineage. It's certainly not that way in the states. You can get together and call yourselves "Bozo-do" and in the states, there is no one to stop you. The one thing that sticks out for ANY McDojo are the contracts, testing (and associated costs), and rank promotional opportunities.
        • Ab Cousin
          "Is jka a mcdojo?" Well, I'm now in JKA, since 3 years already, so I had time to notice things and form an opinion. I wouldn't say JKA it's a McDojo, if we are to judge it according to the "standards" above :) ... but - to be honest - in some aspects it's not too far! I mean specifically, the level of the students is rather low (there are exceptions though). The training sessions are short (1h in our dojo, don't know if it's the same everywhere), therefore also the warming is short and superficial and additionally, precious time is lost invoking the Dojo Kun at the end of every session (in japanese AND in local language!) They have like an obsession in memorizing how many moves every Kata has, and on which numbers are the Kiais! Actually nothing wrong with that, but on the other hand they do not concentrate on much important things: for example, in 3 years I don't remember practicing uramawashi not even once!!! They don't even own a makiwara or a punching bag! Also, the time between grades is too short in my opinion (6 months or so) . A lady which started from zero after I got here (so, around 3 years ago), she is now brown belt 3 kyu! :)) My personal opinion is that the teachers are not bad, at least some of them have VERY good didactic skills, but the whole system seems to be too much orientated to business, working on FFD (fast forward) to take the money from the ... ... ... well, I don't want to offend anyone. ;)
          • Per Kristoffersson
            I used to be in JKA here in Sweden. Yes, practice sessions were short. But then actually finding an hour or an hour and a half 3 times per week can be tricky, especially on a shared location. And to be fair, that hour and a half was plenty. Quality of students... well, it is what it is. Not everyone can be super dedicated and some people will just be incapable of learning proper form. Some will be terrible at Kumite, some will be incapable of memorizing even the simplest of Kata. The students showing up and making an effort is what is important. Grading... I was never a fan of it. The first one was just for the sake of it. The second one we found out during grading what we were supposed to be doing. Let's just say I failed a few gradings (Hikkite and not maintaining a constant enough height were the culprits I think) and got fed up with the whole idea of it. I wasn't interested in grading to start with and have come to view the formal grading system as flawed especially after having seen blackbelts underperform and having outscored a brown belt in kumite as a yellow belt. Personally I would prefer there to be only two ranks in a dojo; student and instructor. As for the time inbetween gradings. If there were gradings monthly, I wouldn't see an issue with that. bi-yearly? yearly? fine. It's not the time between gradings that is the issue. It's what is assessed at the gradings. What is important is that the grading is an assessment of skill, not just a measure of how long one has been a paying member. No, JKA is not a McDojo. It is a serious organisation. But the system has flaws. And every dojo must adapt to the realities of its surroundings to survive.
      • Anton
        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 :)
      • xela
        I go to a non mcdojo called Karate Do Harmonie. It is great!
      • Trev
        Hi Jesse, There is a chain of schools here in Australia that go by the Go Kan Ryu run by a "Kancho" Robert Sullivan. The standing joke amongst most other Karateka is to call it No Can Do (lol) but they do the door to door sales, black belts with a white stripe for non dan ranked instructors amongst several other of the 93 points you mentioned. They even have their own World Championships every 4 years - with no contact Kumite ???? I always thought they were a fraud but you have just confirmed my suspicions. Thankyou.
        • Joshua
          Rhee taekwondo is another one. Get your black belt in a year or a year and a half, they demonise other taekwondo organisations, can't cross train, no contact sparring and finally they keep you in 1st dan for over 15 years because Grand master Rhee is scared of going the itf or making their own organisation
          • Billyjoe
            Rhee Tae Kwon Do is the largest martial art school in Australia and one of the largest in the world with between 900 and 1300 branches. Master Chong Chul Rhee is the Father of Australian Tae Kwon Do and one of the 12 original masters along with his brother Master Chong Hyup Rhee. His other brother Grandmaster Chong Yoon Rhee, who began his training under Nam Tae Hi, came over to Australia in 1975 and was recently, awarded his 9th Dan (I’m not sure exactly what the story was there). Rhee Tae Kwon Do was once affiliated with The ITF but broke away, probably due to the ITF wanting to introduce competitions and Master Rhee wanting the art to remain in its original form. Master Rhee travels around most of Australia throughout the year conducting action days (gradings), 4 times a year and has not missed one Rhee Tae Kwon Do utilizes the Chang Hon style patterns, sparring is predominately non-contact and about 40%-60% hands. Rhee Tae Kwon Do is probably closer to Shotokan Karate than it is to most other Tae Kwon Do styles. they don’t use gloves or any other protective gear and do not compete in tournaments as it is a martial art of self defence, not a sport. Rhee Tae Kwon Do places high importance on technique and control, the training includes kicking, short and medium range hand techniques, head butts, grappling (joint locks are usually not taught until the more senior color belt ranks when they have developed a bit of control), defence against weapons and multiple opponents. Promotions for colour belts are performed during the regular class by the branch instructors when each one is ready and action days (gradings) are held 4 times a year and all black belt exams are personally conducted by Master Rhee. they have no specific set rules for advancement to the black belt ranks. It takes on average about 4 years from white belt to black belt. There is a junior black belt rank but there’s no set time or age limits. To go from junior black belt to 1st Dan and requires the same grading as every other 1st Dan which you much be an assistant instructor to take your 1st dan. to be considered for 2nd Dan and above, you must be already be an instructor and have your own branch. As far as I know there are about 2 Regional Master Instructors that are 6th Dan. a 4th Dans in Rhee Tae Kwon Do have usually been training and teaching longer than many of the 6th and 7th Dans from ITF taekwondo, pretty close being a shotokan instructor having your own dojo. To be considered a full master you would be a 6th Dan, there has only been one who had obtained that rank out side of the Rhee Brothers and he has since left and formed his own school (not sure what the story is on that one). Rhee Taekwondo has known to have a bad history of banning students from the organisation. if they cross train, show of their Rhee taekwondo skills outside of the organisation, train with an ITF taekwondo style or train with other martial art styles, and have a bad mine set etc. master Rhee has known to be very discriminating with men with long hair has been since Rhee taekwondo been founded in 1970s. it is a for-profit organisation and it is all about money for the regional managers on that note!! they also use McDonalds titles like. 3RD DAN REGIONAL MANAGER: REGIONAL INSTRUCTOR KWAN JANG NIM 4TH DAN SENIOR REGIONAL MANAGER: SENIOR KWAN JANG NIM 5TH DAN AND ABOVE MASTER REGIONAL MANAGER: MASTER INSTRUCTOR CHONG KWAN JANG NIM Rhee taekwondo EX regional instructors/branch instructors Jamie Moore, 9th dan Authentic Taekwon-do Australia - ITF Organisation, commenced was a 2nd dan branch instructor for Rhee Taekwon-Do in Queensland in 1976, and Les Hicks 7th dan Shim Jang Taekwondo commenced Rhee Taekwon-Do training in the late 1970s, and was a Rhee Taekwon-Do 3rd dan regional instructor in New South Wales
          • Rhee now - WT before
            I am a 1st dan Rhee Taekwondo "assitant instructor", or as Rhee likes to label, Yu Dan Ja (which simply means dan holder) and can corrobrate everything BillyJoe says. Myself and another student (now Sabum 1st dan) both promoted to 1st dan in just over 18 months. We are the exception though and we both were in our late thirties come to Rhee TKD with 3rd dans, myself in WT(F) TKD and the other fellow in Moon Lee TKD, an ITF style. Other than the two of us, I don't know any student who has been promoted to JBB or 1st dan in less than three years. But I will say this, compared to WTF, the "gradings" at Rhee are very water-down, and all you need technically need to do is be able to perform you pattern with the correct technique. There are no requirements for fitness (e.g. pushups) or knowing terminology, and all kup gradings are performed in class. "Promotions" can technically be done at any time, provided the student can pass that one requirement of correctly performing the pattern. I've seen 9th kup students successfully attempt board breaks, but generally breaking is not started until senior belts, 4th kup and above. I think the biggest deception of Rhee TKD is as a student you're not told of your options once you achieve 1st dan. You definitely cannot promote to 2nd dan (Rhee label of Sabum nim) without being a branch instructor. You also need to have 30 financial members at your branch. Similarly, to promote to 3rd dan you need to have opened more than 1 branch (another instructor may run it though). I imagine the requirements for growing Rhee continue as the dans increase. It is my understanding that if you are not thinking about becoming a branch instructor, Rhee does not see the point in promoting you to black belt. That is the message I got from my own Kwan Jang Nim as I approached my 1st dan exam, where I was literally told that I know enough to defend myself and if I wasn't committed to Rhee TKD I should stop now (prior to my 1st dan exam). World Master Rhee does have an impeccable lineage though and there is no denying that. He is also getting on in years and as of 2018 is allowing Regional Master Instructors to promote students to junior black belt. He is still personally promoting every single Rhee 1st dan. The no contact thing is not true. I left my 1st dan test battered and bruised and woke up the next day very sore. When the black belts spar (typically only at "advanced training") it is with control but the expectation that if you don't block a technique you wear the consequences. We don't use protective gear of any kind. All this said, the goals of Rhee are not to create champions or compete in sporting events (earlier in my training, when I was sparring at an action day I was told by Master Rhee himself "this is not sport taekwondo"). The awarding of black belt is not intended to be a recognition of mastery of the art. It is intended to signify that the student is significantly competent in the basics (basic stances, blocks, and strikes). Following through this checklist, in my experience, Rhee barely registers a yes to any of these questions. My only hint that it may be a mcdojo is the speed and ease with which students promote, and the reality that Rhee is a business first and a school second, and there is a big focus on growing numbers and keeping the numbers high (likely why promotions are frequent). (Why did I change from WT(F) to Rhee? Location and time. The Rhee branch is literally less than 1km from my house and my wanted a time convenient club for my kids - I had no intention of training, but as I sat there lesson after lesson, watching my kids train, I got the itch to do something again. And I'm old and broken down and no longer have a desire to be hit often). Keep up the good work Jesse. Love your stuff.
          • RTKDCMB
            Most of what Billy Joe said below was plagiarized from me, right up to the 'not sure what the story is on that one' part. The last two paragraphs or so are straight from Wikipedia. He doesn't know squat. Also, Joshua, being a first Dan for 15 years won't stop the ITF from accepting someone as a student or instructor since they will just promote them to whatever Dan rank they see fit.
        • William kay
          Hey there. I'm a gkr karate ka. Yeah we do share some of the mc dojo points but.. I am currently a 1st dan in the style it has taken me 7 years to achieve this rank. I also teach for gkr and I teach practical use and bunkai. Also our ranks up to black belt is recognised in goju. U also teach application from other styles cause I can always attribute it to Kata or basics.
      • Skull
        Hey jesse why is my kids dojo asking for parents to leave during testing but can return for last 45 mins . Not sure i undersrand.
        • James
          This is probably to stop the kids acting up or being distracted by the parents. At our club, no 'spectators' are allowed in the dojo during the testing, but they are allowed in after the grading panel have deliberated and are announcing the results. It has also been a long time since we had any students fail a grading, since we generally do not let them participate in a grading we believe they would fail. For younger students, being 'held back' can provide a burst of motivation to prove that they CAN train properly.
      • gary howarth
        that is true I’ve trained in some in the uk
      • James
        All or none of the things mentioned here might be true or not. The attitude of a martial arts spirit should be focusing on the positive and being tolerant of all people instead of judging and making fun of things that can be subjective. Some of the traits mentioned in what this Jesse person mentioned as MCDOJO can be seen in the statement in itself of the person who wrote it. Would love to see more positivity in so called martial artist instead of the popular negative ones. Especially some of the comments some of the keyboard warriors make are just as discouraging as a fellow martial artist... let’s act like what we preach. My art is better than yours is just childish. In famous words of Bruce Lee, It’s the person who takes it that makes the difference.
      • Just a random stranger
        I need some questions answered: 1. Can people from McDojos go to actual karate tournaments like the Wado Kai cup? 2. Is my dojo a McDojo? We have a gym in our town in which other people come to train for example volleyball an then after them we come an train karate and so on.Our dojo has a Facebook page which only says the style of karate we learn (traditional Wado Ryu) and our sensei's phone number.Only 4 people have black belts 3 of them have lower black belts like the 1st and 2nd dan and our sensei has got 6th dan (he's 50+ ). We competed in the Wado Kai cup last year and we will compete again this year. Our sensei somtimes jokes with us. We can advance to the next belt every 6 months if we know everything really well. Membership is 75 kunas a month which is half he price you usually pay for classes (150 kunas). I have been trainig for a year now and I have a green belt( I skipped belts(and that's very probably not good but I knew what I needed to know for the green belt)). I dont think that my dojo is a McDojo but still I would like to know. Please anwser me. -A random stranger
      • I could not agree more! Maybe add one that says: There is a one size all fits technique, that's forbidden for regular students that will magically disarm two people pointing guns and you while the third holds a knife to your throat lol This list was hilarious!
      • Tony Benevides
        1) Your dojo advertises Karate on the outside, but when you get in they tell you they teach ... (American Kenpo, TKD, Zabumbafu whatever) and then tell you it's better than Karate 2) They randomly add Jujitsu to the styles they teach, but don't actually know any form of jujitsu 3) The website fails to mention the instructors name and background 4) They plug Facebook over the Website as an advertisement 5) They only let you compete in internal tournaments, not sanctioned or Opens 6) During their demo, the instructor does a breaking demo and fails, blaming the new style of wood or bricks and not they they missed the center. (or they are hung over) 7) You a Kata system that was made up by a first degree blackbelt that just got out of college 8) Your school removed kata from it's program, noting again your instructor is a 20 something and never learned the kata properly 9) There's a peep hole in the women's locker room facing the office of the school owner 10)There's a peep hole in the men's locker room facing the office of the school owner 11) The guy down the street was a Legit National Champion, on the Olympic committee and also won a Kickboxing title with 50 years experience and charges 1/2 the amount of your school
      • Leland r Adams
        Georgia is littered with them.They turn out black belts in 18 months.One guy got 1st degree black belt in 9 months.
        • Kherynton C.
          Yes I agree it was so hard to find a dojo here. The dojo I go to has 2 of the things that are mentioned in this post, but it would be hard to find one that has zero. My sensei actually explains why we do the things we do instead of just saying," I said so,"I have also seen people fail there grading which I think is a good sign.
          • ben agnew
            do you mean Georgia the country or Georgia the state?
      • http://yangtaekwondo.com/ Is this class real or fake
      • The school I currently go to has 20 - 25 of these characteristics. Should I be concerned?
      • Francois
        Some signs you mentionned are a bit far fetched or can be forgiven. I guess you also have some sens of humor. Most are absolutly right! I excuse or don't mind those: *Between belt grades you get colored tabs on your belt to denote ‘half’ or ‘quarter’ ranks. (I would hardly have 4 belts if it was of me in my dojo, but they do that in some Brazilian Jujitsu schools) *You are doing kata to music. (Why not, some people like to train to music.) *Your sensei sounds and acts like a motivational speaker. (Why not if he or she is real good at it effectively) *Besides teaching Karate, your grandmaster also teaches ‘cardio kickboxing’ (or similar). (So what?) *You’re wearing a taekwondo uniform. (I can wear sweat pants for all of it, if it wasn't for some respect of old tradition and uniformity of the dojo uniforms) *Your grandmaster has a habit of dating students. (The word habit is important in your comment. If legally aged of course. I have seen it in more than one dojo. Hormones are hard to control. Those couples formed of instructors with a female student happens.. It is like university teachers dating students, especially during their master degree. Some women are excited by position of autority). You practice backflips. (Depends on what is the goal. Gymnastics can be great, if not mandatory.) One must read your your DISCLAIMER first.
      • meatlesscobra2
        I assure you, I do taekwondo, and my instructors (like master Fox) don't wear Mcdonald's uniforms.
      • Hrachy
        Reading this made me think I wasted 7 years in a mcdojo.
      • Great site Jess I know what you mean! Joel www.makotoiaido.com
    • Paulo José
      94. The instructor and students are fats and they avoid to do excercise or any kind of warm up before training
      • Candice
        I'm glad you specified doesn't do the warm up, because I am overweight, a brown going for black belt and an instructor in my Dojo (Strive Martial Arts). Just because someone is overweight, doesn't mean they can't do what is required. We test physically, technically and in contact (where able - we have students who can't be hit in the head so we adapt the testing for them). :)
        • Francois
          I totally agree. I used to believe this. Bruce Lee had the same perception, but it is a cliché of bad instructors. Some overweight people are great instructors. People also have to distinguish a coach or instructor from an athlete or champion. Often knowlege is there and understang of movement also no matter the weight. I even have seen some slightly overweight practitionners that were quite fast and sometimes impressively flexible. I understand why an overweight instructor that promotes himself the Grand Master may upset someone that trained so hard like Bruce Lee. I was the same being young making that correlation between being fit and knowledgeable. You do not need both to be a great instructor or be good at self-defense. But of course it helps to be able to do more advanced physical techniques like spinning kicks and so fort. But being effective in self-defense, you just need to be aware, fast enough and have mnastered the right skills, no matter your weight. I guess if Bruce Lee would have survived over age 32, he would have come to change his point of view on the matter.
    • Melissa La Cour
      Reading this my dojo slips more and more to the mcdojo side every day. I fear there is no going back anymore.
    • Mark Gibson
      The first school I went to was a mcdojo for the money I spent I could have earned a bachelor's in computer science timewise I could have been a PHD i only got a greenbelt
    • Jason Harmsen
      When the school doesnt do crap about a kid acting like hes better than non practicers
      • This is Taekwondo Related. I moved to a new city and was already a certified 2nd Degree Black Belt. I joined a traditional taekwondo school having been trained in both WTF and ITF i had a background in both but immediately saw they were ITF so okay good. Day 1 I noticed off the bat they were teaching kids to break boards the wrong way. I was with them for 4 years and they never acted on my expertise and maybe what I had to offer. My style was simply IGNORED yet not bragging they never had any adult black belts who could beat me in the ring. The head instructor began ad libbing the moves in the colored belt forms. I got on YouTube and looked and looked and looked and never saw the forms done "his way"... his testings...were wwwaaaayy to easy! The kids and adults knew they were gonna pass it was just forms, sparring (one match) and one steps. The kids just winged it cause they knew they'd pass. They taught forms by not telling them the name of the move or purpose just said do a move that looks like this. They decided to test me for my 3rd... I had to to ITF Juche form and I looked on YouTube at over 10 videos to get familiar with it...I began practice and how I was doing it the other black belts said no no its like this so I said look online at the traditional way...they did and they looked at the website they base it off of and it looked the same...BBUUTT the 7th Degree White Man Grand Master (No not racists) said "HE DIDN'T CARE" what it said he WANTED IT THIS WAY....I didn't want to believe it but I had to put up my red flag, another instructor there a so called 6th ad libbing the forms... dude it's STUPID! Anyway now today I've started my 0wn school. And it took almost 12 weeks to catch the kids up that stayed with me.
    • in india there are some but these techniques are awsome ....
  • Emilio
    81. You train defense against baseball bats by blocking with your forearm. TRUE STORY
    • Tell me 'bout it!
      • Viking
        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
          At least it was his arm and not his skull that was broken, just saying...
      • John
        You do realize that the intent of a high block to defend against a bat or stick or whatever, is to protect your head. I would sacrifice my forearm to save my skull. I agree with many of your items in the list, however, there are some areas that you have allowed people to take out of context of a reputable dojo. Again, I think your closing is correct, each person needs to use their head and be aware of what is happening in the class and if they are really gaining anything.
        • ben
          but if you sacrifice your arm to save your skull, you then can't lose that arm, then you can't properly defend yourself right? Also, your arm doesn't have the strength to block a bat so you wouldn't get far with that anyway.
        • Girish
          If you sacrifice your forearm to save your skull, you just sacrificed your forearm and your skull.
        • Craig
          I know this is probably inappropriate as this is an old post and I'm not an expert fighter by any means. But why would you block with your forearm to save your head? Why not just instantly close the distance and get up against the batter? He's still holding a bat without space to swing and you've got knees and elbows (that's provide you don't have the opportunity to just turn and run...)
          • Lucas
            Yeah, you just get in close and block their arm. The mcdojo people are just lazy enough they would rather break their arm than learn how to take a step.
          • Tom Mitchell
            You're absolutely right! I've been training in different styles for 42 years. To defend against a bat or stick you deflect as you move in and close the gap. Inside there's no room to swing it and at that point you neutralize the individual. If you fight fair your strategy and tactics stink. You fight to win and end the altercation. The 93 points above are so true. I like to walk into a school and pretend I haven't trained and listen to the garbage they spew.
          • Leo
            Yeah, in a real life situation maybe sacrificing the arm to REALLY preserve the head would be acceptable, but that really depends on the situation. If the attacker does not have much advantage (ie, he is somehow cornered), if the victim could use the moment to disarm and dominate him shortly after that would be a good situation; in this case losing an arm would give the victim a surviving chance. Even the other way round, after seing the arm broken the attacker may realize the brutality of his attack and not give a second blow to the head; he would not have realized his action beforehand had he effectively hit the head on the first try.
          • Leo
            But theories and speculations about real life situations apart, the thing here is the training. Endurance is desirable, although it seems pretty impossible to achieve a level where one could easily block a basebal blow with the forearm. How much pain and injuries such "training" would cause? Would it be worth? And for what exactly? Just for the sake of being able to do so? How many times you were assaulted with a baseball bat? How many people do you know were? Sure hardening the body and muscles gives advantages for full contact kumite, but there are limits. If one fails to understand this, well, maybe he is a mckarateka...
      • Sean
        Jesse what about ATA martial Arts? I just enrolled my kids in this and they have contracts but they didn’t say they was mandatory and they also say ATA Taekwondo on the back of their uniforms. Before I signed up the kids got to take a class for free and they didn’t say we had to sign up they just asked what we thought as parents and asked if anyone wanted get started. Just wanted to know if anyone knew anything about this before I spend too much on it.
        • james navarre
          I don't debunk what people have taken away from a school whether it is a McDojo or not. most stylists eventually can read in between the lines (for as long as they stay) and I will always give a "good for you!" no mater where they trained or how long in the style it was. I taught in Toledo Ohio for many years as a chief instructor ( I left when I was seeing more sales than spirit) I understand that there does need to be a number game to keep the machine going but WITHIN LIMITS. I was sent to Jacksonville Fla t Master Clarke's ATA empire to learn sales.. he gave out lotto tickets to people who answered questions and we learned that when you reach 200 active students you move a new school 2 miles away. eventually the competition is forced out and the schools who want to join in have to ask to move into the area. kicks had numbers on purpose because the non-English instructors could count (the sales presentation WAS still pretty good English though lol). Staff was kept at 2 full time and 1 part time. You have to earn the $$$ Victory Patch $$$ and there are testing fees. "Take Kwan's Dough" was a joke among the TKD instructors there.. If you like the pomp and circumstance along with hidden fine print............. GO FOR IT!!!
        • Marco
          Yep. Biggest mcdojo out there. There is little or no actual self defense training. The programme is so easy and simple, that you will even see 16-year-old teaching. Not only wearing a black belt, but also a 2nd or 3 rd degree. Some of them actually train and are good at what they do. But the focus of the organization. Y developing a profitable business. I was part of it for about 6 years. And it doesn't have a few of the characteristics listed here.... it has too many of them.
    • slim
      HAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA aint that the truth...
    • Matt
      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?
      • Mina uran
        Yes, my school also used foam bats that are made for martial arts.
    • courtellis
      Scary that whole baseball bat thing huh?
    • Mark
      American Kenpo
      • Mark
        American Kenpo taught me to block the bat with my forearm. Needless to say, I left that style.
        • A Real Skeptic
          To be fair, it depends how and where you block it. A hard block with the bone is stupid, but an angled plane to deflect it, especially with some give to your arm and body structure, is not so ridiculous. The inside of the arc toward the grip is much less troublesome than blocking such a swing near the 'business end' of the bat. Yes, a standard age uke block to a bat would be bad, but that's why application of that block is not shown with a bat, not in a quality school. Keep in mind that the forearm block might actually be a strike that comes in combination with a preceding evasion/deflection/grab. Why would the ancient masters use a two-movement defense to counter a one-movement attack? (Former SKA Shotokan guy)
          • You might be able to get away with blocking it near the users hands, since the power of the strike is at the end of the bat... but it would be a last ditch attempt to save your skull and close the distance AND if you couldn't simply run away (which is the best option)
        • Nem
          American Kenpo taught me to move out of the way and deflect it. Or step in to block at the opponents elbows if possible. Blocking at the wrists could cause the opponents arms to buckle at the elbows and lead to an elbow into your face or chest.
  • Taylor
    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).
    • Mcdojo Mike
      I love seeing the older 50 something students who practice martial because their kids who are not even 18 yet are 3rd degree blackbelts. The 50 something student is almost a blackbelt and can't even kick higher than their knee cap but are somehow state and district champions? I also hate the everyone passes rule. I hate seeing students who would most likely curl up in a ball when they get their butts beat at school because they can not put what they have learned at the mcdojo into a real life scenario.
      • Jason Harmsen
        We are told that we shouldnt have to defend ourselves in school. Also the idea that in order to learn something better you have to get a higher belt The shit that works tends to be 8 trs later. Also special ed down syndrome 40 somethin No hating gets special treatment instead of being treated the same as others
  • My favourite :-): "51. Reference is repeatedly made to the notorious “street”, and what works/doesn’t work there."
    • Yet, mysteriously enough, nobody has ever really been to this "street"...
      • Damien Martin
        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
        It's always se same street.
      • Flourdust
        I hear that occasionally at my place, but that's because the Tuesday night instructor is an active duty cop.
  • Kresimir Kralj
    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.
    • 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
        Well, rather one overweighted Patrick McCarthy (few years ago, now, he's back shaped) than 3 sporty-looking McMasters.
        • Geoff MacDonald
          He’s not in shape anymore….pushing well over 300lbs.
        • Geoff MacDonald
          He’s not in shape anymore… He’s well over 300lbs
      • Quinton
        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
          In Tae Kwon Do, you wear a dobak, not a gi.
          • Phil
            You could moves a high block with your pinky, a bat will go right into you skull.
        • Matt
          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.
          • FernandoPoo
            Great article! Still (as a TKD practitioner) and to make this list work better across arts (not your point, I know) I'd change "You are in a taekwondo uniform" to "you are in the wrong clothing" or similar.
          • Blue Duck 457
            That is utter BS. I've trained WTF and ATA and your gi/dobok doesn't matter. A good instructor can teach any in any "style" well, even in sweatpants.
      • Nijil Jacob
        Our grand master used to be in good shape but ever since his sensei passed away he has become slightly overweight.
    • maxim
      My sensei is a bit overweight but still faster and stronger than most students
  • Alberto
    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.
    • Alberto-san, your comment is sad but true!
    • sancho
      Most of the Dojo now are like this...no exemption about this.
  • 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
      and you can add that this 'karate' school is called a dojang............and the teacher is referred to as sifu
      • And they're wearing turbans ;)
        • Brad Lee
          And belts with like four colors on each one.
        • Ceri Cat
          Wouldn't include the turban comment, there's a sizable number of Muslims and Sikhs that compete with ISKA Australia, and that includes some of their teachers. And nothing wrong with a lot of their technique. The sloppy Heian Shodan and bunkai I saw came from a painfully white dojo.
    • Mark
      Kissaki Kai comes to mind. I studied under a 4th Dan in that style. Before going to him, I explicitly told him on the phone that "I work in a max security prison, I need a simple system that works in the real world, and if it doesn't I could literally be killed." Apparently, either he didn't give a damn or he's deceived himself about his skills because he assured me "it's the real deal". It ain't! No sparring...no nothing except kata and one-step bunkai practice. If your real world attacker slowly raises a fist to your face and holds it there for a minute or two while you apply your technique, it should work in most cases.
      • Maziar
        Mark, I don't know who you learned Kissaki with and where. But, Kissaki works! The chief instructor, Sensei Vince Morris, has taught many law enforcement officers. The Belgian Police academy has incorporated some of Kissaki's techniques into its training manual. Check out: http://www.kissakikarate.com/law.htm. No sparring? What do you mean? Randori? Jyu-kumite? If so, that's not real. That's a sport at best. I learned Kissaki under Sensei Morris, and I taught it several years. The core elements center around Kata and real applications based on the rules of combat which transcend any martial arts discipline. How the training is then complemented with conditioning, drills, etc., is up to the individual instructor. If you are suggesting with your phrase "If your real world attacker slowly raises a fist ..", that Kissaki practice occurs at an impractically slow pace, you obviously have not been training it at full speed for some obscure reason. If an attacker/Uke delivers a punch to a partner/Tori who applies a real block that works, while simultaneously applying a counter-strike, then Uke's arm may well be held out for a few seconds (not a minute!), because it is literally being used as leverage for either a take-down, or control for other strikes to pressure points. There are a lot of original video clips featuring Sensei Morris on the web. If you are not convinced, you're not interested in self-defense.
  • Stephanie
    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.
    • That made me crack up!
    • Taylor
      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).
  • oh, another 3 95. 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) 96. the super-mega-master is a violent arrogant asshole. 97. You pay expensive federation insurance even if you don't go to tournaments.
    • Darshan-san, you're on fire today! ;)
      • 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)
        • Nelson Barragan
          Sorry, but i disagree with you...Taekwondo IT IS NOT a sport, it is a martial art, a full martial art, and I suposee that you say that because you got your blasck belt in a MCDOJO..i have the reare oportunity that my master is recognized a atrue worl wide taekwondo master...and he puts a lot of enfasis in self defense insted of sport combat,,,,if you want to know what Taekwondo really is just let me know and come to Panama , central america and I will teach you what it is REAL taekwondo..thanks God my academy it is not a MCDOJO..normally takes 4-7 years to get to black belt and our grade test to black belt can last up to 5 hours......spo..welcome if you want
          • Warren
            Agreed. There's sport taekwondo just the same as there's sport karate. Openly disrespecting other styles isn't cool. Especially one as beautiful as taekwondo.
        • Stoughton
          im of the impression that tkd was cherry picked piece mealed together by many other systems for franchising purposes. The korean peninsula lacks nothing in the way of martial arts and relevant history. These people repelled japan in the thick of all the samurai crap like 7 times. you know they know some good shit. you know taekwondo as the kicking sport art which is superb at what it does and very unique in that regard. but you must know in your bones that getting a blackbelt in tkd is officially one of the easiest and fastest arts to attain that rank in. with tkd, blackbelt is truly the foundation to chase the rabbit hole.
          • Nelson Barragan
            In fact what you said is in partially true...but it depends of your school...in my school kids star taekwondo at 4 -5 age and get bolack belt at 13 by rule..it means 9 years...and adults going class every day, takes 3-4 years to get the first dan degree..my school is not a Mc Dojo, and our Taekwondo is full focus on self defense...so...it depens where you study it
          • Spandexslab
            Lol, no. First of, Korea ('Goguryeo' at the time) only beat Japan ('Wa' at the time) at the Gogureyo-Yamato war, which occurred between centuries IV and V, way before the tradition of samurai was even born, and Korea wasn't even an unified kingdon (Korean peninsula consisted of Goguryeo, Silla and Baekje, three different kingdons) . And they came to confront again in the XVI century, when Korea (Joseon at the time) alied with Ming China against Japan. Korea manipulated the records of its history to built a strong national identity, claiming that Japan and China 'stole' their martial arts, while the truth is that traditional Taekwon-do, for example, is mostly an complete copy of Shotokan and Okinawan Karate. People talk about Taekkyon, but this has never been used by Korean Military in first place, they mainly used weapons such as bows and arrows. Actually, Korea brought up the almost forgoten tradition of Taekkyon in atempt to make their modern empty-hand combat arts (Tang soo do, Hapkido and Taekwon-do, which all apeared only in early-mid XX century, and have far more Japanese and Chinese M.A influece than Old Korean M.A influence) sound older and more original than they really are. Korea's dream was to have their culture admired and apreciated by the West as Japan had theirs, even if they had to make up an 'original' tradition of martial arts by riping-off other Asian styles and techniques and claim as theirs. And they succeded. As result, we have ignorant people all over the globe propagating Korean nationalist propaganda, thinking that Taekwon-do has been around for some 5000 years and was used to kick the samurai of their horses. LOL
          • Juan
            At my dojang its taken me about 10 years to get to red belt, and I practice tkd. Not sure if that's normal or not, but i still have a couple of years before black.
          • leo
            @Spandexslab I don't know about the wars or Koream dreaming of being admired by the West as Japan, but it's no wonder Taekowndo is so similar to karate, specially shotokan. Not saying it's a complete copy but upon invading the Korean peninsula the japanese suppressed (or at least tried) all korean identidy. Local combat systems were also ruled illegal, but since you cannot simply wipe out culture overnight the koreans just adapted their style to karate. When the occupation finished circa 1950 the modifications imposed were so deeply imposed to original style they just stick with it as it was instead of "cleaning" it from the japanese influence. I have some years of experience in both karate and tkd, and it's true that part of the techniques, blocks, instances and bases are pretty much the same.
  • Samir
    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).
    • Samir-san, be my guest! Looking forward to seeing the result ;)
      • My name is Amy. Also called Amyy. Hi. GIVE ME A FREE MANI PEDI NOW YOU TRASHBAG OF A MAN.
  • Lee Richards
    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...
    • Lee-san, that's a controversial one for sure!
      • Merlin
        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
          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.
          • Spacecat
            I think the use of osu in a dojo is specific to Kyokushin
    • bena
      This was a conversation that I had with another instructor about spelling and meaning. lol
    • Golden Silence
      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
        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! :)
      • 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..
        • 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!
  • RH Gutierrez
    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
    • Haha, great ones! ;)
    • Damien Martin
      So a PhD in martial science isn't a valid qualification? Who knew?
      • Sidenote: The list of unaccredited unversities of the world is pretty huge: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unaccredited_institutions_of_higher_education
    • "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
        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
      • 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
        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
      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. Neil
  • Je
    There is no resistance allowed during "self defense" drills because any resistance means your arm will get broken.
    • Of course, Je-san. That's why we should all stay home!
    • Brad Lee
      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!
  • gilga
    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.
    • Gilga-san, that first one is nasty! :O
  • kai-ru
    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.
    • 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! :D
      • Suzanne
        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.
        • Tony Benevides
          They dont hurt conditioned fighters, however they make a good block
      • 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
          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.
      • 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
      Attacked by a knife? Yes, many ways to disarm the weapon - Crescent Kick, Front Kick, Roundhouse Kick, etc. Me? I'd just RUN away!
  • MJ
    Another one: Your Dojo is part of a chain of franchised dojos.
    • "Can I get a McHanshi with that?"
      • LOL McHanshi!
  • Dewayne
    If you or someone in the school is a probationary black belt.
    • Taylor
      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!
      • "Brilliant"!
      • Chad Tower
        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."
      • Sapper Woody
        I have to disagree with the probationary blackbelts as whole, while agreeing with your situation. I, myself, received a "provisional" black belt from an association. I had learned a similar form of kung fu, but had never tested for black sash. Years later, I met someone who taught a "daughter" form of the art I had studied. I attended the annual gathering, where I was tested before an 8th black, a 6th black, and a 3rd black. They decided to grant me a brown sash, provisional black; they decided that my skill in kung fu was enough to warrant a black sash, but that my experience in their style was not enough to warrant a black sash in their style. So, currently I am a provisional black, with the full teaching permissions/responsibilities as a black sash. I am going back to the annual gathering this year to once again test, and it will be determined if I will be allowed to become a "full-fledged" black sash. Now, it has to be mentioned that this is NOT a normal thing for the association. And it also needs to be mentioned that there are zero testing fees (although I did have to travel to Florida from Arkansas, so there was a cost involved). In your scenario, giving out probationary black belts in order to collect more fees, or to keep students longer, I would have to agree that this is a good sign of a McDojo.
    • Devi
      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. :D 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. :D
      • Jeff
        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...
  • Luis
    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
      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!
      • In other words; effectiveness!
      • Luis
        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
          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
        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
      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
        I agree. Theres too much generalisation.
      • Brad Lee
        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.
    • Warren
      And just what exactly is wrong with a kicking drill where you never let your foot touch the ground? Those are great for leg strengthening and technique sharpening. I think a some of these are suggested out of bitterness and far more a reflection of the poster's short comings rather than a genuine sign of a McDojo. A for the touch combat rule, that's the only fair way of doing it. Otherwise judges decisions would be far too random and inconsistent to the point where luck decides the winner.
      • Blue Duck 457
        Those are also good for not only balance but leg strength as well. In fact, I just did this drill in my Shotokan class.
    • Warren
      You mean these "Chun Li" lightning kicks? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_ht8TYME1A Now let's see your kicks!
      • Warren
        New one. https://youtu.be/7vC2U8mv3_s :)
  • 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: https://www.karatebyjesse.com/why-theres-still-no-secret-moves-in-karate-kata-why-you-should-care-now/ 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
      @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
      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
        The only time parents don't want their kids to go to mcdojos, is when the parents themselves learned tough martial arts.
        • Melissa
          @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!
      • 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.
    • Can I get an amen!?
    • 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.
      • Oh! *taking notes* ...and how much could I charge for those again? :P
        • 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
  • Szilard
    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.
  • Shaun
    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!
    • 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
      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.
      • TakeMyDough! Hah!
        • Rob
          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.
    • Simpler to just have everyone line up according to rank. :-) Shodan-ho - :-) Sounds like they are ready to work the street!!!
    • Jeff
      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...
  • Karato
    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!
    • Love that 80-b! ;) It's just too darn easy to defend against being stabbed in the back nowadays, know waddimean?!
  • Antonio
    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
      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). :D 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
      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.
      • (Note to self: Start learning Spanish again.)
        • Also, Portugese, apparently. (Thank you Google translate).
          • Samir
            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. Abraços!
          • Fabio
            Jesse, 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.
  • Mark A
    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
      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
        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
          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.
    • Kiddy Krotty Kare Program cracks me up!
    • Hannah
      Shuttle bus that picks up my kids from school and takes them to karate? Where do I sign up???
      • Andrew Whitehead
        We have one in our town that does that. He picks up from school, teaches them according to belt, and has them wear gear and do full contact sparring at end of class. This is in TKD and the kids love it, get proper training and are required to know their form to move up a belt.
  • Craige Thompson
    You missed out the instructor wearing his giant solid gold chain, big massive sovereign ring and rolex (probably fake) whilst training.
    • 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
      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
  • Te'o
    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!
  • Maria Wayne
    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 :)
    • True indeed, Maria-san. There is something to gain in everything.
    • Mark A
      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.
  • Silvia
    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. Silvia.
    • Sensei Sokon would roll over in his grave! He was Okinawan!
  • Master Ken
    You have a McDojo if you are not taking Ameri-do-te. All other martial arts are bull$hit. ;)
    • TRTKD
      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
        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
      Only Ameri-Do-Te has techniques to defend against yourself. They call this technique....You-jitsu
  • Jimmy
    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"
  • Viking
    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.
  • Randy
    The the name of the style you are studying has your teachers name in it. Example: RandyRyu
  • eddie
    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
      Your comment might be taken more seriously if it seemed a bit more literate.
  • Mohammad Khan
    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.
  • Mark
    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
      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
    • Jack M
      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!
  • Martin
    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!
    • That's commendable! ...and hey, haters gon' hate ;)
  • Dr.Strangelove
    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
      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.
  • Josep
    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
      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...
  • Devi
    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. :D
    • >>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
        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. :D and yes, we do respect him/her like we respect a school professor.
  • Nixon
    >> 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<<
  • 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
      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 =)
  • 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???
    • Travis Cena
      I’m fairly new to owning a school, myself. For us, there are definitely more games and grace with my 4-6yr olds. We are introducing discipline as a concept, and teaching motor skills as much as the art, so there is less (in my case) Taekwondo by percentage than my 7-12 classes, for example, and I think that’s appropriate. I’m also a little easier with my white belts than my colored belts in the 7-12yr old class, while still requiring and teaching discipline. I’m learning a balance of calling them up to greatness & the integrity of the art, and recognizing the process of maturity. I don’t think that’s dishonest or “bait & switch”. Especially in modern culture, you have to find a balance of helping create a value and enjoyment of the art and the investment, while still challenging and instilling your core values from the beginning.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jack M
    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
  • KyokushinGuy
    - '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
      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
        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?
        • Warren
          Well said! Karate for christ, OMFG!
  • Nomis2170@hotmail.con
    What are your thoughts on gkr karate?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Aaron
    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 ...
  • Aaron
    I thought of another one ... velcro belts ...
    • Classic, Aaron-san!
  • Stefan
    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?
  • bena
    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.
  • Jeff
    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
      Jeff, 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.
      • @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!
    • Warren
      "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." Er, no! Just no. I've got one. Your instructor criticises other clubs that do things in a slightly different way, and huge bonus mcDojo points if they also childishly call the instructors of those other clubs names like moron or accuse them of having no respect for traditions", when clearly the instructor running their mouth off is in fact the one who's guilty of both charges.
  • Bena
    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. Osu!
  • Laura
    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
      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.
  • maja
    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!)
  • Fabio Salvador
    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.
  • Dene
    Your dojo is in a strip-mall... Love the article; looking forward to reading more!
  • David
    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...
  • Felician
    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!!! :)
  • Luzbel
    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.
  • Bernadine
    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
      Bernadine, 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.
    • Warren
      "Let me just tell you that my God guided me to this resource." Let me just tell you that I found my own way here.
  • JSL
    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!
  • light
    are you the one on America's Got Talent? If so GENIUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Peter G.N. GRIFFIN
    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 !
  • Peter G.N. GRIFFIN
    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 !
  • chris
    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.
  • 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?
    • If you and your sensei are exceptionally talented - maybe yes! ;-)
  • Kiwi Aaron
    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.
  • Katie
    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.
  • Justin
    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
  • nic868
    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.
  • doug
    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
  • KCO
    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
      did they also have to register their hands as deadly weapons?
  • cordell
    "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?
  • 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.
  • Donald
    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
  • Zach
    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.
    • Warren
      I wondered that exact same thing. Clarification please.
  • Karateka
    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
      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.
    • Ridzuan
      Capitalism make all of this dying....is all about money.So sad but true
  • Shaun Yap
    Hey Jesse, just look at this shit. It's at my school and it's probably the worst mcdojo I've seen so far. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDupq8BLkJo
    • Shaun Yap
      Oh and Jesse, does this look like a mcdojo to you? http://karate.com.my/blog/2010/01/24/osu/
      • Kuang E
        This look like one of the Kyokushin clubs. Definitely not a MacDojo to me.
    • Stuart Wilke
      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
      I can't tell whether it is a MacDojo from this demonstration video however, most of them are good looking young chicks!
  • Marco
    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.
  • courtellis
    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!! 98
  • 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.
  • chris sands
    sign that says birthday parties are avaible
  • Siejin
    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"..
  • 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...
  • Isa
    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.
  • Ken
    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. InNae
  • Nicole Siaw
    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 :)
  • ldretzka
    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
      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.
  • Keith Nylund
    What is the difference between a dojo rank and a rank of an organization
  • 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.
  • Clance
    Rocket surgery? :-) Good article!
  • Shaolin101
    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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tb8bWbA678 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qHL2PSpecI
  • Mat
    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
    • 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
        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
        • 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
            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.
        • Court Ellis
          I agree
  • da0neman
    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.
  • 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
  • Nijil Jacob
    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
  • JR
    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 $75. The instructor claimed he didn't make money on that one either.
  • JR
    Sorry... That instructor told SANDANS, not sandals. Damn autocorrect.
  • Igor Hunchback
    Another sign: your reputation as an expert is solely from contriving arguments that other styles or schools are fake 'bullshido', based on your own lack of knowledge/training and some video taken completely out of context. You spend more time pointing out the real or imagined faults of others that you do trying to learn or improve your own skills.
    • Mat
      Hear hear!
  • Fundamentally any commercial Karate dojo is not true the the arts. The principle of Karate, Iaido etc is attaining perfection and enlightenment. To achieve this we follow the guidance of the Tao & Zen teachings. Ego is the enemy of enlightenment. In fact all the religions teach against being egotistic also. Takuan Soho teaches in his book on the art of swordsmanship that ego is a cause of the mind resting in one place. The mind resting makes your sword defeatable. A swordsman who does not let his mind rest when he draws his sword can defeat a 1000 men. You will notice how most of the Okinawan teachers show little or no ego. They do not cover their Gi in patches and do not insist on being called "master", just sensei. Chasing Dan grades is all about ego but western teachers have to focus on that because it is the western nature to strive and try. The Okinwan lets it come through sweat.
  • Jeff
    Reading some posts I feel lucky reading some horror stories out there, our Sensei doesn't do one penny from teaching us, we only pay to rent the dojo (Which is actually a dedicated college dojo). It was around 150$ 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.
  • Mat
    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.
    • 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
  • Jeff
    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.
    • Court Ellis
      Well said Jeff I commend you for the wise words!
  • "Absurdly good looking" is an understatement!
  • Bryan
    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
  • 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
  • Glenn
    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.
  • Glenn
    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.
  • Grail
    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.
  • Suntop
    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.
  • bad moe foe
    i play that record every body is kung fu fighting when i read these message- reply`s.
  • Karate_Practioner
    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.
  • John
    Dojos that offer multi-colored belts (different colors and the same belt). It's amazing how many people fall for that.
  • Ali Khalid
    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.
  • eldin
    if you have camo belts does it mean its a sign of a mcdojo and is it 100% a mcdojo if and if my instructor randomly like throws us to the ground.
  • Sean
    You missed "Can only purchase equipment through your school/sensei, buying elsewhere is frowned upon" and "Sensei haggles with you when trying to leave after successfully navigating out of contract"
  • Warren
    A lot of remarks about contracts. Why the hell would you agree to sign a contract? I've never come across that, must be an American thing.
    • doremi
      No, definitely not. Central Europe here: You are usually allowed to visit 1 or 2 lessons (some even a week) for free and then have to sign a contract which usually lasts at least 6 months or 12 months (where you pay less per month than with the 6 month contract). I somehow by accident ended up in what after lots of googling seems to be the only Dojo where you can quit any time you want and fees are not even half the price of most other dojos. I got to Karate by accident but it's nice, with a good atmosphere and I have the strong feeling that everybody there including the sensei is there because they love what they are doing (it's an Okinawan style with Kobudo too) and not because they want to make money. He also seperately throws in some Judo, Aikido and other techniques (mainly throws and joint locks). So I will try my best and see where it get's me and whether I am happy with my dojo or not on the long term.
  • I signed up at a karate dojo, because I liked their kids demonstration they did. Wanted to get my daughters to look like them eventually. Caucasian charismatic Sensei. But, one day while he was teaching the class, he yelled, "Yes. Cobra KAI!" The class was teenagers and young adults. I was older so I was the only one that got the reference and busted up laughing. Then I realized, we were all wearing black gi's and he really did kinda use Karate Kid's Cobra Kai as a business model in building his dojo. OMG I joined Cobra Kai! Great experience there though. Fight clubs. Competitions at Nationals and Worlds with other McDojos. Fun. My 2 oldest daughters ended up going there too and won a World rated competitions in traditional forms. Positive environment. Close to Camp Pendleton so had Marines come to fight nights to spar. We don't always need to do the most traditional ways and learn how to always be the most efficient killer. Japanese was a Waring country and had perfected the art to kill, honor and duty. I'm Japanese. I taught at that studio too. But, I was more the funny Senpai, smiled a lot and made my classes fun for the kids. I was not the so strict Sensei's. I did the teach the Black Belt class too. It was a point fighting and full contact school. So everything I demonstrated had to work in the ring. Loved it. Parents and kids had a great time. I think Master Ken from Enter the Dojo is hilarious. Met a couple of those kind of owners of studios too. Very accurate as it does borderline how some business owners run their studios.
    • This one of my daughters doing Chatayara Kusanku. https://youtu.be/Em2WLPyUrjU Here is a self defense. https://youtu.be/fSDtKOZTdzA
  • zero
    in fact some of these things actually are fitting for my school i'm gonna list them, so if anybody sees it is something crucial, would be nice to tell me Between belt grades you get colored tabs on your belt to denote ‘half’ or ‘quarter’ ranks.(only for the kids though, at age 14 there are no half belts anymore) You are doing kata to music. (sometimes there is music from tai chi still playing, or when we do conditioning there is some music playing) The instructor demands respect. He doesn’t earn it.(respect is always 'demanded' i guess but not just to instructors, more to anybody) Kyu grade students are recruited to become instructors early on, and put in ‘accelerated learning programs’.(i was asked if i wanted to be an instructor for the kids, more or less assistant, i have only been training for a year and a half though and passed my first grade) some other things that have been bothering me, we've never actually made some sparring (if we make sparring its really light) my sensei says he doesnt like it but yeah... i know if i ask we are probably gonna do it but its still awkward then theres the fact that instructors never wear any belts. I think it is because they are not to be juged my theyre rank. I honestly dont know... well i hope somebody can help me because its the first time im training martial arts and i dont want to waste time with a fraud :/
  • Court Ellis
    I recently started teaching at the local YMCAs as well as my own Dojang, I don't charge for belt testing and we often post when tournaments come around. That is up to the student to attend them if they want to. We encourage students to help their junior ranks as a form of leadership and only with the supervision of an instructor to monitor. We spar with our students and conduct a type of Bunkai as we use the Chong Hon Hyeong of the ITF. We teach discipline, respect, and actually stick to the five tenets of Taekwon-Do. don't charge very much as we want student to learn martial arts and learn how to learn martial arts. It takes five years to get 1st Dan, and as of recent I am working on a different program by giving those younger achiever simply a red black belt instead of the Poom rank (because they loose their minds) in order to keep them honest. No black belt until age 14.....maybe older, just waiting on the senior instructor to sign off on the new curriculum. We even cover 3, 2, and 1 step sparring and welcome various techniques of self-defense.
  • Jackie
    My instructor always tells us " if it was meant to be easy, I could send you a video and you could learn it in your living room. We only test for belts once a year, and the kids only pay for the new belt, and only if they pass. My instructor drives 2 hours to get to the school and never takes any money for the classes. Sadly, many parents pull their kids because "they aren't advancing fast enough." Oh, I'm sorry, I thought your kid was here to learn something!
    • Court Ellis
      Your instructor sounds a lot like my old instructors, who drove way out of the way when they could have started a program anywhere near them. The parents are the same with me, they only pay $15 to $20 a month and no belt testing fees, free belts, school patch and have three locations they can attend anytime they wish. Someone once said to me people always when even though their bellies are full. You school sounds like one of the few gems where children actually learn martial arts!!
  • Ben Hyams
    I agree with all of these except the different colour tabs between grades. I think the purpose of these are so your sensei can know where you are at and so the student feels like they've achieved something. also I think it is important to be tested on your material in between belts so you don't get sloppy.
  • Marianne Matchuk
    How about the mandatory extra cost seminars that come up fairly regularly...You might need those for your next belt or to learn that extra kata...I haven't been to oneparticular dojo in years that taught me what I refer to as my hundred dollar kata...
  • Rodney
    Does anyone feel that Jesse Jane Mcparland got taught by a Mcdojo™? It's really sad I think to see someone that is that enthusiastic is getting taught by Mcdojos™.
  • Trent
    About half of them listed were taking place in Stephen Oliver's Mile High Karate.
  • sandamal
    Agree with all the points but "There are “hidden” techniques in kata."
    • Court Ellis
      I wouldn't say hidden I would say............. unnoticed.........heheheh.....you see what I did there? But seriously that is why it is important to practice, study, Bunkai , or in Korean Hae Sin Sul!! Practice your Kata Tuls or whatever you do and understand them, then grow to understand them more!
  • Valyssa
    94. You misspell "practice"
    • Court Ellis
      You mean Practice or practice, because after an exclamation point; you normally capitalize. The program won't let allow me misspell
  • Jack
    #29: Perhaps this is where they got the idea. (I wish Sensei Toguchi had known about this rule back in the 50s. I'm sure that, had he known, he would have stopped the practice immediately.) As it was, though, this is the way belts were arranged for the 10 student grades at Karate-do Shoreikan, Okinawa: 1. white belt 2. white belt with green stripe near the ends 3. white belt with two green stripes 4. white belt with wide green patch 5. green belt with white patch 6. solid green belt 7. green belt with brown patch 8. brown belt with green patch 9. solid brown belt 10. brown belt with black patch #84: Not totally “hidden,” but Sensei Toguchi taught certain techniques in kata one way to newer students, and only later altered those techniques to vastly more destructive moves when teaching advanced students whom he had come to trust.
  • J.C.
    1. When during your first week of group classes the head instructor or grandmaster says you need more one-on-one work in private and your rates will be increased so you will have a one on one instructor twice a week with limited access to group classes. 2. When the grandmaster or head instructor puts you down as "We all know you have problems" when the head instructor of another branc raped you when you ran an inter-school errand. 3. When the head instructor or grandmaster tries to embarrass and humiliate you every chance they get. ("This is the ONLY student I EVER took my pants off for" because YOU took their pants to the cleaner's to get fixed when they split the zipper in their pants during a demo.) 4. When other head instructors in the system tell you the man who raped you PAID to get his third Dan from the grandmaster and never earned it. 5. When top instructors are promised a chance to open their own school in a nearby town and the Grandmaster never follows through. 6. When the day before your belt test you are told the way a technique is done for that belt has CHANGED in a staff meeting the previous night. 7. When black belts with egos are allowed to harass you with impunity and zero repercussions. This was MY experience training for TWO years at a style in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. I was GASLIGHTED following my rape by the Grandmaster himself who said, "Don't tell anyone;it will bring dishonor to the system," yet at the next tournament the head instructor of the San Jose dojo that had raped me was HONORED? WHY?
  • Court Ellis
    After reading that I cannot began to say how sorry I am for this and why it happened. I can only offer my deepest sympathy and hope that those who wronged you will be dealt with. Sadly there are quite a few unscrupulous teachers out there claiming and vying for a so called honor they truly don't deserve. They walk around usurping their rank like wannabe kings when in reality they are worthless and can't do anything else. They prey upon the weak and unknowledgeable without repercussion or remorse. Teaching martial arts is not a right it is a privilege, there is no honor involved save only that which is given to your students. I say that because it is an honor to teach your students, and the instructor remain humble as we pass that humbleness unto our charges (students) Please do not group them with those of us who do in fact care about our students and don't see them as money bags or victims to treat and do as they please. Feel free to contact me any time court.ellis@gamil.com JC. There are those of us who still respect the true meaning and sanctity of the martial lifestyle. Again my deepest and sincerest apologies to you.
    • J.C.
      Thank you. Hugs to you for caring back.
  • Court Ellis
    Anytime my friend anytime!!
  • Gazz
    Wow, my first dojo was most definitely a McDojo going by this list - fortunately I left after around a year and a half. An asian girl started training there who went from being a white belt to black belt in around 6 months, moved in with the sensei, went from being 16yrs old to 19yrs old overnight (she said 16 was her Asian age and 19 was her English age!!!). I left the club to find another when the sensei left her to take some of the lessons. A few months later she was pregnant and had moved in with the sensei (who was 42 at the time).
    • Court Ellis
      Now that's crack addict crazy but it unfortunately happens, one of my sister's friends dated a guy who gave them both a black belt certificate after not training but knowing her for couple of months. You know I had to put my big sister out there real quick and so did my fellow instructors (one telling her: "Now you know you just started training last month"). I told her your making yourself look bad when you should have been here in the family school practicing not chasing....well you know. She gave it back to him and just like your friend there not only did the friend end up pregnant, but so did my sister!! The instructor skipped town on both of them. The dumbassery knows no bounds unfortunately!
  • Matthew Snow
    First things first. J.C. that is absolutely appalling what happened to you. I wish you the best and a long and drawn out bankruptcy for the establishment that let this happen, and some jail time! I've seen Oz, I wish them the worst. 63. You’re wearing a taekwondo uniform. This one is my favorite, cheers me up no matter how bad my day is. That and the movie Foot Fist Way, love that movie. When I was young a chain of TaeKwonDo schools opened up called TaeKwonDo Plus. My brother went there for a bit. He was kicked out of a tournament for making contact with the other competitor.
  • Leilani
    I'm currently researching to start a martial art. However this just made me question the school I looked into. New students are required to show up on their first day 10 -15 minutes early so they can pay before first class. I thought this was how all schools work. They did offer to have me participate of one free class before signing up. It lists that students who are new should not copy or practice techniques that you have not been directly taught by your instructor. If you see another student who is learning something a bit more advance you have to continue at your level and not attempt to learn another move not even on your own time? What kinda struck me as a bit interesting was this line: • Do not request to learn more. It is the Instructor’s decision when you are ready to learn the next part of the curriculum and they will teach you when they deem fit. There is also a no light contact rule. Im unsure if I should sign up now. Anyway any advise?
    • Leilani
      I mean an only light contact rule. No full contact allowed which I though was for safety.
    • Court Ellis
      No that's not the school for you, find a school that will offer you a trail session of classes (the operable words being trail and classes)before you pay to see if you like it. make sure they allow you to advance to through other techniques as you (meaning your level of learning) are able to pick up in the curriculum. Use this list as a guide but don't let it be your end all be all list for martial arts schools and make sure you are comfortable in your environment. Lastly, ask lots and lots of questions!! Good Luck and let me know if you live in Texas!!
      • Matthew Snow
        The Court has spoken and the Court is correct! Unfortunately that schools has McDojo written all over it. A proper school should have nothing to hide. Also martial arts is a contact sport. Learning how to touch (light contact) only sets you up for failure the first time you are really hit.
        • Court Ellis
          That's so true, but I have seen school that teach non-contact to light contact, using the non-contact for merely exercises in technique. Matthew you are right and it doesn't really emphasize the nature of defending against a good shock. If that makes any sense. Oh yeah I'm in San Antonio!!
  • Matthew Snow
    I accidentally made school plural, my bad. Also, I live in TX Court.
  • Strate Talk
    Either I missed something or you forgot to mention the filthy world of dojo politics.
  • Hi. I go to a dojo when Senior students (Brown Belts and Green Belts) will take a private class but that is because we want those students to learn their advanced techniques, kata, and sparring when the lower ranks can work on their stuff.
  • Meeaggi
    When students seem to accelerate their grades because mummy volunteers, yet then have to be taught basic Kata by students who have been doing the same old stuff do months on end. When certain students don't even show respect and honour in the dojo yet get praised to the hilt because daddy is a carpenter.
  • I'm glad to say that aside from the word "dragon", in Chinese symbols not spelled out in English, my school has virtually none of the Mc List. no trophy case, no crazy uniforms or back flips. :) The iron broom is a real taught low kick and just getting your red belt (halfway in kung fu) takes about 4 years or more. It is a great list of things to watch out for. Remember, If it doesn't feel like art, it's not. It's a sport.
  • Sonya
    Look in the Dojo i bring my kids, ussualy they said, for this level you has to wear this uniform, and this weapon, simple bo staff they sale 90 Dll, in store or amazon cost 20 or 30 they use excuse, them insurance require all weapons approve for the shihan,if you no buy it they look you bad, a sword for be Black belt cost 350, double sword cost 750, whattttttt!!! is a reatil, sales, he is millionary guy, he make some movies, and Bum, he buy a brand New Mercedes Benz Suv i drive simple old car, they require automatic payment they got every month this payment, if you get out they got for 3 months the money, they are mad with, and if you change you bank account they send to you to coleccion, and if you sue them JUDGES course, are in them side, because, this country is move up with money, if you offer money to them they said is corruption, but if they are the owners is ok, what can i do i have my kids for 3 years here.. who can help, or what attorney can help me, i dont want paid another uniform, they said each level require new uniform for use in the same day, but, i ask, them, why too many uniforms, my kids have regular, Black belt club, Judo they never use is in them original bag, they have Hakama, too, all cost money, i just one day i joke with them about bo staff i told them i have a lot long wood in my closet i not use i can fix in the end and is ready i save money he just looking me, was no good idea, i told them i can buy the Tonfa i can found in different place, is any law can help to us???? is a lot a Money i just paid in 3 years more than 10,000 dll, only in classes are not idea how much i paid in weapons, but each kids have bo staf,Sai,Nunckachu,Kama,fans,Shinai,Wood Sword,boken. and now they said i has to paid Sword for be black belt is just few more months,350 each ???? if i don't buy, my kids may be taking more time to be black belt. Helloooooooo...Please no post my email public,reason i put them is for learn martial arts but no store in my house after may be my kids.no want nothing.I try to sale all package after they no use, tournaments tropies are simple plastic, just size is the diferent, and i has to paid 55 for each division plu each person paid enter to watch them, and belt cost 40 dll or they no give to them.this is great bussines right. robe people abusing for teach kids .
  • Peter
    Hi Jess, Kyokushin Shodan = 8 years, 2500 hours (estimated) 2 failed gradings along the way Grading Day = 100 push ups, crunches, squats, burpees, obi jumps or stick jumps, walking the dojo on hands, kihon, 20 Kata including URA, goshin-jutsu, 40 man kumite bare knuckle (broken ribs the first attempt and dislocated finger), seiken, hiji, kakato and shuto tameshiwari to finish I have now mastered the basics, no McDojo where I train
  • grandmaster_pete
    Thank you for the good guide to starting a new martial arts school! I shall follow it. Good advice!
  • Jesse, Great read. I agree with 92 of the 93, The one I disagree with is 'camo' belt. We at Jett Garner Martial Arts introduced the camo belt in between green and purple as we do not promote anyone under the age of 16 to Shodan. I have many talented young folks that had achieved purple belt in 5th or 6th grade. This would require them to stay at purple belt for 2-3 years. We do not allow our jr. brown and jr. black belt ranks to be obtained by anyone under the age of 14. So, introducing the camo belt between green and purple allows a student to spend 1.5 years at camo and 1.5 years at purple, which you know in today's world kids can grow weary. Anyway, I am have always known I am not a McDojo. But, I am please to pass 92 or the 93 "McDojo" Jesse List. Keep up the great work young man! Jett Garner
  • maria
    Great mcdojo list Jesse ! when i started training martial arts, students that wherent good enough failed to get their new grade, even kids. as the years passed the owner of the club startet a franchise consept with other club owner. its a big franchise today but they have so many of the mcdojo list lol. they have even classes for 5-8 year olds that they call tigers, they get stripes for standing still and at the end they get tiger belts ! xD. childcare/daycare classes have nothing to do with martial arts ! they also have instructors that instruct sparring classes that never have competed them self xD. talk the talk and walk the walk ! never the less i changed to bjj and muy thay later on. must be so many that get butthurt by the list :D (sorry for my english)
  • Ryan
    Good list here, although I'll step in here and disagree with 85. There are others that I disagree with on this list, but I'll talk about 85 in particular. I'd hope your use of the word "always" is applied to those academies that don't move away from this. In my TaeKwonDo curriculum, one-steps are taught to white/yellow belts. The attacker does indeed use this attack, however we do explain that this is used to help both partners in learning distance, timing, accuracy, and speed. Once students advance to green belts, we begin sparring. The fundamentals I listed previously are then applied to sparring. Brown belts learn what it called a three-step, which allows them to defend against multiple stacked attacks. Black belts will then design their own one-steps and display them as part of their pre-testing interview. Of course, the higher the rank, the more the expectation is on timing, distance with accuracy, and speed of execution. "Flashy" moves are allowed for each student's own one-step, however we do break away from fancy to practical with personal protection skills. This skill set focuses on tactical effectiveness rather than just looking cool. I think you can see the application and developmental purposes as the ranks progress, but again I think you used the word "always" to say that they stick to this one method of learning.
    • Daniel Handler
      Well first off usually in a "street fight" the person will not throw a straight, perfectly controlled punch, they will swing like hook, not controlled at all. So if it really is preperation for real fights why use a sheltered environment? why not teach how to do it for real?
  • Kyle
    Great list! I have to agree, the only one that seems questionable to me is #84 (Kata having hidden techniques). I've been a student of Wado Ryu for quite a number of years and have heard some techniques referred to as hidden techniques. Not that they are actually hidden and only ninja can learn them, but it encourages the student to really study the Kata and the application of the moves. Ryu, meaning style actually encourages practitioners to interpret the moves and their meaning because we all know that there are many styles around the world that practice the same Kata only in different variations or interpretations.
  • Henry bowman
    On number 84: forms and Kada do have "hidden technics" it is not so much hidden however as it is un taught. Some forms have too many smaller meanings built in that good instructors revisit with the student at higher levels when they have a complete understanding of the more pronounced and obvious movements. I good teacher doesn't overwhelm a student with concepts they are not ready to learn. Practic and time can not be avoided.
  • Hieu Nguyen
    I've recently read in certain articles that excessive board breaking (is it a form of hojo undo?) is also a sign of a McDojo. Furthermore, there are claims that board breaking is very ineffective. Now the first part (excessive board breaking) makes sense. But is board breaking really just ineffective? Thank you in advance.
    • In Kung fu there is a thing called "iron Palm training" It takes years of slow training to build up and condition the hands so as to NOT cause nerve and muscle damage along with a regiment of hard to find balms which must be applied to the hands during these YEARS of training. No matter what school or style, if you are breaking boards in your first two years, odds are you are headed to having problems with whatever you are breaking the boards with. After decades of training Grand Master Pai used to break (6) 12"inch think ice blocks, he also could wrestle to the ground full sized cattle, but these things take a long amount of training time. Focusing on breaking wooden boards is just not a fundamental part of any martial art. That is more of a sport aspect of show and demonstration. In the states we are very visual and the act of breaking a board seems to translate into a show of strength. The real martial arts practitioner would be working on breaking your arm, not a piece of wood.
      • Hieu Nguyen
        Thank you. So by that, you mean board-breaking can be of limited use to show striking power, but should not be essential?
  • Hieu Nguyen
    Another thing, though, I think talking about "the street" is pretty much references to real-life situations (which is an important thing in self-defense)?
    • It is the most important thing. We train to better our selves and our bodies, but the study of defense and attack will only ever be "real" if you have to defend yourself or people you care about. Most martial artists will never be in a "real" situation, as a norm the majority of normal people will never have a violent fight encounter after high school. Learning the difference between your forms and sparring, and a real fight is paramount.
      • Hieu Nguyen
        Thank you for the information,
  • Susan Hanson
    Grandmaster Dongs is one of the biggest load of crap McDojos on the east coast. It's a watered down knock off of the ATA - which is really saying something when you're worse than the ATA... They even copied parts of their forms and the ridiculous TaeGrrr (tiger) mascot! Schools like this bring shame to us all who train at legit schools. Some of their instructors remind me of slimey used car salesmen.
    • Who is "Grandmaster Dong"? That doesn't even sound real.. and doesn't sound correct :) If you see trophy cases and mascots....run!
      • Jeff
        Actually Seung Dong is legit and has been teaching for a long time. I studied under him for over a decade in the 70’s and early 80’s. He can be googled under verified grandmasters, black belt hall of fame, TKD Times, etc. I can’t speak to how he teaches now but was pretty intense training back then. Can’t argue or defend the mascot thing...lol. Seems to be the trend once instructors figured out people will pay to keep the kids happy.
  • Blaine Coplon
    MC Dojo's are around for every style from every country and in my personal opinion are the most vile things in the world. Not only do they do a disservice to the school, a dishonor to those who worked for the belts they wear and a dishonor to all who study Martial Arts, but worst of all is the danger they put the students in. They do not teach the student anything and should they need to use what they have "learned" they could end up wounded or killed.
  • Finn
    I do a style called Goju and its anything but a mc dojo
  • Thanks for share the article. Thank you so much.
  • Spacecat
    Incidentally, most Arnis schools use numbers instead of names for the basic strikes (and blocks and such). There are usually around 12 basic strikes, though this can vary greatly (5 to 72 in some schools). I do not practice Arnis.
  • John McNally
    Karate shoes. We wouldn't be allowed in the Dojo with shoes on. Never mind Karate shoes. I never new they existed till today.
  • JJ12
    Exploitive karate schools in North Texas area (no names mentioned, of course): 1) charge exorbitant fees and force parents into long term contracts. 2) Nickel and dime for all kinds of "extra" expenses 3) kick kids out of program for no reason 4) unable or unwilling to address valid complaints. 5) don't do appropriate and necessary background checks on instructors who work with children. My advice to parents, is consider the YMCA.
  • First of all I would like to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question that I'd like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind before writing. I have had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there. I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints? Many thanks!
  • I am really thankful to the holder of this web site who has shared this great article at at this place.
  • Paul Garant
    What a great list. I can honestly and proudly say that my dojo does not fall under a single claim mentioned above. A couple were questionable, but not really. Thanks for the list.
  • Andreas
    I don't know if my dojo is a McDojo or not. We have coloured gi and our belts have stripes for progress, but you can't pay to advance or anything like that, and getting to 1st dan black belt takes about 7 years minimum. But on the other hand they also have a cardio class (geez)
  • Omg this list was just beautiful. I remember the first karate dojo I attended was about 7 years old that time. Something this dojo used to do was that for every grading we had to do (mind you this took place on an already paid lesson that we had to pay extra or have to miss that lesson) after we passed you didn't really have to know anything just attending would get you the pass which was a patch on your belt. After getting 3 patches we would finally get a new belt but wait you would not get the yellow belt no no that's crazy talk. We would get a half white half yellow belt needing an additional 3 patches for the proper yellow belt. This scenario obviously was for every belt. Another classy Dojo thing we used to have where events (On lessons we paid for that have to pay extra to attend or miss) anything that he could make up BBQ's, beach, movies, etc. Ahh the mcdojo times I really wonder whatever happened to that guy. Great post Jesse :D
  • Billyjoe
    Here is another mcdojang Rhee Tae Kwon Do is the largest martial art school in Australia and one of the largest in the world with between 900 and 1300 branches. Master Chong Chul Rhee is the Father of Australian Tae Kwon Do and one of the 12 original masters along with his brother Master Chong Hyup Rhee. His other brother Grandmaster Chong Yoon Rhee, who began his training under Nam Tae Hi, came over to Australia in 1975 and was recently, awarded his 9th Dan (I’m not sure exactly what the story was there). Rhee Tae Kwon Do was once affiliated with The ITF but broke away, probably due to the ITF wanting to introduce competitions and Master Rhee wanting the art to remain in its original form. Master Rhee travels around most of Australia throughout the year conducting action days (gradings), 4 times a year and has not missed one Rhee Tae Kwon Do utilizes the Chang Hon style patterns, sparring is predominately non-contact and about 40%-60% hands. Rhee Tae Kwon Do is probably closer to Shotokan Karate than it is to most other Tae Kwon Do styles. they don’t use gloves or any other protective gear and do not compete in tournaments as it is a martial art of self defence, not a sport. Rhee Tae Kwon Do places high importance on technique and control, the training includes kicking, short and medium range hand techniques, head butts, grappling (joint locks are usually not taught until the more senior color belt ranks when they have developed a bit of control), defence against weapons and multiple opponents. Promotions for colour belts are performed during the regular class by the branch instructors when each one is ready and action days (gradings) are held 4 times a year and all black belt exams are personally conducted by Master Rhee. they have no specific set rules for advancement to the black belt ranks. It takes on average about 4 years from white belt to black belt. There is a junior black belt rank but there’s no set time or age limits. To go from junior black belt to 1st Dan and requires the same grading as every other 1st Dan which you much be an assistant instructor to take your 1st dan. to be considered for 2nd Dan and above, you must be already be an instructor and have your own branch. As far as I know there are about 2 Regional Master Instructors that are 6th Dan. a 4th Dans in Rhee Tae Kwon Do have usually been training and teaching longer than many of the 6th and 7th Dans from ITF taekwondo, pretty close being a shotokan instructor having your own dojo. To be considered a full master you would be a 6th Dan, there has only been one who had obtained that rank out side of the Rhee Brothers and he has since left and formed his own school (not sure what the story is on that one). Rhee Taekwondo has known to have a bad history of banning students from the organisation. if they cross train, show of their Rhee taekwondo skills outside of the organisation, train with an ITF taekwondo style or train with other martial art styles, and have a bad mine set etc. master Rhee has known to be very discriminating with men with long hair has been since Rhee taekwondo been founded in 1970s. it is a for-profit organisation and it is all about money for the regional managers on that note!! they also use McDonalds titles like. 3RD DAN REGIONAL MANAGER: REGIONAL INSTRUCTOR KWAN JANG NIM 4TH DAN SENIOR REGIONAL MANAGER: SENIOR KWAN JANG NIM 5TH DAN AND ABOVE MASTER REGIONAL MANAGER: MASTER INSTRUCTOR CHONG KWAN JANG NIM Rhee taekwondo EX regional instructors/branch instructors Jamie Moore, 9th dan Authentic Taekwon-do Australia - ITF Organisation, commenced was a 2nd dan branch instructor for Rhee Taekwon-Do in Queensland in 1976, and Les Hicks 7th dan Shim Jang Taekwondo commenced Rhee Taekwon-Do training in the late 1970s, and was a Rhee Taekwon-Do 3rd dan regional instructor in New South Wales
  • Bryan Rotz
    This was a fun read for a recommencing karate student looking for a new dojo!
  • JKA is a real organisation. I havebeen prar last 10 years and no such 93 points are applicable..We are teach for free for some students who are not able to pay the fees . grading was expensive but no oney business. Sensai 4th Dan black belt at his age of 60 spar with us and beat us in reality with his sheer speed and knowledged.
  • Varun
    I have practicing for 4 years and did no got a black belt(I am brown belt 1 kyu).I practice 3hr a day and also at home.But a student who know nothing earns a direct brown belt from the orange one because he got money and he wanna play an international tournament.
  • Colin
    I know of one guy who in his 30s is a 'grandmaster' 7th Dan Ryukyu kempo, 7th Dan in Kyusho Jitsu(dim mak???) 6th Dan in shotokan, 5th Daun Tai Chi and so the list goes on and on. Seeing his video's and techniques and pushing his affiliates 'pressure point system' one clip showing just tapping opponent on the head and he fell down... Smells like McDojo...
    • xela
      Heh. One place was playing the song spring in my step during Kata. The 'Grandmaster' said that it helped students 'Harness' their 'Spiritual Kia' (ghost car?) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxnn9FR-4Vk See if you recognize it
  • xela
    Heh. One place was playing the song spring in my step during Kata. The 'Grandmaster' said that it helped students 'Harness' their 'Spiritual Kia' (ghost car?) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxnn9FR-4Vk See if you recognize it
  • you are g k r just another p r stunt pathetic I will tell the world about your biusnes
  • Lord Zero
    To me if someone uses patches, they are not martial artists and deserve nothing but hate for tarnishing it.
    • NenMagem
      What about a single optional patch with just the name of the dojo?
  • Brenda
    The school we attend has some McDojo tendencies. Everything is an expense, belt rank advancement is every two months and 85-90% of students pass and kids can earn an "apprentice black-belt" in two years. So the decided black belt you can earn in four years isn't especially impressive... BUT! The sparring is full contact, we learn application as well technique and our instructors are legit. On top of that, after you get the decided black-belt you go to an expert class that is for real. You really need to excel to advance from there. My instructor has been training for 20 years and just advanced to 3rd degree in December.
  • I'm in Tang So Do, and it's a really good art.... like everything else with the right teachers. And yes, even Akido is a very good art if you're taught properly.
  • Henry Belmonte
    Man....I love my black gi (becasue I don't wash it too often) but I do use the white one for exams or seminars
  • Henry Belmonte
    ...Also my sensi says the best way to prepare me for kumite is by kicking my humanity himself with full contact....hard method but works with me
  • Brittany Christensen
    Regarding the "high block and baseball bat" thing, I respectfully disagree. I think it depends on how the block is done. Some schools teach it with a very bent arm, so that the forearm is perpendicular to the downward path of said bat. In such a case, yes, I think an arm would definitely get broken. However, I learned the high block as more of a vertical "slip" for an overhead attack such as a baseball bat or stick. The idea, as it was explained to me, is not to meet force with force by trying to stop the bat, but rather to parry/redirect it by creating a sloped surface for the bat to slide off to the side. You might take some impact, but are not likely to get your arm broken. Just a thought. ??
  • María
    What about a "non stopping during vacations/holidays" policy? I'm starting to think that it is a very big reg flag.
  • Geoff
    Sticking your arm in front of a swinging baseball bat is simply a stupid idea, no exceptions. The drawback of swinging weapons like bats, axes etc is that they require a back-swing before the attack, which provides an opportunity to jump in close and neutralise it - given plenty of practice with distance, timing etc. whenever possible, Best defence (as always) - run.
  • Alex N
    You just need one test: does your school participate in open, full contact competition? Yes? It's not a MacDojo. No? It's a MacDojo.
    • María
      No true, I know a large group of mcdojos that participate in open, full contact competitions and a large group of serious school that don't. They don't trust the safety of their students to organizers of those competitions who are in large mcdojos. I have seen open, full contact competitions where novices are put to fight with people with more than 20 fights. People that lie about their experience. So call masters that sell ranks and negotiate how much people they are going to take to next competitions even when they are small, amateurs schools without any structure to do something like that. It is not so simple.
  • Tyff
    Adding/modifying some more: -Your sensei is a "great teacher" with 7th Dan or more, but he is 50 years old or younger. -Your instructor is 3rd dan but he is 25 years old or younger. -They skip belts without an exceptional exam to back it up. -Children under the age of 12 have 3 or more exams per year (2 are even suspicious). -There are no written rules. -If there are, they are only accessible to the instructors / teachers / senseis. -If available, parts of the rules are secret. -And by the way, that rules apply only to practitioners, not instructors or teachers. -It is a "competition" dojo but belongs only to a local association / federation ... of which your sensei is the president. -And there are no written regulations for those tournaments either. -They go to "world" tournaments without selection or previous championships ... -... where there are so few people that visitors have to act as juries. -Your teacher is "world champion" but does not belong to an international federation. -Your instructor gets angry if you ask questions in front of your classmates. -They do not tell you the story of the style, except some vague data. -Insists on being a style of self-defense, but they do not teach you to identify and avoid situations and potentially dangerous people, -nor to calm discussions, -nor the laws on personal defense of your country. -Keep in mind that if you ever apply "finishing techniques" in real life, they are against the regulation of any Western country. -Self-defense techniques are done 10 times or less and are not repeated. -Saying "NO" to a practice or exercise is considered disrespectful (even if it is a "martial" art, it is not the army, no one should demand something that practitioners do not want to do). -Your instructor often jokes or insults his practitioners. -It demands that the martial art be before anything else in your life. Phrases like ""My style" is my life" are normal. -If a mistake is made, your instructor points it out quickly (and often out loud). But when someone does something right? Crickets. ... except if it is the class pet.
  • Ady Spencer
    This made me laugh much more than it should have
  • Fabz
    When I moved to New York, I registered right away in a local Taekwondo school (Empire Taekwondo) where after getting evicted of one location, and relocated to another one on 23rd street, tried to scam me into signing a long term contract. Needless to say it was my last class with them. Some of those people that reached to the "master" title surely donnot have the etiquette nor the respect.
  • Just a random stranger
    I need some questions answered: 1. Can people from McDojos go to actual karate tournaments like the Wado Kai cup? 2. Is my dojo a McDojo? We have a gym in our town in which other people come to train for example volleyball an then after them we come an train karate and so on.Our dojo has a Facebook page which only says the style of karate (traditonal Wado Ryu) and our sensei's phone number.Only 4 people have black belts 3 of them have lower black belts like the 1st and 2nd dan and our sensei has got 6th dan (he's 50+ ). We competed in the Wado Kai cup last year and we will compete again this year. Our sensei somtimes jokes with us. We can advance to the next belt every 6 months if we know everything really well. Membership is 75 kunas a month which is half the price you usually pay for classes (150 kunas). I have been trainig for a year now and I have a green belt( I skipped belts(and that's very probably not good but I knew what I needed to know for the green belt)). I dont think that my dojo is a McDojo but still I would like to know. Please anwser me. -A random stranger
  • Just a random stranger
    Our sensei is practicing Aikido alongside karate
  • Luis
    Hi, I live in Puerto Rico USA. Here I've seen almost all the signs of Mcdojos that you mentioned but there are some that don't but i mention them with the personal experience. 1-Same political ideas. To belong to a dojo you must have the same political ideas of the leading sensei, if you don't then he/they will make your life miserable until you quit, then they say "He wasn't worthy to be here" or other disrespectfull things about that person. 2-Same spiritual beliefs. You have to go to church. Better said, you have to go to the instructor's church. Sometimes he is a high ranking member, or he is the pastor. But to belong to his dojo you must pay him even the oxygen your breathe, lol. and off course pay at the church too. 3-The dojo is a family business. I've lived this several times in person. The instructor have this son/daughter whose skills are not too good but one Friday he/she who have seventh to fourth kyu comes back in Monday as a first or second dan black belt. When the instructor is asked about it he say, i train him/her at home. Curiously that happened before my black belt exam. 4-You are the sensei's bodyguard/bully. If a group of dojo members meet at the movies for example, the Big guy can pick fights with someone, in order to the students give face for him, then..."was to test your street skills"
  • I'm in Kung fu, and it's a really good art.... like everything else with the right teachers. thanks jesse
  • concerned mother
    Question - my daughter's dojo insists on selling 'special uniforms and gear' in order for their students to compete. They claim it is because of 'insurance purposes'. Uniforms are $1,500 cnd and obviously very few can go compete because they can not afford the uniforms :( this makes me mad! it is my understanding and experience that once you compete for your dojo then you bring more clients in! how can they force students to wear a determined uniform? BIG sign of a McDojo???
  • jeremy vernotzy
    I teach kenpo kai karate (rarely) as I rarely take on students I don't accept money (I have a job) I don't care what they wear or where we are at ......what I care about is the fact they utilize what they learn to improve their lives and become who they truly want to be in life....in the process I usually learn from them as well.....martial arts should not be a business in my opinion as it dishonors those before me and the art that has been a way of life.....and to join in the blocking a bat conversation.....it comes down to the situation if you can close the gap or not the question should be will my next act preserve my life and assure my victory? Or will it present my attacker with a greater position to harm me? And that is the benefit of training to sharpen your mental decision making speed and skill and if in the act breaking your arm ensures victory or life it is perfectly acceptable again if the situation permits an action that leaves you intact the better of course and only quick thinking put into action will yield those results generally when I'm confronted with a bat I'll close the gap but in the end you should do what you have to to survive.....any type of forward block is just that reaching forward.....so maybe step back a little and assess the situation? Remember the old saying "its sometimes better to be the grass instead of the tree" >or bamboo and reeds<......anyway thanks for listening to my rant remember dojos these days come and go but in the end your journey will be with you forever so eat the meat and spit out the bones happy feasting my brothers and sister
  • I Give out patches and Pins for attendance... Some of our students have been with me for over 500 classes, and we sure are not a McDojo... It is a big accomplishment to receive patches and pins at our school...
  • Tracy Klein
    The Moore's Martial Arts Organization is a serious McDOJO. At every school, and event they pretty much expect every student to buy merchandise. What's worse, they have teacher's like Rodger Martin, who was my teacher running lose abusing and bullying people and they're own students, and pushing them to see if they can get them to crack and break at some of the schools. Well I'm relieved to say, Al Moore II Grand Master of the Moore's Martial Art's system, did an investigation along with the higher ups, and it was determined that Rodger Martin, broke the rules twice by testing people for black prep, withing them having waited 12 months as the rules state. Worse, they even determined that what I said, about him being a bully and abusive along with letting a kid tell an adult what to do, and other garbage, including nearly harming a kid, and causing one kid as of 2015, to have 2 mental breakdowns like I did in 2017, and in 2018 nearly causing a kid that is no more than about 8 years old as of 2018, to nearly have a mental break down. Al Moore II, had enough of Rodger Martin, and ordered Rodger Martin kicked out and took away the Moore's Martial Arts Franchise in 2018. In 2017, Alexis Potter who bit in to Rodger Martin's bull, a couple of years earlier in a big way was kicked out also. As of 2018, the people that still go to Rodger Martin's school her in the U.S., apparently have orders to keep a close eye on him, and from what I gathered Rodger Martin has orders to stay the heck away from me, now that they are keeping a really close eye on him, and if Rodger Martin even so much as try's anything where I'm concerned, from what I know so far, they're going to be on him like flies on a fresh pile of dung. The art I was learning, is taught by more than one organization, but after what I went through towards last, including getting kicked in the balls by my former teacher, just because I lost my focus and concentration in a class in 2015, I have no desire at the moment to get back in to martial arts, and not only that I am putting plans together to move to another state, and as a result of what I went through with my former teacher, I have had depression for 2 years now. I do urge this site not be shamed or bullied by Moore's Martial Arts, aka Moore's Chinese Martial Arts and anyone associted with them to take this comment down, this has to be widely seen and known, how bad the Moore's Organization is, and they fit a lot of the points on this blog, like you would not believe.
  • Zyatz
    I know of a few places that say they teach karate (they are even members of karate associations) but the students wear taekwon-do v-neck style doboks for some reason, instead of the normal kumite or kata uniform. I think this is what Jesse is driving at, and is not a dig at taekwon-do. I know of a place where the master instructor is a self declared 5th dan in a martial art he's invented, basically it looks like he's just added all his 1st dans in taekwon-do, jujitsu etc together! He also claims that if students train in one of his centres, they can trace their lineage back to Ip Man. He has 3 different belts per rank (just graded, intermediate, nearly to be graded) and 12 ranks! I also heard of a guy who set up via a franchise, was only 1st kyu / gup level, donned a black belt and said that people could pay him £1000 and he'd make them a blackbelt in a year. The company who ran the franchise went mad and told him it wasn't their business model and if he wanted to do that kind of thing he had to set up independently. I've got a feeling the two are connected. At the martial arts centre I attend, we have 1 or 2 of these McDojo traits but you can see it's to keep the company in good financial standing, nothing more.
  • Your blog really nice. Its sound really good. I am very time read your blog. Thanks for the sharing this blog with us. Keep it up. I also heard of a guy who set up via a franchise, was only 1st kyu / gup level, donned a black belt and said that people could pay him £1000 and he'd make them a blackbelt in a year. The company who ran the franchise went mad and told him it wasn't their business model and if he wanted to do that kind of thing he had to set up independently. I've got a feeling the two are connected. At the martial arts centre I attend, we have 1 or 2 of these McDojo traits but you can see it's to keep the company in good financial standing, nothing more.
  • Cheng
    I want to thank an awesome medical Doctor in the person of Dr Anthony Gomina, who has made my family proud in trust and urgency, he bought off one of my kidneys for his patient with awesome amount of money in dollars, after many doctors have scammed me, i came across his email address on the internet as published by one Dr Anthony patient, thanking him and telling the world on how he came to their rescue financially as a result of buying their kidneys without stress, i quickly applied via the email and in less than a week i met all the requirements, and my half money was like a dream when it came into my bank account before the transplant. I urge you to contact Doctor Anthony Gomina for your financial awesomeness to come through like mine few months ago. I promised to do this when i eventually scale through and email. You can contact Dr.Anthony Gomina Telephone Whatsapp no: +917353349675. I am Cheng, from Singapore. I want to thank an awesome medical Doctor in the person of Dr Anthony Gomina, who has made my family proud in trust and urgency, he bought off one of my kidneys for his patient with awesome amount of money in dollars, after many doctors have scammed me, i came across his email address on the internet as published by one Dr Anthony patient, thanking him and telling the world on how he came to their rescue financially as a result of buying their kidneys without stress, i quickly applied via the email and in less than a week i met all the requirements, and my half money was like a dream when it came into my bank account before the transplant. I urge you to contact Doctor Anthony Gomina for your financial awesomeness to come through like mine few months ago. I promised to do this when i eventually scale through and email. You can contact Dr.Anthony Gomina Telephone Whatsapp no: +917353349675. I am Cheng, from Singapore.
  • Cheng
    I want to thank an awesome medical Doctor in the person of Dr Anthony Gomina, who has made my family proud in trust and urgency, he bought off one of my kidneys for his patient with awesome amount of money in dollars, after many doctors have scammed me, i came across his email address on the internet as published by one Dr Anthony patient, thanking him and telling the world on how he came to their rescue financially as a result of buying their kidneys without stress, i quickly applied via the email and in less than a week i met all the requirements, and my half money was like a dream when it came into my bank account before the transplant. I urge you to contact Doctor Anthony Gomina for your financial awesomeness to come through like mine few months ago. I promised to do this when i eventually scale through and email. You can contact Dr.Anthony Gomina Telephone Whatsapp no: +917353349675. I am Cheng, from Singapore.
  • Andrés
    Here's a good one, when they practice bunkai they hit from like 5 km away, and they have to make a really loooong step to reach the other guy, and still, even if the other guy doesn't move, their fist is nowhere near close to the target.
  • Okay, I was with you until the "Sensei is always right" part. Dude. I am NEVER wrong! I thought I was once, but turns out I was mistaken.
  • Wes
    This list was very contradicting within itself. Bad grammar followed by a person selling themself that was against everything they were throwing out there. Some valid views but many listed contradicted each other. A very negative view which would also be compared to Jesse's negative list. I'm all about traditional but this list isn't great.
    • María
      How will be for you a better list?
  • Master white belt
    when the good students become pawns of the sensei and more of a good example to follow than the senseis in dojo
  • Kajukenbo Girl
    Point sparring or heavy emphasis on practicing the "sport" part of MA is one sign of mcdojo. With little/ partial emphasis on real life "self-defense" practice. Like most TMA (traditional martial arts) marketing themselves as "self defense", when they offer more of the sport, character development, and art side of their style. Those are great and good to take as well, but they should be honest and say they are TMA dojos, not self-defense schools. Many Karate, Kenpo, Kajukenbo, TKD schools do that. And they wonder why people call them mcdojos. If they dropped the "self defense" marketing, no one would give them so much crap online and instead give respect like they do to other TMA styles that market the beautiful culture and art... knowing it wouldnt be practical as a "self defense" in todays world. They should b honest and be humble and let the art sell itself.
    • IslandKicker
      You just hit the nail right on the head! Totally agree! If only they were honest, removed "self defense" and let the art sell itself as a TMA. Like how TaiChi, kendo, etc. All excellent MA and beneficial in their own way, just not modern day "self defense". Yet they are still respected as a TMA.
  • Andrew
    Known quite a few Mc Dojo's. I'll take a Sanchin Kata with a large bo and some Kobudo thanks! The sensei in the Mcdojo's I just walked from was only interested in his 6 black belts and 1 green belt. The 10th kyus (both of them) were left to train on their own in the corner without supervision. They left after a month, and sensei blamed them for not becoming "immersed" in the training. He wrote them an email: "It comes as no surprise; in fact was predicted. Over the years it has become very clear when a student is forcing himself to turn up, rather than immersing them self in the training. I am disappointed for you and likewise wish you success and happiness." --They were both very committed and looked forward to every training session, but "sensei" did not bother to scale down the teaching for the 10th kyu's, so they gave up.--Bring up the jingle: "At Mcdojo's we've got it all!"
  • Calabrese
    BRAVO! If you hire a teacher to teach you the piano, you can easily hear and see their abilities and determine a level of knowledge. In a short time you will know if they are credible. Unfortunately, with many Karate/Tae Kwon Do/etc. dojos the truth is not so obvious. Potential students should research before making the financial, physical, and time investment required to be a Black Belt. Thank you Jesse for pointing out the truth.
  • Court Ellis
    47. Red gi for the grandmaster, black gi for instructors and white gi for regular students, This one I have always wondered why this was a problem. Who care what color Gi they are wearing as long as they are teaching proper information. #5 and 36 are amazing, if your student wants to compete LET EM!! If they dont want to compete then.....SOOOO WHAT!! 35. You are not allowed to compete. It is not “honorful”. 36. You are required to compete. It is “honorful”. 27. There are 7-year old black belts I like this one, just make them wait till at least 13 mainly 15 give them time to grow that. It's only a matter of time before "I'm a black belt gets to their head and gets them in more trouble than expected. I once walked into a school to speak with the senior instructor and was approached by a cocky 8 year old with a serious attitude: "Who are you and what do you want?" I asked "Young man where is your instructor?" They young man explained that he was the instructor while senior instructor was in a meeting so go wait over there, directing me to a chair with the other parents. I laughed and none of the adults in the class said anything , they only smiled as if to safe wait for it.....I then politely said: Young man if you are done you can go sit down and be quiet. An adult brown belt came over and greeted me, turning to the young man saying you don't know who this is do you, he comes in every Monday to speak with our instructor!! 91. Students scream more than they bow. I have always loved this one all that dang screaming for nothing...…. Student: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH (bow). Me: Stop all that screaming and do you know your five tenets and ma'am for the last time this is not Karate it's Taekwon Do okay good, it says so all over the walls and school front!!
  • Sarah
    My red flag is a dojo with children’s classes with instructors who don’t appear to even *like* children and obviously don’t consider them worth teaching—I.e. they either yell constantly or just let them play like a Gymboree without actually instilling the discipline or technique in an age-appropriate way.
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  • Jim Martin
    I dont understand sparing with little to no contact. As Mike Tyson said everyone has a plan until they get punched. I trained back in the blood and guts era. Sure you cant send your child to that school, but that is reason 2, we didnt train children. I know I can take a beating, my kicks are not as pretty as they were 30 years ago. Black Belt was 5 to 7 years! Conditioning was a huge part of the class. When you see red stripes on a stiff belt, and a belly that lays over it run! We were taught to not fight, but when it was necessary make sure his brother or best friend would look at your work and decide to drink a beer and curse and not grab a bat and come looking for you. More blood was spilled in that Dojo than in any tournament. My instructor had no time for foolishness and if you wanted to argue your idea, you showed him on the mat. Groin strikes were a target. And running while carrying cinderblocks was part of the training. No place to observe, free class was offered few returned. This is a Martial= war art. Dancing school is down the street. If you stayed, you became a force to recon with even at green belt. Many have taught other subjects that are non combative, math, science, but the teacher not the subject makes you remember what you've learned in a practical sense. We did traditional Katas , but only to pass from one belt to the next. Our real requirement was attitude and learning the system and put it into practice. I used to love the non believers as they put on a gi and want to spare to show riding a motorcycle and putting a tattoo here and there, you can bully a instructor or a school. Sometimes I would get to run them down the road. You are not awarded a belt, you deserved that belt.
  • Mike
    So Shito Ryu has at least 100 katas so is Shito Ryu mc dojo ??
  • Robert Wisniewski
    Sensei. I really respect your education, training and opinions. However. I can name a number of very well known and very legitimate black belts who made Shodan in one year or slightly more. Also if you have read Shoshin Nagamine's book you may remember the passage about how his Judo team went from white belts to instant black belts for winning a competition. I also have seen perfectly deserved double promotions where someone was advanced two grades. Please remember there was a time when belts just held your clothing in place. I have also known instructors who were derided as complete frauds who were far superior martial artist in every way then some of those legit 150 pound overweight superstars strutting their master's belts.
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  • Leonard Cornell
    Nice list. I would also add, "When a (married) Sensei has affairs with moms from the dojo". Yes, this has happened and those type of (unprofessional & dishonorable) Senseis have either lost their dojo for going into debt or were on the brink of doing so with lawsuits. Sad situation, but true story.
  • I once checked out a "dojo" with so many red flags they could have worked as landing assistants at airports. The "instructor" went to Hawaii every year to get promoted to the next dan level. And yes, he got promoted every year! Students had to say "I'm gonna punch" or "I'm gonna kick" before each technique when sparring. I showed up in my embroidered Kyokushin Gi wearing my 2nd Kyu brown belt for my free lesson and the "master" couldn't get me out of there fast enough. And yes, all the student's had earned their black belts. There were no kyu grade belts to be seen. The only thing that really surprised me was this McDojo didn't have a drive through kuro obi service!
  • Daniel Handler
    Tons of them in Tennessee too!! 1) Where you have to pay a down payment of 2 straight years 2) no rank exams, just promotions 3) the black belts do different kata from everyone else 4) the "black belts" have the technique of a beginner 5) special "weapon kata"s 6) 6-8 year old black belts 7) yes the practice back/side flips!! 8) kata rotate 5 times a year, only required to know one kata at a time 9) "karate is about kicking and punching" 10) instructors (they are not TEACHERS) don't actually teach just supervise. and 11) name: X Martial Arts This post has made me realise how lucky I am to have found a great no mcdojo. Also the only place I found where the teacher teaches not only karate but bundle of life skills especially to children. And he cares.
    • Mike
      Question for you. I live in Tennessee, is the dojo you are talking about have a K in the first name?
  • Bob
    You spelled practice wrong.
  • Ryland Christensen
    I disagree with 85 for the reason of understanding the movements and THEN applying them if I’m teaching someone a throw off of taking there arm from a punch there’s no way they’re going to understand the movement when your partner doesn’t hold it out and help you train first and then slowly builds up to pulling back the punches
  • Karlos
    There's big money to be made in them Mcdojo's.
  • Leon
    Great article Jessie! I could probably put my WT Taekwondo school under the Mc Dojo/ Mc Dojang category. Started my own training 1981, but like all kids, then I trained for a while, did something else, then trained for a while again etc. It took many years before I got promoted to 1 dan (and probably just as many before I get my 2 dan). When I decided to start training again, then I realised that the WT Taekwondo landscape has been highly influenced by the discipline that is practised on the Olympic games and therefore a lot of clubs are teaching only that style and not the Kukkiwon curriculum. Black belts seem to be handed out without any proper testing, and often those tested a often being tested in Olympic style Taekwondo (perhaps with the addition of some kind of Black belt form just so they can say they did it). I also realised that not many kids want to learn to fight, but they do want to learn to do the moves, and in my opinion, WT Taekwondo isn't really an effective martial art if you have someone capable of (street)fighting in front of you. It's is better to learn how to avoid those situations. So after testing some different setups, we are now promoting our school as a martial arts school project that is a hybrid between the traditional WT Taekwondo (with the curriculum, discipline etc)and gymnastics (like lower-level tricking), physical training, and mental training. But most of all, as a project that makes kids (adults are of cause welcome too) move more. We are quite relaxed when it comes to how good they are on a technical level as I believe it's a long journey. It's a marathon and not a sprint, and some people need more time to "get it" than others do. But they will eventually get there if they keep coming to their training. But if they are told to often that they are not good enough for testing, then we might lose them to computer gaming or likewise. Therefore you can see students that have a higher rank, but perhaps aren't executing the techniques better than a lower rank student. So for us, the belt system is more as a way to show other participants, that you have been showing up and put your work into it. Although when testing for 1 dan, then they need to go to a test with a master that we consider are following the Kukkiwon curriculum, as I want to make sure that if you are a black belt in WT Taekwondo from our place, then you have done it "the right way". Kids love the flashy techniques and love to roll around the floor, do cartwheels and other fun stuff, so at the moment, we are considering using our own coloured Doboks/Gi (in my opinion Gi's are much more durable and coloured because the white ones get dirty when they take the bike to train) and even our own belt system (but for those who want to still be able to be promoted in WT Taekwondo) as it seems that it is not Taekwondo itself that makes them come back, but the community and the pleasure that moving like a martial arts actor gives them. We are not charging for the promotion or the belts so it's is only to keep them engaged - not funding my wallet! So yes, we are probably a Mc Dojo/Mc Dojang (we even play music in our training!!!!), but then again, we have never claimed to be anything else than an activity that uses Taekwondo as the base for a great way to get kids to move more and on that journey learn that they are capable of much more than they think (no I'm not thinking of moving stuff with they minds, but learning to focus, listen when others speak and keep practising as these are important things to learn so they won't give up when things like school is hard.) Once again thanks for a great article Jesse and thanks to all of you that has contributed with constructive comments on it.
  • Denis
    Black Belt Kids. Ah, the controversial topic of black belt children. It is one of the most debated topics in all of martial arts. I already thought I had my opinion on this topic - children should rarely be black belts. Rarely, not never. Because there are always some exceptions. But recently, I was reading some news and blogs on the topic of black belt children, out of sheer boredom. And there was one phrase that caught my eye. One phrase. “If there are any black belt children in a dojo, they should be the exception, not the norm.” So basically, the same thing I had thought before, right? Well, yes. But I thought a little more. And some more. And, this is what I came to: Maybe, instead of expecting one or two children out of a full dojo to have the “black belt mindset”, maybe, just maybe… The dojo should be the ones to develop that mindset? Allow me to explain. First of all, the people that agree that few children should have black belts mostly have two sides to the argument: mental and physical strength. The “physical” side says that a child is not worthy of a black belt unless they have the strength of an adult black belt. Most “black belt” children, when going against an intermediate ranked adult, will lose. So this side says, “Why give children black belts if most of them are so weak?” The “mental” side, on the other hand, says that what matters is the stamina, not the strength. How long they can go without giving up. How hard they can push. How determined they are. This side says, “If a black belt child can do more pushups than a black belt adult without giving up or pausing, even if the adult could do more pushups than the child in a show of brute strength, why is it the black belt child that is not worthy of their belt?” I guess you could say I was more on the “mental” side of the argument, in part because most karate is useless on the legendary “Street”. And the person who wrote that statement was too. But. Physical strength is something that can only be trained to a certain extent. But mental strength… Mental strength is, most of the time, more valuable than brute physical strength. People with little mental strength but a boatload of physical strength can only be pushed to their limits. Then, they’re done, because they simply cannot go on any further. On the other hand, people with less physical strength but with a strong and capable mindset, will not only push themselves to their limits, but further. They can be pushed past their limits. They are the ones that can and do go on. Mental strength is something that is not often trained in dojos. Most dojos are more physical-focused. And it does pay to have a good balance of both. But… You will notice that almost all of the real, authenticate black belts have more mental strength than the adults. They might have more physical strength too, but that’s just a bonus. So, maybe that is why black belt children are so rare. Because most adults develop at least some level of mental strength through experience. But the children aren’t old enough to develop it through experience - they don’t have that kind of time. At that point, it’s how mature they are, how willing they are to learn and teach themselves, and whether or not they even care about martial arts. But that’s not all of the conclusions I came to! The big one is… Shouldn’t martial art schools be teaching the children (and adults) these qualities of mental strength, in a perfect world? So then, in a perfect world, in a perfect dojo, where mental strength is taught along with physical strength, and all the students (regardless of age) are willing to learn… Shouldn’t black belt children be “the norm”? Of course, we are far from utopia and will never be there, but still… Just something interesting to ponder. :)
    • Anonymous UK Karateka
      This is a really interesting comment. I am 15 and have a 2nd Dan in Shotokan Karate in the UK, with the KUGB (Karate Union of Great Britain) which is in no way a 'McDojo' as described in this post. I passed my 1st Dan at the age of 11 (having started at the age of 6), which some might say is too early to have a black belt. But it was not easy (obviously). It was my third attempt, having failed the first two times, and I pushed myself to my physical and mental extremes beyond what I would have thought I was capable of. This is exactly as it should be. You are right to say that mental strength is truly important in this, along with an understanding of the technique and an attitude of determination and perseverance. Physical strength can be trained and improved through exercise, and improves as you get older. Mental strength requires an entirely different type of training, which you get from frequent practice in the dojo over a period of at least a few years (for a child at least; perhaps this comes through experience of life as well, but I wouldn't know that!). Anyway these are just my thoughts and I welcome further discussion!
  • mary skinner
    is jsk 5.0 Kenpo karate a mcdojo?
  • Anonymous
    Hello Jesse! I agree with most of your points with the exception of a few. In Asia hitting students is a very common practice. It may seem like abuse in America, but in Asia their motto is "How do you expect to learn how to fight if you can't take a punch?" I'd also like to add the misconception about ki. Many Americans misunderstand Ki. It's not a magical force like the Jedi do. It's more of a spiritual matter. The last thing I want to say is that calling your instructor a sensei is a sign of respect. It's like back when I was in the military we would address our instructor as Drill Sergeant during basic training. Great blog overall!
  • Johnathan McPherson
    94. you have your students promote your dojo in parades, signs in lawns, and at fairs for "Karate' cash" that they can use to buy cool prizes. 95. the stuff you learn isn't to inflict harm as much as it is to get away from your attacker. 96. you are discouraged from practicing full force any of the techniques because it could injure students, (the techniques don't work if your attacker is strong or resisting your resistance) 97. if you exploit a common weakness that the students have in sparing. the move that you repeatedly do becomes illegal. 98. any back leg kick in sparing regardless of level of control is "excessive force"
  • Johnathan McPherson
    99. hosting birthday parties every Saturday where kids can cut their cake with a sword. 100. hosting "date night activities" for kids so parents can have valentines, or do Christmas shopping, "Summer ninja" classes where you can get points towards belt advancements (kids run obstacle courses and shoot each other with nerf guns). a dojo is not a daycare center for kids.
  • J
    Please add the worst ones: abuse of power, exploitation and violation of all kinds
  • JP
    The sensei / dojo promises better grades, better social life, better conduct, better leadership skills, better confidence, but the actual things happening in class have nothing to do with those promises.
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  • Jon
    These are great. You could add "Taking a trip to visit Steven Segall and pretending to be impressed by him" too.
  • David.R.Jones
    There's a book I got years ago in the 1990s I think called "the unforeseen force of kung fu, printed in china 1986" Recently I were going through my martial arts books on Gichin funikoshi and M. nakayama when I came across this title and decided to review it for my youtube ch...but when I got to one page I could not help but to lough-out-loud....it had 2 illustrations of a shirtless monk trying to use the power of his mind by point his finger at a candle and a hanging weight to try and move them with his mind...LOL...it even shows someone with cloth on there head and head-butting a quarry size boulder...LOL...fake martial-arts or mind-over-matter fakery...lol
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  • Jesse, I have been practicing martial arts since 1973 under the now-deceased "Shogo" Kuniba era and maintained the same under the NKJU which I am Kaicho. If interested you can visit my website. NKJU.org My question to you is. What is your feeling on many of the martial artists today using Academic prefixes with their names? Such as Ph.D., B.A. B.S. Now with the influx of unaccredited schools issuing such degrees for a price. In the beginning, it was just master, Now it's grand master, supreme grand master, Personally, I think it belittles the very core of the martial arts. It seems to be all about ego and those who have such low self-esteem of themselves that they want to create a legacy. based on fraud, deception, May 2023
  • Remington Babcock
    This may be in the million comments but there is no expectation that ALL who enter the training area pay resect to the area / team cleaning or theres WAYYY too much pressure or some super fancy entrance procedure and toothbrush cleaning.
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  • Seth
    I would add the following to this list: Incoming Black Belts get 'fact checked,' even after they prove their knowledge and ability. The Dojo has a special 'Dojo Group Rate' for groups of Students from other Dojos. The Dojo offers distance learning services through Patreon, then actually says those services are valid for rank progression. Training through an Independent Sensei / Master is discouraged (Despite the fact that that method has produced some of the best fighters of all time).
  • Mick Alanvale
    The biggest McDojo I have seen in Australia is Shimjang Taekwondo. Blackbelts are promoted dan grades solely based on business sales and number of students signed. There is a low standard accepted to pass each grade and they even let green belts teach. Teachers have poor technical standards and teach accordingly. They do not seem to compete in tournaments and don't let students practise other martial arts.
  • Matthew Mosley
    1) Instructor can't show you ANY applications. 2) Self defence from a wrist grab without movement. 3) Rear-headbutts encouraged to an attacker grabbing from behind. 4) Saying certain katas need to take an exact amount of time (23-seconds, no sooner or longer) 5) Always using the English names for moves of an art that isn't English in origin. 6) Speed katas. 7) Kata with eyes closed. 8) Adaptation is discouraged. 9) Extra private (more expensive) lessons required to get to the next grade. 10) Being told that after a certain technique is executed it is a 'dead hand' ... even when you can show another technique with the same hand can be used as a follow up (i.e hook into a back.hammer fist)

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