thekuntawman on the Commercial Dojo

That’s *commercial* dojo to you, mister. Not “McDojo”. There is a difference.

I have noticed, among traditional martial artists, that many construe commercial success as “selling out ” in the martial arts. Not only is this untrue, it is unfair to the sincere martial artist, as well as bordering jealousy and being unrealistic. Many of our counterparts have figured out the formula to success without comprimising the purity of the art, and we should give them credit for doing so. I don’t believe that charging money is bad in the martial arts, and I don’t believe that one should have to charge such a small fee for lessons you would need an army to put food on the table.

I have had several debates with my own close friends in the art, who prefer to teach out of community centers and backyards and hole-in-the-wall schools. These are passionate, pure martial arts enthusiasts who turn their nose up at any sensei, sifu or guro in the community center. Reading the little comments I make on this blog here and there, you would think that I’m the same way but that’s not true.

Many of our successful brothers and sisters have made a good living teaching quality martial arts. Just off the top of my head, Dennis Brown, Willie Bam Johnson (and student of Brown’s), Anthony Goh, Chuck Norris, Benny the Jet Urquidez, the entire Gracie family, Cung Le… Some of these men have made millions of dollars while maintaining a high standard of skill in their schools. I think it’s worth seeing what they do to be successful.

But another article. Today, I would like to offer some suggestions that you may find helpful for your school. These are “commercial” as well as “traditional” practices, and they will help you improve your school’s operation as well as keep the integrity of the art. Now, let me qualify this by saying that I am presenting my opinion–and in no way am I passing judgment on any of you. You know how some of you martial artists are so easily offended:

  • Drop the free class/trial. I consider this a flawed tool for recruitment, as it really doesn’t give the student an idea of what goes on in a martial arts class. When you do free trials, you end up trying to entertain students with neat tricks and exercises to make them feel like they are in a Shaolin movie. You wait until they sign them up to do the all-so-necessary-but-painful-and-boring footwork training and conditioning exercises. Or, because of retention and “buyer’s remorse”, you may skip doing so altogether. It’s just a bad idea. Can you attend one day of class at a university to “see if you like it”? Hell no. You either want to do it or you don’t. And if you like it you stay, if you don’t, you drop out at the end of the semester. If a student isn’t sure if they are going to like it, tell them that they aren’t supposed to like a class if it’s done right. But if they want to find out what training is like in your school, try it for a month and they will get the gist of it in 5-7 classes. You do something different each day, and one day won’t encompass everything.
  • Another reason I don’t like free classes, my classes are a monthly curriculum. They can only join at the beginning of the month, or I end up cheating my students while I accalamate a new guy to the training. If a student joins in the middle of the month, we will do a few private classes to get them caught up. You want your school to be taken seriously, and lookie-loos distract students, you and detract from the focus in the class.
  • Don’t allow visitors to the class. I need concentration during class time, and spectators are a distraction. Can you walk into Harvard University and watch a Law class in progress? Who put our martial arts schools on display anyway? This is a traditional program, and we do not entertain visitors the way the more commercial schools do. You may make an appointment to discuss our program, but as a rule–I give my students my full attention by not recruiting while they are paying me to teach them.
  • Rather than charge by the month, why not charge by the course? A course being 3-6 months?
  • How about charging by the class?
  • Separate your general martial arts students from your fighters. I have seen some schools offer a basics class, where they drill punches, kicks and other skills; a conditioning class; a sparring class; and a forms class. This way, students can pick and choose according to their tastes, and you aren’t scaring away the guys who just want to lose weight and not fight, nor are you turning off the guys who want to fight and not do forms.
  • Have a real age cut-off. I don’t accept students younger than 10 in my kids class, and my adult class is exactly that:  an adult class.
  • Are you in an area with a lot of immigrant Hispanics? How about a class offered in Spanish, where you mix English and Spanish terminology, to help newcomers and their children ease into the language?
  • “Homework Club” for kids. I have long thought about this myself. There are many latch-key kids in my neighborhood who come home to drug dealers and drunks and TV and gangsta wannabes. I don’t want a day care license, but if my place is a safe place, and I can have my student come to the school to hang out instead of the streets, why not? Make it $50 a week for the school to be open to kids to come in, train, get a snack, and do their homework. Just a suggestion.
  • Offer one-on-one fitness training during the day, while there are no classes going on. I charge $35 a session, and its better than getting a day job.
  • Drop the uniform, and make it optional. Some students in this economy can barely afford the tuition. We use our uniforms for tournaments. I have school shirts, and student can train in whatever’s comfortable. As my slogan says, this ain’t your little brother’s karate school.
  • While you’re at it, drop the corny creeds that no one really cares about too. This ain’t citizenship class, it’s martial arts. And your students aren’t 6 years old.
  • Encourage competition among your students. I allow trash-talking, because it lends to confidence. As the saying goes, don’t let your mouth write a check that your ass can’t cash. Allow a little aggression to enter the dojo, and your students will get that confidence they are paying you for. Plus, it will make them have to back it up, and learn to deal with antagonism. Makes the dojo more self-defense-oriented.

Just a few ideas. When I’ve had a chance to really get my thoughts together, I will write up a part II. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Foolproof Martial Arts Business Idea #1

Wanna get rich in the martial arts? Well, have I got some ideas for you. I mean, who needs savings accounts and IRAs and real estate?  I know the martial arts well, and one thing I know is what makes money.

So here’s Idea #1:  SELL MARTIAL ARTS RANKING CERTIFICATES.  Yup, sell em. Don’t teach classes. After all, 9 times out of 10, none of these guys will ever get into a streetfight (come on FMAers! You know 99% of all streetfights are not real enough!) so who needs skills? Skills, shmills!  Why train and ruin all those nice patches on your uniform with sweat? Hey, the 9th degree beer belly takes a lot of work to maintain, and we all know that a belly is just a large storage area for chi power…

Here’s the business common sense–martial artists like degrees like PhDs, and they won’t pay a whole hell of a lot of money for it either. Price is low and affordable enough, you’ll sell a shitload. So how about $100?

Check out the Combat Martial Arts Practitioners Association. Here’s a list of their satisfied customers. Notice that if you treat em well, they will come back the next time they get their paws on a crisp new Ben Franklin for the next highest rank. But of course, the really smart martial artists will just skip all the doo-doo and go all the way to the top and purchase a 10th degree certificate. So that’s why you have to introduce new ranks and titles all the time. This site has already done it, with “1st degree MASTER”, which is not the same as “1st degree Black Belt”… and it’s above the 10th degree Black Belt Level. Then you can do ranks. How about “Datu”? That’s always a good one. What about “Tuhon”? No, no–SUPREME Grand Tuhon Grandma Guro? Yeah, that’s me all the way baby! Only for the big spenders!

When you get your website up, let us know, I’ll collect my fee when you’ve made your first million. Thanks for visiting my blog!

McDojo in the Philippines

A quickie…

i think the new “mcdojo” in the philippines is to live up to those stories foreigners think about when they go to the philippines. they are looking for dressing up in moro costumes and army uniform? what size are you. they want “kali”? give it to them. they want training in the mud? train with the pigs and caribou? sure, we got that. and when you’re done….here’s your certificate, i even going to put you on my website.

its bad now, that the small old guy in the province is not respected as a master, because he never bragged to kill people in death matches, he doesnt speak good, or educated, and he doesnt have a website or foreign students.

i’m very proud that we dont have mega schools in the philippines, but i am not proud that we ‘give them what they came for”. this is for money, and fame, forget if the student really knows how to fight or not, and that makes a lot of commercialsim in the philippine martial arts.

My Prediction for the Next “McDojo”

Insightful! Guro called this one like a psychic! Think of all the new fads in the martial arts, and notice that the new trend is to deny you are teaching martial arts at all! Written a year ago….

how much you want to bet, the next art to become the new thing in video, seminars, even schools….is not going to be any rare martial arts……but streetfighting with NO martial arts, and NO boxing, and NO wrestling! they will still sell certificates (theres already some kung fu guys in NYC who teaches “52 blocks”, but they never been to prison, and they aint 5 percenters. yes, street fighting from the “hood”. but its going to be bigger than every before. streetfighting experts from the streets of buffalo new york or youngtown ohio, you can beat any UFC fighter with these secrets! crips and blood streetfighting tactics! learn to stomp somebody ass into the ground, 3 on 1!

the thing about the martial artists, is, he never grew up from 12 years old. he’s still searching for “secret” styles and techniques nobody can beat. he still belives in the “supersuit” that gives you superpower (we call this muay thai shorts or bjj uniforms), straight from the temples of suburbs and internet websites. the 12 year old kids who use to buy karate posters and 10 page course from the comic book, he is teaching, still in “10 easy lesson”, except now its called “intensive no-nonsense training camp!” look at his resume. the dates of his “certification” will be exactly 12 months after important martial arts storms: like: van dam movie “kickboxer” (muay thai), jason scott lee “dragon” (JKD/wing chun), jeff speakman “perfect weapons” (kenpo), bjj/etc (after the UFC, and release of some bjj video), “ong bak” (ancient muay thai), eskrima, noo excuse me, kali (after the hunted, and cable TV specials like fightquest), you get it. but look all the way back when he was 13 years old, his first black belt is from a shopping center karate (or maybe a real school), but that master is not on his website….

the martial artist, is afraid to prove what he has. that is why he lets his friends promote him. this is why he says he doesnt like tournaments. he teachs boxing, but he never been in a boxing gym. we have guys who watch zulu stick fighting on pbs, and now, they teach it! i wonder how long they studied before the zulus “certified” them. you know, even after bravehard, and 300, and troy, we have guys who abandon there karate, fma, and other asian style to teach “gladiator style fighting/wma”. yeah, okay. one guy came to my place who says he knows a roman stickfighting. what he showed to me looks like kendo. well, maybe the samurai stole it from the romans.

this is why many people do not take the martial arts seriously, because we have so many clowns who study an art 10 years, and he is not courageous enough to stand by his learning, and defend what he learned. we dont take our own training serious, this is why we are forever trying to learn something else that makes us “confident”. why is this? because our teachers fail us when they “certify” us and we are not the best he can produce. i know this is true, and so does the seminar guys who targets not the beginning student, but TEACHERS and EXPERTS. you can make a lot of money from another man insecurity. the truth is, most black belters, did not work hard to get it, and he does not have the confidence that he can really back up his certificate, and even there teachers know this is true, but everyone keeps doing it….so anyway, beginning of this week, i am going to start my “combat streetfighting classes” at my school. this is not martial arts base, but only the most effective fight skills proven by a selected few bangers and thugs know the secrets. you can learn them all in one day, and i guarantee that you can beat any mma guy on the “big yard”…the streets! lol

What Makes an FMA “McDojo”

i think what makes our FMA water down, is not the fat that it is taught in a school, or money is paid for the classes, or that we fight in tournaments. i dont know about most of the filipinos on this group, but tournaments, is a very FILIPINO thing. rules? oh come on, everyone has rules, even in “no rules fighting”. if there really is no rules, then i will bring my knife to the next one. people who dont like tournaments, usually is scared of fighting in them, and you know he aint fighting in the street.
but when many of us complain “mc dojo” we are talking about the quickness that some people get to be considered an expert, and how easy it is to be considered “expert”. we have people who complain that there is no teacher in his town, so he must go to video and seminar to learn the art. but what if you want to become a lawyer and there is no law school in your city? how bout if you want to become a doctor? you travel. i know i am not getting my divorce by some guy who is too lazy or too not committed to travel to learn his law. and yet, some of us, trust our lives in the hands of a teacher who did not thing is important enough to travel to learn from a qualified master.
how many of us, have slept of the floor of an arnis master to learn his style, or catch a bus to learn a new style, or save his money to travel to study under a great master. in this country, where money can be made everywhere, people dont want to spend $200 a month to learn from a qualified master, but he will spend $75 for two hours of learning in a seminar, or $200 to learn from a video tape. mc dojo.
last year, when i had a conversation with a teacher, who is a member of this forum, who told me, the “black belt” is the beginning. really? since when? when you are a black belt, you are an expert. supposed. but it is not for a beginner of the art to wear, which is the attitude, and this is why we have 7 years old 1st degree, 14 years old 4th degree, and lost interest by age 21. what makes our FMA a mc dojo? too many beginners with no skill who now have rank to teach. who will take FMA serious with black belters who cannot fight? we have too much of that.
then the last part, is we have liars in the FMA. they lie about history, they lie about who they learn from, they make up words and styles and give fake histories, even created new things in our culture. and its not about money all the time, lost of time, its about a small butok, who tries to act like a BIG butok. they use stories, and tough talk, and fancy names, youtube demos, and big words to describe what they do. they teach cops, military, wear army uniform, go to isreal, take hundreds of foreign students, make nice websites, put out videos with rock music and rap, etc. but people forget the most important thing, can you fight? and this is filipino….can you fight. screw the drills, and fancy disarmings, forget the neat tricks and cool locks and throws. i dont care who you train with, or who certify you, or if you use to shine bruce lee’s shoes. can you fight.
i always say, its the one who can’t fight, who talks politics, rank and gossips. he must distract you so you dont notice, that he cant fight.
mc dojo, is the one who is so far from tradition, he becomes like mc donalds of martial arts.