Today’s post is intended to follow up on How to pick the Best Martial Arts School with the specific intent on giving you warning signs of what is commonly called a “McDojo”. Regrettably, McDojo can be found all across the martial arts world and across all martial arts styles, so it pays to know how to avoid them no matter what you are training in.
But what is a McDojo? In short, a McDojo is a martial arts school that is engaged in a long term scam. These dojo characteristically have shoddy instruction, make false claims, and place the accumulation of money over training, improvement, and the happiness of their students.
Now, fortunately, there are a few simple ways to spot a McDojo and I will be listing them here. However, let me be clear that you must use your best judgement because possession of any one or even a few of these are not proof that a school is a McDojo. Many legitimate martial arts instructors will employ some of these techniques if only for the purpose of keeping their excellent dojo in good financial standing as a business.
And now…The Top 15 Signs of a McDojo
1. Lengthy contracts are required.
2. The sensei never spars with his students for fear of causing them terrible injury.
3. The sensei has far too many dans (degrees) to his black belt for his age. (Such as an 7 dan 30 year old.)
4. The sensei claims to have a black belt in far too many martial arts styles.
5. There are prepubescent black belts.
6. Pressure is placed on students to purchase of additional training products or other goods (patches, DVD’s, practice weapons, etc).
7. The Dojo sells a “Black Belt Fast Track” course.
8. There are far too many belt colors. Or the belts are in strange colors such as pink, gold (in addition to yellow), camouflage, etc
9. The dojo has advancement tests every month, even in higher ranks.
10. The sensei claims to possess secret deadly/supernatural techniques that he can only bestow upon his most trusted students.
11. You see “Little Dragons”, “Tiny Tigers”, or otherwise “pee-wee-esque” oriented classes. (The caveat to this is if the school segregates the very young so not to disturb older students training.)
12. You are in a Self Defense oriented dojo and they teach techniques from “horse stance” or similar.
13.The sensei freaks out if your dues aren’t paid exactly on the first of the month.
14.The sensei is a “Grand Master” of his martial art but will not provide credentials.
15. Anyone who claims to have completed a 100-man kumite. (The number of martial artists who can legitimately claim this is so small that you have almost zero chance of being taught by one at your local strip-mall dojo.)
Did I miss any?