Do you belong to a McDojo?

I’ve often used this term in the past but now it’s legit! So the question remains, do you belong to a McDojo? What is a McDojo you ask?

A McDojo (used as a noun) is a martial arts school of any style that uses specific business practices or principles for the purpose of generating revenue for the school. McDojo as an adjective is applied to indicate that a particular action or practice by a school is motivated primarily by financial gain.

Source: Wikipedia – McDojo [via]

Whew.. that’s a mouthful and just the tip of the iceberg. Just be aware there are such schools out there. While I do believe the usage of “Belts” can be a good thing in giving students motivation, it can get a little bit out of hand when there are like 20 ranks with a ton of intermediate stripes, resulting in the school being a “Belt Factory” aka “Revenue Rainbow”.

In addition to a “Belt Factory” be warned of joining a “Form Factory”. While these are not that bad if that’s your main goal, to learn as many forms as you can, but I think ultimately we need to ask ourselves, “Am I a Forms Collector?” This then leads to asking ourselves, “What is my goal in training?”. All good questions that should be answered before spending time and hard earned money on a potential McDojo.


About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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4 Responses to Do you belong to a McDojo?

  1. Cindy says:

    I don’t think the health benefits and learning Taiji principles and apply them to your life can be meausred by “Belt” or levels. However, for learning/teaching purposes or competitions, some measures should be set.

  2. wujimon says:

    I really don’t see how belts would apply to taiji, though some schools have them. I agree with you.

  3. andi says:

    In the immortal words of Mr Miyagi “Why do you need a belt, are you having trouble keeping your trousers up?”

    I’m not a fan of the idea of a belt system in Tai Chi, because I think it would result in a focus on ‘completion’ of a level needed for a belt rather than on the refinement of form. As As wujimon points out, how would you apply it? Clearly there is a point of achievement in learning the mechanical movements of the 108 forms all the way through, but beyond that what would you measure? For example five of us worked through the kick section in class today, three of us who’ve been doing it for a couple of years and two who have been doing it much longer – and we were all finding things we’ve been doing incorrectly to some degree or other. Also of course, the form changes (there I’ve said it) over time and every time the lineage holder decides to refine (there, better word) the form these refinements have to filter down through the system.

    I’m not sure that it would be possible to come up with a standardized grading system which would work, or which would be consistent across the various styles so if you moved to somewhere ‘your’ style wasn’t taught you could assess the quality of a different style’s teachers.

  4. wujimon says:

    Great Karate Kid quote, Andi! I agree that taiji is an evolving art and things will change as it passes from hands to hands. I know the yang family (via Yang Zhenduo) has a standardized grading system. I’m not sure how it works tho.

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