kung fu, martial arts, self defense, Terre Haute

Warning Signs of a McDojo

Having moved to Terre Haute, Indiana, rather than growing up here, I’ve had to rely on the word of the community (over the last fifteen years) as to who does what in the martial arts community.  Having grown up in the martial arts (now 40 years into it), I’ve found it interesting to listen to students and community persons discuss what each school is doing (and not doing), as well as their satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the teacher or school.  While some stuff is B.S. (Big Stories) and other stuff has proven true, it doesn’t help the consumers of the martial arts world (i.e., those interested in finding a school to train in) that all of this talk is out there.  So, how do you know the truth?  How do you find the warning signs of the McDojos out there?  In this blog, I’ll give you a few of those warning signs.


1.)  Students wear multi-colored uniforms and/or patches on their belts.
2.)  Advancement to the next rank is an expense (and a hefty one at that), instead of an honorable achievement and/or higher ranking belts may be achieved in a pre-determined time-line or within two years.
3.)  The instructor claims to be a Grandmaster and is under the age of 30.
4.)  Individual development and personal expression is virtually non-existent. Instead, a strong conformist mentality is encouraged, since this inflexible mindset is what makes it easy for the instructor to rule the dojo.
5.)  You’re never taught applications for the movements you’re shown.
6.)  Your style was created by your instructor, yet it’s still “traditional” – and it has several “special advantages” over all other styles.
7.)  Your instructor tells you that you’re not allowed to learn anything outside of his/her dojo.  If you do he/she will kick you out of their dojo.
8.)  The instructor refuses to teach you certain techniques because they’re too deadly.  (The only exception – I’ll give this to this – would be young children, who haven’t demonstrated the maturity to handle the techniques.  But, then, you have to question why those children are still in the class.)
9.)  You must pay for an entire year up front, no refunds (long-term contracts with no termination clauses).
10.)  Time-based progression through ranks, rather than achievement-based.
11.)  There’s a separate belt system for children than adults; and, children who pay for their black belt have to “start over” in the adult program.

These are just a few examples of schools you want to stay away from.  Learning self-defense is something that, if ever necessary, you want to be real, practical, and useful – to you and those you love!  Don’t waste yourself on less.  You’re worth more.


A school for those serious about learning self-defense!


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8 thoughts on “Warning Signs of a McDojo”

  1. Mr.Minton swung a mean paddle at school he developed his own form or style of strike for corporal punishment , he also seemed to enjoy swinging the paddle . Some of my fourth grrade peers were scared straight .Some parents complained of brusing the school corp. I believe he was no longer allwed to swing a paddle at school in order to discipline students . His martial arts also failed him in the local gin mills.


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