If you are in business and accept money for martial arts lessons then you are a McDojo. After all, you are taking money in exchange for teaching the martial arts and, as a for profit business, you are putting profits ahead of the art(s) you teach.
Okay, I lied. I don’t honestly believe that all professional martial arts schools are McDojos. However, there are many that are very McDojoish. And, yes, there are many in our midst who are indeed certified McDojos.
Thank you Seth Godin for the idea on the name of this post.
In case you haven’t heard yet, a McDojo is basically a rather negative term the martial arts industry uses to label a martial arts school owner’s perceived unsavory business practices.
What is a McDojo?
To many, the three primary components of a McDojo include:
- When a martial arts school owner cares more about profit than teaching a quality martial art.
- A martial arts school owner waters down their art to make it easier to sell to the masses.
- Deliberately gives students a false sense of security and improperly equips them for real life encounters.
Others look towards these business practices to determine if a martial arts school is a McDojo (or isn’t):
- Requires a large down payment.
- Large dollar cash outs are required when a student quits.
- Is located in (or near) a strip mall.
- There is little to no contact between students (aka “air karate”).
- Students wear “flashy” uniforms and patches.
- Focuses on teaching kids instead of adults.
- Offers a black belt club or masters club.
- Gives black belts to children.
- Offers after school programs or summer camps.
- Offers a supplemental cardio program.
- The owner/head instructor rarely, if ever, teaches.
- Multiple belts and tips to black belt; all with belt testing fees.
- Is part of a franchise.
- Mandatory equipment purchases for belt advancement.
- Students are not allowed to cross train at other dojos.
- Legally binding contracts are used.
- Utilizes a billing/collections company.
- The chief instructor holds multiple black belts in multiple arts or has fake or exaggerated credentials.
There are a ton of martial arts schools that have many, if not all, of these as part of their business practices. But does that really make them a McDojo?
Obviously, if you’re going into business, martial arts or otherwise, you have to worry about paying the bills, keeping the doors open, and making enough to earn a living. Being for profit isn’t in and of itself isn’t a bad thing… right?
Where do you draw the line? Share you thoughts in the form of a comment below!