Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"I Went to a McDojo": A Martial Artist's Encounter

One of our martial artists had to move away from the Japanese Martial Arts Center. Right now, she is on a quest to find a good dojo.

In a nutshell: the two times I trained with [the first dojo] I was in the same class with at least 5 children (under 10 years old) and a few very untalented white belts only, which is a pattern I saw in both places that offer some kind of Jujutsu. There are no advanced classes, because the level of Jujutsu is so low amongst participants. The whole approach is a mixture of Karate and Brasilian Jujutsu; most of the Jujutsu- participants do 90% Karate and the ranking system is such that if you have a brown belt in Karate, you automatically get a green belt in Jujutsu. (?).

While the skill level of some of the teachers is OK (and I am not overly picky here but meanwhile I know what to look out for), the skill level of the students that I saw is low to embarrassing. And since they are equally important as the teacher, this doesn't work for me. I also tried Judo, the class only had two white belt students and a Shodan ranked teacher with a strong emphasis on wrestling and grappling. This was actually fun, but again, no other interesting students to speak of. At some point I got annoyed by taking dangerous falls by low skilled toris yet having to apologize for throwing uke in my usual ways.

When I told the owner of the dojo that I really don't want to train Jujutsu with children under 10 he was very surprised at the fact that this had happened. He had been out of town and didn't know this was happening. However, if his "No 1 assistant" as he called him does that, I know there is a larger management problem. Since these are all larger, commercial places, I am not surprised but it's not my problem either. He actually contacted his own Sensei at another location and they wrote me a long email trying to lure me back with offers to train with the 'Super' Sensei (6th dan). Honestly, I couldn't be bothered to explain that, while rank and skill of Sensei is very important, it is equally important to have a good sized class with all ranks not just low ranks. You know that I will always help others, but I am not prepared to work with children and white belts only.

In short: you trained me too well. :-)

 (On a different note that may entertain you: I went to see 7 dojos overall and 90% of the Senseis and teachers are seriously overweight. Super turn-off! I cannot take anyone seriously who can only see their toes in the mirror.)

This is one of the most frustrating challenges I have ever experienced. I am so glad that my work keeps me from thinking too much about it.

Hope you are well. I would love to attend another JMAC workshop in the future, if that is possible at all.