"This site contains information that every unethical Martial Arts school does not want you to know."
MY MOTIVATION FOR PROVIDING THIS INFORMATION
"It is very difficult to find a true educational environment school. You must do your homework. The ethics, tradition and relationship between instructor and student have all been sold out. The good schools are few and far between. The consumer must do their homework to find the true Martial Arts experience".
I began my training back in the summer of 1972, Isshinryu Karate with Sensei Louis Colleti. Back in those days, the instructor student relationship really did mean something, it is not just a movie cliche'. To this very day I still have a great relationship with Sensei Colleti. The training was rough the schools were tough however, there was the utmost of respect and a feeling of Martial Arts tradition and family. Money was never discussed or a big issue. It was certainly not the focus like it is in many franchise type schools today. There was a distinct feeling of privilege, history, honor and respect. Many current martial arts schools do not preserve that traditional environment. It is now an environment of fads, marketing, business, contracts, upgrades, sales tactics and retail. The consumer should do their homework and seek out the traditional educational environment to find the true Martial Arts experience.
Throughout history the Martial Arts were always taught with a great tradition and respect for the history, protocols, rank and ethics. After my first two years of training in Karate under Sense Coletti I relocated to Florida. I could not find another Isshinryu school and did not resume my formal training until my son was 8 years old. I wanted my wife and son to experience the benefits of the Martial Arts. The first Okinawan school we tried did not work out for a variety of reasons, and I settled on a Korean Taekwondo/Hapkido school. Then I spent the next 17 years of my life rising to the level of, leadership team member, black belt, assistant instructor, instructor, school owner, executive vice president of a Hapkido organization and now president of the American Hapkido Federation. My wife, and my son joined me on this journey through the martial arts industry. I found the martial arts had drastically changed. I encountered that business mentality, a lack of ethics, corruption, deceit, and a new age of marketing. However I did not let this tarnish my original respect for the traditional martial arts. When I opened my school, I opened a school, an educational environment, and not a retail business. Out of respect and responsibility I set out to preserve the experience I had as a young student. Despite the greed, corruption and lack of ethics I experienced along the way, I was determined to open the "right kind of martial arts school", a school and not a business.
had to prove to myself and others that doing everything opposite of what the new
"business model" martial art school is supposed to do, I could still
be a success and prove ultimately that people are still looking for that Zen,
traditional, brotherhood atmosphere that I experienced in my youth. My school is
still here 26 years later while dozens have closed up around me, as their fads
and sales tactics did not work.
Today much of the martial arts have evolved into an industry focused on money. Rank standards and ethics are unregulated and inconsistent. The focus is not martial arts education, the main focus is money. Rank ethics are secondary and in some case none existent. Some schools and organizations it is possible to get (purchase) a black belt in one or two years or Master (4th Degree) in 6-8 years. This of course is not ethical rank, it is hollow rank. They are basically selling belts for the sake of the testing fees and income. It has little or nothing to do with ethical martial arts rank. In the ethical schools and organizations it takes 3 to5 years for a black belt and 10-12 years to Master. Rank is earned and not purchased on a regular calendar basis, Ex: every two months, every three months, etc. If you are advancing at an exact pace, chances are you are in a belt factory. All students in our school progress at different rates, some take as little as two months others take six months or even a year at one belt level. Yes, I said it, we have some students who have been at the same belt level for a year. Ask that question at your local belt factory school and I bet it has never happened. The reason is they are selling belts, not truly testing for rank. Many schools are operated as a serious business, and the educational aspect of the martial arts is minimal or virtually non-existent. This is the new approach that should be avoided at all costs.
When I opened my school in 1996 I found that school owners are bombarded with magazines and junk mail explaining how to make the most money and squeeze every penny from your students. To me it was all appalling. The business of martial arts has spawned the business of "how to be in business in the martial arts". There are those that make an income out of teaching people how to make an income in the Martial Arts. Does this make any sense? You would expect the focus to be on training and learning and developing better instructors, more skill and knowledge, however it is all about money. Below is just one example. It is a trade magazine article targeting the martial arts school owner. It is the perfect example of what the industry has evolved into. This article offers tips on how to milk your students for as much money as possible to insure the school owner the highest income regardless of the ethics. You as the perspective student must learn this and understand that these schools are out there and you want to avoid them and seek out the traditional educational environment school.
CLIP FROM A POPULAR MARTIAL ARTS TRADE MAGAZINE
My counter opinion to this article is; A school leads a family in at one price and that price has been calculated as affordable by that family. The family embraces the training and then a short while later the school raises the price for each of them. The price is now less affordable or unaffordable. The family is in an awkward position to either quit or suffer a financial strain. My advice to that family: FIND ANOTHER SCHOOL!
martial arts have gone from serious heartfelt and
respectful relationship between instructor and student, to con artists who
demand contracts and sue to enforce them. They lead
in at one price with the intent to raise the price shortly thereafter. A great
way to build trust with your students and demonstrate ethics. This is the
instructor you now wish to learn ethics from? (Laughable).
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THE DESK JOCKEY INSTRUCTOR
Another issue is the new "business
oriented" commission based martial art corporate chain. Imagine an elementary
school teacher who is paid by how many "A's" he or she gives out or
how many students promote to the next grade. We'd have many more straight
"A" students and we'd have people finishing elementary school in three
years, I assure you. This is the current problem with the "business
oriented" chain store martial arts school. Rank ethics, student instructor
relationships have been sacrificed for the almighty dollar and a pyramid scheme. Martial arts
education should be "education". It needs to return to an
educational environment to regain its integrity. A small fraction of schools
still operate this way, and our school is among them. I encourage you to find
one, it may take time, it may take a serious effort, but it is worth the task to
have a life-changing traditional martial arts experience.
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COMPARE OUR SCHOOL INFORMATION:
At Royal Dragon Martial Arts,
902 W. Robertson St.,. Brandon, Florida, we offer a true martial arts school experience. When you
enroll in our school, you join a school, not a business. Rank is earned and
not purchased. Most importantly we have preserved that honorable relationship
between student and instructor. There are no "sales tactics",
contracts, upgrades, extra fees, etc. Money does not interfere with that
honorable and respectful relationship. Ask our students and the parents of
students, our environment is a traditional educational martial arts family
What may surprise you most is that our classes are organized and well disciplined. Many schools use all the "Buzzwords" discipline, focus, respect. However when you visit their children's program it is more of a circus environment than a true Martial Arts disciplined environment. Come visit our children's and/or family program you will see the difference! Our school is our temple, and it feels like a temple, and our students and instructor staff take pride in its quality. The traditional principles of spreading the history, philosophy and tradition of the martial arts are honored, rather than the modern concepts of finance, retail and revenue. There are no egos, competitive attitudes, or hidden agendas within our school. What you will find is a safe, friendly, & fun atmosphere. Currently few schools offer this perspective, we welcome you as our student, we welcome you as our friend, and we invite you to join our martial arts family. To view our Brandon, Florida school website log on to www.ustkd.com. For students in the Seffner, Fl. area, consider an affiliated school www.tkd-hapkido.com. Both are educational environment schools and not the marketing style belt factory schools that operate on contracts, upgrades and sales pitches.
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Disciplined and Organized Taekwondo program for Children, Teens & Adults.
Taekwondo is the Korean equivalent of Karate which is Japanese. It is
primarily a striking style of the hands and feet (not just the feet as often
stereotyped). There are various styles of Taekwondo ranging from sport to the
more traditional self-defense. In a sport school you will find a
curriculum focused on tournament training, how to win a medal, point scoring,
etc. In the traditional self-defense Taekwondo school you will find a focus on
true self-defense and self-improvement through physical and mental training.
Hapkido is an extremely effect style of self-defense where an attackers
energy & strength can be used against them. It allows anyone of any age or
style to become an effective Martial Artist. This is very important. The
striking styles are based on how fast, strong and effectively you can kick or
punch. The main focus of Hapkido is
joint locking, balance disruption, and pain compliance which anyone can learn. In
Hapkido, we offer a
blend of Modern & Traditional Hapkido techniques and concepts. Our
school also teaches the history and terminology as I feel it is important to
honor the history and classic style of this beautiful and most effect martial
art. We teach both open hands and weapons training including escrima, knife,
& cane. Hapkido is an art rich with heritage and can be
enjoyed by any age. Safety, effectiveness, and accessibility is what makes
our Hapkido program unique. You are encouraged to accomplish what you can
accomplish for your age and body type. Everyone can improve, everyone can learn
and the program is customized for you so you are not expected to do the same as
a 20 year old. We welcome adults and seniors into our Hapkido program. Hapkido
is plagued by some unscrupulous magazine ad driven organizations that want to
charge you a fee everytime time they can. Be wary of these organizations that
have enrollment fees, annual renewal fees, they are the money driven corporate
chain store schools to avoid.
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Should there be any extra fees at signup?
Should I sign a Contract? NO. NEVER. (See 10 tips menu for detailed explanation)
Will my child or I get hurt or injured due to hard
Will my child learn discipline & respect?
What is the youngest age you accept?
When can I enroll? When are your beginner classes? And
what will I expect my first class?
Martial art school staff can range from an unskilled, inexperienced
teenager with a Black Belt to a highly training and high ranking Black Belt
professional. Unfortunately in this day it is possible for an instructor to just
purchase an instructor certificate from someone they have barely met, never
tested under or barely even know. Any renegade black belt can claim to be an
instructor however most true instructors were nominated to that position by
their instructor the traditional way. Our staff of instructors are all adult, all hold at least a 1st
Degree Black Belt and earned their position the traditional way. Two of our instructors are
6th Dan Masters, one is a 5th Dan Master and one is a 4th Dan Master. In our organization that translates to over
12 years of
training experience. Once again some organizations qualify their black
belts for 4th dan in only 6 to 8 years which is ludicrous. In our town we
have an individual with less than five years experience (was a white belt in our
program). Now he has opened a school and is claiming his own style! It is
laughable what some egos will be driven to do.
1) AVOID CONTRACTS!
We never use contracts at Royal Dragon Martial Arts, we
have been in Brandon Florida (same location) for 26 years and have never had
to need or seen the reason to hold our students to a contract. We have heard
horror stories of students trying to get out of contracts with other schools.
This is ludicrous, a student either wants to continue training in the Martial
Arts or they do not. Training in the Martial Arts is an
important decision and it is not for everyone. Binding everyone that walks in
the door to a contract is simply ludicrous and a cheap attempt at guaranteed
2) BEWARE OF UNUSUAL HIDDEN FEES & RENEWALS!
3) AVOID THE MULTI-TIER PRICING!
4) TESTING FEES are another big difference between schools and usually a hidden surprise. Another common horror story is a student trains for years to get to red belt only to find out that the test for Black Belt costs $500! Imagine your child or children get to Red Belt and the instructor informs you that the testing fee for Black Belt is $450 or more! What do you do? Your child has worked years to get to this level, do you disappoint them and tell them they cannot test for Black Belt? The fact is many schools charge $450, $650, $850 or even $1000 for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Degree testings and they do not disclose this when you sign up at white belt. Some families with multiple children training are then surprised they must come up with $1000, $1500 or more for their children to test for Black Belt.
Our testing fees
begin at $35 for beginner levels and never exceed $75.00 for Taekwondo &
Hapkido (* JKD testing fees are determined by the JKD association). Black belts
are reviewed for rank every six months but our testings are extremely affordable
compared to the vast majority of schools. Find out what a Black Belt test costs before you enroll in the school!
Some schools operate at a higher monthly tuition and do not have testing fees. We feel this is also can be deceiving. You are paying a higher tuition fee each and every month but you do not test every month. It is better to offer the student a lower tuition price and then once every 3 to 5 months they test for promotion and pay a fair fee. The schools that advertise "No Testing Fees" very often cost much more over the long term because you are paying that higher tuition price every month. At our school you choose your tuition program based on how often you would like to attend; $89.95, $99.95 or $129.95 per month based on your choice. You can train in multiple styles from $149-$169 per month. You can also change anytime you like for any period of time that you like. Some students reduce their tuition during little league season and then increase when they are not playing, etc. This is called flexible and fair membership. Quite a difference from the "sign the contract", "lead-in, then raise your price" scams offered at other business/marketing oriented schools.
5) INSTRUCTORS SHOULD
6) AVOID THE CHAIN STORE
AT OUR SCHOOL YOU WILL NOT FIND:
* Beware of schools with the above practices. Seek out a traditional ethical Martial Arts school not a school motivated by business, retail sales & revenue.
What you will find at our school is an educational environment. Fair pricing of fees which are not raised like clockwork with deceptive practices. Do not take my word for it, speak to the students and parents within my school that have been with me for eleven years. Ask if they have experienced any of the above tactics. Have you experienced them? Will you tolerate them? The Martial Arts can be an extremely rewarding experience for children, teens, adults and seniors but that is largely dependant on which school you join. Choose wisely because the differences are staggering.
* IMPORTANT REGARDING TESTINGS & RANK*
8) LOOK FOR A SCHOOL THAT IS
CLEAN AND SANITARY.
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With the advent of the internet you can now research an organization or instructor. However be careful in this department. The unscrupulous organizations have found their methods to inflate rank and achievements. Some of the leading unscrupulous organizations claim incredibly high rank for their leaders however the rank is often purchased and all done "under the table". Your best bet is research the history and what others are saying about this particular organization. Some of the real "corporate sales" based organizations have horrific reputations within the Martial Arts community. Their leaders are a mere fraction of what they claim to be and their sole intent is to fool the general public into thinking they are more than they are. How do they do it? Full page magazine ads. The ads create revenue for the magazines who intern pass on the favor of placing the businessman on the cover occasionally or giving them an article. I believe its called "payola". You run an ad every month in our magazine, we'll give you an article or two and every now and then put you on the cover. It is how the system works. The bottom line is don't assume someone is qualified just because they appear in magazines.
Regarding researching local instructors and schools, place their school name and chief instructor name into the Internet. See what comes up. Sometimes a lengthy training history and good results are found. Other times you find out that this instructor is just some marketing wizard who chose the Martial Arts as his business platform. Some of the best results are talking to other students and parents of students within that school. Find the long termers, not those that have been there a year or two or even three. Try those that have been there seven, eight, ten years. If you cannot find any, guess what you may be in the wrong school. If it is a new school remember you are rolling the dice. However the warning signs are all listed on this page and a new school that avoids all these negative aspects is certainly worth a try.
CONCLUSION, IS IT SPORT OR. SELF-DEFENSE?
ALL OF THE ABOVE BENEFITS CAN ONLY BE OBTAINED IN THE RIGHT SCHOOL.
Your experience will vary greatly according to what style you choose and also which school within that style. Choosing the right style according to your goal is important. Styles can be broken down into two main categories, striking or joint locking (hard & soft styles). Hard styles involve alot of hard contact, fighting and aggression. Karate and Taekwondo are examples of hard styles. The striking styles in general are dependant on shaping your body and mind into a striking and fighting weapon. Your success in these type of styles is dependant on how well you can develop your speed, accuracy and strength.
Other styles use different tactics to overcome adversity. Hapkido is a joint locking style which preys upon an attackers joint system. Attacking the joints and using an opponents energy and strength against them. It also deals with controlling their center of gravity and balance. This style is more suitable for the smaller and weaker individual who will have a hard time developing them self into an effective striking weapon. This style is suitable for small teen females, seniors, and those that are small in stature.
There are also other important categories such as "Open" style or "Closed" style. Open styles are Martial Arts which have evolved and changed over the years to meet with society changes. They adapt to the environment we now face as opposed to a closed style which is unchanged from ancient times. Closed styles are Martial Arts which are taught exactly as they were decades or even centuries ago. These reflect stylistic moves which are intended to fight in a different time and different environment. Kung Fu is an example of a Closed style however there are modern approaches to Kung Fu which are taught. Again it depends on the school, some teach very traditional closed style and some adapt and offer and open style approach. The closed styles can be a great artful historic study and still a great workout however sometimes translating these movements into effective self-defense on the streets today is difficult. Once again it depends on your goals.