What’s On The Menu: An Analysis Of Your Typical McDojang Part 3

*Authored by White Dragon and Grey Wolf

Part 3: Final Part.

McDojang tactics 

Most mcdojangs always have crazy uniforms for various things within their schools they sell their students. Demo team uniforms, tournament uniforms, class uniforms, t-shirts, black belt club uniforms etc. It is all just to make money of their student base so they have to keep buying various uniforms. Another thing is mcdojang organizational leaders realize their style is lacking in realism so they have to adopt other martial arts styles within their curriculum to fill the gap. The ATA is known for starting its Krav Maga (Israeli self defense art) program, and even at one time had an MMA program. They saw the trend of MMA and tried to make money quick. What mcdojangs will do is buy out a martial arts group or pay that group to liscence them to advertise such as using the Gracie’s name for Gracie Jiu Jitsu for the ATA, or Wolfpac Jiu Jitsu for the ITA. They then have paid for the right to have a grappling program and claim their instructors are now certified to teach it. What they do is have very loq standards for how an instructor gets certified, so then someone who would only be a high white belt, and at most, a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is claiming to be a grappling expert and teaching their ignorance to their Taekwondo students. Mcdojangs do not stop there, they come up with all kinds of martial arts certifications to boost the credentials of their school owners such as Korean weapons certification, jong bong staff certification, Kumdo sword certification, grappling certification, Krava Maga certification, self defense certification, and more and more on top of their already 9th degree black belts in their Taekwondo style. So their ranks come within their own group, certified by their own group, for their own group. It is not as if a independent martial artist who is a Taekwondo ranked instructor who also has Jiu Jitsu rank from a separate Jiu Jitsu organization. They do not have cultured people within martial arts but are inbred stylists creating bastardized versions of such martial arts styles sprinkled on top of already bastardized Taekwondo.

Another tactic mcdojang organizations do, the ones who have money, is set up annual trips to Korea. They try to make their students think they are going back to their roots, but all they did was pay for a trip to Korea and become tourists, and then pretend the Kukkiwon represents them because they got a tour of it. They also usually pay to rent a temple or a place where you can behave stoically because of nice Korean landscape scenery and then have some training. In reality South Korea has nothing to do with their style nor does Korea even recognize what they are doing as legitimate Taekwondo. The black belt ranks do not transfer to the Taekwondo gyms in Korea.

One of the most annoying tactics to me personally is the average mcdojang chain’s claim to have the most top qualified instructors in the world who go through a “rigorous training process” and are re-certified annually and tested to make sure their instructors have the “most up to date training methods and techniques” available. This is very impressive to parents but all it really means is an in group’s leaders oversaw their instructors and taught them the latest marketing tactics and gimmick in their organization and introduced to them new materials or changes of old material in their own group. It is not as if an official independently run and legitimate Taekwondo organization tested their instructors and licensed them like how a personal training certification works or an athletic commission. It is basically as if McDonald’s said they train their managers in the latest burger making, fry cooking, cashier running methods. It would be like McDonald’s testing their own workers to be better at McDonald’s. It is not like the Health Inspector’s or Top Chef came in to test the workers and teach them high quality culinary techniques. So their claim to teach the highest quality methods and claim to annually test and re-certify instructors is complete BS and only serves as a money making scheme not only to get parent’s fooled into signing their kids up in long term contracts, but to make money off of their franchise owners and instructors themselves. It costs money to be re-certified and take tests, and go to seminars etc. in order to keep your rank and remain an instructor.

One last thing worth mentioning is that just because someone is a part of a mcdojang does not mean they automatically suck. People are individuals and it is possible someone who has good fighting skills attends a mcdojang or is part of one. They could be good if they do self study outside the typical curriculum they learn and  if they are athletically gifted. Maybe they spar their friends outside their gym and cross train. Another reason someone might be good is because of the fact that often, groups like the ATA will and have hired WTF tournament champions who are Kukkiwon black belts or ITF black belts, and also expert competitors who originally trained in another style. Some people can be bought with enough money and are paid and given business opportunities to switch to their organizations. But even so the quality of the average student is seriously lacking and it is extremely expensive.

Kukkiwon certified instructors are legitimate

The Kukkiwon is independent from most dojangs around the world and serve only as an organizational backing that regulates the art and provides LIFE-TIME certification for people who earn their ranks and also a world culture for Taekwondo. There is no re-certification fees or mandatory seminars and this is a good thing. A martial arts gym can be Kukkiwon certified yet be given a lot of leeway to teach various things for self-defense. Gyms are independently run but still belong to the Kukkiwon linage, and their rank certifications are quite cheap, even compared to the average fitness trainer’s personal training certification. Some people may think that mcdojang’s advertisements sound impressive because they have standardization, but do not be confused, the Kukkiwon has standards and better standards not based on marketing schemes and whatever a corporate entity wants to implement to make money. Kukkiwon gyms have the Kukkiwon standard for what Taekwondo is, yet they can teach anything they want to teach for Taekwondo and self-defense. A true Taekwondo instructor who also wants to be certified in grappling will actually just go to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym and train. That would bring a wide variety of separate martial arts into their gym, not a bogus inter-organizational certification.

Conclusion

There are various mcdojangs all around and can be identified by their sales tactics and low quality fighting skills in their students as well as no link to the Kukkiwon. They have all kinds of gimmicks. All of this is why if you want to train in Taekwondo you need to start off looking for a Kukkiwon certified instructor. This is the first step in avoiding the mcdojang trap. Now getting a good quality self defense and fight oriented Kukkiwon instructor is another issue for another article.

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White Dragon is a 3rd dan Taekwondo Black Belt with over 19 years experience in the Martial Arts and head instructor of the White Dragon Dojang Martial Arts Training Program. 

Grey Wolf is a Martial Artist of 14 years and instructor with a 3rd degree Taekwondo Black Belt.

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