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RookieWriter

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So we have two more karate peeps here now.

Itchy: Welcome, Myrealana. Please pile on the stories.

Knee: How was the first lesson, RW?

(sorry, I had to scratch an old joke)

It was pretty good. Felt good to put a Gi back on for the first time in over a decade. I had done two free trial classes there already so we reviewed some of the blocks and strikes and stances. The front position in Karate is different that what we did in TKD or Hapkido, otherwise it felt like it was coming back pretty fast. It's kinda cool being a white belt again. No pressure to know anything! :Shrug:

My first group class will be tomorrow night so that will be an experience. I will let ya know how it goes.
 
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There are more scumbag instructors in the world? OMG, I’m not on my own! (LOL, that came out wrong.)

It sounded like that green belt was in a league of his own. There are people around like that, normally they advance fairly quickly because their instructors like to have belt colours reflect ability, or it might be more that they don’t like senior ranks getting shown up by junior ranks. When I first started TKD I thought that green was one of the highest grades because the ones we had were of a really high standard compared to the other grades*. And in my very first class I asked one of the blue belts who hadn’t bothered wearing her uniform if she was a newbie too, based on her not doing anything properly. LOL: “No!” (use the offended sullen teen tone for best effect)

*For point of reference, the progression when I started was: white, yellow, green, blue, brown, black. (Red was later slotted in between blue and brown as a substitution for brown stripe.)

About tournaments. I think that part of the reason that I performed as well as I did in my first tournament was because I didn’t really want to be there. It was kind of interesting, but not a motivator, and therefore I didn’t really care how I performed. But I did want to test myself against strangers, but for some reason the outcome wasn’t anything I was concerned about. Hence, no pressure and more freedom led to a good result. Effectively that is the complete opposite to real life situations, which are more about managing stress and where good technique takes second place to walking away in one piece.

About referees. When I was expected to participate in tournaments, as an instructor I was also expected to get my refereeing certificate. That news got dumped on me without warning and I was given two flags (white and red, each denoting a specific competitor) and told to adjudicate in some points sparring with my class. I was a cornerman, with my master acting as the main ref, and Mr Miyagi was given his own flags and was in the opposite corner. We all saw the same things, but bloody hell we were hopeless in the corner. Sometimes we accidentally raised the wrong flag, sometimes we did nothing because we couldn’t decide which flag was which. It was a complete balls-up. I actually felt like an idiot. So did MM. instead of asking us to do it again, the master said we had passed the basic exam for referees and were now allowed to act as cornermen in his tournaments. FYI, we never did. Just another story in the long line of stories where some masters live in their own world of WTFery.

But: that doesn’t mean that refs need to know the specific forms to be able to judge them. What they are looking for is a combination of flow, execution and focus. I have always said to my class that I don’t care if they get the forms wrong, so long as they do it wrong well. This was highlighted once when I had an opinionated newbie in my class a few years ago. We were prepping for a grading and I had people get up one at a time and asked if anyone had any critiques. This newb raised his hand and said that the red belt pattern was done wrong and I heard a few people have a quiet chuckle to themselves that he should presume to know anything about red belt. I asked him to explain, and he said he saw some hesitation halfway through and that the student in question looked a bit lost after that. He was spot on. I said: “If you are going to do the pattern wrong, do it wrong well. Make it look good.”

This is part of what we were told, too. Be confident, make it look good, and give em a loud KIHAAAAAAAAAP at the end. Being loud wasn't a problem for an obnoxious loudmouth like I was in my 20's. Unfortunately my mouth was better than my hands and feet. LOL.

Back to the green belt, he drove over four hours out of town to be at the tournament so he must have been dedicated. He was the only one from his dojang who attended. He had a tall, thin, athletic frame so his range and length was much better than mine. When he attacked I tried to throw my back kick but I didn't time it well enough. When you're half a foot shorter than your opponent we were told you need to get inside but he did a good job of not letting me get in there.

We had an electric score keeping system with four judges and to score a point two of the judges or more had to click the button at the exact same time, even a fraction of a second late and it doesn't go through. One judge told me I had landed a few kicks during the first match that didn't score because of this. It is what it is.

Our TKD ranking system was White, Yellow, Green, Blue, Red, Black. We did have stripes as well so you had to take two tests to get to the next full color.
 

edutton

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*For point of reference, the progression when I started was: white, yellow, green, blue, brown, black. (Red was later slotted in between blue and brown as a substitution for brown stripe.)
I was just chatting with a colleague who used to do traditional Jiu Jitsu (not BJJ), and he provided me with a great new term for belt-mill type schools - "the revenue rainbow".
 

edutton

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the best way to improve is to work out who is a little bit better than you in class and try to compete with that person without them giving you any freebies.
We have a guy who must be at least 6'4" (I'm 6'0" and he has multiple inches on me), and he doesn't give anything away; a small mechanical piece in one of our techniques that I've been working on for... a while... :Headbang: finally clicked last weekend, and literally between one throw and the next I went from having to muscle him through to just getting out of the way and watching him fall. Wouldn't have happened without that resistance.

I was thinking about training mentality in the shower this morning (like you do), and wanted to toss this out and see if it's a commonality in other arts as well, or if it's more unique to Aikido: I believe that learning to be a good uke, a good training partner, is harder than learning the technical curriculum. The Aikido piece is mostly applied physics and understanding body mechanics - if I get to the right position relative to uke, and apply the right degree of force in the right place, the right things should happen to uke's body. Simple! :D :flag:

To be a really good uke, though, I not only have to understand what nage is supposed to be practicing* so that I can offer the appropriate attack, I should be able to provide enough resistance** that they can feel what they're supposed to be reacting to, while still maintaining enough control over my body that I can fall/roll/get torqued safely. That middle part is where the challenge comes in. A lot of our people come in without a prior martial arts background, and getting them to internalize the fact that they need to (a) learn to offer a committed attack (and what that means) and not just stop when nage gets out of the way, and (b) actually push back some, and not just obligingly fall down - is really, really hard.

*When we're drilling a specific technique, at least - randori is obviously a different beast and requires a different subset of ukemi skills.

**"Enough resistance," of course, is relative. This is why I loved mixed adult/kid classes - when I'm throwing 6'4" guy, and the next person in my line is his 8yo daughter, I HAVE to be able to shift gears in real time.
 

edutton

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It was pretty good. Felt good to put a Gi back on for the first time in over a decade. I had done two free trial classes there already so we reviewed some of the blocks and strikes and stances. The front position in Karate is different that what we did in TKD or Hapkido, otherwise it felt like it was coming back pretty fast. It's kinda cool being a white belt again. No pressure to know anything! :Shrug:

My first group class will be tomorrow night so that will be an experience. I will let ya know how it goes.
Glad it went well! Congratulations on getting back on the mat. :cool:
 

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Our TKD ranking system was White, Yellow, Green, Blue, Red, Black. We did have stripes as well so you had to take two tests to get to the next full color.
If there was testing for each stripe, was there a fee as well? The place where we do our outreach classes does stripes in their kickboxing classes, but they're just awarded after the instructors feel there's been enough time and improvement since the last one. After three or four stripes they consider the student should be ready to test for the next belt.
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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If there was testing for each stripe, was there a fee as well?

You betcha (money was king), though a good performance would often result in a double promotion for no extra charge, and on very rare occasions a triple would be awarded (I have only ever heard of two of those, for reasons explained below). A new belt costs a few dollars and a stripe maybe twenty cents, therefore there is a greater profit margin in stripes.

I was just chatting with a colleague who used to do traditional Jiu Jitsu (not BJJ), and he provided me with a great new term for belt-mill type schools - "the revenue rainbow".

I like that name because it says it all. It used to be sold to us as a form of pyramid structure: loads of newbies to keep the system moving, with fewer students of each successive rank and a small number of BBs at the top. Whilst that sounds like a natural progression, there was far too much emphasis on recruiting, and if there was an exodus of middle ranks then it was nothing to award multiple promotions to lower ranks to rebalance the class. If a class started to become stable and more senior belts stuck around (surely a good thing?), the master would make some of them wait until they were allowed to grade again, despite being more ready (relatively speaking) than others who were getting the nod. Inevitably, some of them became discouraged and left, which rebooted the system.

I hated everything about it, it was all so shonky. Mostly promotions were justified, but I remember one occasion when there were between thirty and forty candidates and that the master was in a foul mood and failed some people (who really shouldn’t have even been there, but my instructor was always being pressured to bring in more income. About the only thing that didn’t happen that could have made it worse, was that failed students did not need to pay for their next test). Anyway, that wasn’t the thing that the class found interesting: since there were so many candidates, the master / examiner didn’t keep track of everyone’s application forms, so not only did he fail some of them, because there were so many people to look at and he didn’t like going over time, he passed everyone else based on minimal floor time and even (you will like this) passed one student who was absent (whose brother-in-law failed LOL).

Jeez, that was my first master and he was unprofessional beyond belief. It was nothing for him to turn up an hour late to a grading because he was playing the pokies at the pub, and once he rang to tell my instructor that he was overseas and couldn’t make it to grading at all, even though we had already been waiting for him to turn up for forty minutes. Most of the class couldn’t stand the man, but they generally stuck around because our instructor was trying his hardest to do it right and we all knew it. When he left, we saw it as a really good opportunity to try to change the system, which was probably naïve and something I hear from non-instructors all of the time (“If I was the instructor…”) but we got there in the end.

Incredibly, there is still one fellow getting about who always heaps praise upon that first master, and criticises the steps we took to focus on quality over quantity. He used to cite: “I don’t see why you’re doing these things, I never had to when I was training for my BB.” There are still others like him out there as well. I heard a similar story from one of the karate schools in the next postcode down the road. One of the BBs actually said to the principle: “What gives you the right to modify the syllabus?” To which the pointed reply: “By right of this being a business that I own and administer.” (I see the irony there: I had done the same thing with a crooked master with regards to his own organisation. The difference was that one of those principals only cared for standard, the other for money. And the students were able to discern the difference, and I was in a position to take positive action. It’s weird, even after twenty years I still feel dirty for doing that even though it was the right thing to do. You would be surprised at the number of traditionalists who have accused me of not respecting my master, and yeah, it affects you.)
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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I was thinking about training mentality in the shower this morning (like you do), and wanted to toss this out and see if it's a commonality in other arts as well, or if it's more unique to Aikido: I believe that learning to be a good uke, a good training partner, is harder than learning the technical curriculum. The Aikido piece is mostly applied physics and understanding body mechanics - if I get to the right position relative to uke, and apply the right degree of force in the right place, the right things should happen to uke's body. Simple! :D :flag:

To be a really good uke, though, I not only have to understand what nage is supposed to be practicing* so that I can offer the appropriate attack, I should be able to provide enough resistance** that they can feel what they're supposed to be reacting to, while still maintaining enough control over my body that I can fall/roll/get torqued safely. That middle part is where the challenge comes in. A lot of our people come in without a prior martial arts background, and getting them to internalize the fact that they need to (a) learn to offer a committed attack (and what that means) and not just stop when nage gets out of the way, and (b) actually push back some, and not just obligingly fall down - is really, really hard.

A lot of this depends on context. When it is the skills that are being taught at a really basic level, then using resistance doesn’t aid the learner, but zero resistance makes them think they are making more progress than they are. When two people are training together in such a situation, seniors get hurt more often than juniors (and never the other way around) because juniors lack the control that they need, while the senior has placed trust in a partner and has left themselves vulnerable. But the number of times that a senior has hurt another senior I could probably count on one hand, despite the skills being far more complex / dangerous.

Committing to an attack is also really important, because without the correct movement and momentum there is no authentic response. I’ve had this go badly wrong sometimes, solely because some idiot has not used their brain (or else lacked one entirely). A few years ago I was showing a follow-up to a takedown where you still had control of the arm, whereby you drop a knee into the ribs just below the armpit (because those ones hurt the most) and would you believe that one of the idiots in the class actually did it to his partner (thankfully without using his full weight). I was absolutely livid. Why did he think we were practising on bags as well as people? Bags for power, people for technique. Absolute moron.
 

edutton

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A lot of this depends on context. When it is the skills that are being taught at a really basic level, then using resistance doesn’t aid the learner, but zero resistance makes them think they are making more progress than they are.
That's one reason I think progress in Aikido tends to be somewhat slower than some other arts? Unless you have a really solid senior/junior mix, a lot of the time nage winds up getting insufficient feedback and being in the situation you just described. I really think a LITTLE resistance is critical even for the newest of newbies - just enough to guide them, and to help them start glimpsing what the technique *should* feel like, after a few hundred/thousand reps.
 
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If there was testing for each stripe, was there a fee as well? The place where we do our outreach classes does stripes in their kickboxing classes, but they're just awarded after the instructors feel there's been enough time and improvement since the last one. After three or four stripes they consider the student should be ready to test for the next belt.

Yes, the testing fee for stripe was the same as for belt. If you were double testing, for example if a student was white belt and ready to test for yellow, they could double test and not have to wear yellow stripe. However because you were double testing you had to pay two testing fees. Sometimes a student will be ready to jump to the next belt but for whatever reason has not tested for stripe yet.

In Hapkido we had the same ranking system but we didn't have stripes until I think red belt. So red stripe was the only one.

The "rainbow revenue" is interesting. I look at some schools that have an abundance of belt tests to reach black and wonder if it's all about collecting extra testing fees and how much of those extra ranks are really necessary. How can one tell if there is an overload of testing just to collect money as opposed to requiring more from students to reach black belt?
 
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Glad it went well! Congratulations on getting back on the mat. :cool:

Appreciate it. First group lesson was a combination of things too. Strikes, blocks, double punches, ect. We ended on a weapons defense technique. I'm the only white belt. There are a few yellow's though.

Some of the etiquette is different than how we did it in the Korean styles so I am still adjusting to those. Like I said, this is an experiment and we will see how it goes. The head instructor was out today but will be back next week.
 

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That's one reason I think progress in Aikido tends to be somewhat slower than some other arts? Unless you have a really solid senior/junior mix, a lot of the time nage winds up getting insufficient feedback and being in the situation you just described. I really think a LITTLE resistance is critical even for the newest of newbies - just enough to guide them, and to help them start glimpsing what the technique *should* feel like, after a few hundred/thousand reps.

See, that’s the infuriating part. I could quote to you the TKD student oath if you wanted me to, but everything in that oath is contradicted by the actions of the very people who wrote that oath. I seriously hate hypocrisy. Everything that you read in all of the manuals says exactly this: that technique can only be learned by repetition and that learning from seniors is invaluable. To give but one example, in theory each form is supposed to be performed a minimum of 300 times before a student is eligible to grade to the next level, but some of those students were only attending ten classes between gradings, and not only were they not practising at home, they were certainly not performing their newest form thirty times in an hour. By the time you add in revisions and new techniques, it all became a shit storm.

What I don’t understand is how any of it ever got to this. Every master I have ever met has had an extraordinary level of physical ability, and therefore they MUST have had an appreciation of the dedication required to get to where they were at. And yet, despite knowing this and preaching this, all they ever did was to undermine the very foundations of a style that had seen them rise to the top. Every time I asked about this I usually got something along the lines of: “I am the master and you are the minion, therefore I know more about everything than you know. None of your questions are relevant.” I’m paraphrasing of course, but WTF is that about?

When my class was at its absolute pinnacle (c. 2004 - 2008) we had something like seventy members, with around forty training on any given night. And of those seventy, there were perhaps a dozen black belts and twenty senior colour belts, which equated to almost half of the class. And we were always doing everything possible to not only maintain but to increase standard, and almost all of our generated revenue (and there was a lot, at least in those years) was spent on instructors travelling all over the place to attend seminars on a range of different topics. By the time you factored in fuel / accommodation it typically cost $1K per head for a weekend. And we were happy to pay it. What I was most proud of was not that we had increased the numbers because there was no more haemorrhaging of students, but that we were able to make those who had stuck with us better than they had been before. Because no one was skimming the finances, we were able to properly invest in proper equipment and training. The better our class became, the more attractive it was to prospective newbies. I cannot overstate the importance of having a reputation for giving a damn. Those were, hands down, the best years of my life.
 
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I hated everything about it, it was all so shonky. Mostly promotions were justified, but I remember one occasion when there were between thirty and forty candidates and that the master was in a foul mood and failed some people (who really shouldn’t have even been there, but my instructor was always being pressured to bring in more income. About the only thing that didn’t happen that could have made it worse, was that failed students did not need to pay for their next test). Anyway, that wasn’t the thing that the class found interesting: since there were so many candidates, the master / examiner didn’t keep track of everyone’s application forms, so not only did he fail some of them, because there were so many people to look at and he didn’t like going over time, he passed everyone else based on minimal floor time and even (you will like this) passed one student who was absent (whose brother-in-law failed LOL).

:ROFL:
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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That whole story... just, wow. I know it happens (my sensei had a falling out with his first teacher over shady financial dealings too, before my time) but... damn.

LOL, same. When I split with the next master (more broken promises and shady dealings) I received death threats over the phone so I went to see the local coppers and said, “If I wind up dead in my bed, please make my master a person of interest.” A few weeks later I was hauled in for questioning, as was one of the other instructors. We were accused of stealing from the master because the free revenue he had been used to getting had been turned off. We were getting a grilling from the sergeant and in the middle of the interview the copper who I had spoken to previously walked in and recognised me and said, “Are you in here because of those death threats?” The sergeant does a double-take, requests some clarification from the constable, and then tells us that it sounds like a civil matter and that we were free to go.

Then… (sometimes it never fucking ends!) a few weeks after that we received more threats from the master’s lawyer (who doubled as one of his instructors and gave the boss mates rates on his legal services and just generally acted as a pet attack dog) informing us that we were going to be sued for all we were worth, plus a private phone call that expressed the wish that one of the other instructor’s pregnant wives would lose her baby because of the stress that “we were causing”. That bun fight eventually came to the notice of a prominent law firm and they offered us free legal representation because they absolutely could not abide the kind of abuse and bullying that we were being subjected to. We accepted of course, and one letter from the biggest dog in the city put an abrupt end to all of the yapping. The upside to that story was that I have made some friends for life, because none of us (four in all) refused to back down to that psychotic megalomaniac.

Oh, and a few years later the instructor / lawyer also had a falling out with the bozo master. I laughed my head off when I heard that, no pity for either of them. Apparently he goes through these kinds of cycles with a degree of regularity.
 
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That's one reason I think progress in Aikido tends to be somewhat slower than some other arts? Unless you have a really solid senior/junior mix, a lot of the time nage winds up getting insufficient feedback and being in the situation you just described. I really think a LITTLE resistance is critical even for the newest of newbies - just enough to guide them, and to help them start glimpsing what the technique *should* feel like, after a few hundred/thousand reps.

I checked out an Aikido school here and it was a toss up between them and the Karate. If this Karate doesn't work out I will go check out Aikido.
 

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You betcha (money was king), though a good performance would often result in a double promotion for no extra charge, and on very rare occasions a triple would be awarded (I have only ever heard of two of those, for reasons explained below). A new belt costs a few dollars and a stripe maybe twenty cents, therefore there is a greater profit margin in stripes.



I like that name because it says it all. It used to be sold to us as a form of pyramid structure: loads of newbies to keep the system moving, with fewer students of each successive rank and a small number of BBs at the top. Whilst that sounds like a natural progression, there was far too much emphasis on recruiting, and if there was an exodus of middle ranks then it was nothing to award multiple promotions to lower ranks to rebalance the class. If a class started to become stable and more senior belts stuck around (surely a good thing?), the master would make some of them wait until they were allowed to grade again, despite being more ready (relatively speaking) than others who were getting the nod. Inevitably, some of them became discouraged and left, which rebooted the system.

I hated everything about it, it was all so shonky. Mostly promotions were justified, but I remember one occasion when there were between thirty and forty candidates and that the master was in a foul mood and failed some people (who really shouldn’t have even been there, but my instructor was always being pressured to bring in more income. About the only thing that didn’t happen that could have made it worse, was that failed students did not need to pay for their next test). Anyway, that wasn’t the thing that the class found interesting: since there were so many candidates, the master / examiner didn’t keep track of everyone’s application forms, so not only did he fail some of them, because there were so many people to look at and he didn’t like going over time, he passed everyone else based on minimal floor time and even (you will like this) passed one student who was absent (whose brother-in-law failed LOL).

Jeez, that was my first master and he was unprofessional beyond belief. It was nothing for him to turn up an hour late to a grading because he was playing the pokies at the pub, and once he rang to tell my instructor that he was overseas and couldn’t make it to grading at all, even though we had already been waiting for him to turn up for forty minutes. Most of the class couldn’t stand the man, but they generally stuck around because our instructor was trying his hardest to do it right and we all knew it. When he left, we saw it as a really good opportunity to try to change the system, which was probably naïve and something I hear from non-instructors all of the time (“If I was the instructor…”) but we got there in the end.

Incredibly, there is still one fellow getting about who always heaps praise upon that first master, and criticizes the steps we took to focus on quality over quantity. He used to cite: “I don’t see why you’re doing these things, I never had to when I was training for my BB.” There are still others like him out there as well. I heard a similar story from one of the karate schools in the next postcode down the road. One of the BBs actually said to the principle: “What gives you the right to modify the syllabus?” To which the pointed reply: “By right of this being a business that I own and administer.” (I see the irony there: I had done the same thing with a crooked master with regards to his own organisation. The difference was that one of those principals only cared for standard, the other for money. And the students were able to discern the difference, and I was in a position to take positive action. It’s weird, even after twenty years I still feel dirty for doing that even though it was the right thing to do. You would be surprised at the number of traditionalists who have accused me of not respecting my master, and yeah, it affects you.)

Those fellas have a lot of growing up to do. Ridiculous. Completely ridiculous.
 

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LOL, same. When I split with the next master (more broken promises and shady dealings) I received death threats over the phone so I went to see the local coppers and said, “If I wind up dead in my bed, please make my master a person of interest.” A few weeks later I was hauled in for questioning, as was one of the other instructors. We were accused of stealing from the master because the free revenue he had been used to getting had been turned off. We were getting a grilling from the sergeant and in the middle of the interview the copper who I had spoken to previously walked in and recognised me and said, “Are you in here because of those death threats?” The sergeant does a double-take, requests some clarification from the constable, and then tells us that it sounds like a civil matter and that we were free to go.

Then… (sometimes it never fucking ends!) a few weeks after that we received more threats from the master’s lawyer (who doubled as one of his instructors and gave the boss mates rates on his legal services and just generally acted as a pet attack dog) informing us that we were going to be sued for all we were worth, plus a private phone call that expressed the wish that one of the other instructor’s pregnant wives would lose her baby because of the stress that “we were causing”. That bun fight eventually came to the notice of a prominent law firm and they offered us free legal representation because they absolutely could not abide the kind of abuse and bullying that we were being subjected to. We accepted of course, and one letter from the biggest dog in the city put an abrupt end to all of the yapping. The upside to that story was that I have made some friends for life, because none of us (four in all) refused to back down to that psychotic megalomaniac.

Oh, and a few years later the instructor / lawyer also had a falling out with the bozo master. I laughed my head off when I heard that, no pity for either of them. Apparently he goes through these kinds of cycles with a degree of regularity.

Wow. Again, completely ridiculous.

The scum TKD instructor who I mentioned earlier in the thread had a falling out with the TKD masters I trained under. He left the Dojang and went to start his own school. He attempted to steal the name of the school and was able to get away with it for a while, but had to give it back. He also tried to steal all the students. I think he eventually merged with an MMA gym. We had a few female students who used to train under him who left because he would call them drunk out of his mind at 1am and ask them to come over and have sex with him. A real piece of work. Most of these women were about 21-22 year old college students, he was at least 15 years older than them.
 

RookieWriter

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Indeed. I know of one operator who has a way to work around this problem. He has small premises in a prime location, so he can’t fit as many people in as he needs to meet his rent. So what he does is offer slightly inflated rates compared to other centres, but on a six month training deal (most others are monthly, or per lesson). Then he makes classes so boring that students leave before the expiry of their membership, making room for the next vacancy. I heard one story from a former student that one of his go-to exercises was to require newbies to meditate by imagining that they were oranges. Who’s going to fall for that?

:roll:
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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The scum TKD instructor who I mentioned earlier in the thread had a falling out with the TKD masters I trained under. He left the Dojang and went to start his own school. He attempted to steal the name of the school and was able to get away with it for a while, but had to give it back. He also tried to steal all the students. I think he eventually merged with an MMA gym. We had a few female students who used to train under him who left because he would call them drunk out of his mind at 1am and ask them to come over and have sex with him. A real piece of work. Most of these women were about 21-22 year old college students, he was at least 15 years older than them.

Jeez, I can relate to this one as well.

On the night of my BB test Master #1 was in as foul a mood as I had ever seen him. Master #2 had once been the 2-i-C of Master #1 (I only found out these details a few years later) and Master #2 had splintered away from #1 and started his own school. Not only did he take dozens of local clubs with him, but he also successfully (LOL, I still can’t really credit this) managed to trademark the name of Master #1 (not his academy’s name, his actual personal name) and registered it for his own business. OMFG, I can’t believe he got away with that, and Master #1 only found out about the result of that court case on the day I did my BB test. He was in so foul a mood that he failed almost the entire class, the only ones who got through were three of four BB candidates (including me and my bestie) and a dozen colour belts (but not including my other bestie who was one grade behind me, he failed. We still wind up Bestie2 sometimes by what Master #1 said to him: “What is that pattern you are doing, martial arts or some funny kind of dance?” He was so pissed off that he never asked to grade again because he hated the sight of #1, and when he quit he started rock’n’roll dancing lessons, so yeah, he kinda was into dancing LOL).

After we defected from Master #1, it was a complete accident that I stumbled upon Master #2, and when I found out that they hated one another’s guts I pretty well thought I had all of the info that I needed. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, no? Unfortunately, that only flew for a little while. Turned out that #2 was even more corrupt than #1.

There is also a seedy side to some martial arts. I know of two instructors who were convicted of sex offenses against their students and of a BB who was sentenced for manslaughter after his self-defence plea failed, and have also heard stories of drug dealing and other nefarious schemes (so not too unlike some movies). I can’t prove any of the latter, but some of those stories came from multiple independent sources.

For a lot of years I was feeling as though I was in the vilest industry in the entire country; almost as many MA instructors were known to be scum as were decent human beings – the two groups were poles apart. That was all a long time ago though, so I can’t speak for the state of things these days, other than some of the pathetic standards that have always existed to some extent are still to be found in nearly every town.
 
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RookieWriter

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See, that’s the infuriating part. I could quote to you the TKD student oath if you wanted me to, but everything in that oath is contradicted by the actions of the very people who wrote that oath. I seriously hate hypocrisy. Everything that you read in all of the manuals says exactly this: that technique can only be learned by repetition and that learning from seniors is invaluable. To give but one example, in theory each form is supposed to be performed a minimum of 300 times before a student is eligible to grade to the next level, but some of those students were only attending ten classes between gradings, and not only were they not practising at home, they were certainly not performing their newest form thirty times in an hour. By the time you add in revisions and new techniques, it all became a shit storm.

What I don’t understand is how any of it ever got to this. Every master I have ever met has had an extraordinary level of physical ability, and therefore they MUST have had an appreciation of the dedication required to get to where they were at. And yet, despite knowing this and preaching this, all they ever did was to undermine the very foundations of a style that had seen them rise to the top. Every time I asked about this I usually got something along the lines of: “I am the master and you are the minion, therefore I know more about everything than you know. None of your questions are relevant.” I’m paraphrasing of course, but WTF is that about?

When my class was at its absolute pinnacle (c. 2004 - 2008) we had something like seventy members, with around forty training on any given night. And of those seventy, there were perhaps a dozen black belts and twenty senior colour belts, which equated to almost half of the class. And we were always doing everything possible to not only maintain but to increase standard, and almost all of our generated revenue (and there was a lot, at least in those years) was spent on instructors travelling all over the place to attend seminars on a range of different topics. By the time you factored in fuel / accommodation it typically cost $1K per head for a weekend. And we were happy to pay it. What I was most proud of was not that we had increased the numbers because there was no more haemorrhaging of students, but that we were able to make those who had stuck with us better than they had been before. Because no one was skimming the finances, we were able to properly invest in proper equipment and training. The better our class became, the more attractive it was to prospective newbies. I cannot overstate the importance of having a reputation for giving a damn. Those were, hands down, the best years of my life.

I'm guessing at least part of it had to do with money. I think sometimes martial arts get watered down so schools can make more money. More testing fees to collect and more students moving up faster in rank leads to more of them sticking around. I don't really know though.