With the widespread induction of different forms of Martial arts in most cities around the world, there has been a rapid increase in the number of Martial arts schools available in an area.
This is a good thing and it has even gone on to help the popularity of different styles of martial arts worldwide, however, there is a major downside to this; McDojos. A McDojo is a martial arts school that is created for the purpose of making money.
They usually have shady instructors with little knowledge about the martial art style that they claim to teach. They are sometimes called a black belt factory as they tend to give out black belts to those that are not qualified or skilled to possess them. Many Taekwondo schools seem to fall under this category.
Listed below are some of the signs to look out for in a Taekwondo School, to know if it is just another McDojo.
Note: Some schools might have some of the listed features, but the ones to watch out for are schools that seem to fit the description too well.
1.Many Children with Black Belts
This seem to be the most common red flag you see in a Taekwondo McDojo. A school where it is clear that a lot of children are wearing the black belt is not a worthy Dojo.
It is not impossible for children to have Black belts but it is one of those rare things you should only see in maybe two or three kids at most and even a first glance at the way they train and fight you make you go, “ah, I see why he/she has a black belt now.” Black belt is an indicator of expertise, experience, skill and discipline, things not commonly seen in children.
2.The school Instructor is not a Black belt holder
Not to discriminate against Taekwondo teachers that are not Black belt holders but at least the master of a certain Dojo should have had to go through the rigor and pain of what it takes to be a black belt holder, before they can go on to instruct/teach another person on how to do the same.
If a Dojo is being led by a person that holds a Blue belt or even a person that has only had their black belt for some months, that Dojo might just be a McDojo.
3.Early or too rapid belt upgrade system
Regardless of where a school is situated, one thing that is common to all genuine Taekwondo schools is the emphasis on technique and discipline. Chagis “kicks” in Taekwondo are not perfected in just a few tries of two days a week training, it takes months of constant practice to kick properly and effectively in Taekwondo.
Therefore, since how a student kicks and so many other factors are a part of how they are graded for their belt, there should be a clear period of growth between one belt and the next. Any school that emphasizes learning some tricks on getting belts faster rather than perfecting their skills, is just a Taekwondo Mcdojo.
4.Sparring What? We don’t do that here
Taekwondo, just like every martial art out there is a thing of practice. You can’t know how good you are or how better you can be without practicing.
However, there are so many schools out there that avoid sparring as much as possible for so many reasons. One of them is the fact that most of the teachers are good instructors not trainers, they can easily teach you how to kick but not when to kick.
Another reason is understandable but not an excuse; fear of the risk of injuries to the student during spar sessions. Since most Taekwondo McDojos are money oriented, lots of students might not be willing to join a school where students get injured quite often from sparring sessions.
Very rarely do new styles just pop out of nowhere and become a main stay martial art style. Most of the styles and techniques in Taekwondo have been developed and studied for years, therefore there is rarely any new style that can be invented by a teacher.
This has nothing to do with the fighting style of the teacher as this is unique to every individual, however, if the master of a Dojo seems to have a lot of techniques and fighting methods that is not common to other Dojos around, then that Dojo might just be a McDojo.
6.Too many belt ranks
Even though the belt coloring method used in the Taekwondo differs from one school to another all around the world, there is a certain level of consistency to the belt coloring style.
There are typically about 9 standard colors of belts ranging from white to Black in Taekwondo. However, many McDojos tend to have even more belt types and colors, they add a little bit of color or stripe to an already established belt in order to get more money from grading. You can read some of our other articles on the right belts in Taekwondo.
7.The cost of anything is high
A lot of Taekwondo McDojos are created to make money. This is why it is no surprise that many of these types of Dojos have ridiculously expensive training program.
It usually starts from registration, to the cost of a dobok, to the grading fees and even the purchase of equipment.
It is usually a red flag when you start paying for things you never even got to know about or use, for instance some schools will tell you to pay for some sorts of insurance and you will never get to see a certificate or form. I understand that it costs money to successfully run a Dojo, especially in this day and age. However, it becomes odd when it seems like your master is using the Dojo as a pursuit of greed.