What is a McDojo? how to spot one

If you are a practitioner of martial arts you may have heard of the term of McDojo. Joe Rogan has mentioned the tem a number of times on his podcasts and regularly enjoys sharing and commenting on videos of so called “MacDojos”.

What is a McDojo?

A Mcdojo can be defined as a martial arts school that is primarily concerned with making money rather than the teaching of an effective martial art. The technique and martial art that McDojos tend to teach usually has no practical use in a real life situation and the qualification of the instructor may be questionable.

A Dojo is traditional name for a space where martial arts is practised. The adding of the “Mc” emphasizes the commercial nature and assembly line approach that we are more accustomed to seeing in fast food franchises.

McDojo’s take advantage of over willing parents who are eager to enrol their child in any kind of marital arts. The majority of parents have no experience of marital arts so it can be difficult to spot a McDojo.

Some martial arts are more susceptible to McDojos than others. Karate in particular is a broad term and the title of expert can easily be claimed by anybody.

Tell-tale signs of a McDojo

Excessive claims of experience and knowledge
Anyone can claim to be a 10th Dan black belt world champion in a martial art that nobody’s ever heard. The marital arts may look like Karate. Kung fu, judo, or another martial art but with some variations. The biggest telltale sign is that the instructor actually invented the style of martial art themselves.

High fee’s and pressure that may include complicated plans
The McDojos primary goal is to make $. This means high costs of membership and often complicated pricing plans and recurring costs.

Charging for promotions:
The rip off doesn’t stop at membership plans as students are often forced to pay for their promotion. This devalues the promotion while also putting additional pressure on kids and students to pay more.

Excessive bowing and reverence of the head instructor:
Respect is important in marital arts but excessive reverence of an instructor is not healthy. This unbalanced power structure can lead to cult like disciples who hang on the every word of the instructor.

Very limited real sparring:
Sparring is a great way to test the skills that you have learned in a live setting. However McDojos often reduce the practise of real sparring as it exposes their flimsy techniques as useless. In many cases sparring is discouraged and the majority of time is spent practising techniques in a controlled setting that has no application in the real world

High level belts awarded after a relatively short amount of time training
This is what you pay for when you join a Mcdojo. Kids regularly get promoted because their parents have paid the membership dues but there i no correlation between the promotion and the actual amount of skills that they have developed.