FAQ - What is a McDojo and How Do I Spot One?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by aikiwolfie, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. Tenderfoot

    Tenderfoot New Member

    I agree. I wish I hadn't been so impulsive when first signing up, but life is just a series of lessons I suppose.

    As an update, I did a lot of research and talked to several local dojos/dojangs and decided to take up krav maga instead of a traditional martial arts form. Classes are 1 hour long and are more of a workout than the TKD classes ever were, and the schedule is much better for an adult who works full-time. Plus other classes are included in the cost, like yoga, kettlebell, etc, which is great to have options. I feel like I actually learn something each time I go, I feel that I'm getting what I pay for, and I love that it's so applicable to real life situations (as a very petite female who lives alone, I would like to be prepared for the worst). I think I've finally found the perfect fit for me. Thanks for all of the support, everyone. :)
  2. OwlMAtt

    OwlMAtt Armed and Scrupulous

    Back on the OP topic:

    Beware claims of military experience. Not all claims, mind you: there's nothing wrong with a website saying, for instance, "Bob Bobberson was introduced to karate while stationed in Okinawa in the U.S. Army."

    What should make you cautious is hearing that Mr. Bobberson was in special forces, was a tactical instructor, participated in secret and/or dangerous military operations, etc. The problem with these kind of claims is that they get their effectiveness as marketing tools from the fictional Hollywood idea that a prerequisite of being a military combat operative is extensive martial arts training.

    Virtually all military fighting is done with things that go bang or boom, so it should be a red flag if someone is using military combat experience as evidence of their martial arts skills, especially in the case of traditional or stylized arts like karate, aikido, TKD, or kung fu, which are certainly not part of any military combat training.
  3. Aegis

    Aegis River Guardian Admin Supporter

    I wonder who you might be thinking of...
  4. OwlMAtt

    OwlMAtt Armed and Scrupulous

    He is the most recent example. But remember I've also run afoul of military super-operative Frank Dux.
  5. Mark 42

    Mark 42 Senior Newbie

    My wife & kids went and looked at a Karate place south of Tacoma, WA.
    It later turned out that the guy who started the school got into trouble
    for false military experience claims, Is that the one you folks are hinting at?

    I think he even got prosecuted, IIRC.
  6. OwlMAtt

    OwlMAtt Armed and Scrupulous

    We are hinting at a guy whose thread is a legend on the Introductions board. Your story is, in fact, a very common one. False military claims are rampant among shady martial arts instructors.

    In general, steer clear of anyone who thinks his military service serves as evidence of martial arts prowess. At worst, he's a liar and a fraud, and at best, he thinks you're a gullible moron who doesn't know the difference between military training and martial arts training.
  7. aikiwolfie

    aikiwolfie ... Supporter

    Take another look at the post you replied to and you have your answer.

  8. huntman

    huntman Valued Member

    Money is an alarm bell but ego is a bigger alarm bell. If I'm paying someone to provide me a service I'm not going to cater to their insecurity.
  9. mdgee

    mdgee Valued Member

    I learned my lesson about a McDojo the hard way. I was asked to sign a contract for two years. This should be a red flag but I was young and naive. My personal circumstances changed and I asked to be let out of my contract. My Sensei said it would be no problem and he would "waive" the cancellation fee. A month after I left I was still being charged on my credit card. I phoned the school and spoke to the Sensei and he told me he would get me a refund and fix the problem. Two months later I was still getting billed. I contacted my bank and told them I had lost my credit card. This was obviously a white lie. They issued me a new card and that McDojo got a nice surprise the third month. In fact, they used a third part to collect and I received a phone call from them telling me they were having trouble billing me. I informed them that I had left the school three months earlier and had cancelled my membership. They informed me that they had never received any notification from the school. To my surprise the lovely lady on the phone asked me how many months I had been charged that I was not taking lessons. I told her two. She went to her supervisor and came back on to the phone to ask me for my address. A week later I received a refund for the two months I had been charged along with a note. In the note they explained that they had received numerous complaints for that same school reporting similar issues.
  10. 47MartialMan

    47MartialMan Valued Member

    Money is not the alarm bell. Why do some people have to believe that when someone is receiving funds for martial art instruction that there has to be a "scam" involved?

    Signing a contract is not to be a red flag nor it is for the young and naive. People sign contracts for gyms, cell phones, etc.

    The thing to do as a consumer, is "read all of the print" and always look ahead if you want to cancel
  11. mdgee

    mdgee Valued Member

    Martial Man, I did read the contract. There was nothing shady about it either. It was his business practices that were shady. I don't know if this is something you could have spotted right off. Looking back, his eagerness to sign me could have been a tipoff? I don't know.
  12. aikiwolfie

    aikiwolfie ... Supporter

    Nobody starting out in martial arts should be signing a two year contract. Most beginners don't last that long in my experience. So what you're doing is taking money for nothing basically.

    It's also not fare to compare this to a phone contract. Most people know what a phone is and what they'll be using it for. They have an idea of what their usage will be. And so, can make an informed choice. Martial arts however are bit more obscure than the phone market.

    Contact your operator and tell them you want to cancel. And they'll normally hand you over to someone who'll bend over backwards to convince you to stay. You also have certain rights when you buy a phone. For example it actually needs to work as advertised.
  13. mdgee

    mdgee Valued Member

    I'm on par with what you said aiki. No one should sign a two year contract but schools love to sucker people into a two year contract.

    My last KM school was completely legit. He, the owner of the school, told me that they never asked people to sign a contract because the area is a transient one. People from all over the country come to work in the DC area and a year later get transferred to another location. When I needed to cancel I walked in to the studio and cancelled. They asked me to sign something stating that I was cancelling and the desk attendant gave me a copy. I was not billed again by them.
  14. 47MartialMan

    47MartialMan Valued Member


    Disagree. If someone is mature enough to sign, they should be the same way about reading the details. Caveat emptor. When making a purchase, anyone should get a understanding what it is they are buying and in need of canceling, returning, etc.

    Disagree. I have known people getting contract stuck in phone service, workout gyms, home repairs, credit cards, etc.,

    You have certain rights when buying anything. Contracts may seem difficult to get out of, but persistence* on the buyer's part could get results (* Good job mdgee)

    Its quite simple:

    Before you buy (or sign anything), check the details, shop around, and compare

    Common Sense

  15. aikiwolfie

    aikiwolfie ... Supporter

    So how do you determine if someone is mature enough to sign a binding contract with respect to an activity they know nothing about? Where do we set the bar here?

    And how does this make it right that people are being locked into contracts? You basically seem to be saying "all businesses are out to get you so it's fine".

    I prefer common decency over common sense. Simple fact of the matter is, there is no need for martial arts classes to have these binding contracts. The only reason to have them is to extort money from students who wish to leave. Which is what most other businesses that use these contracts are doing. It's why you phone operator makes you take a contract. It makes it hard to leave. So you don't bother. You stay and pay.
  16. 47MartialMan

    47MartialMan Valued Member

    Sorry. But with Utmost Respect and Reply: That is why as a consumer they should find out. For example, ingredient labels are informing the consumer. If the consumer is allergic to something, they read the labels. There is no excuse for not taking insight responsibility

    Businesses are out there to make a profit and hold onto this profit. They have taken the initiative to draw up the contract to protect them or give them a better advantage. It is up to the buyer to take the initiative to check.

    Here is another point, although I don't know about other places:

    At my schools, we also had a "injury contract" But speaking to a attorney, no one can "legally sign their right of legal action away". Therefore, a lawsuit can still be placed and won, no matter what was signed.

    Not completely true. The contract at some schools is to show the quota for business assets and insurance filing. ( Although I frown upon "automatic pay deductions" for any business)

    But as I stated in my other post...persistency can turn in the consumer's favor;

    I had a binding contract with a groundskeeper. He took me to court as I no longer desired his services.

    The judge did not rule in anyone's favor, but had created a fair settlement satisfied by both parties

    Last edited: Sep 12, 2014
  17. aikiwolfie

    aikiwolfie ... Supporter

    Which doesn't excuse business treating customers like cattle. We're not going to agree. No martial arts club or fitness gym has any genuine need to lock a student or customer into a contract much less a 2 year contract. The only reason to do that is to extort money from non-attending students.

    If a student is attending your club. Signs a two year contract and then quits after 3 months. Would you let them out of the contract or would you send the debt collectors in?
  18. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    Most contracts have a 30 day cancellation period - you are locked into the price for two years but can leave on one months notice (or leave and still pay for one month). The "two year lock in" is rarely committing for a two year "pay no matter what" scenario
  19. 47MartialMan

    47MartialMan Valued Member

    You really should read and understand my entire post instead of sifting

    Of course I would let anyone leave. I even got other people away from their contracts from their previous/other schools!

    You are looking at this in a horrid view. A school with a contract is a business. And as a business they still have to follow legal and business ethics. In my society there are business orgs like BBB/Better Business Bureau, that investigates bad business.

    People/consumers have to be held accountable for not taking the responsibility for not understanding or getting the info needed before signing. No one forced them through the doors.

    It really comes down to poor decision making without using better sense.
    A scam artist preys on the uniformed/I'll prepared/gullible.

    I could not thank Hannibal post at this moment, but he is correct.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2014
  20. aikiwolfie

    aikiwolfie ... Supporter

    Why have such a binding contract in the first place then if it's not going to be enforced? The only reason to have such a contract is to discourage students from leaving or to at least guarantee a reliable income if they do leave.

    I don't need to sign a contract with a supermarket to give them repeat business. If they serve me well. I go back for more.

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