Discussion in 'Kenpo' started by flyingleopard, Aug 14, 2005.
Has Anybody Trained With Theses Guys Before? And What Was Your Experience With Them?
I've trained at multiple Villari schools, and I've worked out with some USSD folks in the past. With Villari's I've had almost universally good experiences. With USSD it has been mixed.
Your experiences with ussd were mixed, How so?
I think this has been explained a lot..which is good, since USSD is a HUGE virus-like franchise that threatens to consume and destroy many small, well-intentioned martial arts schools.
My opinion is that Shaolin Kempo is an interesting, eclectic style that needs to focus less on presenting the "Ancient Shaolin-ness" of their art and more on the fact that it is a modern martial art with roots in some amazing but MODERN martial artists in America. The schools I've been to seem to want to pretend that they're teaching some form of traditional Kung Fu...even though they're wearing Karate Gi's and use titles like Sensei and Shodan.
I'm soiled on USSD, as I find that they charge far too much and allow those ranked at shodan or nidan to be a "Chief Instructors". They stress the long term contract, charge a lot for every test, charge too much for tournaments, and are big on programs like "The Black Belt Club". I actually found an instructor I REALLY liked, but I had to quit because he WAS FORCED to charge too much for class (we actually talked about this quite often, as he had to get a secondary job to pay bills, and was threatened with termination if he charged less than around $120 a month)! Apparently the conglomerate of USSD has HUGE franchise fees, and that of the $200 a month or so you pay, half or more (at least $100 or so) goes in the pockets of the overweight "heads" of the system.
Just my opinion, and I will continue to check out USSD schools in the hope that I can find one not motivated by my green.
Never been to a Villari school.
May you achieve
What's interesting is that Shaolin Kempo does have Kung Fu influences, but it is the part of the system that disappears first when it is watered down. The Shaolin Kempo schools that I've been a part of have never tried to calim that the art that they were teaching had anything more than Kung Fu influences in it.
I don't doubt what you've seen, but it does speak to the marketing techniques of certain schools out there.
Satori, where in CA do you live? There are a bunch of non-USSD Shaolin Kempo schools in CA, some of which have excellent instructors.
I'm in Southern California, San Diego area. Solana Beach/Del Mar area, to be exact. I started with the Vista (north county) location under Craig Earich, but he had to close up shop for one reason or another. He was great, as he only charged about $70 a month and never pressured us to pay for anything we didn't want to.
Now the Vista location is run by a guy in his 20s with a whopping 7 years experience, who immediately tried to powerclose me into a huge money-sucking contract.
I trained with Craig Joyner at the Encinitas location for about a year or so, but the prices really began to eat at my budget. He tried to work with me fund-wise, but there was little he could do if I simply wasn't a rich soccer mom. Really nice guy, but he's working for the wrong company.
I contacted the "Villari" headquarters school in Poway and spoke with the rather young 5th dan chief instructor, but their prices and the drive was a bit much for me. If I'm going to pay over $100 a month, I want to learn from someone who is over 30. Now, I'm not saying the brothers over in Poway aren't amazing instructors...I'm sure they are. But it does me no good to sit in an hour of traffic, wasting gas money only to shell out more money for a class.
I'd be stoked if you had information on less money driven SKK instructors in my area.
May you achieve
around my area there was one..and only one Shaolin Kenpo Karate around..but unfortunately he also had to close shop..which sux..I see a whole lot of USSD schools though..and none of them seem to be closing up shop...There has to be something bout them that families seem to generate towards, right?? or else they wouldn't be this big, right? I wonder what it is parents like so much to sign up there kids there, or even adults who go there, do they not know that a couple of blocks around them is a decent maybe a little smaller, but much cheaper and better school?
You guys could look into Karazenpo or Kajukenbo. They are very close to SKK of course: Emperado->Gascon->Pesare->Cerio->Villari
Check out http://www.kgs-hk3.com/ - I've met the head instructor here he is great!
Unfortunately, I don't really know anyone in the San Diego area. If you were in LA or the bay area...
I don't know the instructors there. To be perfectly honest, I've heard some mixed reviews about that particular school, but that's all third or fourth hand information.
Is that the school the brothers took over when they were 12?
i trained at USSD and learned a ton because i got lucky and had a good instructor but it was more my instructor and not the school/style, the school/style was pretty lame and clearly unauthentic martial arts
yes know one where the material comes from after black.
Okay, I'm reading this thread and I have a lot of thoughts going through my head.
First I hate the Mc Dojos, I was an avid disliker of Vallari's schools.. but honestly my opinion was formed from what others have told me. I have yet to experience it myself.
USSD: I met Stephen Demasco, he came into a dealership I was working at... a Bentley Dealership. He was turning in a recently purchased Hummer because he felt it was just too big. Does this guy have money? You bet he does.
My question to the forum is growing a large chain of schools really bad? Everyone want's to be successful. Wealth, Fame, Fortune is a goal of the majority of people.
Contracts: I've always seen contracts as a good thing. Contracts are good business sense. I've seen good martial arts schools ruined because of bad business sense. A lot of good martial artists are flawed in the sense that they have a heart that's "too" giving. A contract means that this sensei or sifu has good business sense and makes me feel that this school isn't going to go out of business.
Price: What you want and what you can afford is always going to be a question in anything in life. Why do some dojo's charge $50 and some $120? The difference is overhead, what expenses they have going out. Remember that the sifu / sensei has to: pay his own bills, support his own family, pay the bills for the school, pay the rent for the school, purchase equipment, insurance, pay dues to a federation, and in some cases, the instructor has to pay another instructor so he can continue learning. If you see a dojo in a nice strip mall, it's most likely going to cost more than the master who teaches above a chinese resturant.. where the entrance is in a disgusting side alley.
Shaolin Kempo Karate: Adimitedly I don't know a whole lot about this art. To me it's shaolin, japanese style. I study Lohan Chuan, a traditional Shaolin art. I'm not knocking Kempo, the Japanese have done marvelous jobs in their art. But also I think a lot of Japanese arts originated in China, Aikido and Chin-na have a lot similar locks.
Choosing your school: I go to a school, I watch the instructor, I watch the students, I see how enthusiastic the school is, I try to guage the business sense of the individual. I look at the price and if it's something I can afford, I take it. I don't have a loyalty to any style, I've studied TKD, Judo, Kung Fu and Aikido. But I choose the school based upon the above and not the style.
Anyone agree or disagree?
A very well thought out and well written post in my opinion. You are someone who definitely knows/understands the "business" side to operating a commercial dojo. You are also correct in that the final decision making comes from you and you alone, not from coming onto the forum and asking others from miles away if you should or shouldn't try out a particular system. Even if it's advice regarding USSD or any other chain of MA....you still need to find out for yourself and not necessarily rely on others negative experiences as an end-all decision. Cost is always gonna be a factor, but as you say, either you can or can't afford it. Paying less $$ dosen't always guarentee better training.
I essentially agree with everything Jaguar posted. Nice post.
It it wrong to make a bunch of money teaching martial arts?
I guess it depends, really. I judge based upon the motive and the intention of the person running the school. Ultimately, I feel that when people are motivated by MONEY, then they typically lose sight of what they are doing to EARN said money...it essentially becomes a bottom line.
So what if his students are dominating tournaments? So what if he has several handicapped students? So what if he's been directly involved in turning around troubled teenagers?
When the goal is making money, it boils down to how much of it is made at the end of the day...and with something as pure as martial arts, I PERSONALLY feel this isn't what it should be about. When it is, I can't help but think the teaching will suffer accordingly.
Then again, I've found that some places are successful without any direct effort. Their schools are professional, their classes are packed, they have a host of competent instructors, a variety of programs, several students who train for free in exchange for various services...AND their prices are very reasonable WHILE their teaching remains top notch.
Unfortunately, these places tend to be rather rare.
You are also correct in stating "I'm not quite sure what Kempo is...", as I don't believe anyone really knows where it came from. It definately "Moves" somewhere between JMA and CMA, the uniforms are JMA, the forms (early ones) are all modified Pinans/Heians... To be honest, I rather enjoy the mystique that Kempo has, as ultimately the style works.
May you achieve
Yes cost are a factor but I am not going to pay a ussd instructor 1-2 degree bb or red belt a year contract for 175 a month when they have just learned the material themselfs.
There are 3,4,5, and 6th degrees with 10 to 20 years experience that will charge me the same amount that know their stuff better than a 2year bb. just my opinion
Then you are in a good area, with a wide choice of instructors. Some people are very limited on where they can train. I grew up in Newport Rhode Island, the first two Karate schools landed on the island when I was 16. (there were YMCA classes, but lets not get into that)
For the reference of Money being a motivator. Money is one of the ultimate motivators. I wan't to see my Sifu be successful, to be able to buy his own land and build a school and property he owns. Plus, the more you make, the more you can give. Remember, money isn't the root of all evil, the love of money is. Money is a tool, amass it's wealth and you can provide for your family, children and even your childrens children. You can help people, donate to charity and releive yourself of financial burdens that may cause you stress. You'll even be able to take that $200 a month martial arts class. Money is a motivator, but the end result is security and peace. I find it's sad that most people that achieve financial independance and have wealth, squander and waste it. Stephen Demasco was a nice guy, I showed him my sword and he showed me a kata in the parking lot. I still have the guys cell phone number. But being in a place where people spent $250,000 for a car that won't run as well as a Honda Accord, was an enlightening experience.
This isn't the farmlands of Japan or China where you find the master living a humble life with no need for cash. The instructors and masters deserve to live also.
I wouldn't train in a school operated by a redbelt, or someone with a few years expereince. But if I was living back in Newport and I found him, then I would by lack of choice alone.
I like this forum for the opportunity to learn, educate and exchange ideas, views and opinions. If the internet / forums were around in the 70's, I don't think there would be a mc Dojo around, but perhaps high quality chains of schools.
I have heard a lot of good things about Demasco I've heard from friends not so good about mattera. My friend said mattera takes care of his district managers( look at their cars) under pays and over works his chief instructors. I 've heard mixed about VILLARIS but overall you have more freedom and better training and can set your own hours if you own the dojo.USSD you cant own your dojo 100% any more and it cost around $125,000............
I'm tempted to call Demasco and ask him the following questions:
1. What is the exact origin of Kempo?
2. If you are the "embassador" to the shaolin temple, why do you stick to the japanese culture for instruction of their art? (Gi's etc..)
3. How is your business set up? Can I see your business plan book? What are your profits? Do you plan an IPO?
Can anyone here answer those? Got any other questions for Demasco if I ring him?
How are Chief Instructors paid? What is the MINIMUM amount of money they can charge?
Do his instructors have insurance or other benefits?
If every Kenpo guy knows the true origins of Kenpo (i.e. MITOSE and not some monk), then why does USSD throw around the "Shaolin-ness" like it's nobodies business?
Separate names with a comma.