All over the United States there are people seeking out martial arts training right now. There are schools in just about every single city across this nation and sadly many of the are simply, well to be polite, frauds. I grew up training in martial arts all my life in the area where my dojo is located. Over those 38 years I have watched schools open and close hundreds of times. Every time I watch as their students who love to train are left without a place to go and sadly many of them don’t even bother to visit the schools in their areas because their past instructor spread lies in an attempt to make their school look more credible. This has happened to me as well and it is sad but a simple fake that fraudulent martial arts instructors will do everything in their power to make their school look more authentic or credible to their students when they know, in their heart, they are teaching complete crap.
Recently there has been a school that opened in my area who proclaims to teach Jeet Kune Do but has also claimed they are teaching Karate. I know the individual. He trained via video tapes. He claims to have a black belt in Jeet Kune Do which anyone who is legitimate will tell you is impossible since Bruce Lee’s system doesn’t have a black belt, nor any ranking structure using belts for that matter. So I sit idly by and watch people putting their kids in his program and young adults enrolling in it not even aware they are being ripped off. Yes that is correct ripped off.
Bryan, Ohio, where my dojo is located, has had many frauds running schools in the area since the 1970’s. While it is a fact that their martial arts claims are false in terms of ranks, titles and things, it is near impossible to convince their former students of this. When I opened my dojo in Bryan back in 2005 there were four other martial arts programs. One at the parks n rec (which was Isshin Ryu and legitimate), one at the YMCA (which was a made up of a style of Hapkido), two schools claiming to teach Tae Kwon Do (neither was a Tae Kwon Do school and I would know because I trained to master level in it). I never cared what they did nor even bothered with them because I focused on my school and my students. One by one they closed down. One by one they blamed me. One by one they made up every excuse possible to try and ruin my business. One by one they failed.
It is a fact that I struggled to get my school because many people had been snake oiled by former instructors or beaten up by them. They all assumed that martial arts training was the same regardless of who taught it or where they trained at. The FACT is that it isn’t. My dojo teaches legitimate, authentic Okinawan Karate called Shorin Ryu Shorinkan. We don’t focus on who can beat up who but rather on taking our Karate and applying it to our lives to make them better. My students have won multiple State, Regional, National and World champion titles over the years and yet we really don’t focus on sport karate at all. We are the real deal. The training is fun, exciting and yet a little tough but nothing that people can’t handle. In short we are a real Karate dojo teaching 100% authentic Okinawan Karate as it should be taught…with a core focus on self defense.
Lately I have been watching people open up schools in the surrounding areas, including my town, who teach martial art systems that are made up or based on very little authentic training backgrounds. It is so hard to explain why that $40 a month program in the garage / back yard is not worth it to people that just don’t understand what martial arts actually entails. People who have no, or very little, training in martial arts struggle to spot a fraud or self made black belt via video. They believe all the hype portrayed by those instructors. Quite simply they think it is all the same as learning the real thing…but it isn’t.
I earned my black belt in 1987. At that point in my life I had been training for over 9 years. Back then they just wouldn’t permit kids to be black belts in most good dojo so I had to wait as a brown belt for a very long time to test. I have never stopped training, never stopped learning and never took time off of my Karate training. Most of the people out there teaching in my area today weren’t even in martial arts when I was already a black belt…heck some of them hadn’t even been born yet. The point I am trying to explain is that there is a right way to train, a right way to learn and right way to teach people. That is exactly what you get in my dojo…the RIGHT WAY.
If a person feels that the video trained backyard / garage place ran by some unqualified instructor is for them then I feel very sorry for what they will go through. Saving that $29 a month from what you would pay in my school for double the classes, 100x more instruction experience and top quality / authentic martial arts means you will get exactly what they offer…nothing worth anything in terms of martial arts…but what do I know…I have only been training since 1978, been a black belt since 1987, been teaching since 1991 and have trained in Okinawa as well as all over the world…but I guess that quality, knowledge and experience don’t mean enough to those who don’t care about it.