Today. Right now. At this very moment someone is learning some seriously BS form of martial arts. This isn’t uncommon because martial arts are big businesses for a number of reasons. Mixed martial arts is all the rage and many of the fighters like Lyoto Machida and GSP have some very public connections to traditional martial arts. Fair enough. But why do parents allow their children to learn some made up “some dude fu” or learn in a Mcdojo? Even the ones who know they are impractical? Let’s take a look.
Parents ignore the fact that their school is a belt factory or simply don’t check the backgrounds of their “masters”. More importantly most of them don’t research the governing organization enough to understand that even though their kids are learning solid ethics and morals by repeating words or phrases they are being duped. Imagine being on a soccer team with a coach who knows nothing about soccer, or applies his own bad techniques and tries to pass them off. How long would a parent put up with it before they yanked their kid? It doesn’t seem rational but for some reason in martial arts it’s okay. Probably because most of the parents don’t know what real martial artists look like.
The kids look cool. Parents love photos that they can post on social media. “Look at little Timmy in his gi”. I have seen so many photos of kids posted by parents and the comment sections of each are very active. Grandparents love them some little Timmy in his uniform with a cute little headband.
Participation trophies are the greatest invention in martial arts of all time other than tiers of enrollment fees. Kids with trophies equal happy kids and even more photos. Now it’s little Timmy in a gi with a headband AND a trophy. Comment sections explode.
Cliques. They exist in martial arts schools and usually they are the richer of the parents. They can afford to take their kids to more tournaments and put them in the ‘leadership’ courses and seminars. When a student has all of the patches, the collar stripes, and the state or world champ letter designations on their back they are going to be the favorites because they are free advertising for the instructor. They scream, “see, look what my instructor can do for your kid”. They are going to be highlighted and sometimes get to be an assistant instructor during the classes. Every other parent wants that feeling of pride and those bragging rights. Once you are this far in to your time in the martial art it is hard to get out. You’ve spent so much money to get where you are it’s impossible to reason with yourself to pull them out.
Real martial arts schools with lineages don’t usually coddle or hold the hands of students. Their expectations are higher and when they spar it isn’t a dance type of a tag game. If something is hard and belts have to be truly earned the student base will diminish as the bar is raised higher for promotion. Challenges are only welcome when they can be overcome with just enough effort like in Mcdojos which is why they are so appealing. Mcdojos use the reasoning that a student should be expected to not meet a set bar of standards. They feel students should be held to being able to do the best they can personally meaning someone who busts their butt to get an achievement will begin to feel cheated when someone else who is probably below average gets the same.
Pressure sales of tiered enrollment. I was in a Mcdojo before I woke up, thank you Jorge Gurgel. I saw parents max credit cards out to pay for three years in advance and be in the second level of training. This got them an extra fifteen minutes, their kids could spar at earlier belts, and they got a nifty stripe. The third level got them fifteen more minutes, a shinier stripe, and they can break boards at an earlier belt. What kind of martial art has tiers of payments? This is an amazing sales tactic and once someone pays they are guaranteed to be there and if they quit it’s okay they still have your money. The kicker? They have to pay for testings, seminars, and everything in between. It’s like being in with a loan shark?
It’s a big school with a big student base. It’s like church. The bigger it is the more people want to be a part of it because it’s big. Fact of life.
Those are just some of the reasons that parents are duped in to putting their children in to BS martial arts. Tell us some of yours.