Recently we had a parent bring a child in to view one of our Martial Arts classes at Fitness One, The child had just earned a black belt in Taekwondo, but in this case (not with all TKD Schools) he appeared more as if the parents had purchased the Belt, paying a whopping $800 for this ranking.
Then, the parents at our School began to talk, and I discovered that all over the area this type of thing is happening. Parents told me that some of their friends who had not yet crossed over into our program (they are stuck in 2 Year contracts) are paying very high rates for training that is many times not only inefficient, but dangerous as well. They think this is just the way it is, that all Karate schools will drive you bankrupt for Martial Arts lessons.
It appears a new style has emerged, and as my Senior Instructor Alan Jacobs (Grandmaster Black Belt, served as Whitney Houston’s real Bodyguard for 7 years) says, it’s called “Take my dough.” We will use this term to describe schools that have turned to commercialized money making and watered down programs instead of realistic martial arts training that has value and substance. As far as which school is which, you will decide that.
The term Black Belt used to really mean something. It meant that you could defend yourself, that you have confidence, that you are prepared for a confrontation to protect yourself and your loved ones. As Grandmaster Joe Lewis said, It means that you are a tough fighter and a good teacher. You should understand and know your craft, and be able to use the skills you have learned. You should also be able to teach someone else those skills. In most schools today, students barely understand the basics and lack the ability to use them at all.
The Martial Arts in the last few years have unfortunately been watered down into classroom exhibitions of board breaking and showmanship, with Belts awarded every few weeks (at a premium cost, of course) until a child reaches Black Belt. Classes now consist of long contracts, outdated forms routines (that positively have no bearing on anything realistic, and only represent the art of dance not Martial Sciences) are practiced, breaking dried boards with dust and fireworks pre-placed on the board for dramatic effect, lack of dealing with the adrenaline stress factor (the key ingredient in handling a situation) and the absence of true grappling training are basically teaching the youth how NOT to defense themselves, and parents are starting to see the difference.
Martial Arts (defined as Fighting arts, armed or unarmed) ranking should be based on the lineage of the Instructor. Lineage is basically what the Instructor has done, and who he trained under, and what have they done. This is the only way to truly verify any authenticity whatsoever in belt Ranking. Trees with no branches that go straight up into the same organization, are basically multi-level marketing for Martial Arts. The Grandmaster at the top (who you will never see) passes down the ranking and gets his share of each test fee.
“Take My Dough” is doing just that. Without any real visible results for the children. There are some good schools out there, but if class rates are soaring over $150 per month, and testing fees are hitting every few weeks, and if you don’t see anything on the classroom floor that looks unpredictable and realistic, and if the class looks more like a dance routine than Martial Arts, the red flags should be popping up.
At Fitness One, Jon Phipps (4th Degree Black Belt, Black Belts in 4 styles of Martial Arts including Israeli Krav Maga, 30 years of Martial Arts training) and Josh Tufte (5th degree Black Belt, IKF Super Heavy Weight World Kickboxing Champion, 15 years experience) teach our Children’s program. We call it American Martial Arts Systems. It is a blend of Kicking, Boxing, Wrestling, Krav Maga, Ju-Jitsu, and adrenaline stress training. It prepares children for what a real encounter may be like, all while maintaining structure, developing Confidence, Self-Esteem, Coordination and helping them burn off some extra energy as well.
Martial Arts is now more like daycare, after school care and playtime. We refuse to go this route, and instead will choose to teach realistic material to kids (and adults) that they can actually use if needed.
Our ranking lineage in our system comes from some of the greatest Martial Artists of all time. If you are looking for a Martial Arts program, we invite you to come and try a free class to see the difference. It’s not all about flash and fancy uniforms, it is about what is best for our children and how much we can teach them. Martial Arts rank should be an honor, not an expense.
Allen Branch is the founder/Master Instructor at Fitness One Training Systems, the Kernersville areas leading results based fitness program. The new Fitness One Facility features a 10,000 square foot facility equipped with Treadmills, ellipticals, Free weights, TRX suspension trainers, Kettlebells, Agility training, a complete line of Fitness classes, Rapid Fat loss bootcamps and Kernersville Krav Maga, Martial Arts, Kickboxing and Karate and Much more. Allen can be reached at 336-655-4558. Learn more about Fitness One at myfitnessone.com