Supersize my karate
“Welcome to <insert name here> dojo, may I take your order please?”
Dare I use the forbidden M word?
Are McDojo’s the future of martial arts clubs as we know it?
The problem is that martial arts is becoming something that is being offered to the masses, no longer do we see small clubs of a few highly skilled and hard training and devoted members; more and more clubs are popping up all over the place and advertising to attract members. But how did this start? where did the shift come from? Is it the natural progression of things and are we witnessing the end of the small “secret” club?
The main problem that I think is the root of this issue is money. Sooner or later, what it all boils down to in the capitalist culture that we live in is a rectangular piece of paper, with some old dead person’s picture that nobody can really recognise anymore anyway. Because dojo’s need cash flow to survive, they are forced to do what they can to attract a larger student body. The result? Martial Arts for the Masses. Unfortunately, in any sport the people that train the hardest and become “super athletes” are not the average joe, they are usually only represented by less than 5% of the population (ok I can’t support that statistic) and unfortunately it is the remaining 95% that pay the bills. Pushing everyone to their limits generally only attracts the hardcore ahletes, the ones willing to really put in the effort to see the major returns. This strategy unfortunately drives away a lot of students, which means less dues and a tougher time at making the rent. Even if these clubs can make rent, where does that leave the instructor? More often than not they have to volunteer their time… Is it any wonder that in all popular media the “superhuman martial arts instructor” that runs the club/dojo that our hero joins to train at is struggling to break even or living at the dojo to keep costs down?
So what is the solution? I don’t think there really is one… some dojos / clubs have gone the other way, bumping up the fees so that they can get by with fewer members. The problem with this approach is that it excludes the people who just cant afford exorbitant fees…. so what next? A return to backyard dojos?
I just don’t see this epidemic going away. McDojos are here to stay and they are a fact of life as it really is the natural progression if we are trying to make martial arts accessible to the masses.