Is it possible for a dojo to be both a real dojo and a McDojo at the same time?
Then I attended the adult class. It was a great workout and very analytical in its teaching of poomse, self defense and meanings and methodology behind it. The senior level belts and black belts were very skilled and impressive in their knowledge and ability.
I couldn't help myself so as I asked the Sabumnim, "what's up with the kid black belts?"
His answer was very thought provoking. He said "For adults, martial arts are real, real self defense and a real way of life. For kids, this is an activity, they don't truly understand MAs as a way of life or a personality changer. That being said, the kids here are taught enough self defense to get them out of a school yard tussle and they do know their stuff, poomse, history, techniques, etc, they just don't really understand it the way an adult would. Unfortunately, I'm not independently wealthy. I work a full time job and run the school in the evenings and weekends for the love of the MA. I'm lucky if the school brings in enough money to pay my electric bill and a couple of dinners a month. If I was wealthy and could do this full time, I would prefer to not even teach children. I would rather devote all my time to adults and expand their training even further. Allowing children to reach the black belt level keeps them here and keeps the parents appeased. And believe me, when a child here reaches black belt, they are very skilled in respect to others in their own age range and much more skilled than children black belts from other schools in the area, just not compared to an adult. Also, you never know, maybe the training that I give a child will eventually lead them to continuing their training into adulthood to really understand the MA when they are mentally capable of this. The kids in this dojo pay the building lease and bills so that I can give the adults a true martial arts experience. Additionally, Kukkiwon does recognize children black belts with a black and red certificate where an adult's certificate is all black. If my school doesn't allow children to reach the black belt level, the parents would find another dojang. And if those parents took their children out of my dojang to another one, my adult training would suffer."
That being said, he doesn't lock people into long term contracts, his monthly fees are not exorbitant but he does have kid black belts, does do birthday parties and does have summer camps.
Thoughts? Serious, well thought out answers only, please.
1. JWB - He does not promote any child farther than 1st Dan. I believe the age of differentiation from Kukkiwon is 16, I don't know the exact age from Korea. At that point they have to retest for their adult 1st Dan and can progress.
2. J - My point was that the dojang is not a profit center but a break even proposition with the children involved. His point was that without children as students, he wouldn't be able to give the adults their training, which is his passion because the children's' program allows him to train adults.