I spent some time thinking and writing this reply, and wanted to share it here:

http://www.iainabernethy.com/cgi-bin/ult...&p=3#000030
Quote:


I think what this thread addresses is a larger trend than what we see in just MA.
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globalization is a good/bad thing. It's a reality that isn't going away, but all we are primarily concerned with as MAists is our OWN quality of training/instruction and propegation, so it's up to each of us to take that responsibility and adapt if necessary.
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In general, globalization will give people access as consumers to a larger choice of products and services, often at a lower price. The downside is less 'personalized' goods.
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Across the board, since the 90's, in every market-driven economy, cities & suburbs first, then eventually every town - the 'mom-n-pop' shops go away and are replaced with franchises and chain-stores that are under the umbrella of it's larger entity....the global corporation.
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fitness centers and gyms provide a service. MA falls under that same business model.
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or does it? that is, specifically is Karate for instance well suited for corporatization?

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yes and no, in my opinion. It depends what your personal goals are. If competition is the goal of your training, then there is pretty much no other choice than to navigate thru the system. eg: you must be affiliated to something in order to be recognized as a contestant. nobody can just walk into a tournament off the street and claim a yudansha rank from Mr. Miyagi's backyard dojo....no, they must be processed thru the system (read: fees). The system which is setup by the corporation and adhered to by the franchise or participating dojo in order for you to be sponsored to compete.
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There are also organizations not involved in competition, often labeled with a type of 'traditional martial arts' tag. These organizations also endevor to standardize training by common training syllabus and common ranking requirements in order to ensure the best base standard of maintaining and promoting the qualities the organizers deem as baseline skills according to what they feel represents the Art as true as their concience will allow.
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BUT, the caveat to the corporate structure trying to honestly mass-promote base stndard of Art quality is that, they are first and foremost a corporation. which means survival of the organization is THE first priority. In order to be cometitive in the market, they may have to make decisions which slowly but surely chip away at the standards they had first hoped to adhere to and promote. most of the changes cater to the huge child-based market which any MA organization wishing to stay competitive cannot ignore. lowering age requirements for rank. making more increments of rank for more frequent testing and ranking to keep kids interested and members for longer, etc. On the surface, and in the short-term it seems as innocent and legitimate changes...but the effect in the longer-term widdles away the standards of the Art. lowering the minimum age that someone is allowed to teach, or the time in training necessary to open a new branch/satelite dojo for instance. scenario: (the first generation of the org maybe studied with a renown Karateka for a decade or more before they themselves started teaching...the next generation maybe studied 8 years from them before opening their own...the following generation maybe now has 5 years of training and have 12-year old yudansha teaching class) ...just as an illustrative hypothetical.
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The real tragedy is with the subsequent generations thinking it's 'normal' to see a 12 year old ni-dan assisting instruction. They don't know any better, and nothing you or I could say would change their conditioned perception of justifying that standard.
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There are organizations which lower standards at different rates...some imperceptably....but it's important to understand the prime directive of any corporation: stay in business, make profit.
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A side note, but an important one is the fact in any market-place there are those who ONLY look at bottom lines. maximizing profit regardless of the consequences (in the case of MA, loss of quality if necessary). The branch gyms of a 'profit-centric at the expenese of quality' MA corp is what is often termed 'mcdojo'.
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Their argument is based on customer satisfaction: "If the profit-driven dojo is so bad, then why do we have such large enrollment?" true, but do new students really know any better? and what of the long-term retainment? etc, might be valid counter-arguments.
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Then there are the outright bogus frauds with fronting organization ...two words: Caveat Emptor.
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So far, I've only mentioned whats available via your local phone book. There is an alternative to corporate-based MA....and other than the dwindling 'mom-n-pop' comercial dojos which may someday succumb to either competing in the market place, join a conglomerate organization and have syllabus dictated, or close doors.
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the alternative gets back to how Karate and many other MA's started in the first place - informal, non-standardized, non-political, personalized, small group 'backyard' training found by word of mouth or referral.
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of course, nothing guarentees the level of instruction will be one that is any better than what you may find in the phone book. The 'search' itself, for an instructor is part of training...it's part of each of our responsibilities as students of MA.
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We all do the best we can...the important thing is to be honest with ourselves. seek what you really truely enjoy - if you find yourself not happy with training, find out why and address it.

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my personal journey started some time ago, in a small 'mom-n-pop' non-affiliated hometown Goju dojo. later, school/military/marriage/jobs kept me moving and I just trained on my own or at times not at all. When I settled I searched to continue my training and saw the explosion of commercialism in MA - even in the 'traditional' dojos. The contrast between the 70's/80's vs. 10 years later was amazing....it was like coming out of a time warp, what the heck happened in the 90's? MA truely went global during the 90's.
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I currently train in a backyard open-air dojo - no belts - no rank - no commercial trappings ...it's not a romantic attempt to 'get back to the ol days'-whatever that would mean. it's just training with a small group that loves to train outside of our normal work/life schedules. I'm not saying it's a better way - I'm just making aware that there are other ways.
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It's YOUR training. YOU set the rules and standards. We can't blame mcdojos for doing what they do...we can each only take the personal responsibility of choosing to train/stay there or not.
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Independant dojos are not dead... they are just listed in the white pages...not the yellow pages.