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The term McDojo (also spelled MacDojo) is a term usually used disparagingly to refer to a martial arts school that is a "black belt factory," i.e., it awards Black Belts to many students who do not possess sufficient expertise to qualify as a Black Belt. Characteristics typically attributed to a McDojo include:

  • Many young children with Black Belts
  • Many students with Black Belts who do not possess a Black Belt level (i.e., expert level) of martial arts skill
  • Contracts that guarantee a student is to recieve a Black Belt if the student studies for X number of years (regardless of the student's proficiency)
  • Exorbitant fees and contracts

In reality is not uncommon in some styles of taekwondo for many students to possess Black Belts, since for some styles of taekwondo the 1st Dan Black Belt is intended to denote that the student is now a "qualified student;" i.e., the 1st Dan Black Belt is not intended to denote that the student is an expert. Also, as for-profit businesses with substantial overhead (rent, utilities, equipment, salaries, and insurance) it's normal for most taekwondo schools to charge for their services (just as it would be for swim schools, soccer camps, personal trainers, or any other sports instruction).

That having been said, it is certainly true that not all martial arts schools are necessarily high-quality schools. By definition, 50% will be in the lower-half in terms of quality. See Taekwondo Schools for some helpful tips for choosing a good, high-quality school.

Criticisms of the Term[]

While the term McDojo is intended to be disparaging, some pundits sometimes criticize in turn those who use the term McDojo. The perception is that the term is often used by older adults who feel that "only adults should study martial arts," that "martial instructions should not cost much money," or that "martial arts should focus on combat and self-defense, not sports." In practice, all of these positions are difficult to defend as realistic. For example, archery is also a martial art, it is a sport, it's not particularly useful for self-defense, and archery lessons usually cost money -- but archery is another terrific thing to study if one likes archery. So the criticisms leveled against the "McDojo" stereotype aren't always justified -- there's nothing wrong with a school that teaches a good sport well to a lot of enthusiastic students.

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