I get the questions all of the time. Which martial art is the best? Is karate better than kung fu? Is Krav Maga better than Jui Jitsu? Is wrestling better than boxing?
The type of martial art style one practices means far less to me, than the quality of the program. A perfect and superior martial art does not reign down above all of the other styles. Each studio and program is more of a reflection of the Instructor/owner than the actual style. I believe a martial arts program should deliver a path for the individual to improve himself. If the program offers fitness, simple and effective self defense, allows the student to gain better situational awareness, and teaches responsibility of improved fighting skills- it must be a great program. All of these elements must be in place for it to be a good program.
The commercialization of Tae Kwon Do in the 1980’s and continues today has softened the world of martial arts. Many Tae Kwon Do schools offer little in real fitness and little in effective and applicable self defense. Instead they have become money making machines that ultimately are belt factories. Have a lot of students? Offer a promotion every other month and double the value of said student. Sadly, you end up with a school with over weight black belts, and a seven year olds walking around as first degree black belts. If you walk into a program that has more than its fair share of overweight black belts or child black belts- run out!!!! Unless, you simply want a black belt without merit- run away. Tae Kwon Do as taught in Korea is very effective and enticing. There are studios in this country which run outstanding traditional Tae Kwon Do programs. Sadly, they are overshadowed and diluted by the Tae Kwon Do schools that aren’t doing it the right way.
Singling, out Tae Kwon Do may seem unfair. But, they are the biggest violator of watered down martial arts. Does it happen in other programs and styles? Of course it does. Why do many Tae Kwon Do schools advertise the word “karate” on their signs and marketing materials. Because the word ‘karate’ is more marketable than Tae Kwon Do. They call it Karate so that you will walk in, then they teach you something completely different. It would be like having a Latin Language School and advertising Spanish, but once the prospective new student signs up you inform him/her that he/she will be taught Latin. Utilizing the word ‘Karate’ makes business sense. But, it does not make moral sense.
Bottom line theory is that the style and the program is a reflection of the school owner. If he is driven to be rich and cares little about his students, then he will make lot’s of money without offering his students real growth. As a matter of fact giving a martial arts a false sense of security is more dangerous to the student versus having never trained at all. A poorly trained student has no idea he or she is receiving bad or ineffective training. So, they take this inflated ego into the real world, with the impression that he/she can handle themselves, and find out rather quickly that their knowledge and training is ineffective. This is why watered down martial arts is dangerous. This is why a school should have the morality and desire to improve every student who walks into their dojo.
I am making my living teaching martial arts. Will I become rich doing this? I doubt it. But, I do have a chance of being comfortable and enjoying every day of this path. Martial Arts changed my life. Mr. Larry Davenport, whom is my Sensei, changed my life. Every student that enrolls out our school is giving the chance:
To become more fit.
To gain a higher understanding of the dangers of the world.
To learn simple and effective self defense .
To gain higher respect for themselves and humanity.
To learn responsibility with their improving strength and fighting skills.
A martial arts program should be hard, challenging, and difficult. The toughness of a program should break you down then build you back up. Like the military a student should become a stronger more competent version of themselves.
My goal is to have quality first and quantity second. I strive every single day to achieve both. I strive to embolden my students with real knowledge, not paper knowledge, but real knowledge. We may not ever be the biggest, but we always be the hardest working and the toughest. Mr. Larry Davenport placed these values in me through his instruction and his love for his students, and I will continue to utilize these values as my guiding light in the world of martial arts.