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Victim of Changes

By Shihan Robert McCreary

"I fear the demise of the small martial arts supply store is upon us"

Shihan Robert McCreary and his Students

I recently sold the martial arts supply store I owned for many years to move on with my goals to become a special education teacher in alternative schools, with at-risk students. The sale was a quick deal and I tried to make the transition as smooth as possible for the new owner.

I fear the demise of the small martial arts supply store is upon us. Things have changed. It is hard to compete when big companies like Century and Macho and other major suppliers will now sell directly to the martial arts schools and, of course, most of these schools have no true loyalty and do not care if you've ever sent them students and referrals. They will favor saving mere cents or are, more likely, too stupid to understand that you can help fill their schools with bodies.

The few that did understand were loyal, however, I can think of one school owner whose student said he should deal directly with the manufacturers, so he suddenly stopped buying from me and his enrollment went down 35% in three months. I used to direct 5 to 6 students to him each week. When I approached him to say, "All is forgiven" (Not like that of course, these wannabe martial arts experts have big egos!) to start doing business again and I will direct customers again; he was too stubborn or stupid to get it! Of course, I no longer recommended his school.

Anyways, that is one of the main reasons why I decided to sell my store...too much bullshit with people who thought because they received their black-belts in 18 months that they knew enough about martial arts to open their own business teaching others. The sad thing is that is how it is with most of the industry!

Most martial arts schools today are run by people who have no clue of the roots of neither martial arts nor how to actually teach the arts. They often bring their students to tournaments with the intent of displaying their point-fighting or sub-standard forms for plastic trophies in front of the herd. These generic teachers of the arts give away black-belts to 8 year olds and tell them they are a "Black-Belt", when the student doesn't even know what that really means. These same so-called instructors also give away black-belts in 18 to 24 months and the students actually believe they are experts in martial arts. While the remaining legitimate schools award black-belts in 8 to 12 years, depending on the art. I donít suppose these schools are slow and their students too stupid to earn black-belts in 18 months?

Too many of the martial arts students being put out today are a joke to the entire martial arts community! Their parents and friends now look on martial arts (Mainly in America) as a child's game and with the influence of movies like the "Karate Kid" and other nonsense martial arts films that are being put out each year...the laugh continues! Commercialism has changed Karate.

I always found it amazing that in my Dojo it took 12 to 15 years to earn a black-belt in Aikido and about 7 to 10 years to receive one in Karate. Then I took the candidate to other schools to have other black-belts judge them and made them write 8 to 12 page long essays on their knowledge of their art. After that they had to teach many hours for one to two years under the direction of a senior black-belt before awarding them their full black-belt and that was only if they knew how to teach...if they did not do well enough, then they were asked to leave the Dojo and go elsewhere! Well...my black-belts and I are old dinosaurs I suppose?

Real Budo or true martial arts students are rare indeed. They do not tell their friends or neighbors that they even train. They do not look like such a "badass". They have no egos, they are understanding of others. The true spirit of the Budo would never be to raise your hand to another unless you were in a situation, which gave you no other options. They would always choose to back away from a confrontation...the poor soul who gives them no options, however, would not be beat in a ring or cage, but rather they would be in the hospital with the other phonies!

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