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 "This site contains information that every unethical Martial Arts school does not want you to know."

A LIFETIME JOURNEY

This is information I have compiled over a lifetime journey through The Martial Arts industry. The journey began in 1972 under Sensei Louis Coletti. From a White Belt to Black Belt , to School Owner, to Exec. Vice President of a Hapkido organization, and now president of the American Hapkido Federation.  There is important information on how to find the right school and what questions to ask. Do a little research and you can have a very rewarding Martial Arts experience. Without this information you can get caught in the wrong school and have a very negative and costly Martial Arts experience.  This is basically information the corporate "belt factory" chain schools do not want you to know.

 - Master Frank Ehnle  
 
6th  Degree Black Belt 
Owner - Royal Dragon Martial Arts
President: American Hapkido Federation

 


MY MOTIVATION FOR PROVIDING THIS INFORMATION


Frank Ehnle in the 
early 70's as a Karate student.

"It is very difficult to find a true educational environment  school. You must do your homework. The ethics, tradition and relationship between instructor and student have all been sold out. The good schools are few and far between. The consumer must do their homework to find the true Martial Arts experience".

   I began my training back in the summer of 1972, Isshinryu Karate with Sensei Louis Colleti. Back in those days, the instructor student relationship really did mean something, it is not just a movie cliche'. To this very day I still have a great relationship with Sensei Colleti. The training was rough the schools were tough however, there was the utmost of respect and a feeling of Martial Arts respect and family. Money was never discussed or a big issue. It was certainly not the focus as it is in many franchise type schools today. There was a distinct feeling of privilege, history, honor and respect. Many current martial arts schools do not preserve that traditional environment. It is now an environment of fads, marketing, business, contracts, upgrades, sales and retail. The consumer should do their homework and seek out the traditional educational environment to find the true Martial Arts experience.

  Throughout history the Martial Arts were always taught with a great tradition and respect for the history, protocols, rank and ethics. After my first two years of training in Karate under Sense Coletti I relocated to Florida. I could not find another Isshinryu school and did not resume my formal training until my son was 8 years old. I wanted my wife and son to experience the benefits of the Martial Arts. The first Okinawan school we tried did not work out for a variety of reasons, and I settled on a Korean Taekwondo/Hapkido school. Then I spent the next 17 years of my life rising to the level of, leadership team member, black belt, assistant instructor, instructor, school owner,  executive vice president of a Hapkido organization and now president of the American Hapkido Federation. My wife, and my son joined me on this journey through the martial arts industry. I found the martial arts had drastically changed. I encountered that business mentality, a lack of ethics, corruption, deceit, and a new age of marketing. However I did not let this tarnish my original respect for the traditional martial arts. When I opened my school,  I opened a school, an educational environment, and not a retail business. Out of respect and responsibility I set out to preserve the experience I had as a young student. Despite the greed, corruption and lack of ethics I experienced along the way, I was determined to open the "right kind of martial arts school", a school and not a business. 

 I had to prove to myself and others that doing everything opposite of what the new "business model" martial art school is supposed to do, I could still be a success and prove ultimately that people are still looking for that Zen, traditional, brotherhood atmosphere that I experienced in my youth.

 Back in the 70's what I experienced was honorable history and education being handed down from teacher to student. It was not the big business of today. Was it perfect back then? No, however it did have integrity and ethics. It was taught with respect for authority, history, tradition, a focus on education and particularly strict rank ethics. What is most concerning, is that today the average family walks into a martial art school and they have no idea of what the experience should be. They assume that the contracts, sales pitch, upgrades, extra Federation fees and retail, retail, retail is what the Martial Arts are about. This website is to let you know that there are traditional educational schools out there, but you have to do your homework and find them. You may not choose our school or our style, however you should use our school as a comparison and learn what a traditional educational environment is, and how to avoid the marketing/retail/business oriented schools. 

Education Vs. Marketing

 Today much of the martial arts have evolved into an industry focused on money. Rank standards and ethics are unregulated and inconsistent. The focus is not martial arts education, the main focus is money. Rank ethics are secondary and in some case none existent.  Some schools and organizations it is possible to get (purchase) a black belt in one or two years or Master (4th Degree) in 6-8 years. This of course is not ethical rank, it is hollow rank. They are basically selling belts for the sake of the testing fees and income. It has little or nothing to do with ethical martial arts rank. In the ethical schools and organizations it takes 3 to5  years for a black belt and 10-12 years to Master. Rank is earned and not purchased on a regular calendar basis, Ex: every two months, every three months, etc. If you are advancing at an exact pace, chances are you are in a belt factory. All students in our school progress at different rates, some take as little as two months others take six months or even a year at one belt level. Yes, I said it, we have some students who have been at the same belt level for a year. Ask that question at your local belt factory school and I bet it has never happened. The reason is they are selling belts, not truly testing for rank. Many schools are operated as a serious business, and the educational aspect of the martial arts is minimal or virtually non-existent. This is the new approach that should be avoided at all costs.

   When I opened my school in 1996 I found that school owners are bombarded with magazines and junk mail explaining how to make the most money and squeeze every penny from your students. To me it was all appalling.  The business of martial arts has spawned the business of "how to be in business in the martial arts". There are those that make an income out of teaching people how to make an income in the Martial Arts. Does this make any sense? You would expect the focus to be on training and learning and developing better instructors, more skill and knowledge, however it is all about money. Below is just one example. It is a trade magazine article targeting the martial arts school owner.  It is the perfect example of what the industry has evolved into. This article offers tips on how to milk your students for as much money as possible to insure the school owner the highest income regardless of the ethics. You as the perspective student must learn this and understand that these schools are out there and you want to avoid them and seek out the traditional educational environment school. 

CLIP FROM A POPULAR MARTIAL ARTS TRADE MAGAZINE
Here is this trade magazines advice on how to increase a school owners profits,


 In my opinion these tactics are deceptive and incredibly unethical. They are no better than "lead-in bait & switch tactics" used in retail. Lead the consumer in at one price and quickly raise their price and upgrade them to another program. The original program does not exist, it was just a "lead in". 

Example: The schools advertised price is only $99 per month. The student trains for several months and then is told they are doing well and now must upgrade to the "Black Belt" program, the new program is $169 per month. The program for $99 does not exist, it is only a lead in trial program. The student cannot train long term at that price. They prey upon those families that enroll, the child gets very enthusiastic and once the price is raised the parents will not deny their child the training. It is a trap, no other word can describe that. The contract seals the deal because now you cannot escape the contract without being sued. A Martial Arts instructor suing their students? Don't even get me started on that subject, it is way beyond ludicrous yet it happens all over the country.

  My counter opinion to this article is;  A school leads a family in at one price and that price has been calculated as affordable by that family. The family embraces the training and then a short while later the school raises the price for each of them. The price is now less affordable or unaffordable. The family is in an awkward position to either quit or suffer a financial strain. My advice to that family: FIND ANOTHER SCHOOL! 

 The martial arts have gone from serious heartfelt and respectful relationship between instructor and student, to con artists who demand contracts and sue to enforce them. They lead in at one price with the intent to raise the price shortly thereafter. A great way to build trust with your students and demonstrate ethics. This is the instructor you now wish to learn ethics from? (Laughable).

  In my school I preserve the honorable relationship between student and instructor and money never interferes with that relationship nor is it ever an issue.  There are no contracts, sales tactics, upgrades, price changes, program changes, extra Federation fees and renewals,  that all belongs in a car dealership not a martial arts school. Teaching the martial arts is a great responsibility and I treat it as such. Without my students I have no school and they are treated with respect. For me to earn their respect it must be mutual. Our school is purely an educational environment.

 

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THE DESK JOCKEY INSTRUCTOR
  
  Some instructors spend more time and money on marketing seminars than training seminars increasing their skill. It is despicable. I refer to them as "desk jockey" instructors. They spend more time behind their desk trying to figure ways to bring warm bodies through the door, and how to milk their students for more money than they spend on the mats training. I have met many instructors and even so called Masters and Grandmasters that do not belong in the martial arts. They are businessmen by every sense of the word and are more focused on money than passing down the historic training skills and moral lessons of the martial arts. Don't get me wrong, I believe martial arts instructors should be paid and paid well for their efforts. However I draw the line at these money driven individuals that claim to be Masters and Grandmasters and those that use this type of deceptive practices and tactics. You will know when you find these schools or organizations because your wallet will be tapped way more than your knowledge and skill will be increased. The conversations will be more about contracts, upgrades, fees, retail purchases, etc. The conversations and lessons about history, tradition, morality, and true skill will be much less. You will sense the high pressure car salesman.

 Another issue is the new "business oriented" commission based martial art corporate chain. Imagine an elementary school teacher who is paid by how many "A's" he or she gives out or how many students promote to the next grade. We'd have many more straight "A" students and we'd have people finishing elementary school in three years, I assure you. This is the current problem with the "business oriented" chain store martial arts school. Rank ethics, student instructor relationships have been sacrificed for the almighty dollar and a pyramid scheme. Martial arts education should be "education". It needs to return to an educational environment to regain its integrity. A small fraction of schools still operate this way, and our school is among them. I encourage you to find one, it may take time, it may take a serious effort, but it is worth the task to have a life-changing traditional martial arts experience.
 
   I live in a quiet community Brandon just outside Tampa which has now grown to a booming suburb. With that growth has now come the chain store martial art schools. In the last couple decades many of the local schools were run by local Black Belts who earned their instructor positions from their instructor and ran their schools like the old time schools, with integrity and honor. Now the almighty dollar has taken precedence and I am warning the general public on what to look out for, and how to choose an ethical martial art school. It is hard to find a good school, sometimes very hard, sometimes impossible. Why? There just isn't a good ethical school in every single U.S. town or city. Sometimes finding a truly ethical martial art school takes months, years or even relocating. Do your homework and it can be a rewarding experience with benefits that last a lifetime. Enter the wrong school and you'll just get soaked for money and come away with a very bad taste regarding the Martial Arts. Just like restaurants there are good & bad. Don't judge the entire industry by one bad school experience. Most important is that students and parents have this important information. Read the information on this website and learn what to look for and what questions to ask.

 This is not just an advertisement for our school and organization. Our styles of Taekwondo or Hapkido may or may not be right for you depending on your goals. This site is for information and education. Compare our school facts and standards to others and use this site as a guideline. This site is being promoted all over the country, not just Brandon Florida. This page has information to educate the consumer regarding the surprises they will run into in the unethical martial arts school. Things such as; contracts, lead-ins, price upgrades, extremely high black belt testing fees, Federation fees, annual renewal fees, etc. Historically the student had to be worthy to train in the Martial Arts. An instructor was to be revered and honored with the utmost of respect. These tactics have sacrificed all of those aspects of  the true traditional martial arts. Now all a student needs is cash and all an instructor needs is a marketing plan and a piece of paper he bought saying he is an instructor. Black belts and instructor positions can only truly be earned and granted from your instructor. No other corporate entity can wave their hands and make you a black belt or instructor for cash or credit card. This is not the true martial arts.

 Email me, Come in and speak with me, or speak to our students, some of whom have been with me for sixteen years. I have owned and operated an ethical educational based Martial Art school for over sixteen years without any of these tactics. How is that possible? Tradition, respect for my students and my school. Treating students as they should be treated and no deceptive practices. If you wish to find a true educational Martial Art experience, avoid the contracts, the retail and revenue belt factory schools and scam artists.

 

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COMPARE OUR SCHOOL INFORMATION:

If you do not know what a good school is, how can you find one? Compare our educational environment to the other style of business/marketing motivated school.

At Royal Dragon Martial Arts, 902 W. Robertson St.,. Brandon, Florida, we offer a true martial arts school experience. When you enroll in our school, you join a school, not a business. Rank is earned and not purchased. Most importantly we have preserved that honorable relationship between student and instructor.  There are no "sales tactics", contracts, upgrades, extra fees, etc. Money does not interfere with that honorable and respectful relationship. Ask our students and the parents of students, our environment is a traditional educational martial arts family environment. 

 We teach three separate martial arts systems with belt ranking offered in Taekwondo, Hapkido, and Jeet Kune Do. We will help you in choosing the martial art style which is right for you. The feeling within our school is that of a martial arts educational environment, not a business.  Money and finance never interfere with training and the relationship between instructor and student. We have actually waived tuitions when our students fall on hard times or have difficulties in their lives. Our school is 3500 Sq.Ft.  The environment is professional and safe, the restrooms are clean and sanitary. 

  What may surprise you most is that our classes are organized and well disciplined. Many schools use all the "Buzzwords" discipline, focus, respect. However when you visit their children's program it is more of a circus environment than a true Martial Arts disciplined environment. Come visit our children's and/or family program you will see the difference! Our school is our temple, and it feels like a temple, and our students and instructor staff take pride in its quality. The traditional principles of spreading the history, philosophy and tradition of the martial arts are honored, rather than the modern concepts of finance, retail and revenue. There are no egos, competitive attitudes, or hidden agendas within our school. What you will find is a safe, friendly, & fun atmosphere. Currently few schools offer this perspective, we welcome you as our student, we welcome you as our friend, and we invite you to join our martial arts family. To view our  Brandon, Florida school website log on to www.ustkd.com. For students in the Seffner, Fl. area, consider an affiliated school www.tkd-hapkido.com. Both are educational environment schools and not the marketing style belt factory schools that operate on contracts, upgrades and sales pitches.

 

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TAEKWONDO

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Disciplined and Organized Taekwondo program for Children, Teens & Adults.

 Taekwondo is the Korean equivalent of Karate which is Japanese. It is primarily a striking style of the hands and feet (not just the feet as often stereotyped). There are various styles of Taekwondo ranging from sport to the more traditional self-defense. In a  sport school you will find a curriculum focused on tournament training, how to win a medal, point scoring, etc. In the traditional self-defense Taekwondo school you will find a focus on true self-defense and self-improvement through physical and mental training.

 In our school we teach the Taeguk forms, and our focus is purely self-improvement and self-defense, not sport competition Taekwondo. We occasionally compete and support local & regional tournaments, but this is not our school focus. We did not build our school curriculum around repetitive sparring and point style drills. Our curriculum was designed around technique, & traditional martial arts skill. Contrary to popular belief, Taekwondo is not just kicks, it is the art of the hands and feet and contains dozens of effective hand strikes and techniques as well as the famous spin & jump kicks. These kicks & strikes can be very useful for street self-defense applications when applied and taught correctly.  Our school focus is a healthier mind, body & spirit through self-confidence, hard work, and proper physical and mental training, not competitive point sparring. Cardio, Flexibility, Speed, Power, & Mental Focus are what we strive for. We support and follow World Taekwondo Federation guidelines and Grandmaster Jae Hak Lee, Korean 8th Dan Grandmaster.

Sparring is another serious issue with martial art schools. Our sparring is safe effective practice where students are helping and encouraging each other. It is not students fighting against each other attempting to win and destroy each others spirit. Leave that style of fighting and competition for tournaments and or the unfortunate altercation on the street. Our sparring is safe, fun and gives our school a spirit of cooperation not a spirit of animosity.

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HAPKIDO

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Hapkido is an extremely effect style of self-defense where an attackers energy & strength can be used against them. It allows anyone of any age or style to become an effective Martial Artist. This is very important. The striking styles are based on how fast, strong and effectively you can kick or punch. The main focus of Hapkido is joint locking, balance disruption, and pain compliance which anyone can learn. In Hapkido, we offer a blend of Modern & Traditional Hapkido techniques and concepts.  Our school also teaches the history and terminology as I feel it is important to honor the history and classic style of this beautiful and most effect martial art. We teach both open hands and weapons training including escrima, knife, & cane. Hapkido is an art rich with heritage and can be enjoyed by any age.  Safety, effectiveness, and accessibility is what makes our Hapkido program unique. You are encouraged to accomplish what you can accomplish for your age and body type. Everyone can improve, everyone can learn and the program is customized for you so you are not expected to do the same as a 20 year old. We welcome adults and seniors into our Hapkido program. Hapkido is plagued by some unscrupulous magazine ad driven organizations that want to charge you a fee everytime time they can. Be wary of these organizations that have enrollment fees, annual renewal fees, they are the money driven corporate chain store schools to avoid.

 Our Hapkido program does not have Federation fees, annual membership dues, or additional black belt certification fees. These fees can add up  $100's of  unnecessary dollars to your Martial Arts training.  Please shop and compare and ask about all fees when inquiring about the Martial Arts and in particular, Hapkido.  Our school is free from all of these excessive type fees and focuses on just training. Our Martial Arts program does not  focus on the sales of videos, merchandise, memberships and seminars. Our focus is State of the Art Martial Arts training with traditional Martial Arts ethics.

 



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COMMON QUESTIONS?

Should there be any extra fees at signup?
Do all schools have extra Federation or Association fees and annual renewals?
 Some schools do require that you join an association. However some then charge an annual renewal membership fee. This I find extremely unethical. You should ask up front if there is an annual renewal fee. This adds up to 100's of needless dollars in expense over the course of your training. Why do you have to renew your membership each year? Are you not already a member? Why does it expire? These annual renewal fees do not exist in most schools. These are examples of multi-level marketing tactics just like in pyramid scams. Money is sent up the ladder to some corporate CEO and it has little to nothing to do with Martial Arts education. In a good ethical school you will pay your first tuition payment and possibly for a uniform and that is it. Our school we have a $99 enrollment fee for the first two months of tuition and this includes a free $30 uniform. Less than $50 per month for the first two months and then a free uniform, that is ethical and a great price.

Should I sign a Contract? NO. NEVER. (See 10 tips menu for detailed explanation)

Will my child or I get hurt or injured due to hard contact training?
At our school we do not practice hard contact drills. Tournament contact sparring is voluntary for those interested in competition. Schools that repeatedly have students fighting each other with hard contact are "old school" and dangerous. Learning to hit pads hard is one thing, regularly hitting each other hard is something completely different. A student should experience impact at some point but in a controlled and safe way, not delivered via the aggression of another student. Our daily and weekly training is designed to strengthen not injure the body. If you are in a school and you fear injury from regular practice you are in the wrong school. Uncontrolled throwing or repeated falling drills are another cause of injury. My motto is "To become an expert marksman you yourself do not have to be shot". You can learn these skills without getting beat up on a regular basis. The young and agile who are willing should take the pounding. The older students and those with health issues should learn how to do the pounding, but not have to be pounded themselves. We practice modern safety standards in our training. Our curriculum is primarily self-defense, not sport. Those not interested in competition can train in self-defense and skill development only. 

Will my child learn discipline & respect?
These are some of the "buzzwords" that are used frequently in the Martial Arts. However when you visit your average Martial Arts children's class, it is anything but disciplined and organized. Visit our classes and you will see the difference!. Our classes are very disciplined, organized and professional. Our children have fun, they smile, they learn however they are kept in line with respect to themselves, their fellow students and our school. They learn how to respect themselves, their peers, our school, and our authority.

What is the youngest age you accept?
This is probably the most asked question we get. Traditionally age 7 or 8 is a good time to begin training. With that said we have had some 6 year old students that do well and some who have not done well. It depends on the child. How come some other schools accept 3 and 4 year olds?  Because some other schools are solely focused on money and they run day care centers not traditional Martial Art schools. A child of 3, 4 or even 5 cannot earn what is considered true traditional Martial Arts rank. It is virtually impossible. Can they practice activities that resemble martial arts? Yes. However they cannot earn real rank.  To give a 4 or 5 year old a green belt, red belt or any other rank is just dangerous and unethical. It implies that have learned what teens and adults have learned and it is just impossible. They cannot grasp all of the requirements mentally, physically and spiritually when you consider real rank. It is like a game, or play time rank, but it is not real. So these schools will take your money, and the child will get fake rank or spin their wheels until they are old enough to earn real rank. Ask yourself this important question, Is a child of 3, 4 or 5 mature enough to understand the implications of using a self-defense technique such as palm strike, elbow strike, or a kick? The answer is "No", there is the danger of a child that age misusing these techniques and injuring another child or toddler. They are simply not old enough for the responsibility of learning "Martial" or "Warlike" techniques. That is what "Martial" means. Why are our classes so well disciplined and organized? Because we only accept students who are old enough to accept the responsibility of training in the true Martial Arts. So you can send your child to a day care center to learn "play" Martial Arts and earn hollow rank, or you can wait until they are the proper age to enroll them in a real school with ethical requirements for real traditional rank.

When can I enroll? When are your beginner classes? And what will I expect my first class?
Our enrollment times are 4:30, 6:00pm Mondays. You can also schedule an appointment if you prefer, please call 654-5425. Most of our classes are all belt classes with the exception of Black Belt and Advanced class (see our schedule).  During your first class you will have assistance from the instructor, a leadership team member, and or a higher rank student. They will all assist in showing you your new white belt level requirements. We gradually introduce you to your new skills and allow your mind and body to develop in a way that is comfortable for you. We pride ourselves in making you feel as comfortable as possible, and we all train as friends, there is no ego and competition to deal with within our school. Everyone proceeds comfortably at their own pace.

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STAFF

  Martial art school staff can range from an unskilled, inexperienced teenager with a Black Belt to a highly training and high ranking Black Belt professional. Unfortunately in this day it is possible for an instructor to just purchase an instructor certificate from someone they have barely met, never tested under or barely even know. Any renegade black belt can claim to be an instructor however most true instructors were nominated to that position by their instructor the traditional way. Our staff of instructors are all adult, all hold at least a 1st Degree Black Belt and earned their position the traditional way. Two of our instructors are 6th Dan Masters, one is a 5th Dan Master and one is a 4th Dan Master. In our organization that translates to over 12 years of training experience.  Once again some organizations qualify their black belts for 4th dan in only 6 to 8 years which is ludicrous. In our town we have an individual with less than five years experience (was a white belt in our program). Now he has opened a school and is claiming his own style! It is laughable what some egos will be driven to do.
 
 Our staff qualified under their instructor for their position as instructors. They are specifically trained on the implementation of our curriculum. They are provided with study sheets, guidelines, curriculum changes, student comment sheets, and must repeat the same fundamental lessons that they learned on each technique before they are permitted into the leadership/instructor program. This keeps the quality of the training consistent and avoids the inconsistency of a poorly organized instructor staff. They are taught developmental and encouraging skills not just how to teach kicking and punching. We follow extremely focused and intense guidelines for Martial Arts instruction and our staff is trained extensively on proper procedures of warmup, training, cool down, and dealing with students physical and developmental needs. Regular instructor communications, testing notes for each student and comment sheets keep all instructors informed on student progress, areas of concern, and the overall flow of training at the school. Instructors are regularly briefed on individual adult students needs, children's needs, and parental needs, all basis are covered. We have six instructor levels of training, and all levels include specific training, reading, and guidelines. Few schools go this far in training their staff. The other side of the coin is the renegade black belt who buys a certificate from someone that never saw him or her test and hangs it on the wall. Hardly an instructor by any stretch of the imagination. It is shocking how unorganized, unprofessional and poorly trained some Martial Arts schools are and how untrained their staff is. Leadership, education and example are what the Master instructor should provide for his staff as well as his students. You will not find a more comprehensive and studious instructor staff in our area. Beware of those instructors who purchase their paper credentials without truly qualifying for an instructor position this can lead to a disatrous martial arts experience for you and or your child (see "tips on finding a school" section for more info).  For more detailed information on our staff  click here.

 

10 TIPS ON FINDING THE RIGHT SCHOOL

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"Our family operated school is an educational environment set on
handing down the traditions, history and skills of the martial arts.
This is not an entrepreneur business oriented "Chain Store" school.
My family has devoted themselves the past 15 years to preserve 
a traditional Martial Arts environment."

TIPS MENU:

1) Avoid Contracts
2) Beware of Hidden Fees
3) Multi-Tier Pricing Scams
4) Testing Fees Vary Widely

5) Unqualified Instructor Staff
6) Chain Store Schools
7) Rank Ethics & Promotion
8) Cleanliness & Organization

9) Qualified Chief Instructor
10) Do Your Homework

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1) AVOID CONTRACTS!
 
There is absolutely no need to ever sign a contract with a school. Would you sign a contract with a hair stylist, dentist, doctor, little league or soccer coach? It is a ridiculous concept to sign your child or yourself to a contract for 1 year, 3 years or even 6 months to a school. Things change, maybe you or your child will realize the martial arts are not for you. Maybe the instructor or curriculum will change and you will be dissatisfied later. The only instructors demanding contracts are those that cannot retain students the legitimate way, by great teaching skill, motivation and responsibility to their art. Contracts are often a way to keep students captive in a poor school. They are also used for money, money, money and to guarantee income to an instructor who is less than qualified to teach and worried about his students quitting. What is the purpose of a contract? Why do you have to guarantee the school owner that you will be there a year from now? If you do not like the school you should be free to leave. The contract only benefits the instructor who struggles retaining students. 

  We never use contracts at Royal Dragon Martial Arts, we have been in Brandon Florida (same location) for eleven years and have never had to need or seen the reason to hold our students to a contract. We have heard horror stories of students trying to get out of contracts with other schools. This is ludicrous, a student either wants to continue training in the Martial Arts or they do not. Training in the Martial Arts is an important decision and it is not for everyone. Binding everyone that walks in the door to a contract is simply ludicrous and a cheap attempt at guaranteed income.

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2) BEWARE OF UNUSUAL HIDDEN FEES & RENEWALS!
There are no additional Federation renewal  fees at our school. There are also no annual renewal membership fees or multiple certification fees at our school. Shop and compare and avoid the school which burdens its students with unnecessary renewal fees & annual dues. Ask what each fee is for. Inquire specifically about renewal fees. You are already a member of their school why do you have to renew? Its a ridiculous fee. We only charge for tuition & tests, no other money is sent up the ladder to corporate leaders or Federations. Corporate sales oriented style schools have association and federation fees as well as annual renewals for membership. See "Chain Store" school info below. This "Chain store" mentality has spawned a new breed of Grandmaster. They sit atop their organization collecting fees from all their schools and it has little to do with the Martial Arts and everything to do with greed and corruption. It is all about multi-level marketing and it is a scam. 

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3) AVOID THE MULTI-TIER PRICING!
A common and unethical practice in the martial arts is to draw students in at one price, get them interested and then raise their tuition price. This is extremely unethical. It is no better than the dreaded "lead-in" sales promotion which promises a product and one price and then bait and switches to another product at another price. It is ridiculous. Beware of the schools that want to upgrade your tuition price. Multi-level sales is another warning sign you are in the wrong school. They enroll you at one price and surprise you when you reach a certain belt that now your in a different level and they quickly raise the tuition price and program! We never raise your tuition price.

 Unfortunately chain store marketing oriented "belt factory" schools are now opening in Brandon. For decades Brandon had mostly traditionally run Martial Art schools owned by local Black Belts. Now outside corporations are recognizing the growth market here so the "belt factory" schools have arrived.

 One women called me about her young son who was only a white belt in one of these schools. He had only been in the school a month or so and their price was already raised once, she had to buy another uniform because he was awarded the Black Belt club and she signed a contract for financing a loan for their training and she didn't even know it!  Unscrupulous money oriented schools are slick with their marketing, sales pitches and their tiered pricing. They get you in at one price and then raise the prices and retail you to death. It is their way, its the
only way they know. They are not true Martial Artists they are professional marketers. At Royal Dragon you will find a peaceful relaxed atmosphere focused on Martial Arts education not retail and revenue. Put our Master instructors name (Frank Ehnle) into any search engine and you will find true Martial Arts history. However put some of the other local Brandon instructors into a search engine and you will find nothing but marketing and business accomplishments. Where do you want to train? Training under a traditional Martial Arts Master or a Master of marketing and business? Traditional Martial Arts training is not motivated by money and greed it is motivated by helping someone learn valuable physical and mental skills which can help in all aspects of life. I read these business publications that teach all the above methods of "making more money" from your students and I'm appalled. They should have articles on how to be better instructors, not better businessmen. Our school is an educational environment focused on traditional training, not lining my pockets. 

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4) TESTING FEES are another big difference between schools and usually a hidden surprise. Another common horror story is a student trains for years to get to red belt only to find out that the test for Black Belt costs $500! Imagine your child or children get to Red Belt and the instructor informs you that the testing fee for Black Belt is $450 or more! What do you do? Your child has worked years to get to this level, do you disappoint them and tell them they cannot test for Black Belt? The fact is many schools charge $450, $650, $850 or even $1000 for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Degree testings and they do not disclose this when you sign up at white belt. Some families with multiple children training are then surprised they must come up with $1000, $1500 or more for their children to test for Black Belt.

Our testing fees begin at $35 for beginner levels and never exceed $75.00 for Taekwondo & Hapkido (* JKD testing fees are determined by the JKD association). Black belts are reviewed for rank every six months but our testings are extremely affordable compared to the vast majority of schools. Find out what a Black Belt test costs before you enroll in the school!

*** Another common practice is to over inflate equipment prices. Some schools charge up to $500 for Taekwondo gear. Our price is $139! Beware of those trying to rip you off with inflated gear prices. They want you to buy the most expensive gear possible because they make more PROFIT. Yet standard gear will protect you as well for 1/4 the price! BEWARE! 

Some schools operate at a higher monthly tuition and do not have testing fees. We feel this is also can be deceiving. You are paying a higher tuition fee each and every month but you do not test every month. It is better to offer the student a lower tuition price and then once every 3 to 5 months they test for promotion and pay a fair fee. The schools that advertise "No Testing Fees" very often cost much more over the long term because you are paying that higher tuition price every month. At our school you choose your tuition program based on how often you would like to attend; $59.95, $79.95 or $99.95 per month based on your choice. You can also change anytime you like for any period of time that you like. Some students reduce their tuition during little league season and then increase when they are not playing, etc. This is called flexible and fair membership. Quite a difference from the "sign the contract", "lead-in, then raise your price" scams offered at other business/marketing oriented schools. 

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5) INSTRUCTORS SHOULD BE QUALIFIED
An instructor should be a high level student both physically and mentally who qualified for their position within their school by demonstrating leadership skills and a concise knowledge of the curriculum.  The traditional way to become an instructor is to earn an instructor position from your original instructor.  The new unethical way is to purchase a piece of paper from some corporate ceo who runs a magazine ad. He never  witnessed the training or testings. A mail order instructor is what this creates.. Beware of those instructors who purchased their paper credentials from an unethical organization.  Many "For Profit" organizations will sell paper credentials just to increase their numbers without truly qualifying their instructors. A paper certificate hanging on a wall does not qualify an instructor, years of dedication, experience and high level teaching skills are what you should look for in a qualified instructor staff. Schools also have a tendency to just place someone at the head of class. We've heard everything from brown belt teenagers to black belt children being entrusted with instructor duties. There should be a qualified trained instructor at the head of every Martial Arts class. This can be very safe or dangerous activity depending on who is in charge.

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6) AVOID THE CHAIN STORE SCHOOL
There are "National & International" Chain store like Martial Art schools. These are generally corporate run "mail order" black belt type schools where the standards for black belts and instructors are very low. These chain store type schools and corporate federations are generally interested in one thing, money. Their bottom line is more important than the quality of black belt or instructor that they turn out. Their criteria for instructor level is either extremely low,  non-existent or it is based on how well an instructor "sells" not teaches. They are staffed by expert salesmen not expert Martial Artists. Be very careful when approaching these schools. Expect a slick presentation, slick charismatic instructors, carefully planned phone and in school sales pitch and a belt-factory like atmosphere. Some will go as far as promising rank faster to color belts & black belts. The genuine traditional black belt owned school is usually family owned and operated. The franchise method does not work well for Martial Art schools and changes the focus from education to bottom line profit and earnings.

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AT OUR SCHOOL YOU WILL NOT FIND:

1) Required additional enrollment fees at signup
2) Annual renewal student membership fees
3) Pressured sales of videos, merchandise, & seminars
4) Contracts & long term obligations
5) Tiered pricing which raises your tuition price later!
6) Unethical rank & instructor standards, quick automatic rank advancement
7) The fast track to Black Belt (1 1/2 or 2 years to black belt)

 * Beware of schools with the above practices. Seek out a traditional ethical Martial Arts school not a school motivated by business,  retail sales & revenue. 

What you will find at our school is an educational environment. Fair pricing of fees which are not raised like clockwork with deceptive practices. Do not take my word for it, speak to the students and parents within my school that have been with me for eleven years. Ask if they have experienced any of the above tactics. Have you experienced them? Will you tolerate them? The Martial Arts can be an extremely rewarding experience for children, teens, adults and seniors but that is largely dependant on which school you join. Choose wisely because the differences are staggering.

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* IMPORTANT REGARDING TESTINGS & RANK*

 7) MAKE SURE SCHOOL PROMOTES BY SKILL NOT THE CALENDAR
Some poorly run and unethical Martial Art schools promote by the amount of classes you attend or how many weeks or months have passed, instead of what you've actually learned. Sometimes the instructors income partially based on how often you test. These schools will generally rush you through the ranks at 2 month intervals and not really care whether or not you have truly learned the material or earned the rank.  Basically you get the marks on the card, write your check and get your belt. These schools operate for profit instead of  Martial Arts principles. There are schools where every student promotes every two months regardless of skill. Be wary of these schools, they are belt factories and they do a great injustice to the Martial Arts. If you never see a child being held back from rank promotion you may be in the wrong school. At Royal Dragon Martial Arts you promote by your skill level not by the calendar or the marks on your attendance card. We have children who have remained at the same belt level for six months or even one year until their discipline or skill level warrants there rank.  This is the true Martial Arts not a business for profit. The same applies to Black Belts. Beware of the quick Dan rankings. If you truly have not earned rank it is a hollow accomplishment. Those offering the "fast path" to dan ranking are unethical and are just trying to sell certificates and phony rank. An instructor should determine rank by skill, dedication, and attitude, not solely by how many months have passed. If all black belts are offered the same promotion in the same amount of time, something is wrong.

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8) LOOK FOR A SCHOOL THAT IS CLEAN AND SANITARY.
This is a hand to hand activity, and a school which smells terrible, or has unsanitary bathrooms or shower facilities can be a breeding ground for disease and infection. Inspect the school and make sure the school and restrooms are clean and sanitary. Some Gyms have adult Fitness patrons and children martial artists sharing the same public restroom in an unsupervised area of the Gym. Our school is one of the cleanest martial art schools you will find anywhere. We regularly clean and sanitize all the equipment, mats, and bathrooms, and the bathrooms are large single occupancy and in a highly visible safe area. We have hand sanitizer right at our greeting station and our training mats are cleaned regularly. The school should appear neat and organized.

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9) QUALIFYING THE CHIEF INSTRUCTOR.

Some instructors claim to be experts yet they rarely or sometimes never hit the mats or continue their education.  Seeking out new information and constantly learning is a Masters responsibility and the correct example to set for students. Make sure the instructor has sought out training and is a serious martial arts practitioner and not just a business man who sits behind a desk and never trains. Be wary of a Master who never truly demonstrates the kicks, strikes, and self-defense skills he is trying to teach, this is the first sign that something may be wrong. Also be aware of the instructor that did not qualify under his instructor but just purchased his instructor credentials. Some will claim that a CEO or magazine ad Grandmaster is their instructor when in fact that individual never witnessed a single test of this supposed instructor.

   Many "Desk Jockey" style instructors go to training seminars but they are "marketing training seminars" not at all  Martial Arts training.  They train on how to "answer the phone", how to "make the sale". It is really a pathetic example of a Martial Arts instructor. Master Frank Ehnle of Royal Dragon Martial Arts has traveled the country and outside the country to personally training directly under world-renowned  Masters & Grandmasters to bring his students the most accurate and updated methods and techniques. He has also traveled the country giving Hapkido & Pressure Point seminars and clinics. Master Ehnle and his organization regularly bring in top Masters and Grandmasters for special seminars and clinics to benefit his students training. Our focus is not our bottom line but the quality of training experience for our students. There is a big difference when it comes to schools in this department. You will train in some schools that never have guest Masters, special training events or clinics. Their instructors training resume is virtually non-existent except for their original black belt training. For more details on Master Ehnle's extensive training resume and experience see the Seminar page and the Wall of Fame page.

10) DO YOUR HOMEWORK

 With the advent of the internet you can now research an organization or instructor. However be careful in this department. The unscrupulous organizations have found their methods to inflate rank and achievements. Some of the leading unscrupulous organizations claim incredibly high rank for their leaders however the rank is often purchased and all done "under the table". Your best bet is research the history and what others are saying about this particular organization. Some of the real "corporate sales" based organizations have horrific reputations within the Martial Arts community. Their leaders are a mere fraction of what they claim to be and their sole intent is to fool the general public into thinking they are more than they are. How do they do it? Full page magazine ads. The ads create revenue for the magazines who intern pass on the favor of placing the businessman on the cover occasionally or giving them an article. I believe its called "payola". You run an ad every month in our magazine, we'll give you an article or two and every now and then put you on the cover. It is how the system works. The bottom line is don't assume someone is qualified just because they appear in magazines.

Regarding researching local instructors and schools, place their school name and chief instructor name into the Internet. See what comes up. Sometimes a lengthy training history and good results are found. Other times you find out that this instructor is just some marketing wizard who chose the Martial Arts as his business platform. Some of the best results are talking to other students and parents of students within that school. Find the long termers, not those that have been there a year or two or even three. Try those that have been there seven, eight, ten years. If you cannot find any, guess what you may be in the wrong school. If it is a new school remember you are rolling the dice. However the warning signs are all listed on this page and a new school that avoids all these negative aspects is certainly worth a try.


IN CONCLUSION, IS IT SPORT OR. SELF-DEFENSE?

Finally you want to understand what type of program you are entering. Is it primarily  Sport? Or is it traditional self-defense oriented?  Some schools claim to be self-defense oriented but their programs say something very different. They are focused on point scoring, and tournament development. Everything is geared towards how to do the best "Form" how to do the best "Board Break" how to win at "Point Sparring". These techniques actually have little or no benefit in the real world of self-defense skills. Know what program you are entering and do not be fooled by the sales pitch of the owner. Abduction prevention, Rape prevention, real world and traditionally taught high level self-defense skills look much different then tournament and sport training. In this day and age I would want my child, my wife, my daughter, my son, to know "real world" self-defense skills, not how to win a trophy. Tournaments are a nice visit now and then however the school curriculum should not be 80 or 90% sport. Unfortunately many of todays schools are just that. Run the kids through some basic tournament drills and call it a curriculum. The other real world skills are much harder to teach and require a much more knowledgeable staff.

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THE  BENEFITS: 

Children:
Learn practical self-defense against abduction. Techniques which work against larger individuals and adults. Social and developmental skills needed for all aspects of society. Learning the valuable lessons of reaching a long term goal via a series of short term goals. Learning discipline, respect for authority, self-confidence, and self-esteem. Better focus, better grades, better attitudes.

Teens:
 Gain respect for authority  and self-control. Self awareness and strength to overcome peer pressure. Females learn tactics to avoid and defend against RAPE. Males learn to overcome aggressive tendencies, and learn self-respect. Teens learn a valuable sense of identity, martial arts teens have their special identity which lessens the need for hair die, tattoos, piercings, etc. Their black belt is their special identity and can change their direction for a lifetime. Better focus, better grades, better attitudes.

Adults:
Adults rediscover the fitness of youth. Our exercise program and aerobic technique curriculum help restore flexibility, increase cardio performance, and improve muscle tone. Our advanced self-defense curriculum teaches adults to control virtually any situation including multiple attacker & weapon scenarios. Rediscover your strength both mental & physical. A greater sense of community brotherhood and a powerful rewarding social activity with other adults, teens and children. 

ALL OF THE ABOVE BENEFITS CAN ONLY BE OBTAINED IN THE RIGHT SCHOOL.

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DIFFERENT STYLES

 Your experience will vary greatly according to what style you choose and also which school within that style. Choosing the right style according to your goal is important. Styles can be broken down into two main categories, striking or joint locking (hard & soft styles). Hard styles involve alot of hard contact, fighting and aggression. Karate and Taekwondo are examples of hard styles. The striking styles in general are dependant on shaping your body and mind into a striking and fighting weapon. Your success in these type of styles is dependant on how well you can develop your speed, accuracy and strength. 

 Other styles use different tactics to overcome adversity. Hapkido is a joint locking style which preys upon an attackers joint system. Attacking the joints and using an opponents energy and strength against them. It also deals with controlling their center of gravity and balance. This style is more suitable for the smaller and weaker individual who will have a hard time developing them self into an effective striking weapon. This style is suitable for small teen females, seniors, and those that are small in stature.

 There are also other important categories such as "Open" style or "Closed" style. Open styles are Martial Arts which have evolved and changed over the years to meet with society changes. They adapt to the environment we now face as opposed to a closed style which is unchanged from ancient times.  Closed styles are Martial Arts which are taught exactly as they were decades or even centuries ago. These reflect stylistic moves which are intended to fight in a different time and different environment. Kung Fu is an example of a Closed style however there are modern approaches to Kung Fu which are taught. Again it depends on the school, some teach very traditional closed style and some adapt and offer and open style approach. The closed styles can be a great artful historic study and still a great workout however sometimes translating these movements into effective self-defense on the streets today is difficult. Once again it depends on your goals.


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