I think that you would agree with me when I say that martial arts can have a profound and effective benefit for practitioners all around the world. The problem with this is that there aren't any regulations for gym owners and instructors to follow legitimate practices. In this article, we interview Rob from McdojoLife to discuss the dangers of these practices.
When you first started @mcdojolife on Instagram, did you expect it to take off and grow as fast as it did?
Well, I wouldn’t say it took off and grew fast. I’ve been working at it for close to 7 years and it has been a slow and steady grind. But I didn’t ever expect it to become as recognized as it is now. Pretty awesome to see hard work pay off.
What inspired you to start the Mcdojolife social media account?
I was filling in for a Jiujitsu class because the instructor was sick. After the class, we all stood around chatting when the subject of McDojos came around. After the conversation was over a new guy stayed back and said, “I’m a bit embarrassed but I don’t know what a McDojo is. Can you help me understand?” So I told him my opinion as to what a McDojo was to me. Then he said, “why doesn’t anyone do anything about that?” Which stayed in my head that entire night. The next day I started McDojoLife.
What are some common "Red Flags" or warning signs of a bad gym?
Most gyms offer a paid or free trial class. Ask a lot of questions on the first day and if they slate shady with the answer then that’s a huge one. More importantly, on your first day, how are they treating everyone else in the gym? The gym is going to go above and beyond on your first day to please you but that’s why it’s so important to observe how they are treating everyone else. After signing up you will be like the rest of the class so if they treat them poorly you will be next.
How do fake martial arts instructors harm the legitimate martial arts community as a whole?
I have 5 standard rules for what I consider a McDojo and all of those rules are self-explanatory in how they harm the community:
2) No-touch knockouts
3) shady business practices
4) Unsafe training practices
5) lying about belt rank or fight record
All of those could cause physical, emotional or mental harm.
Have you experienced any threats or legal actions towards you from these gyms and instructors?
No legal actions as of yet but I get threats all the time. It kinda comes with the job. I received a death threat when I was in London and people challenge me to fights often. I tell them all to take a number. If I fought everyone that wanted to fight me because of this job I’d never have time to post content.
What are the physical and psychological dangers of fake martial arts?
Physically it could range from sexual abuse, Such as in the case of a sexual abusive instructor or death in the case of someone trying a technique that will not work in a self-defence situation.
Psychology. It’s really no different than a cult. There is a leader brainwashing students into believing non-sense and making them do things that someone from outside the cult would never do. It could take away years of that person's life before they realize they are even in a cult. That is if they ever figure it out at all.
What would you like to say to the fake martial arts instructors that know they are scamming their students?
Enjoy it while it lasts. It won’t for long.
Do you believe some of these instructors honestly believes in the effectiveness of their teachings and wants to help others? If so, how can we help educate these good-intended teachers into learning legitimate martial arts?
Every situation is different but I’m sure they are out there just misguided. The best way, in my opinion, to help them is to ask more questions and have an open dialogue. Discourse is a beautiful thing when it is two people with good intentions. People just attacking people with malice does no good. The goal is to help not hurt each other. Find out more about their art, tell them about yours, offer open training together. Avoid dojo storming because it’s nothing more than ego.
If someone believed there was abuse within a gym in their local community, what can they do to help protect the students?
If they don’t want to get sued, get proof first. Then after that spread the word online so others know. Leave reviews and of course, you can always send us the info.
What are the benefits of legitimate martial arts for practitioners and what styles do you personally practice?
Benefits are all about what you are looking to achieve. Everyone had a personal goal they want to reach and so those will be the benefits you will see more of. Everyone is doing this for different reasons such as weight loss, mentorship, an outlet, time with friends, self-defence.
I’ve been training for over 22 years.
- 3rd-degree blackbelt in karate
- 3rd-degree blackbelt in Lissajous-do (A weapon system not many have heard of. Look up Lee Barden on YouTube and you will get the idea)
- a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu
- 6-0 amateur boxer
- 4-2 amateur kickboxer
- was on an international sport martial arts team called Team Full Circle for 2 years
- owned a martial arts school for 4 years
Always looking to learn more.
If you had to choose only one style of martial art to train for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
I wouldn’t, because I don’t have to 😂😁
I first found out about Mcdojolife after hearing it on Joe Rogan's podcast. What were your first reactions after you found out you were mentioned?
I actually wasn’t aware I just thought something was wrong with my phone because it wouldn’t stop buzzing. I shut it off without looking and when I turned it back on I saw thousands of notifications. I was pretty excited and still am to be recognized by the community.
What is the Mcdojolife show? And what discussions can people expect?
The McDojoShow is basically an interview show where I speak with martial artists who are either controversial or well known in the industry. Love learning about them and what they do for the community.
What would you like to say to everyone that has supported you on this journey?
You are the reason I do this. The support I have gotten over the years is astonishing and I cannot thank each and every supporter enough. From the bottom of my heart thank you.
What will the Mcdojolife documentary consist of and where can people learn more about it and support it?
The documentary will everything cover common misconceptions in martial arts to confronting conmen in martial arts face to face. We will also be speaking with ex and current students of frauds to see the mentality. Speaking with psychologists to understand what makes people fall for this behaviour and why they stick around. It will be an interesting experiment.
You can support the project by sharing the link and info or by backing the project and getting perks: McDojoLife.com
Who are the documentary's crew members and why do you believe they will help make this project amazing?
We are working with the guys over at Voto Studios, you might recognize them as the Mexican Martial arts crew. They are super hardworking and professional. They also understand how to put together a film in a comical and informative way. We also have Joseph Cinemato as our producer for the film who has a ton of experience in the industry.
Would you be able to preview some of the professional fighters, psychology experts or any other interesting guests that may be included in the documentary for the Submission Sharks, or is this a secret?
We have had a ton of support from guys like Dave Leduc, Robin Black, John Wayne Parr, Mike Beltran, Jesse Enkamp, Kit Dale, the list goes on and on with people who have helped and have agreed to be in the film. Very excited to interview them.
Do you have any final thoughts you'd like to share with the Submission Shark audience?
Thank you all for taking the time to show interest in what I do and the project. I appreciate your support.
There's a lot of comedy in Rob's (Mcdojolife) content but the seriousness of this issue cannot be ignored. If you have been following the community section of Submission Shark, I think you would understand how special this art form is and the tremendous impact it makes for its practitioners.