The organizational structure of the martial arts is similar to the organizational structure of religions. Religious organizations exist because they believe in God and want to serve him. They each espouse a certain religious belief as to the best way to serve God. Some organizations accept the beliefs of other organizations saying that they all are serving the same God; they just do it in different ways. Other organizations say their way to Heaven is the only way. Each organization has churches that teach the beliefs of the organization. Each church has a pastor that leads the church and teaches the beliefs of the church and the organization. The structure of martial art organizations is much the same.
All martial art organizations exist because they believe in a right to self-defense and that they have an effective way to do it. They each espouse certain methods they think are to the best way to defend. Some organizations accept the methods of other organizations saying that that they all accomplish the same purpose, they just do it in different ways. Other organizations say their methods are the only effective way to defend. Each organization has schools that teach the methods of the organization. Each school has an instructor that leads the school and teaches the beliefs of the school and the organization.
Organizations serve many useful purposes
- Develop and enforce rank and instructor requirements for member schools.
- Develop and conduct instructor training.
- Organize and conduct national rank and instructor testing when required.
- Maintain a central rank and instructor registration database.
- Issue rank and instructor certificates for member schools.
- Organize and conduct national tournaments as required.
- Provide current information to schools and students in the form of magazines, newsletters, etc.
- Develop and offer training materials, such as book, videos. etc.
- Assist instructors in setting up and managing their schools.
- Assist instructors in marketing their schools.
Regardless of its size, an organization is only as good as its reputation in the martial arts community. This reputation is based upon:
- The integrity of its board of directors and member instructors.
- The quality and enforcement of its rank and instructor requirements.
- What it does for its instructors and students.
- What it does for the reputation of the martial arts community in general.
Things to consider before joining an organization
- Who runs it, the rank and experience of the owners, the reputation of the organization, its owners, its instructors, and its students in the martial arts community, and who do they report to (such as to a larger organization)?
- Where is the organization located?
- Does the organization exist as a business in a building or does it only exist on a computer hard drive in someone’s home computer?
- Does the organization have a good record with its local Better Business Bureau?
- Does the organization have a web site? If an organization is large enough to consider itself a state, national, or international organization, then it should have its own domain name and not be a sub domain in some internet provider such as AOL, GeoCities, or Yahoo. A legitimate national or international organization should have a professionally designed web site, or at least appear professionally designed.
- A local organization should have more schools than just those belonging to the owner of the organization. A state organization should have a school in more than one city in the state. A national organization should have a school in more than one state, province, commonwealth, etc. of the nation. An international organization should have a school in more than one nation.
- The organization should not issue rank or instructor certificates to anyone other than students of member schools after a proper testing.
- All schools in the organization should be listed.
- Organization should have reasonable testing fees. If testing costs are the same for all rank tests, then high rank tests should not cost more.
Things to be leery of when choosing an organization
- Organizations that give rank and instructor certifications to anyone who submits some type of prior certification certificate and pays a fee.
- Organizations with only a few national schools. If you move to another city, will you be able to find a nearby school?
- Organizations that have young master ranked instructors.
- Organizations that do nothing for you other than issue certificates.
- Organizations that have high fees in relation to what they offer you.
- Organizations that demand high fees from instructors, since these fees will be passed on to you as an increase in your school membership fees.
- An organization that is merely a subsidiary of the instructor just used as another way for the instructor to get money from students.
- Organizations that are not recognized by major international organizations, such as the World Taekwondo Federation and the International Taekwondo Federation.
- Some organizations exist only as a way for the owners to get money from gullible students or the general public.