Since I published an article about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gyms in Jakarta and its surrounding areas, many readers have sent questions asking about locations of legitimate martial arts gym in other Indonesian cities through contact forms or social media.

I could have actually searched Google to answer these questions, but I could not answer all of them, especially those who live in cities located very far away from Jakarta.

So, what I can do is provide some sort of guidance on how to choose a legitimate martial arts gym or club and not a McDojo.

McDojo is a mainstream term in America to describe deceitful martial arts clubs. Most martial arts taught at such clubs only look fancy but have never been proven to be effective in real life situations. Some notorious examples of the McDojo art are the one inch death punch and various types of no-touch KO chi martial arts.

In Indonesia, McDojos are not as notorious as in America. Most of the martial arts schools here are legitimate, perhaps because of our background as an Asian nation that has strong roots in the martial arts tradition, although we still often see unclear “inner energy” demonstrations.

So if you want to join a legitimate martial arts club, here are some pointers:

1. Competent instructors

Alliance Jiu Jitsu Indonesia lineage starting from Mitsuyo Maeda to Carlos Gracie to Helio Gracie to Rolls Gracie and finally to Deddy Wigraha.

Before joining, it is a good idea to find out first the names of instructors or head coaches. With the internet and Google, it is very easy to find background information and experience of an instructor or head coach.

An instructor or head coach does not have to have a background as a champion or national athlete. This can be an added value, but a good instructor and head coach must be certified by an official martial arts federation. Without this certification, a coach does not have solid evidence that he has the ability to teach and train.

On the other hand, Google and the internet also allows people to claim that they have certifications. Therefore, it is also important to re-verify the official body or federation regarding the relevant certifications.

In some types of martial arts there should also be a clear lineage from an instructor to the founder of the martial arts. For example in BJJ all competent instructors have lineage all the way up to Mitsuyo Maeda.

2. Free trial is available

Just like any other sports or activities, not everyone is compatible with martial arts. Especially in self-defense, where there are various types of styles ranging from striking-based ones such as Muay Thai and ground fighting styles such as like BJJ.

Legitimate martial arts gyms or clubs always provide an opportunity for prospective new members to have a free trial once or twice. This free trial is an opportunity for you to feel whether you are clicking with the martial arts that you want to learn or not. In addition, the free trial is also the best opportunity to directly assess the quality of the instructor and the atmosphere of the class.

3. Flexible payment scheme

McDojo clubs usually only offer long term contracts because they are more motivated to get as much membership money as possible. Legitimate clubs usually offer a variety of schemes ranging from monthly, quarterly to annually. Of course, the longer the period you pay at the beginning, the smaller the monthly fee you are paying.

Legitimate clubs know that practicing martial arts is very physically demanding and injuries or training fatigue is part of the process. With a flexible scheme, members have better leverage if they want to take a short break to recover.

4. Sparring is a must

The purpose of martial arts training is to learn how to survive in case someone wants to physically attack us. Sparring is the only way to find out whether the techniques we learn are street fight effective.

Many so-called “martial arts experts” gave video demo techniques but with partners who only act as dummies or experimental puppets. Sparring provides an opportunity for us to try to apply the techniques we learn to people who are really resisting. Why is this important? Because in the real world, people who attack us physically will not stand still like dummies in self defense demo videos.

Sparring also trains us to adapt with real stress and pressures so that if one day something bad happens, we are able to deal with it calmly. The point is; a martial arts club that does not provide sparring is bullshit.

5. Realistic technique

As I mentioned above, a lot of McDojos tries to sell bullshit stuffs, in which they say they can knock you out or slam without you needing to touch you at all. If these chi-based stuffs really work, then surely all of its practitioners should have been UFC champions. In fact, not a single UFC champion in history has ever used chi to defeat their opponents.

This kind of bullshit has often been exposed, but there are still many that have been manipulated by the tricks of the “inner energy expert”.

“But bro, the demo really shows people being knocked out without being touched….” so you say.

Yes, it was because the people who were thrown and knocked out were students who were psychologically affected by the so called “teacher” to follow whatever he wanted. In this case, to be thrown and knocked out like possessed people.

This kind of “chi-based technique” will never work on someone outside the cult.

The video above shows how the “inner energy expert” says his knowledge does not work for a skeptic because he is a “non believer”, which means that this kind of technique is of no use.

So, based on the guidelines above, hopefully you can start looking for legitimate martial arts club in your city.

Hans David
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Hans David

A lifestyle journalist and a student of the gentle art with Alliance Jiu Jitsu Indonesia. Subscribe to my blog for more BJJ stuffs and occasionally, some rants.
Hans David
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