March 2, 2010
People join professional associations for all sort of reasons; to network and gain professional contacts, to have a sense of belonging, comraderie, and to gain a status of legitimacy. A union certified electrician seems a better bet then some guy who says he can fix anything. Credentials matter.
Some organizations, such as unions, bestow specific advantages upon their members, others bestow right and privileges. To be a member of a union means you are recognized as legitimate, as qualified in your field, and you can charge accordingly, the union stands behind you. You can also gain proper insurance, and have professional backing and support.
But why do people join martial arts associations? What do they hope to gain?
There are the advantages of networking, comraderie, weekend training retreats and seminars. There is also the hope of gaining legitimacy in a field where lack of legitimacy and charlatanism is the norm. So this can be a tricky matter. Prospective members usually cannot tell what organization from another. In the days of the internet anyone can create an impressive website or Facebook page. Unless you have inside contacts it is very difficult to know who legitimate and who is a fraud. Many Krav Maga instructors fake their military background and present apocryphal stories.
Some organizations have very impressive names; What is the World Black Belt Bureau? Is it the like the Better Business Bureau,? Is is part of the government? No one knows. What is the difference between the World TKD Federation and the International TKD Federation? I don't know.
Most martial arts organizations have powerful sounding names, World Federation of this or that, World Wide this or that, Federation of ...Martial Arts, but the truth is those names mean absolutely nothing, nothing at all. There is no regulating body, no one checking if the name suits the group, there is no backup to these claims. Anyone can use any name they want. Buyer beware. That is why my credentials are fully and openly displayed on the website, not to brag or to boast, but for legitimacy. As I write, all ranks can be checked and verified at the source. I offer total transparency.
I would ask the following questions: Does the staff of the organization continue to train, to develop and to share new techniques and knowledge? Are they at the cutting edge of martial arts, or self-defense. Are the headquarters of the organization based in the country of origin? If it is Taekwondo it should be connected with Korea, if it is Tai Chi Chuan it should have a connection to China, and if it is Krav Maga, it should be connected to....Italy? Berlin? Budapest? or Jerusalem?
We at Israeli Krav International (IKI) strive for authenticity and practicality. We are all about learning, training, growing. Fancy uniforms, grandiose titles, not relevant at all. We offer our members everything they need to succeed: Up to date training, easy access to information, regular seminars and training camps, legitimate accreditation and international recognition.
The bottom line is saving lives, and in this category we have proven ourselves all over the world, but it is also important to provide organizational support so your prospective students know they can trust you when they walk in the door. We can only help a student when he walks in the door, and for this it is important to be recognized as a legitimate instructor.
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