Author Topic: United Studios of Self-Defense  (Read 19992 times)

Michael Rose

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United Studios of Self-Defense
« on: May 31, 2003, 08:36:08 PM »
Greetings all! As of late I have been up in Utah with my brothers family, working at his computer company and taking a bit of a vacation from the turmoils of So Cal life.

Since there are no Kajukenbo schools to speak of in Utah, I began to search the immediate area for a place to hone my skills and such. On my way to work one day I came across the USSD. Having never been there but being interested in Shaolin Kempo I decided to take a tour of the Dojo. All in all, I thought that perhaps they had something to offer me for during my 2 month stay here in Utah. I sat down with the Chief Instructor to discuss pricing and such and was simply blown away...

They wanted to charge me a whopping $175 a month! That was only if I started on the 12 month plan as well. If I were to go month by month it would cost me $275 a month!!! This is outrageous and      strates to me that CLEARLY the United Studios of Self Defense are more interested in making huge sums of money than providing their students with practical self-defense knowledge. I am HAPPY to report that upon my return to California I will be enrolling in Sigung John Bishops Kajukenbo Academy for a modest price of $35 dollars every six weeks. I am sadened that there are organizations out there charging such ridiculous prices for their services but all the more grateful that I have a Kajukenbo school in my area! Has anyone else here had a similar Mcdojo experience? I find this deeply disturbing and thought that the Mcdojo phenomenon was limited more to TaeKwonDo schools. I suppose I was wrong!

On a happier note, I found a Kenpo Karate school here in Utah that charges around $50 a month. Thank goodness



« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Offline badsifu

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Re: United Studios of Self-Defense
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2003, 11:35:14 AM »
 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
« Last Edit: August 03, 2007, 11:44:55 AM by badsifu »
Dan Tyrrell

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Re: United Studios of Self-Defense
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2003, 12:33:09 PM »
  Mike, I started my martial arts training in 1973 in Goju and switched to United Studios of Self Defense in 1974, back then the organiztion was headed by Fred Villari. It was a different world back then, hard punishing tests, tough workouts, lots of contact and students flunked black belt tests. In the later 70's heading toward the 80's the organization went in a much different direction and I left to go independant in early '81. I paid $40 per month  for groups or $12 a week for one private and the groups thrown in. I think the registration fee was $20, if anything, it was less not more. Classes for teenage adults were 3 days a week and you could work out there anytime 6 days a week or take a class or workout in any of the other studios. It was a much smaller operation back then. Charlie Mattera worked very closely with Mr. Villari in running the schools. Mr. Mattera stayed with him for many years and it is he  who branched off and now uses the former Villari name USSD.
   The system is a direct subsystem of Sijo Victor 'Sonny' Gascon's Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu and Fred Villari was a certified black belt under the late Professor Nick Cerio. Karazenpo is a direct subsystem of Kajukenbo and Villari's Shaolin Kempo is pretty much the same as what Mr. Cerio taught him up to around nidan, then it changes dramatically, with a Kung Fu-like flavor.
    My instructor who originally brought me to black belt and beyond is now Hanshi Craig Seavey who currently is a 9th dan and co-head of the Nick Cerio Kenpo Schools, so you see I certainly didn't get short changed there by any means.  My point being, these franchised operations can be a luck of the draw. I was lucky. I knew many others that were lucky too. However, I knew some that weren't nearly as lucky, if you know what I mean. You can't go wrong with the system itself, just look where it came from and if you get an instructor like I did, it can be worth paying for but imho, $275  a month is astronomical and I don't believe in any of the belt programs. I like to pay as I train and whatever happens, happens ;)  Again, just my opinions. Regardless, you have found a great school with a great instructor so you too won the 'luck of the draw' in shopping for schools. Good luck in your training. :)   Respectfully, Shihan Joe
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:06 PM by -1 »

M. Rose

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Re: United Studios of Self-Defense
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2003, 03:00:49 PM »
The $175 a month was only if I signed a 12 month contract with the school. Had I gone on a month by month basis it would have cost me $275 a month. For these outrageous prices I would recieve up to 3 group lessons (1 hour each) and one private lesson (30 minutes each) per week. The chief instructor was a 2nd degree blackbelt and about as far away as you can get from Sijo or Edmund Parker. Yes, training with such individuals would make the situation quite a bit different but I AM NOT. Would you rather pay $275 a month to train with a 2nd degree blackbelt or $35 dollars every six weeks with a 7th degree blackbelt? This isn't a tough decision even for the most daft of individuals.

You give examples of facilities offering far more than the particular USSD school I speak of. If people feel fine paying $12,000 a year for 24/7 Kickboxing instruction then so be it. I cant imagine too many people even have the money for such services. A place charging $1000 a month is simply accomodating to the richer and more dedicated people and making a k illing at the same time. They most likely have ZERO college students attending because of what they charge. (I am a college student with limited monthly funds) There are BJJ/Boxing/Wrestling schools here in So CAL that offer the EXACT SAME SERVICES for $80 dollars a month. 24/7 use of facilities and the same self-acclaimed "best fighters in the world" THAT is reasonable. $1000 a month is still the result of a largely money-making venture and if people are dense enough to pay that and think its worth it then so be it.

You are offering more services than USSD for less money. I would not have been recieving classes 6 days a week. You are also a higher ranking instructor with more years of experience. Given these circumstances, $100 a month or whatever you will be charging a month is more within the bounds of reason.

Last time I checked, I live in the United States. How Chinese masters run their schools has nothing to do with the fact that people here in the US are getting more and more oriented around making money and overcharging fools for their services. Also, WHERE I recieve my intstruction has nothing to do with WHAT KIND of instruction it is. Do you think that WHERE my classes are held has any impact upon how I learn it? Or WHERE my classes are held determines how it will be taught to me? We could put up a circus tent in the middle of a corn field and train just the same as someone with a "facility"

USSD aren't just charging more than my local program...they are charging more than any program I've ever heard about. ALMOST EVERYONE CHARGES MORE THAN MY ACADEMY..however it is usually in more justifiable circumstances such as your own. The classes will ALWAYS be what I make of them. Classes 2 days a week happen to be ideal for one such as myself since I am involved in NUMEROUS activities day by day.

Yes, USSD are sell-outs. Anyone grasping for my wallet the way this poor fool was is an obvious indication of McDojo status. I'm sorry I didnt give you a detailed report on every specfic detail that allowed me to deduce these things. However, in making my first post I assumed most people would immediately recognize that $275 month by month and $175 over 12 months is simply too much.

========================================
If you are good shopper, you can find what you want in America - but you usually get what you pay for.
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Yes I am a good shopper. Thats why I'm not stupid enough to pay over $200 a month for ANY services. The $1000 a month example you gave almost made me fall over with laughter. The people paying such prices are good examples of people getting the SHAFT.

Less and less people get what they pay for anymore, especially here in the US. Its far too easy to sell morons things for prices that are beyond ridiculous nowadays. This is how McDojos have been able to thrive. If you think that the majority of people get what they pay for nowadays you must be living in a cave on Mars?

You seem to have an anger management problem.  ;D If you have a problem with my opinion then thats fine, you are entitled to state your opinion about my own. I find it amusing that you got so worked up over the fact that I can identify McDojos when I see them. You could have simply asked me what services they were providing for those funds before replying in such a manner. Now you've gone and made ME rant!  ;) I have NO QUALMS whatsover with Shaolin Kempo. None at all. The only thing I dont like is when people go and have making money their first priority. Given the information I provided you above, can you not say that this is the case with USSD?

Anyways, I wish you the best of luck with your school. Perhaps we will have the opportunity to meet in the future. Take care!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Offline John Bishop

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Re: United Studios of Self-Defense
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2003, 03:22:07 PM »
Like BadSifu said, there are many factors to consider when choosing a school.

1.  Primarily, what can your personal/family budget afford?
2.  How often do you want to train?
3.  Do you want private instruction, group instruction, or both?
4.  Do you want specialialized instruction in lets say tournament competition, or kickboxing?
5.  Do you want to learn more than one style?
6.  Do you want other facilities like weight rooms, showers, lockers, snack/drink bar?
 
Once you answer the above questions you then need to look at the instructor/instructors.  This is the important thing.  The best instructors are NOT ALWAYS going to be in the biggest, nicest schools.  And the worst instructors are NOT ALWAYS going to be teaching in their garage or backyard.  The quality of instruction can very greatly from place to place.  It's up to the prospective student to do his/her research.

Price is very subjective.  Sijo Emperado charged $2.00 a month to train at Palama Settlement in the 50s.  In the 60s Bruce Lee charged $300.00 a hour for private instruction.   The stars went to Bruce Lee and Ed Parker.  Does that make them better instructors than Sijo.  No way!!  These people were just paying what they were willing to for the convenience of private instruction with excellent instructors who would come to their home and train them.  I doubt any of them would have flown to Hawaii to train in the Palama District with one of the best instructors in the world.

Many instructors like myself received their training and continued into teaching within the community systems like college clubs, parks and rec., YMCA's, church halls, etc.  Many trained in garages, back yards, and large commercial schools.  The few times that I've had the honor of training with Sijo Emperado, the training has taken place in Prof. Gary Forbach's garage.  

Now days parents and children are dividing their time between various activities like, soccer, little league, music lessons, private tutoring, high school sports, college, trade school, etc.

So, in a school like mine, if you can't train at a certain time on tues and thursday, you can't join my school.  Private instruction and additional classes are also not availiable.  But if you only have time to attend two classes a week, and the days are right for you, then it meets all your needs.

In a school like BadSifu has, you can train with high quality instructors 6 days a week, or which ever days you can fit in your schedule.  You can take specialized or private instruction.  Learn additional styles.  Attend seminars with outside masters.  And more.  WELL WORTH THE PRICE HE CHARGES.

Now, should someone pay $175/$275 a month to train with a instructor who has perhaps 2-3 years of martial arts experience.  IMHO, no.
    

« Last Edit: June 12, 2003, 09:59:47 AM by John Bishop »
John Bishop  8th Degree-Original Method 
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"You watch, once I'm gone, all the snakes will start popping their heads up!"  Sijo Emperado

M. Rose

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THANK YOU!!!
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2003, 03:44:05 PM »
I'm glad that someone such as yourself can substantiate for everyone here that yes, USSD are McDojos. I look forward to my return to Southern California just so I can begin my Kajukenbo training with you and your instructors. Its foolish to suggest that simply because you run your academy through the City's Park and Rec department that it is somehow inferior. Like I said in my post, WHERE I'm recieving my instruction has nothing to do with the quality of instruction itself...and that is MUCH more important. Also, I have to divide my time amongst my various activities including college and music lessons just like you said. Your school is perfect for my needs...USSD are most definately not. Take care!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Offline badsifu

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Re: United Studios of Self-Defense
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2003, 04:12:39 PM »
:):):):):):)
« Last Edit: August 03, 2007, 11:47:14 AM by badsifu »
Dan Tyrrell

Offline badsifu

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Re: United Studios of Self-Defense
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2003, 04:13:02 PM »
:):):):):):)
« Last Edit: August 03, 2007, 11:47:29 AM by badsifu »
Dan Tyrrell

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Re:United Studios of Self-Defense
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2003, 09:48:15 AM »
In my humble opinion both of you have a point.  However, it might be nice to refrain from non-constructive comments?  Since none of us has visited the USSD school in question, other than Michael Rose, it is difficult for us to make any judgement as to whether his assessment is correct (we also cannot conclude that it is incorrect).  However, Michael, in my opinion it is not possible to make a blanket judgement that all USSD schools are "McDojos" (I don't particularly like this term) without visiting each of them.   How about you both cut each other a little slack.  Badsifu, you are the senior (I assume) and most likely have more experience.  I am having a little trouble figuring out why Michael's comments bother you to the point of flaming him.  Isn't it common for junior students to make assumptions about schools/styles/etc?  It seems to me that he has found something that he thinks is better that is cheaper and felt that he was going to be ripped off by the school that was charging a high price.  Not a punishable offense.  I didn't get the impression that he was questioning the costs in your own school.  It sounds to me that your school charges an appropriate fee and I think Michael would agree.

I hope neither of you mind my butting in, but for some reason I didn't like the direction this was going and wanted to put in my 2 cents.
Sifu Jeffrey D. Cirillo,  7th Degree Black belt in Wun Hop Kuen Do under GM Al Dacascos and 3rd Degree in FaChuan (Blossom Fist) under Sifu Bill Owens with over 35 years experience in the martial arts.
College Station, TX

Kempo-Sensei

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Re:United Studios of Self-Defense
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2003, 10:58:13 AM »
I am, without a doubt, a supporter of someone charging whatever they feel they are worth.  It is the consumer that will have to decide if they agree or not.  I have been told by many that I don't charge enough.  I raised my rates last fall and still have a few students who insist on paying me more than my posted rates.  But I also have a couple students who wished the rates were just a little bit less.  I deal with them privately on that.

There are schools in my area that charge upwards to $150 or so per month.  I do not fully understand exactly what you get, but I believe it is unlimited access to all of the programs offered.  I don't believe that is really all that high, but the members of the community might disagree.  Again, it's their choice to pay or not to pay.

Those who can only afford $40 per month, would seek out someone in a rec center, and be restricted to probably a limited schedule.  Those who can afford $140 per month will seek out a place in which they basically can go whenever they want.  Both can have great instructors or bad ones.  But you would mainly be paying for flexibility in schedules, facilities, full-time instructors, etc.  And I bet the higher-priced schools have more equipment and things like that.


M.Rose

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LOLOL!!!
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2003, 11:13:53 AM »
Badsifu you have amused me beyond belief with your lack of maturity. I could very well stoop down to your level and post a 3 comment reply to your latest dribble but its not neccesary. I provided information on their services. Moreover, SiGung Bishop pointed out for you that USSD are in fact McDojos. There is nothing else to say. I will listen to SIGUNG Bishop and respect his opinion as opposed to the opinion of a Bad SIFU. What a well-suited name.

Again, I wish you luck both with your Dojo and your anger management in the future. I thank you for providing the motivation I need to not drop out of Martial Arts as well. The vexations of silly people always provide suitable motivation. Take care

M.Rose

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Thank you again
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2003, 11:21:53 AM »
Cirillo, we have both had such a difficult time understanding BadSifu. I've found that more and more people are becoming hell-bent on contention and conflict and that it is how they thrive. Someone with his experience in Martial Arts should have a little more self-control, especially when dealing with a junior student such as myself. In my attempt to consumate the entire thread peacefully he feels the need to tell me that I'm going to "drop out" of Martial Arts. Indeed, he is most definately a Badsifu.

Thank you for your two-cents

Offline John Bishop

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Re:United Studios of Self-Defense
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2003, 12:17:00 PM »
OK, take a deep breath and try to be civil here.  This is not a general martial arts talk forum where flame wars are a daily occurance.  
It is primarily a place for Kajukenbo and Kenpo people to exchange greetings, thoughts, and ideas.  That means the majority of the members here are "Ohana" (family).
Debate is often a good thing, but we need to try and get our points across without attacking each other on a personal level.  Many of us here are friends, and we want to keep it that way.

My post on this thread was just my opinion, nothing more.  I don't think I took anybody's side.  I also didn't make a blanket statement concerning the United Studios chain.  I just referred to some of the ones I have encountered in So. Calif., primarily L.A. and Orange counties.  

And M.Rose; you don't know me personally, we've only exchanged a couple emails concerning class schedules.  So please don't use my name as if my opinion is any better than anyone else here.


 
John Bishop  8th Degree-Original Method 
Under Grandmaster Gary Forbach
K.S.D.I. # 478, FMAA


"You watch, once I'm gone, all the snakes will start popping their heads up!"  Sijo Emperado

M.Rose

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Re:United Studios of Self-Defense
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2003, 12:50:02 PM »
My apologies. It was not my intent to start a flame war on this forum, only to share my opinion in regards to USSD. Since we have not been personally acquainted I will refrain from using your name in the future. I just found it pertinent that someone with your experience also felt the USSD were McDojo-esque

Kempo-Sensei

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Re:United Studios of Self-Defense
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2003, 01:08:11 PM »
M.Rose,

Which Utah center was it that you attended?  There are currently 13 listed on the USSD website.  


Thanks.