Sunday, September 4, 2016

Welcome to Gilbert, Martial Arts Capital of Arizona

Welcome to Gilbert - the martial arts capital of Arizona located in Maricopa County. In Gilbert, one will find many martial arts schools - almost one in every corner mall. 

Even though the town is filled with sport martial arts schools, McDojo and related schools, a few traditional martial arts dojo, the cream of the crop, exist - one just has to find them. Traditional schools provide historical and philosophical education in the 'way' of martial arts - known as budo and bujutsu and teach respect, ethics.

The 2010 census reports Gilbert has a population of 208,453 according to wikipedia. The town of Gilbert also has public and private schools, churches, gymnasiums and Chandler-Gilbert Community College - some of which may house a some martial arts programs.  There is also Freestone Community Center, McQueen Park and Gilbert Community Center.

Some larger Christian Churches in the community have campuses or large meeting rooms, and some have martial arts outreach programs. Some large churches in the area include Central, Life Link, Grove, and Love of Christ. Other martial arts schools may train at various gymnasiums such as Lifetime, 24-hour, LA Fitness, YMCA, Boys Clubs, etc. If there is a gym, there is a possibility for martial arts classes.

The majority of traditional martial arts schools and classes will likely be found in gymnasiums as these types of schools are designed to teach the discipline and respect of the traditional martial arts. Those traditional martial arts include non-sport arts such as traditional Japanese jujutsu, aikido, kyudo, iaido, kenjutsu, aikijutsu and the Okinawan forms of karate, kobudo, karatejutsu, kobujutsu and toide.

The competitive martial arts can include kempo, karate, judo (although very uncommon, there are schools of traditional judo), competitive jujutsu, kendo. Although MMA is not a martial art, there are many mall-front schools that advertise MMA.

To the novice, all of these martial arts may seem similar - but to the initiated, there are important differences. For example, we came across a discussion on the differences between traditional and sport karate that we highly recommend for reading, as it should help decide if you want to learn traditional martial arts for self-defense, or train for trophies. Another site, an extensive blog, gives a lot of insight on choosing a martial arts school and instructor.

Things a martial artist needs to be aware of is State Laws on martial arts and weapons, such as deadly force, possessing nunchaku (a very questionable law) or possessing brass knuckles. A person can carry a sword, gun, etc., but not a pair of sticks, even if they look like nunchuks such as those plastic ones kids buy at toy stores, or foam rubber from martial arts outlets. California, Michigan, Illinois and Vermont prohibit the possession of brass knuckles and devices that look like brass knuckles. In South Carolina, it is reported using brass knuckles with intent to commit a crime is illegal according to the website FindLaw. Does this include tekko? I have no idea, as some tekko are simply horse shoes and as far as I'm aware, government has not yet outlawed horse shoes or stirrups (but I wouldn't hold my breath).

Then there is hand registration. Do you have to have your hands registered at the police department, etc? Of course not, but we highly recommend that you stop by your local police department as ask about the laws in your area.

Most traditional martial arts are taught by well-trained and certified martial artists, as are many sport martial arts. But, the MMA and the McDojo groups have questionable martial arts instructors and it is highly recommended you check the background of the dojo and the instructor by searching the internet. It only takes a few minutes and it may save you a lot of money and grief in the long run.

Schools, gyms and even churches that employ or rent time to a martial arts group should also be checked. Just because a martial arts instructor attends church doesn't mean that he doesn't have something to hide.

The City of Gilbert doesn't allow martial arts groups to rent and train in industrial buildings or centers. This is sad as most traditional martial artists do not offer contracts and do not teach kids making it difficult to pay rent along with their martial arts association fees and insurance. So, why don't they just start teaching kids? It has always been traditional to only teach martial arts to those 16 years old and older - kids are fragile and have growth platelets which can be damaged particularly in the throwing arts such as judo, jujutsu and aikido.

Sport martial arts and McDojos are primarily interested in contracts and look to sign a person to a 1 or 2 year contract - some even offer lifetime memberships. But remember, there is little to protect you from the school closing or relocating and sending out bill collectors to acquire the remaining contract even though the school may no longer exist, or may have moved to Las Vegas - read your contract!

Just watch the martial arts schools down the block from your home. Most have a lifetime expectancy of 3 years - this is because most lease agreements are 3-years. At the end of the 3-years, few survive (probably less than 20% survive) and move on. This is also true of gyms. A gym can move, or the martial arts class in the gym could move as most of these pay month to month rent.

Gilbert Arizona requires martial arts schools to lease commercial buildings rather than industrial buildings, which can be 2 to 4 times greater in rent thus making it almost impossible for any martial arts group to survive. But this is not the same for a gymnasium! But, "Dojo" is a Japanese word that translates as "GYM". Yet, the Gilbert city government doesn't regulate basketball or volleyball gyms to commercial buildings. So, why should it require karate or jujutsu gyms to pay high rent? Ask you representative as to why they are over-regulating the martial arts industry in Gilbert and in the state? Give them a call.

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