So my son (9 yrs old) and I have been doing JJ for about a year and a half- first 6 months at Dojo B -prices seemed quite high but 2 of the instructors split off to start a new Dojo A (slightly cheaper).

We have been at Dojo A from the start, the sensei talk about respect, integrity honour, etc, and we are taught some great moves, and my son really enjoys it. He gives it 110% every time we go, really loves it, and has graded here.

So the problem is this. I am away with work so my wife took my son to the class. When she went to pick him up, the teachers asked my wife AND son to step out the room for a minute, and complimented my son on how polite he was, etc.

For a bit more background on my son. How to teach intent

Then they went on to say his back breakfall was dangerous, as he lands on his elbows sometimes, and his hip throw is not right as he is not bring his feet together. Then they went on to explain how he could hurt someone.

All of this got my son quite upset (he cried himself to sleep that night). The teachers then continue to tell my wife and son that he needs to take a break until after Christmas, and unlearn what he learnt at Dojo B, then come back still on his current belt, but to start all the moves from white again!! (remember the same teachers from Dojo B are now in A)

I have also watched him, and his throw and breakfall are not different from a lot of other kids.

At the end of the night, the teacher informs the class what he and the other teacher have done - again talking about a journey/ integrity respect etc. (my son and wife had left by now – as she has to put our other child to bed)

My issues are :

  • Why did they wait till now to bring this up, the week after we paid out insurance / Why was this not picked up a lot earlier in the year?

  • Has he been in danger of hurting himself or others for a year?

  • Why let my son teach other students lower belts moves? I would say about a 1/4 of his lesson time he is doing this with minimal oversight.

  • Why do they force him to have a break (suspend?) when they could teach him to do it properly?

  • Why not wait till the following week to talk to me when I am there?

I understand my son is not the most agile of people, but I have been paying for the club to teach him Jujitsu.

I am very angry about this and currently looking for a new dojo; do you think I am overreacting?
Is it right I have lost all respect for this dojo, and question their integrity?


Thank you for taking the time to reply, I have decided to move on, and look for another school. Your advice was spot on and I should have picked up the signs sooner.


3 Answers 3


This is horrible politicking! If it were me, I wouldn't have anything to do with the current dojo.

Your questions are spot on, and they are indicative of something much deeper going on. It could be politics, it could be money. It could even be that your son doesn't perform well in competition, and they don't want him there because of that.

It is ridiculous to think that a timeout will unlearn things. They should be ashamed for even suggesting that.

This business of demoting. I don't like the concept of belts these days, such are abused by instructors as a money-grabbing gimmick, and something tells me that this is the case here. If your son was an adult, and an accomplished jujitsu-ka, we would be having a very different conversation. But he's nine. Anything that needs to be corrected needs to happen here, and now, and without delay, and at his current belt. If they did not want him to come to the current dojo with his rank earned elsewhere, they should have said something back then.

(This is not an uncommon request, either: schools place students on a probationary period all the time, and that's done by setting them back to white belt and progressing them until they learn the material the school wants them to; or, they simply don't grade them until they are on-par with school standards).

The problem is that if you insist to stay, your son will stagnate at his current rank and never test - the instructor will ensure that; or he goes to white belt, and that demoralizes him. Either way is abuse of belt by teacher. And I would not want an instructor whose ulterior motive has to do with this kind of politics. That is why I recommend moving him out. Your son is 9, he'll have plenty of opportunities to find better places.

I'll address your issues again:

Why did they wait till now to bring this up, the week after we paid out insurance / Why was this not picked up a lot earlier in the year?

They now have a hold over you and your son. If you quit, they have your money. If you stay, there's no guarantee they will promote him or even work with him in a professional, competent way.

Has he been in danger of hurting himself or others for a year?

Good question. If he was in such danger, he should have been corrected much sooner.

Why let my son teach other students lower belts moves? I would say about a 1/4 of his lesson time he is doing this with minimal oversight.

It is fine to allow a student to coach another junior; but I wouldn't let it rise to the level of teaching. That would be risky, given that he's already demonstrating "dangerous technique".

Why do they force him to have a break (suspend?) when they could teach him to do it properly?

My feeling is that they want you to leave. Probably, as you say, your son isn't the best. That might impact the school's record. This happens often in very competitive schools, so watch out. However, if they do insist on a time-out, be sure to get a refund - not a deferral! - of money you've already paid.

Why not wait till the following week to talk to me when I am there?

They seem to be afraid to deal with you. Use this to your advantage.

Bottom line, I think they want you to leave. You'll know when you ask for a refund.

Consider taking to social media. (after your refund). Call them out here, call them out on Facebook. If they have a defense, they'll address it.

No, I don't think you are overreacting. This is despicable.


There is something rotten in Dojo A and B…

You seem to have hit some nasty politics within martial arts. It happens, it is disheartening, and not worth anyone's time.

As a side note, you (as an untrained person) has no way to judged if someone is doing a technique right. What looks similar might be utterly different to someone who knows what they are doing. It is but a small point… So, it is possible that your son has developed bad habits that need fixing. This is fine and has happened to us all. However, there are some warning signs.

Warning sign #1

Your son is teaching? He's nine! He's done martial arts for 18 months. No, no, and NO! This is bad. He should not be teaching. His instructor is a bad one for letting him teach. This alone suggest that you should leave the dojo and do not come back!

Warning sign #2

Starting from the beginning of rank in the same style (maybe under different organisation) is looking like a way to get more money out of you in grading fees. If it was a different style, fair. If it was moving from one organisation to another, generally there is a conversion not a start over.

Warning sign #3

Taking a break or being suspended are two very different beasts. The former implies that time off would be beneficial. I find it odd in a martial art context and without more justification (unlearn is clearly rubbish) there is not much I can add. The latter is a punishment so either you are unaware of something or something was lost in translation.

Now what?…

From your (somewhat still jumbled) exposition of what is happening, there is no other choice but to look for a more professional dojo. In your quest, remember that a good teaching is more important than a style.

Alternatively, you could go and talk to the instructor and bring your concern to them. Do so like a adult, in a calm and composed way looking for solutions not blame. It is possible that all of this is a massive misunderstanding. However, the first one to lose their temper loses! So, be the adult in the room.

  • Thanks to clarify Warning 2- they want him to come back after the break and learn all the moves again from white, while remaining on green. As a side note there was a seminar a month ago the same instructors told us both he would be graded for his blue if he went.(We couldn’t go for family reasons) Warning 3– they called it a break,- but to me it sounds like a suspension. I really don’t understand the break, why not teach him if what he is doing is not right? I have started to look at other dojo’s, but I feel bad for my uke as we are about 2 months off grading for our brown and white
    – chris
    Nov 3, 2016 at 13:57
  • 2
    While I feel that Sardathrion has covered the main points, I'd also suggest going to them and saying that, if your son is required to take a break, that you'd also like your money prorated for that period. It's amazing how often a place will cave when their income is on the line. And, as you said, you just paid. That's bad faith. They may counter saying that their contract says they can terminate things at any time with no refund, but common sense generally rules in such cases. Nov 3, 2016 at 16:43

I totaly agree with previous answers about such a dojo. As a father and trainer I just want to give you some hope. If your son is 9 and if he's not afraid by falling, I'm sure he'll improve his JJ each time he train on the mat. That's one of the strengths of this Martial Art. You will have to evaluate his motivation and never hesitate to change dojo if it doesn't match with your son's expectations. An easy way of evaluate motivation of a young boy is to answer this basic question : Does your children want to return dojo just after the end of training.

As for his back ukemi, it's indeed dangerous (for shoulder) to land on elbow. But instructor could learn him to loose such a bad habit by throwing him (as safely as an instructor knows how to do) on O uchi gari or O soto gari. Other wise, You could even learn him in all security by yourself (just keep hard his harm during the fall) on the gass or the sand on the beach.

I wish a long and happy JJ life for your son and you

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