Monday, August 22, 2011

Do You Advertise?

On my way to work this morning, I was sitting in traffic at a congested intersection. If you are familiar with the road conditions in PA, you know sitting in traffic at a construction zone is a daily occurrence. A common joke among long distance truck drivers…There are two seasons in Pennsylvania….Winter and Construction.

I glanced at the license plate of the car in front of me. The first three digits were the abbreviation of a martial arts organization. The remaining digits were 7DAN. I understood the meaning of the vanity plate but am fairly certain people unfamiliar with karate/martial arts would not extract the message.

Before anyone gets angry, let me stop right here. I am not opposed to the license plate. People can have whatever license plate they want. However, the license plate got me thinking about my own circumstances. I wondered if I advertise that I am a karate practitioner.

If I answer honestly, my answer has to be “Yes”. My karate training is personal but I also have a responsibility to the dojo.

I have more karate t-shirts than I can count acquired over the years at seminars and tournaments. I can think of at least one jacket and several gear bags. I have t-shirts advertising our dojo, business cards and a karate blog.

I don’t often wear karate t-shirts unless I am attending a karate event. I remember going to Hershey Park with Tom several years ago. He was wearing a dojo t-shirt. A young man, who was working at the park, stopped Tom and asked him if he took karate lessons. As soon as Tom told the man he owned the school, the conversation ended and the worker went on his way. It was an odd exchange and I always wondered why the man asked the question. At the time, it felt like the worker was looking to cause trouble.

Thoughts?

14 comments:

Noah said...

I used to know someone who had "shodan" on their license plate and recently met someone in the company I work for whose password for one of his devices was "nidan" so people who do that are definitely out there. I have a couple shirts and I certainly don't make it a secret that I train, but I don't outright advertise, either.

Felicia said...

I was just thinking along these lines when I found a black belt car magnet in the back of the hall closet this weekend. Someone had given it to me when I tested for shodan and I remember debating about putting it on my car when I got it, which was kind of odd because I have more than a few breast cancer magnets and Apple (Mac) stickers on my vehicle. I know folks who have dojo stickers or karate license plate frames on their cars - and that's cool (happy that they're proud of their art) - but part of me always wonders about the yahoos that will try to "test your knowledge" if you announce it to the world, I guess...

Rick said...

Drawing attention to ones' self is an affectation of the ego and a bad strategy.

SueC said...

I'm not averse to talking about karate or martial arts in general with people who ask me about it but I don't overtly advertise the fact - including not travelling to/from the dojo in my gi. I hate seeing people walking around the streets in their gi, it's as if they've learnt nothing about self-defence!

Michele said...

Thank you for your comments!

Noah: I wonder what happens when they get promoted? :)

Felicia: Good points! One local dojo owner drives a bright yellow sports car with his dojo information printed on the side. I guess it is good advertising but the car really stands out.

Rick: Agreed!

Sue: Thanks for adding to the discussion. I agree about wearing a gi outside of karate.

Years ago, Tom was shopping for a Halloween costume. He went to a local shop and found a kid size karate uniform with our dojo patch on it. He made the store remove the patch. The store owner said someone donated the uniform.

Charles James said...

"He made the store remove the patch.

Why?

Michele said...

I don't think he wanted the dojo patch to be viewed as part of a costume. He spent a lot of time designing the patch, naming the dojo and choosing specific colors. Students are given a patch when they join the school. The patches are not a retail item.

Rick said...

Suppose someone picked up the dogi with the patch for a Halloween party, got drunk and ran over some trick or treaters. When they pull the drunk driver out of the car, that patch would associate the incident with the school. There is no getting around it.

If you don't want to fall into holes, don't walk near the edges.

Michele said...

Rick: You make a good point. I have to ask Tom about it. It happened shortly after the dojo opened (1995). I wonder if he would feel the same way today...

Journeyman said...

I think anyone who is running a dojo or martial arts school can, and should, advertise somewhat. Having said that, it all depends on the when and the where, and probably just as importantly, the why. I remember in my younger days, I'd see guys show up at a bar I frequented wearing these ornate martial arts jackets. They wanted to be challenged, of course, and were looking to test their mettle. That's different from a decal or shirt at a public event to promote a school or style.

I too shake my head seeing people walking along the street in a gi. If it's kids, no problem, but Sue's right, adults who do it have missed one of the most important lessons of self defense.

Good discussion.

I think your husband was right to have the patch removed, but it doesn't strike me it was out of anger, the patch was an earned item representing the school. Whoever donated it should have removed it, but perhaps it was a parent who didn't understand it's significance.

Michele said...

Journeyman: Thanks for adding to the discussion!

We have mixed results with dojo advertising. Most of the students learn about the dojo by word of mouth, community flyers or referrals.

Mr. Martial Arts said...

Great thoughts! Love reading each comments.

Hercules sport said...

I have a couple shirts and I certainly don't make it a secret that I train, but I don't outright advertise, either. Treadmill Bangalore

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