Martial Arts Industry Scams - Misleading The Industry
Most consumers now are more educated about identifying a martial arts instructor's bogus qualifications and dodgy club operation these days. If you are reading this as a martial arts student please check our public page for more details on this issue.
This section is especially for martial arts instructors starting out and for those who have been teaching for a long time it is vital you get the correct information. This is why I want to bring to you attention some misleading communications within the martial arts industry.
The author - Graham Slater has being training in multiple arts for 44 years, has trained taught in more than a dozen countries, is the founder of Martial Arts Australia (24 years of operation). He is a full time working director communicating with over 3000 clubs every month. He is also a licensed insurance broker, operates a RTO division, video production division and IT division so he has a good idea how the industry operates, how it will prosper and what instructors need.
We all surf through the net looking at various sites that discuss martial arts peak bodies, what they represent, what they do, what they say are the industry qualifications, what makes them the best and suggest that every other one must be bogus or a scam. There will always be different points of view while we come from varied backgrounds and have influences from many elements. Taking that into account let's discuss some real misleading issues.
If you look closely into the structure of some associations they could be a sole trader, partnership, non for profit orginisation or a company. There is nothing wrong in any of these set ups as some start as one and move into another entity. Some start as a great and honourable idea but have very little resources so they can't provide very much unless the founders put in their own money or they have a generous Patron. Other structures are adopted as a better way to protect committee members who may volunteer their time or are a staff member. Operating as a Non-Profit orginisation is mainly set up for a reduction in tax commitments and it helps in applications for government funding. These orginisations can make money and they can distribute funds to committee members for their contributions, cover general operations and into various projects. Other structures are set up such as a company so they are seen by potential sponsors / investors that they are more commercially professional which is more attractive to a corporate investor. They also protect the directors, it is easier to employ staff, get loans to operate and have the freedom to manage the funds in the most productive manner.
As you can see the structure of an association doesn't have any bearing on its ethical or commercial operation it is just what the group feels is the most appropriate entity for them at the time.
What can be an issue is the people running the association as some may have a criminal record, have unethical agendas, seek power for their own egos, they want to mislead the industry for their own gain, they try to manipulate government by feeding incorrect data which forces bad policies. The worst thing is misleading the industry with incorrect statements about their competitors and creating disharmony / segregation when we all should be working together. It is proven many times that when numerous groups work together the whole industry benefits. If the whole industry worked together more people would seek training in martial arts and this benefits us all.
If you work you get paid -
If you chose to volunteer your time for free -
If you spend your own money on an association project you have the right to be reimbursed or you can leave it as a donation -
If you chose to allocate association funds for a project that represents its mission -
If you allocate funds for administration / office rent / marketing etc -
All of the above is about the standard general use of funds generated by an association and how they can be allocated.
Where an issue may arise is when the group says it is generating revenue for a certain cause when it is not. An individual could siphon off funds for their personal use without the knowledge of the group and with disregard for the association mission. A major issue is the association should not be run by any person who has been convicted of a serious crime (even if an offence was more than a decade ago).
If the association is run as a business with investors / directors being allocated funds for their contributions that is up to the group administrators and no business of anyone but the group. You will see clearly if the group is doing what it says it's doing irrespective of the entity it uses. It is then up to you to decide if the group can provide you with what you are looking for, as per any service you might require. It’s simply a waste of energy to be transfixed on a group's entity or if they make a profit or not, everyone is entitled to get paid for their work or great ideas right!
Some associations take weeks or even months to respond to enquiries about courses and insurance (this is substantiated by complaints we have received), clearly this is not providing an appropriate service. Some associations may claim to provide services but don't have any infrastructure / people to run them. One would expect if you advertise a service you need to provide it in a timely fashion right! This is what we expect as a consumer and if a group / company doesn't do this, we complain, tell others and more people avoid that entity. Consumers are getting smarter and they deserve respect so each business should seek to provide the best service needs they can.
Bogus Accreditation Services:
There are more than two recognised forms of Accreditation in the Martial Arts Industry. So what is recognised because this is what is misleading instructors when it should be very clear.
Below are courses / qualifications that are proven to be industry / government recognised.
1. Australian Martial Arts Coaching System (AMACS)
2. Cert III – Diploma+ in Sports Coaching (greater recognition – specialization martial arts)
3. Cert III – Diploma+ in Fitness
4. Cert III – Diploma+ Sport & Recreation
5. Cert IV+ Trainer & Assessor
6. National Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NCAS) run by (National Sporting Organisations - NSOs)
The following could be recognised by other parties….
7. Some in-house instructor’s programs that meet the criteria of courses under (AQF)
8. Some overseas instructor’s programs / courses that meet Australian standards
So what do we mean by recognised?
Recognised / accepted by the insurance companies – most important
Recognised / accepted by industry – the majority of schools, venue hire facilities, corporate sector
Recognised / accepted by government - Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)
Recognised / accepted by government – Australia Sport Commission (ASC)
Recognised / accepted by other associations and the majority of industry players
Recognised / accepted by venue hire facilities
What is changing about NCAS?
It is being used much less as it doesn’t fulfil the needs of various industries. If we compare for example Level 1 NCAS (2 day course) with a Cert IV in Sports Coaching / Fitness (12 months course) it like comparing a kindergarten course with a degree. When an association says that a NCAS course is better or more recognised than a certificate III/IV in a relevant area, it just doesn’t make any sense. As NCAS courses for martial artists aren’t being offered regularly, those that really feel they need to do them have to wait several months and even have to travel interstate to attend them.
Why do NSO’s hold on to NCAS?
They need to use the courses to keep their ASC status (enables access to government funding) but some are offering other courses (run by RTOs) as well because they know it better serves their industry. These associations are more innovative and know that there are more comprehensive courses available to improve the knowledge / standard of instructors / coaches. One must remember NCAS course maybe their only way that some associations can create revenue. It is important to know that NSO’s can sell RTO courses through a partnership and YMCA (NISIT) is one of those providers that can help them.
Is there legislation that says an instructor has to have a certain qualification / accreditation? No there isn’t but there are other laws relating to the operation of a martial arts business that need to be adhered to. If a club needs to obtain insurance they will need to be deemed qualified and recognised in some way as well.
Certification vs Accreditation:
The accreditation is a course / status you have to keep doing over and over again (the same thing without any ongoing content value).
The certification is a course / status you only do once but there are other optional courses you can do for continuous development / further education to gain useful information to run your business.
The term accreditation is used broadly and relates to a form of competency or marker that can be recognised by a government department and or professional body / association or both. It may not necessarily be a qualification it could be a certification depending on who / what is endorsing it. For example it could be endorsed by these government bodies Australian Skills Quality Authority (www.asqa.gov.au) or Australian Sports Commission (runs the NCAS courses) and a sporting / martial arts peak body.
Our system of accreditation / certification as we refer to it, only needs to be done once and is under pinned by a Registered Training Orginisation (YMCA’s National Institute of Sports Industry Training) which is government endorsed and funded. Martial Arts Australia are an exclusive campus of theirs and we created AMACS and the online training portal for distance learning so instructors can start anytime and from anywhere around the globe.
There are many bodies that represent the Industry:
Representing the industry as a peak body has various interpretations and commitment to the role. Bona fide organisations come in many forms / entities and meet a set criteria. Martial Arts Australia meets the criteria of a peak industry body and not only fulfils its obligations, it provides more for the industry. Does it represent a large proportion of the industry? With over 3000 clubs in its network one could say, absolutely yes. There are of course smaller peak bodies that represent individual styles and they have a valid place in the industry as well. Some instructors prefer to be members of a smaller association while offers prefer to be members of more than one group.
There are groups that on-sell insurance for a profit or simply reduce the costs for each individual club policy and there is nothing wrong with that. However they can be issues in the management that could have an impact on a club.
*The group manager is not trained or authorised to discuss the policy
*The instructor doesn’t know what he is actually covered for or how to claim
*There may be exclusions to certain styles or activities that need to be explained
*The funds paid by a club owner may not be passed on to the Insurer leaving a club uninsured
*The club name / entity may need to be listed on the certificate to be insured
There are various types of exclusions and excesses (information relating to the policy) can’t be discussed by an individual or association unless they are appropriately licenced and trained (RG146 etc). No one can sell insurance unless they are appropriately licenced and trained. Instructors and Associations can as part of their membership offer an insurance group deal or as a licensed broker sell it openly as an individual product. In a group deal you don’t necessarily have to see their invoice to the insurer, if you are happy with the price and you get a copy of the certificate (you a named on), that can be fine. Many groups actually don’t know the financial services laws regarding selling insurance and just try to do their best in the most ethical way. Of course there are others that simply don’t care about the law and do it in whatever way they like as long as they make money.
What is the solution to get cheaper insurance through a group, know you have the right cover, know what to do in the event of a claim and get the best price? There are a number of associations doing it right, they have negotiated a group deal with a provider, they list the clubs and they collect the money passing it on at the appropriate time so everyone is covered.
Instructors in a group deal and don’t know where you stand or want to discuss a group deal for your orginisation?
Please contact me for free advice.
You may have picked up that I’m a very passionate martial artist and one who is in a privileged / informed position. Martial arts has been great for me and I love to give back when I can and giving you the facts about our industry is your right. As they say, the truth is out there, do your own research and talk to other informed people too. What you have to do is decide what type of recognition do you need to operate your club / business and what association is better equipped / credible to serve your needs.
The top three things I’m proud of that Martial Arts Australia has been involved in / supported?
1. Negotiating a group insurance package (becoming a licensed broker) and being instrumental in reducing the overall cost of insurance for schools. Lobbing to help gain coverage for previously excluded styles such as kickboxing / Muay Thai / BJJ / MMA). MAA works closely with the Insurers to maintain appropriate cover at an industry affordable price.
2. The introduction of industry appropriate instructor training courses (Cert II – Diploma) with market leaders / innovators such as Barry Johnston, Damien Martin, Michael Muleta, Mannie DeMatos and now the YMCA (NISIT).
3. The introduction of video production / tv programs / free to view – pay per view tv channels to promote the industry as a whole. The latest and what we believe will be our greatest project we are involved in, is the Action Star Competition / TV Series. It will have the biggest impact in attracting more people in martial arts because it creates a direct pathway for anyone to get straight into the film / tv industry and a movie role. www.kapow.tv