What Is A Learning Community Anyway?

By Dennis Lawson
Published on Sep 28th, 2009

I was recently asked these questions. "What makes The Martial Arts Learning Community different? Isn't it just another (Karate/Kenpo/Martial Arts) organization?" After a full year in existence, it's time for The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC) to answer these questions. For brevity, I will refer to TheMALC and to Associations/Alliances/ Societies/etc. as Organizations.

1. Organizations are composed of members and leaders who pay dues. In TheMALC, associates receive compensation for their contributions. I will continue to use this order. My first statement will refer to traditional organizations. My second statement will describe the process as it relates to TheMALC.

2. In Organizations, leadership is the purview of a single high ranking individual or a team of senior ranks. Leadership, for TheMALC, changes according to the project. For example, a web design project is led by the Director of Information Technology, but a marketing project might be led by a Director of Operations or the Director of Customer Service.

3. Services provided by organizations are paid for by member dues or additional fees. Services are provided to TheMALC associates inside the community for some compensation (fee paid, exchange of value, etc.). Services outside the community are provided for a fee or some other exchange of value.

4. Students are under instructors. Instructors are under more senior instructors, all are under the (head or seniors of) the organization. TheMALC associates work with contemporaries (other associates) and coaches (associates with a certain expertise essential to achieving the stated goal), all, work together to achieve a pre-determined goal.

5. The syllabus (rank requirement) is determined by the senior instructor (Master, Sijo, Sensei, etc.) or his board, and requirements are communicated by chain of command to the instructors and students. Organizations tend to use a specific syllabus, time in grade requirement, etc. for evaluations. Tested for or awarded rank is then based on the organization criteria. TheMALC evaluates progress based on goals set by the associate and his/her coach in cooperation with his/her contemporaries. The evaluation is tailored to the specific goal setting process. New status is awarded, if and when, an agreed on goal is achieved.

6. Organizations generally work from within their membership to achieve their internal goals. They may work cooperatively with other organizations to achieve a mutually agreed upon goal (tournament, etc.). TheMALC will work with individuals, studios, or organizations; regardless of affiliation, to achieve mutually beneficial goals.

7. Organizations can be associated under a single discipline (Shotokan Karate) or multiple disciplines (All Japan Karate Association). The Martial Arts Learning Community is a multi-disciplinary approach to personal development through active Martial Arts study. This multi-disciplinary approach allows individuals in the Community to move beyond specific Martial Arts they study (Ed Parker's Kenpo, Wado Ryu, Aikido, etc.) and include other disciplines even those that are traditionally outside of the Martial Arts. TheMALC pursues studies from personal training to information technology. Our interests in personal development generate projects from military history to marketing or massage.

8. Organizations use traditional martial arts hierarchies to create a top down management model for assets and people. In TheMALC assets and opportunities are managed, individuals are led.

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Dennis Lawson

Dennis Lawson has trained for 4 decades in Ed Parker's Kenpo. During his varied career, Mr. Lawson has been an IKKA Regional Director for Region #3, has acted as Master of Ceremonies for the International Karate Championships, and has published numerous articles in publications for the International Kenpo Karate Association, The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC), and Kenpo 2000.

Mr. Lawson has had the opportunity to study other Martial Arts and holds advanced rank in Aikido and Takemusu Aiki Budo. Dennis taught, competed in, and promoted events in the New Orleans area for 20 years. Among his list of favorite achievements is choreographing and performing Kenpo for the Dance Council of New Orleans. His academic background in psychology and love of music allow Dennis to offer a unique and entertaining approach to tailoring "the Art" to the individual. Dennis has taught seminars in Ireland, Jersey Channel Islands, The Netherlands, Portugal, and throughout the United States.

Dennis holds a Sixth Degree Black Belt in Ed Parker's Kenpo and was awarded the title “Professor” under the auspices of The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC). Mr. Lawson was inducted into the International Black Belt Hall of Fame as Master Instructor of the Year for 2006.

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