As someone who dislikes National Governing Bodies due to some abusing their positions over the decades with me, burning us and showing that an NGB is nothing more than a gang, I may come across as not neutral.

Let’s deal with the ‘for’ first…

Many Instructors don’t have the time to sort insurance, sort out child protection, set a constitution and make their clubs legal (case in point, you can do this yourself with a bit of time and the right
contacts), but many choose an NGB to get it done for them. They also think it gives them security to be part of the big body, but it’s nearly always at cost. As I said, in my eyes an NGB is just gang culture – if you are part of something big you are untouchable and safe, but as much as you feel secure, it’s incredibly hard to leave them too. If the NGB says something, their members turn a blind eye to the rhetoric spouted by those leading it, but gradually they always push more rules so you feel like you can’t breathe then they make it difficult to leave (they think anyway….).

Normally at the top of an NGB are a few that are full of self-importance, ego and position chasers. These are people that look at position to gain power over others – at least that’s my thought process.
So, what are the plus sides of an NGB?

1. More chance of getting sponsors
2. They can wangle themselves into the sports recognition angle, which is a big seller (God knows why). 29 years without it, my clubs have thrived year in year out.
3. The gang stands side by side and powerful, but are they really?
4. They get to go to major events together
5. Stability and funding are good too

To me, being a member of an NGB comes at a cost. I have been in a few NGB’s and found that many who sit at the top seemed to be sitting there to lord it over those inside it. To me, the best NGB has no head – only a group with equal rights and equal say, you need a co-ordinator, but that’s it.

On the odd occasion you find a good NGB leader, you then find they are amazing alone but they tend to change when their buddies are around as the ego punches its way through the nice person at the top and you think I was wrong, what a jerk!

Some of the practices are wrong, like telling members you can’t do that or you can’t work with them as we, the NGB, did not agree on this…or removing people when they refuse to toe the line and be a sheep and put up with their overbearing ways.

See, that is control and in the eyes of the law it is called ‘Restrictive Practice’ which many are unaware of. Give me an NGB that allows you to join only for access and recognition where you can run your own championships, use weapons in practice, attend any event you want, get your own insurance, wear your own suits and have full control of everything without threat from the NGB saying you broke our rules…. Do me a favour!

Most say you must support our events and on the low down often say privately you can’t attend that event as you must support us always…they’re not part of us… Blah…blah…blah
The above is why thousands of clubs in every country look at the NGB’s and say get lost – you charge high fees, you force your rules on members, you take away freedoms.

Many clubs like us have big events, have insurance, DBS and first aid, so we are just as professional as those in the NGB’s. We do our own exams, have a fool proof syllabus and International Belt recognition from a worthy body.

Oh, yes, and we can enter any Open events be it major or national, so Instructors like ourselves look at NGB’s and say you’re not needed but, if they change how they operate, we might work with them loosely.
Yet, at the top, the International bodies seem to make the same mistakes – yes, I call it mistakes of allowing these NGB’s to be formed under the old ways. When will they wake up and accept that you can have many groups in a country associated to your body and just implement that they all work as one.

Ok, so there are many saying what about team selection? Go back to the 80’s ‘Best of the Best’ film (great film btw) … their format was simple.

Let’s say there’s 100 groups in a country – the official NGB host an event of the best of their crop, so all your champions go and you find the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner in every category. There’s ya country team, whether 50 are in the NGB or not…winners represent the country. However, they won’t do this, as this will highlight the truth the heads don’t want you to know. Finances are made on selection event too.
Talking of finances – if my competitors get top placements, the funding would be raised by our sponsors. If funding is being paid by a major sponsor and the fee for the selections is used, it should be covered and available to all regardless. After all, it’s about the top competitors make the country have the best team, not feeding the ego of the main board members.

Also, on a side note, many of the heads are there to get their competitors on the team. Don’t believe me? Look at all the NGB’s, look at the competitors and look at the heads – often their students sit in prominent placements. Funny that!

Also, an NGB only selects from its’ members – what a crock. The sad fact is many other top exponents reside outside of the NGB.
Am I talking rubbish? NO! We have run over 30 events including one Black Belt only event where so-called world champions got beat in the preliminary rounds, showing that something has to happen to find the real champions amongst the many Independent and NGB groups.
Question is, will any of the leaders out there take the lead and work to finding the ‘Best of the Best’, instead of saying “Well, they’re not part of our gang so they can’t take part”.

We are living in a backward world, one where some are trying put their own gain first instead of looking at the big picture and saying ‘Country First’. Those that want the NGB are not doing wrong, only those that create them have got it wrong as operating as stated would find the best there is in their country, instead of running under the current system.

We have a network of over 80 groups and we don’t have a gang culture – we have unity.

So, you join the NGB and you leave a few years later – watch how most inside it will turn against you, call you a traitor and not speak to you. Gang culture – I rest my case.

If someone leaves, don’t slate them – wish them well and stay in touch. Life is too short to act so childishly.
However, to me, being independent works better, so being outside of the NGB is a game changer that many strong individuals have chosen and with no regrets.

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