We've all seen the Kung Fu or Karate movies where the ancient master is an enlightened being. He provides wisdom to his students in the form of koans (sayings that are meant to be enigmatic and have multiple possible meanings depending on the person trying to interpret them).
Many accounts of Karate Masters during turn of the century Japan (late 1800's) recant tales about these men being nothing more than highly trained ruffians in many cases. Of course, there were a few like Anko Itotsu who was more scholar than thug.
Itotsu is credited with creating the Ten Precepts of Karate as well as introducing Karate as part of the curriculum in Okinawa schools.
Jumping a few decades into the 1960's, Japanese and Korean systems of Karate made their way to the United States. They weren't popular for quite a few reasons.
Fast forward to the 80's. A new breed of school owner and teacher came on the Karate Scene. These men (because women hadn't made their way into this predominately male pass time just yet), took their lead (literally) from Dance Schools.
Lessons were sold as packages with discounts for paying in full for months and sometimes years at a time! Of course, these sales were on contract and enforced by the Law.
They marketed to Parents and their children, touting the benefits of Karate: Discipline, Respect & Self-Defense being chief among them. Not to mention the promise of the oft referred to near mystical Black Belt!!
If the instructor was worth their salt, they imparted the "normal" curriculum which was taught to them for their students. If there was one legitimate instructor, there were at least two more that were in the business for the money only.
The trend from the 80's continues even today. Martial Arts schools have MMA programs because they're popular, add things like Cardio Kick Boxing for exercise and do everything they can to draw in more people to make more money.
Take, take, take from the community.
Sure, the schools "give back" in small bits from time to time. Very few of them actually incorporate Community minded activities into their curriculum.
Today, in Modern Society, it isn't enough for Martial Arts schools to commit charitable acts simply to placate the people in their community.
It's time for a return to the ideals espoused by Itotsu. Martial Arts schools need to commit genuine, unselfish acts that strengthen the community that supports them. If done properly, a symbiotic relationship will form in which each entity feeds and thrives by its continued dedication and involvement with the other.