Pretty much whichever martial art you get into, there is the potential for you to be affilitated with some large regional, national, or international organization or 'governing body.' Generally, you don't get to pick your affiliation when you first get started - you start working out with whatever instructor is local and convenient and agreeable to you, and if you want to keep working out or ranking in that club then you join whatever organization that club is affiliated with.
But then again, after you have been in an organization for a while and gotten a good dose of the ego and politics involved (Like anything, there are ups and downs to organization membership), you might be on the lookout for some other organization to get involved with.
I thought I'd give you a list of the things (off the top of my head) that an organization might provide - potential benefits to belonging to a martial arts organization.
- standards, curriculum, and examples of best practices
- rank validation
- connections to other instructors and students - networking
- connection to a tradition
- educational resources
- a source of guest-instructors to teach at your club
- legal protection/advice
- teacher training/certification
- validation for the way you do things
- economies of scale
- a common culture/band of brothers
- competition format/structure
- business model/training
How about you guys? What benefits to organization membership have I missed? How many of these benefits would it take to make it worth putting up with the inherent disadvantages to martial arts organizations?