Martial Arts Integrity

Martial Arts Integrity

How to determine a fraudulent Martial arts Instructor from a legitimate one when referencing newer Martial arts.

by Christian Whitney

This is a controversial issue. Many websites on the Internet have articles regarding how best to spot a non-legitimate instructor with a large percentage of them written by people with a long history in Martial sports & competition. As of this date, most of these authors leave out important criteria to look for in determining - “legitimate” or “non-legitimate” instructors. In essence, they place all newer Martial arts in the same “bad” category. Which is very discriminating to any true arts that have been founded.

One must remember not to put all of their eggs in one basket. Meaning not all founders of newer styles are frauds in the world.

An increase in newly created Martial Sport and Art styles over the last 2 decades has raised this concern. Specifically, but not limited to, new styles of Korean background (that including weaponry), styles that have the word ‘Combat’ as part of the name and dozens of Martial sports styles. Considering that most new styles being formed are by people in their early 20’s with practically no Martial arts experience, it’s easy to understand the reason for this concern.

It appears that most founders claim these titles of supremacy only for the purpose of trying to outdo the competition and because of enlarged egos. This again boils down to who created this style and what previous knowledge of styles form this new sport or art. One needs to look at the actual person who claims creation of the style. This includes their years of experience, styles that they have trained in, reasons for style formation and their personal character.

Here are red flags and areas that should raise much concern. They are to be used to assist one in determining if an instructor in question is really a con-artist and fraud.

redflagOn the school’s website and advertising words are used repeatedly such as: World champion, world’s best, Great Grandmaster, Soke, Professor etc..

redflagIf the style summery and instructor bio explains how the Art was founded upon blending other sports together. Remembering Martial sports produce and encourage huge egos and the violent “I am better then everyone” personality. Thus, the need to try to be in the spotlight and above everyone else is a large part of the reason for the creation of the new style. Martial Arts don’t produce the egos and in fact encourage the opposite, which is the losing of ones ego. The likelihood of a Martial Sport fraud is much greater, since competition and the need to be the best out there is of the utmost importance in Martial Sports. (many sport fighters have been quoted stating how they will go down in history when they win) The ego’s need for being better then anyone and self glorification is part of Martial sport.

redflagA very high ranking in a new style with the instructor claiming that all “Martial Arts” schools that teach inner development, Philosophy, Meditation and Chi energy are cults. All true Masters in the Martial arts know that this is part of the Martial art essence. Thus any legitimate Master would never make such a comment.

redflagOne should look twice at the instructors profile if the name of the new style has the word “combat” as part of it. Also if the name of the school has the words “Martial Arts” as part of the name, but they teach sport. That is another sign of deception by trying to please the masses.

redflagMost importantly, if the style was founded with less then 30 years of dedicated practice and research in the Martial Arts or if the founder is in his 20’s, it’s most likely a fraud. To be the founder of a Martial Arts style is not simply tossing a coin and having a few years of experience. It requires adequate knowledge, depth, insight and many years of previous teaching experience as well.  The average time of dedicated experience in the earlier styles created in the 20th century was approximately 30 years, with the exception of Bruce Lee's Jun Fan Gung Fu.

redflagIf there is practically no information about the instructor, style or class fees on the website. (lack of information is a marketing scam to get one to call so a used car salesman approach can be used when they get you on the phone, telling you to come in to talk)

redflagIf they can’t make up their mind and claim to teach both “Art” and “Sport” to appease the masses for a broader market. This shows that what is in the instructor’s heart is only to please the market and not his true nature. These are the schools that will go with any and all fads only to please the masses, they have no true essence as it always changes for financial gain and with the coming and going fads. Today they teach Martial sport and tomorrow it’s Martial arts. Today they may degrade and ridicule Chi energy cultivation, tomorrow they are teaching it.

The ups and downs of the business market is what they follow, going with and claiming to teach whatever the next fad will be. Mockery of certain aspects of the Martial arts one day and teaching those same aspects only when the public interest is there. By not being true to themselves, how can they be true to others or begin to teach others?

redflagLastly, look at how the instructor carries himself, treats others and students in the school (if you can) and in society. Is there benevolence and sincerity? Or is there ego, profanity and violence?

After going through all the above criteria for determining a fraud from a legitimate ‘good’ instructor, one should also review the following additional red flags below. If the instructor you are thinking about going to has passed the red flags above without much concern, the below criteria should help you determine for a fact if the person is legitimate.

redflagDoes the instructor insist that students call him Grandmaster, Soke, Great Grandmaster or professor?
redflagDoes he mind if you call him Master, Sensei or Sifu instead?

redflagInsistence on calling him Grandmaster or other high title other then Master, Sensei or Sifu proves an enlarged ego and most likely a fraud. It should work the opposite as the instructor should tell students to address him as Master ,Sensei or Sifu and students respectfully should keep to that one title.

Remembering that a instructor is your teacher regardless of being a founder, so one of the three titles mentioned should be perfectly acceptable depending on what Martial art we are referencing. A ultra casual "Hi Fred" is not an acceptable way to address a teacher in a disciplined school, however neither is a super glorified title such as Grandmaster, Soke or Professor. (although factually all founders are considered grandmaster and 10th dan regardless of what title they choose to use. The founding title is more for the record and a formality. If one insists on using the title in daily teaching it would show a very enlarged ego).

Martial arts of different cultures have different titles.  It would be very odd to call a instructor in a Korean art or Chinese art "Sensei" as it's Japanese. Chinese Kung Fu instructors are mostly "Sifu" and Master is a universal title that has been adopted in america over the last 40 years for instructors 5th dan and above.  After awhile Master was not good enough for the ego driven instructors and everyone needed to be a Great Grandmaster or Professor etc.. Keep in mind of the culture. An example not mentioned would be for the Martial art Pencak Silat. The instructor title normally used is Pendekar.  That title is not a title of supremacy, it's a normal title used in the culture in Indonesia or Malaysia for those arts.

redflagDoes the instructor make you bow to him only and not return the bow? Bowing is a show of respect for one another and your training hall (school). The instructor should always bow with the students.

redflagWill the instructor help potential students find a Martial Arts school even if they can’t come to him for lessons due to distance? Or will he simply insist that you come to him, tell you he’s sorry he can’t help and not assist you in the least with finding a good Martial Arts school?

redflagIs the instructor obsessed with Greed or does he have many discounts and would help a student if their financial situation was problematic? Is he in it only for financial gain? Offering FREE classes does not mean the instructor teaches with integrity.

redflag* Most important question - Is the instructor Mushotoku?
* (Mushotoku is total abandonment of self, thoughts, goals and desire for profit - the whole mental structure that is the foundation for the development of the ego. True compassion is this abandonment).

redflagDoes the instructor have a franchise with other schools or is he a single school owner? If he has other schools it would show fast high ranking promotions to have one instruct for him to increase his revenue. Although an instructor with a long history may have 2 schools, we are discussing the criteria for new style legitimacy that includes fast student promotions to instructor status for financial gain, not to be confused with any senior Martial arts instructors with 2 schools.

redflagReason for creating the new style? Why was it founded? What is the new styles philosophy?

These questions will help assist anyone to determine the legitimacy of a true Martial arts instructor or founder or one that is a con-artist looking for only financial gain and a throne to sit upon.

If every founder of a new style was a fraud we would be labeling the following past masters of the last 50 years as frauds. Which would be a disgrace to do.

1942     Aikido                                  Morihei Ueshiba
1956     American Kenpo                 Ed Parker
1956     Isshinryu                              Tatsuo Shimabuku
1967     Jun Fan Gung Fu (way)       Bruce Lee
1990     Chun Kuk Do                      Chuck Norris

This is only to name a few of the most commonly known styles from that time frame.

This is why one must ask the above questions to be able to clearly distinguish and determine fraud from legitimate founder.

It is very easy for someone to be mislead by the insincere, fraudulent instructors in the world today, but also just as easy to discredit a newer legitimate Martial art by putting all the eggs in one basket.

Use the checklist and you will be lead in the proper direction.

About the author
Master Christian Whitney has over 32 years experience in the Martial arts, is founder of Genshinryu and has been training in the Martial arts since 1975. He has never trained in a Martial sport and has been witness to all the fads from the 1970’s until present day. From the fads of buying a 33 LP record to become blackbelt in 6 weeks through mail order in the 1970’s, the “train by mail & become a Ninja instructor” boom in the 1980’s and the Martial sport ego stigma and false marketing of the 1990’s (which continues today).

He has been teaching Martial Arts for the last 20 years mostly on a part time basis and has held other positions in marketing or in the corporate environment over this time (as to keep instructor integrity). He is happy to assist anyone looking for a Martial arts school regardless if they come to his Dojo.

This is called *Mushotoku.. without it, one is not teaching the Martial essence and can be absorbed by greed resulting in untruthfulness, insincerity and a lack of concern for people if they can’t offer money. The author teaches out of his traditional Dojo located in Far Hills, NJ and holds private, semi-private and small group classes.

Additionally, the author has advanced experience in spotting Martial arts fraud and over the last 30 years has witnessed:
* people make 6th dan blackbelt in less then a 3 year period

* has known someone to claim a 5th dan blackbelt in a style he never trained a day in, also claiming to have trained with the founder in the 1960’s while in Okinawa before his passing then listing this false information on a website to deceive the public. Thus, giving himself 20 years more experience that he didn’t have and false honors of training with the founder. Personally knowing this person because he began his Martial arts training in the late 1980’s at a Dojo Master Christian was training at. Then he lacked the discipline to write a thesis for black belt and dropped out because he didn’t want to do it. Prior Dojo records and demo videos with him as a yellow belt prove this deception.

* Has known a person to be promoted to 5th dan blackbelt in a new (combat) style formed in 1993 after training for only 2 years. This was so he could promote the new style. This new style was formed from previous sport combinations and is well known today.

* Has seen many people make blackbelt in a sport in a 10 month period as only to assist the instructor by teaching additional classes.

* Has personally been told by a couple of sport school owners in person that they use the words “Martial arts” and “Karate” in advertising even though they don’t teach it because it’s good for marketing. They also stated they didn’t understand what was wrong with doing that.

This is only to name a few occurrences of the hundreds of corrupt experiences he has been witness to.

Standing up for goodwill, righteousness and Justice is part of the Bushido code that he lives by. This is the reason the author has written this article.


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