We're the Problem

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by OwlMAtt, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. OwlMAtt

    OwlMAtt Armed and Scrupulous

    Who's the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?
    - Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars

    Apparently this happened a couple years ago, but I was only alerted to it recently by this thread on Martial Arts Planet. Famous (or infamous) "ninjutsu masters" Ashida Kim and Frank Dux are now inductees into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame. I don't know how legitimate or prestigious the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame is, so I don't know if this is a great honor or just an excuse to throw a party. I do know, however, that any "hall of fame" that includes Kim and Dux is inviting some pretty big questions about its selection process.

    I am, as I keep saying, only a beginner myself, so I can't make any criticism of these two men solely on my own meager authority. But the good folks at bullshido.org have taken Kim and Dux apart quite handily: here and here, respectively. At the very least, these two have extremely questionable credentials and are propagating a movies-and-comic-books perception of the martial arts. Worse, the information presented by Bullshido makes a strong case for outright lies and fraud.

    And yet, both these men are receiving honors like induction into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame. Both are successful instructors. Kim has made a living for decades writing ninjutsu books. Dux has even been the subject of a major motion picture starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.

    If the evidence against these two is so strong and so available, how have they become so successful? Why have people been so willing to give their money and their respect to two men who can be easily discredited with a simple internet search? Back in the Eighties when they were first cashing in on the ninja craze, perhaps a lack of information might have been blamed, but we've had Google for more than a decade now. And even without it, shouldn't reasonable adults be skeptical of claims to have trained under secret masters or won secret tournaments that no one else has ever heard of?

    Before I go too far, let me make clear that the purpose of this piece is not to discredit Ashida Kim or Frank Dux. If a few people, after reading this piece, are inspired to learn the truth about these two for themselves, so much the better. But Kim, Dux, and many others like them are just symptoms, not the disease. Here, they only serve as a starting point for a discussion of something much bigger than them. I hate the players far, far less than I hate the game.

    Snake oil salesmen, as some savvy readers are likely already thinking to themselves, are hardly unique to the martial arts. Every field has its share of charlatans and underqualified hacks looking for an easy dollar. But in the martial arts, the easy dollars seem especially easy to come by. What makes the martial arts exceptional is not an abundance of snake oil salesmen, but an abundance of eager snake oil consumers.

    There are plenty of examples right here in the Milwaukee area (my little blog can't do much harm to Kim and Dux, but I won't be naming these names). I could direct you to a popular taekwondo club in a southern suburb of Milwaukee run by a "master" whose fifth dan in taekwondo comes from an organization that doesn't exist. It took me ten seconds on Google to find this out; dozens, perhaps hundreds, of students are willing to pay this man up to $160 a month for training but couldn't be bothered to take those ten seconds.

    I could direct you to a kenpo instructor on the south side of Milwaukee who was kicked out of the organization that oversees his tradition and stripped of his rank by its board of masters. This information is supplied helpfully in the Yahoo! Local reviews of his club. He continues to make a living as a teacher of said tradition, however, and his club was even recently featured on the local news.

    I could direct you to a martial arts club in the northwest part of Milwaukee that is part of a successful nationwide chain. The "grandmaster" who founded that chain has been fined for consumer fraud, has spent five years in prison for conspiracy to commit tax fraud, and claims to have won a championship tournament that does not exist. His clubs have also been widely accused of cult-like behavior by the media. All this information is readily available on Wikipedia.

    Note the commonalities here: (1) they're all being kept in business by many paying customers, and (2) very damning information about all of them is only a click away on some of the most popular search sites on the internet. This is not a case of secretive businessmen protecting their livelihoods by keeping their shady practices under wraps; their secrets are out for anyone who bothers to look. But people, even people smart enough to accumulate a lot of money for themselves, aren't looking. Why not?

    I think the answer lies in the popular perception of the martial arts as something esoteric and inscrutable. People assume that they can't understand the mysteries of the martial arts on their own, and so put their trust in anything they see in movies or hear from someone in a fancy costume. The sport of mixed martial arts is slowly chipping away at this perception, but not quickly enough for my tastes.

    For example, Florida judge John Hurley recently declared from the bench that the hands and feet of anyone with a black belt in karate should be legally considered deadly weapons. That's right, moms, your 12-year-old who's put in three-and-a-half years at Master Bob's Karate in the strip mall is now a deadly weapon.

    This kind of ignorance boggles the mind. John Hurley is no one's fool. Besides being a former attorney with a law degree, he's also a former Navy intelligence officer. He wasn't born yesterday. Why is he willing to accept such a fanciful, romanticized understanding of the martial arts without question, even when his understanding of the martial arts is about to be a focal point of a ruling? I think he, like so many others, has never considered the possibility that a deeper understanding is available to a layman like himself.

    The legal implications of this kind of misconception are staggering, but that's not the worst of it. Meet Jim Green:
    Yes, that's a child Green is teaching to take falls from imaginary forces. It should go without saying that I find this despicable and dangerous.

    Personally, I don't care whether or not Green honestly believes his karate gives him telekinetic powers. What really frightens me is that parents (no few of them, judging from the kids sitting along the edge of the mat) were happy to entrust their children to a man who wants to use them as props in his magic tricks. They were undeterred by their knowledge of basic physics and apparently unwilling to to seek out a second opinion before investing their money and their offspring.

    I've never encountered anything quite this outlandish in my own aikido (though examples of such things in aikido can certainly be found--a quick look through YouTube turns up at least two telekinetic aikido masters), but I have had instructors try to teach me how to throw opponents with "spiritual energy" and try to demonstrate how they can increase the pressure their body weight puts on the mat through manipulation of ki. In cases like this, I nodded and smiled politely, but my common sense was unshaken (it is worth noting that I no longer train at the club where these instructors teach).

    I don't think this shows exceptional willpower or wisdom on my part. What makes me different from the willing victims I've profiled in this piece is my confidence (the result of reading I did on the subject before I started training) that nothing in the martial arts is too mysterious or magical for my uninitiated mind to comprehend.

    Such confidence is not hard to come by and does not require martial arts experience. We have the internet. We have libraries. We have televised mixed martial arts competitions with experienced commentators who get paid to explain how techniques work. In today's world, there are simply no excuses left for being duped into martial arts nonsense. We have every defense we need right at our fingertips.

    Martial artists like myself love to complain about charlatans who stain the reputation of the martial arts. I think it's important, though, to remember that people like Kim, Dux, and Green aren't really the problem: we are. We're the ones begging, and even paying, for the opportunity to be fooled. Others may be telling the lies, but the lies need us to feed them.

    (This article originally appeared on The Young Grasshopper, OwlMatt's martial arts blog.)
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012
  2. 47MartialMan

    47MartialMan Valued Member

    I don't think this shows exceptional willpower or wisdom on my part. What makes me different from the willing victims I've profiled in this piece is my confidence (the result of reading I did on the subject before I started training) that nothing in the martial arts is too mysterious or magical for my uninitiated mind to comprehend.

    As with anything, research goes a long way.

    What comes to mind;

    Caveat Emptor (misnomer)

    Kalama Sutta (Sutra)

  3. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    The problem is that people still perpetuate these myths and are allowed to do so without challenge

    Take chi - it's just physicality, but people still try and present it as something that it isn't. MAP even put up a "non-skeptics" chi thread so they would not have to deal with reality.

    I have always called BS on this type of thing, and continue to do so. As long as there is no recourse or consequences to teh fraud they perpetuate they will contiue to do so. But if you think Martial Arts are bad look at Peter Popoff and the like - still going

    Humanity is sadly stupid it seems
  4. Aegis

    Aegis River Guardian Admin Supporter

  5. AndrewTheAndroid

    AndrewTheAndroid A hero for fun.

    That is just part and parcel with living in a free society. What are our other options? Bring in Government legislation? Put a death notice on their front door?

    All we can really do is to try and expose these frauds and let people know before they get sucked in. If they don't want to listen, then our hands are clean at least. That being said I don't know why anyone would pay money for anything without first knowing what they are paying for. I can't even buy a new Camera without first going through each new model's stats with a fine pick and comb.
  6. LilBunnyRabbit

    LilBunnyRabbit Old One

    Mandatory education in critical thinking and rational, evidence-based analysis would be a good start.

    Or alternatively develop our own, carefully tailored, frauds then sit back and let the money pour in.

    That's a whole different area of discussion. Suffice it to say, you can persuade almost anyone to buy/do almost anything if you find the right angle.
  7. OwlMAtt

    OwlMAtt Armed and Scrupulous

    I think what we need to do is try to change the attitudes people have about the martial arts. The reason hucksters get away with so much more in the martial arts than they do in the world of (to use your example) cameras is that no one thinks a camera is a foreign, mystical thing that can only be understood by someone who's spent years in a remote Asian temple.

    Martial arts hucksters will be relegated to the willfully ignorant fringes when the world (especially the Western world) realizes that the martial arts are a perfectly mundane, perfectly accessible activity that anyone can understand.
  8. niftyniffler

    niftyniffler Valued Member

    :wow:Wow! that video takes "non contact" to a whole new level...
  9. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    I believe you're spot on with your thread. I do HEMA /WMA, and everytime I try to describe what I'm doing, people start telling me theese fairytales about "tha magical katana", the "rip hart out-punch", etc.

    As everybody knows, weastern sword-fighting was brute strength with 5kg lumps of metal, whereas the asians, were taught the secret arts of swordplay by semidivine masters in temples. The funny thing is that weastern swordplay and swords were allways schrouded in myth and superstition, -but is percieved as that by the modern man. When Norse Sagas are telling about magical swords with their own name, and ability to cut chainmail, etc, people just smile and put it in the fantasy-genre. But find the same story about a katana and it's smith, and people believe every word :rolleyes:
  10. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    please refer to this thread where i believe most your comments have been moved:

    And the reasoning why this article is not considered criminal:

    and the reasoning by your name change is stated:

    i'm pretty sure the mods would be happy with you staying in the topic thread

    ANGELSGYMSINGH Valued Member


    Hello everyone. I am sorry that I have not been participating in the forum for awhile. I have been working on my applied sports psychology program research. This is an interesting thread and I may have some meaningful input. This forum has been a great medium for my vetting of literary publication in my exploration of Internal Boxing. During this journey I have actually been able to engage in the story of Master Frank Dux.

    I have spoken to Master Dux personally and my yoga teacher has met him personally and spoke to me about him and his work. I am a recent inductee and he is a fellow inductee of the US Martial Arts Hall of Fame. We are both recognized as quality adepts in martial arts by the International Grandmasters Council. If you are involved in the traditional Internal Martial Arts community then you will recognize Master Li and Cook who are also fellow inductees. The US Martial Arts Hall of Fame is as legitimate. It takes money and who you know to get into the society and be recognized by the group. I have experienced the people in the group and I can attest to the dedication to the martial arts that the members and inductees have to their respective systems. Mater Dux is not exception.

    Like him my work in the publication and application of martial science has be challenged and successfully defended. Like him through those experiences I have come to know that continuous learning is a must for an aspiring adept. Unlike him I video and present a lot of my work to the public and I understand and accept why he does so with respect. Because of my experiences I have come to learn that, other than the obvious, there is no need to challenge the abilities of an adept who has been recognized as a master of his/her craft. To do so suggests an inner weakness and lack of confidence in ability. Perhaps this is the result of maturity. Perhaps this is the result of commitment to the transformative powers derived from dedicating oneself to Martial Science. I am not sure speaking in a qualitative manner about this subject. I am sure about the following quantitative aspects of mastering martial science until it becomes and art that one projects in the presence of others....

    I am completing my terminal degree in education. It specializes in building curriculums for martial programs by integration Vedic, Taoist training methods. Formal integration in this sense is a natural western schema of learning. The effort is aimed at gathering, refining and cultivating methods and techniques that bring combat sports athletes to the top of their game. During research I have found that progress is a process that must conform to some basic numbers: It takes the application of 10,000 (reps, hours, mins, etc...) to become an adept at the general aspects of our arts. Then it takes that number applied to each sub-set of these generalities. And so on and so on.... It takes 90 days of training a subset of a system to make that training a habit. That habit must be recalibrated every 120 days in order to maintain the intrinsic motivation to continue training. Mastery of the great beast is the core to becoming an adept in the pugilistic, health and instructional aspects of our martial systems and it takes the application of the standards mentioned previously at a 300 rep a day rate of conscious breathing cycles be able to manipulate brain waves so that alpha waves are high, beta are continuous, mu waves are suppressed in movement and continuous in stillness, theta vision to become clear, delta and gamma to be consciously entered. The Master of the martial arts... any martial arts can assess their reticular activating systems which control autonomic function.

    I state all of this to demonstrate that I have done enough homework to be taken seriously but also to make the following statement with some weight. I believe that Master Dux is all that he says he is an more. Not because of the obvious physical power that he posseses but because of a quality about hom that everyone I have spoken to repeats.... He is extremely compassionate. He has a powerfully calm presence that demands attention and he is will to teach anyone willing to learn in a personal manner and their are a lot of students that he teaches that are very very competent in the combative aspects of martial science....

    Much love and respect Master Dux...... G
  12. Simon

    Simon Back once again Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    This is an oxymoron, surely.

    You pay your money and in you go. That's hardly quality assurance.
  13. Giovanni

    Giovanni Well-Known Member Supporter

    apparently, you don't need to know much english for 'applied sports psychology' or 'education'.
  14. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    I honestly don't think we need anything of your post beyond this.

  15. mattt

    mattt Valued Member

    Sounds like Harvard.
  16. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Highly Skilled Peeper Supporter

  17. Simon

    Simon Back once again Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

  18. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    ANGELGYMSINGH, you are an inductee? Don't you need to be famous to enter a 'Hall of Fame'? I've never heard of you...

    ANGELSGYMSINGH Valued Member

    No rushes to judgement

    There is a Vedic affirmation that I am partial to in the practice of moving and stilling meditation:

    Keneshitnam Patati Prishitnam Nama... So Han Srivo han: What is the power that directs my mind to its desired objects and conclusions? The power of that power I bend to with open hand because the power of that power ... I AM!!!!

    Really bros... We should visit a convention before rushing to judgment if for only two reasons... Until proven we must welcome other and new people into our circle of knowledge and the opportunity to meet some great fellow artists. If having to pay to get into an organization turns my brothers off I can understand that, especially if they can not pay. but that does not lessen their competence anymore than those that can pay. However way it may smart a bit when we assess our own sense of worth we should not become haters without cause.... But in reality ... Eventually all have to live up to professed skills. I personally noticed that there were martial artists that were very martially skilled, socially approachable, martially scholared and financially secure people at the 2013 USMAHOF Convention.

    The speaker for my induction ceremony last summer was Nick Quarry, veteran UFC fighter and 2010 Inductee. He did a seminar their along with inductees who were Israeli Combatives Instructors well known in the US. I was surprised and honored to learn how many other famous artists, instructors and fighters are also inductees from Karate, Kung Fu, MMA and Close Quarters Combat systems. However, what is great about the organization is that it recognizes competent martial artists who are not as famous or not famous at all but have significantly contributed to our communities. I am in the former category and got to meet, converse with and share knowledge with the famous, not so famous and unknown artists from all over the world. never once did I get the feeling that anyone I met was a fraud.

    Not all but some people are committed enough at their disciplines to be able to apply it in all parts of their life. Although it is superficial it is no less valid that an adept at the transformative discipline of Martial Science can take care of themselves combatively, socially, academically and financially. Although not true of aesthetics in our community it should certainly be true of teachers of the arts. This is especially true in the community discussed in this forum. All I had met had made significant contributions to the arts in teaching, competition, publication or personal growth that was demonstrated at the gathering.

    Most of the inductees I met were acknowledged adepts in their respective systems before being recognized. There may be some that are not as competent as others and there may even be a few that somehow faked their way into the organization. The fact that they could pay the dues of membership and entry does not make them any less or more competent then professionals who are members in any organization. As always the proof is in the demonstrated commitment to discipline, method and technique.

    ANGELSGYMSINGH Valued Member

    Look me up

    hey bro please look me up.... goggle search.. The Art of Western Tai Chi Chuan.... Also look up a well read thread I began called "Illusive Pugilism".... A fellow UK resident and famous author Damo Mitchell knows of my work and my book is sold in the UK ... My work is known amongst some internal boxing adepts... Be Well...
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013

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