Are you familiar with or have you heard of a martial arts organization known as XXX? They are the home of the "XXX Hall of Fame", do you know the requirements or criteria for getting inducted, and is this hall of fame legit? This information is not available on their web site, and they will only give out the information via direct phone contact. They also claim to be able to award dan promotions pending a review of their "upgrade review board”, can they do this? I thought promotions in dan were only done through the organizations that originally issued them (aka...Kukkiwon, WTF, ITF, ATA etc...) Do dan promotions given by the XXX now compromise the validity of instructors promoted through the XXX? Do you know of a way that I can check to see if an instructor was promoted through their review board but do it anonymously?
It is always good to be skeptical, especially when related to the martial arts and all the martial art “masters.”
As to the organization in question:
- I've never heard of the XXX, but then a new one appears or disappears every day on the Internet.
- There are as many “hall of fames” as there are organizations. The only “halls of fame” that might be considered legitimate are the independent ones, such as those maintained by martial art magazines. In addition, one should not have to pay to be inducted into a hall of fame.
- Anyone can award rank. There are no local, national or international laws governing it. If people are dumb enough to send their money, they can get certified by any group.
- A snake gives birth to baby snakes that grow up and give birth to more baby snakes. A snake may tell you he or she is not really a snake, but that does not change the fact that he or she is a snake. If you have rank issued by a well-established, well-known, and well-respected organization, why would you want your rank “recognized” by some other dippy organization.
- These organizations are usually operated from someone’s home computer. There is no national office. You can see if the person in question is listed on the Alliance web site as a board member or one of their “doctors.” The reason for secrecy is because there is something about you that you do not want anyone to know about, usually because it will compromise your status in some way. Those who conceal where and how they got their rank must be ashamed of it.
- The design and construction of the XXX web site is very simple for this to be a major national and international organization. The site looks as if it was done on a home computer. The web sites of major organizations, such as the WTF, ITF, ATA, etc., are professionally done. Everything in the XXX operates through a box number, no physical address is ever given, even in the registration of their domain name.
As stated on their web site “Rank is a valuable tool of our trade. As you are aware there are many instructors that give themselves whatever rank or pay big money to mail order organizations to obtain a rank or belt of their choice. This happens daily!” Odd that they would start out by telling you to be careful of organizations such as theirs.
As stated on the web site “We agree it should not be this way. However, there is nothing like authenticity!! That's us, the XXX. We do not grant rank to anyone! Each candidate must meet certain requirements before we will authorize rank. Our International Advisory Board Members must all agree before ranks are bestowed.” Sounds as if Bill Clinton wrote this; they say they do not “grant” rank to anyone, they “bestow” it. Must be really difficult to get “bestowed” rank (ha!) since “all” board members must agree, There must be a lot of board members since any 5th degree and above ranks they “bestow” are automatically made board members.
As stated on the web site “All 5th degrees and higher automatically placed on our National Review Board. 8th degrees and higher are automatically placed on our International Review Board. Be aware: The information you provide regarding your background and training will be researched and verified.” Therefore, this means that they bestow high rank on applicants and then automatically make the applicants board members that can bestow rank on others. From what I can find on the site, they charge a $30 application fee. How much research and verification is going to take place for $30?
The XXX President, ZZZ and other board members call themselves doctors, but there doctorates are awarded by the “University of YYY,” a “recognition program” operated by ZZZ . ZZZ also operates the “VVV" another rip-off organization. One of the XXX ’s international board members is Jack Stern. Do an Internet search to read about him; he is a convicted fraud.
I used reverse phone number lookup on the organization's phone number and found it was registered to XXX. A Google Maps search found the address is in a run-down apartment complex in a town with population about 500, in the middle of nowhere.
Read more topics in the fraud section of TKDTuor.com for more information on fraudulent organizations, pseudo-masters, and sokes. Keep up your skepticism, it will serve your well.
You gave me quite a bit of good information last week. For that I would like to say thank you. I was hoping to pick your brain one more time, as my own searches have come up empty. I have been learning Taekwondo for the past few years with the same instructor, Master MMM. He has been a great instructor and has done a lot for the community and at risk kids. However, I am having trouble verifying some of the credentials on his bio. My initial searches led me to the organization called XXX...hence my first e-mail to you. Master MMM claims that he is the creator of a martial art called RRR (and we do belt in RRR as well as Taekwondo), and that RRR is recognized by the "Council of LLL". I cannot find a Council of LLL anywhere on the web nor can I find any martial arts council that both recognizes or grants sokeships and that Master MMM is listed. Are you as skeptical as I am about that claim and how do I verify it?
As you are discovering, martial styles and ranks are a conglomeration of some fact, lots of hype, and many outright lies. “Official” certifying organizations appear and disappear every day. You pay to get a high rank certificate or a PhD from one of these phony organizations, use those to get more rank from another one, use it to get a soke from another one, etc. Some people have good martial art techniques and/or are good teachers and they are satisfied with that. Others do not have the intelligence or skills to be successful at anything else in life, so they create their own arts to build their egos. Once they create the first lie, it seems to escalate, and they create more and more lies to support it. Most grow to believe their own lies. Some are genuinely idiots, and truly believe that all their phony certificates and made up resumes are real.
It is odd that people never seem to invent new martial art. They always take the “best” from other arts, give the collection a name, and presto, they have founded a “new” martial art. However, the martial arts are not the only places things similar to this occur. Yoga and its poses have been around for centuries, but “new” versions keep appearing. Birkram Yoga (hot yoga) is a series of 26 poses that are done in a 105-degree room. Although the poses are the same ones used in any other types of yoga, Bikram Choudury copyrighted the order in which the 26 poses are done and thus no one can teach them in this order without paying for training and a getting a franchise from him.
Championships are also a time a dozen. There are probably a hundred “national” and “international” tournaments all over the country every weekend. Take the organization I train with, Taekwondo America. At their tournaments, both regional and local, there are about 1000 competitors. Within a specific division, for example, 20-30 year old first degree black belt women, there may be 50 competitors. To get the tournament completed in a reasonable time, they break the division into groups of 10 to 12 competitors and send each group to a ring to compete. Within each group, trophies are awarded. So within that that division, there may be three or four 1st place trophies awarded. This is great for business, but it does not mean a 1st place trophy winner was the best in the division at the tournament. However, for the rest of their lives, the competitors will brag about their first place trophies in a national tournament.
Good luck in your quest to find the truth about your instructor. You appear to be a wise woman with a lot of healthy skepticism, but with all the interlocking phony organizations, it is nearly impossible to verify anything. If you probe too deeply, the instructor will just tell you to leave the school, and then he will just continue as he has before.
As I tell people, find a martial art that serves your purpose; find an instructor in the art that seems to be proficient, is not a kook, is a good teacher, and whose personality fit yours; find a school that is close by, reasonably priced, and does not have an organization that rips you off; and then just be content in your training. Your art and rank may be meaningless outside your school or town, but if it serves your purpose, you are happy. Just do not expect anyone else to respect the art or the rank.
I don’t agree completely with my instructor or his organization, but overall they serve my purpose more than any others in my area do, so I stay with them. Over the years, I grown to accept some of their philosophies and way of doing things, and they have grown to accept some of mine. However, if they ever appeared to be defrauding me or others, I would just leave.