What is fraud
Fraud is "the promotion, for profit, of something known to be false or unproven." Not all illegitimate organizations and pseudo-masters are committing fraud since fraud requires a deliberate deception and many of these people sincerely believe in what they are doing. However, just because one sincerely believes in what is being he or she is saying or doing, that does not mean that what is being said or done is correct, scientific, proper, or legal. The main motivation of many illegitimate organizations and pseudo-masters is promotion of themselves rather than fraud, greed, or misinformation.
"Quackery" derives from the word quacksalver (someone who boasts about his salves). Dictionaries define quack as "a charlatan" and "one who talks pretentiously without sound knowledge of the subject discussed." There are illegitimate organizations and pseudo-masters, and a few legitimate organizations and masters, around that fall under the definition of quack.
Pseudo-masters are not always totally wrong in their beliefs. A pseudo-master's style may be scientific in many respects and only minimally involved in unscientific practices. A pseudo-master's techniques may be useful for some purposes but worthless for others.
Here is a sample of one kung-fu master' claims. He claims that as a master of his martial art, you will be able to:
- Restrict or inhibit an opponent’s actions by sending a "flash" of projected energy into his or her mind to let him or her "know" that the proposed attack cannot work, causing them to become submissive and want to get away.
- Knock out the opponent's mind by use of a flash of mind energy, a Mind Stop, to totally paralyze him or her from moving, such a being unable to pull the trigger of a pistol.
Many pseudo-masters are charlatans who deliberately exploit their students. The students then become unwitting victims who share their misinformation and personal experiences with others. New students of martial arts styles are usually referred by friends, relatives, and neighbors who are already students.
The problem of illegitimate organizations and pseudo-masters may be broadly defined as "martial artists involved in over-promotion." This definition would include questionable ideas as well as questionable products and services, regardless of the sincerity of their promoters. In line with this definition, the word "fraud" would be reserved only for situations in which deliberate deception is involved.
Fraud is everywhere
While you are driving on the streets of your city, look carefully at the luxury cars you see. Some are fakes. Using eBay and other online sites, it is possible to buy any type of car emblem you want, and then, after using a hair dryer and dental floss to remove the old emblem, you can attach the fake one can be attached with some tape, and presto, you have a luxury car. Mercedes 8-cylinder coupes can be re-badged as the more expensive 12-cylinder version, or a sedan may be re-badged as coupe or, for for just $60 you could have a high-performance AMG or Brabus model. Fords are re-badged as Acura and, for $12, a Chrysler 300 may be re-badged as a Hemi-powered 300C. But as with other types of fakes, if you look carefully at the outside or look at the inside, you will be able to identify the fakes.
In the words of the great German playwright Goethe "I wish that the stage was as high and narrow as a tightrope, that way no incompetent would dare step upon it." Unfortunately, it is not, and neither are the martial arts. View the claims and credentials of martial art "masters" as you should view Hollywood documentaries, resumes, or biographies. They are all, at the best, loosely based on the truth, and, at the worst, total fabrications and lies.
The word "pseudo" means fake. There are many pseudo-masters in the martial arts world and many back up their claims using bogus science. Learn to detect illegitimate organizations and pseudo-masters and their false claims so you do not fall prey to them.
Some say all martial arts should be respected, that each is merely a different path toward the same goal. However, not all paths lead to the truth, some lead to lies, and there are also false paths lead people completely astray. Punching and kicking is not complicated. Humans have been empty hand fighting for thousands of years. One would think we would have perfected our punching technique long ago. There are no recently discovered secret techniques, only variations to age-old basic techniques that have been added by some “masters” in attempts to justify their own, and their arts', existence. There are dedicated, fervent believers in all martial arts, even martial arts that are proven frauds. Believing in something gives people a purpose in their lives, even when those beliefs are not based upon logic, reason, and facts.
Some say that each martial art is just a different way of achieving the same purpose, that no one martial art is inherently bad, and that each martial art should be respected. This “politically correct” statement supposedly tells us to respect all martial arts. Actually, this statement is a way for fraudulent martial artists to justify their existence. In effect, they are saying, “Since I respect your art, you should respect my art, and, if you do not, then you are wrong.” This makes them sound noble and makes you seem inconsiderate for not respecting their arts. Their reasoning is, since I do not criticize your (legitimate) art, you are wrong in criticizing my (illegitimate) art.
Frauds use this type of false logic all the time. Instead of providing evidence of how they are right, they criticize anyone who provides evidence of how they are wrong. Just because a person is a fervent believer in astrology, a certified expert in astrology, a teacher and writer of astrology, and an expert in performing astrology does not mean that astrology is legitimate and has any basis in fact. When examined using objective, verifiable, scientific methods, astrology has been proved to be a hoax. Nevertheless, there are those who think I am closed-minded for not believing their astrology BS might possibly be true. Likewise, there are those who think I am close-minded for not accepting the BS put out by many so-called “masters” of the martial arts.
One problem with fraud is that some of the victims are not victims at all; they know going in that the "master," the rank, or the martial art is a fraud—they just do not care. Just as people knowingly buy phony, rip-off versions of expensive products so they may appear rich even though they do not have the intelligence or abilities required to become rich, there are people who will knowing align themselves with rip-off martial arts because they are unwilling or unable to do what is required to each rank in the legitimate martial arts. Some people are fooled by illegitimate martial arts; some people are just fools.
Every student supports his or her master and most believe everything the master tells them about his or her martial art and the martial arts in general. Most students do not question the credentials of the master. If you know that your master's doctorate degree or professor and soke status were self ordained or obtained from some bogus organizations and you are pleased with the master and the instruction you are receiving and do not care about the master's credential, then that is fine. That is your choice. You have all the facts and you made your decision based upon them. However, if you are unaware of the bogus credentials or that the master is teaching you using unsubstantiated techniques and unproven theories, then you are being ripped off.
The Japanese term "Soke" correctly refers to a person who has inherited, and is often named by their predecessor, as the successor of a specific style of martial arts. However, the founders of many martial arts styles also call themselves soke. To see how many martial arts students have "founded" their own style of martial arts and make themselves the grandmaster of the art, use your browser to do a Internet search using the words "karate soke" or "Taekwondo soke". Becoming a soke is as simple as calling yourself one or you may send a membership fee to one of the many illegitimate organizations.
Illegitimate martial art organizations are almost as plentiful as pseudo-masters. Many of the illegitimate organizations have been started by pseudo-masters but some have been stated by legitimate masters who are trying to take money from the gullible public.
Before you can criticize me, you must pay me
If I want to learn your art, I have no problem in paying you to teach me. However, why should I pay for your martial art class, book, video, seminar, etc. and make you richer before I may criticize your philosophies, concepts, beliefs, or martial art. If I learn about your philosophies, concepts, beliefs, or martial art for free, why do I need have to pay you before I may comment on them? No “master” or “organization” seems to mind if you praise them without paying, however, if you criticize them, these same people think you should pay them first.
It is similar to an author who says he has found a common household item that, unbeknown to parents, is killing thousands of children every year. If you want to know what the item is, then buy his book, otherwise he does not care how many children die.
Martial art “masters” and “organizations” sell books, videos, and home study courses that they say will permit you to learn and perfect all their special techniques. Apparently, they think a person may learn their art from a book, video, or home study course. However, when someone criticizes the “masters” or “organizations,” their defense is that you have to meet them in person or experience one of their classes in person before you may know enough about them to criticize them. Well! Which is it? If I may pay you and learn your art from a book, video, or home study course without ever seeing you or taking one of your live classes, then why is it that can I not criticize you for what information I may find for free without ever meeting you or attending one of your classes?
I find information that is put out by a “master” or “organization,” evaluate the information, and then present my opinion of what I have found to the martial arts community. If a “masters” or "organizations” cannot justify their philosophies, concepts, beliefs, and techniques without someone paying them first, then they must have something to hide, and it is not some trade secret know only to their “founder.”
Unproven methods or techniques are not necessarily wrong. Although unproven, methods or techniques that are consistent with established scientific concepts may be considered experimental. However, legitimate martial artists do not promote unproven procedures in the marketplace.
Fraud increases as the public's level of education drops
The number of illegitimate organizations and pseudo-masters increases each year. They are not just a nuisance, they take money from unsuspecting students, they teach techniques that may get the students injured or killed in a self-defense situation, and they advocate illegal responses to self-defense situations. These pseudo-masters may claim that their macho egos had nothing to do with their reasons for founding a new martial art, but is it only a coincidence that nearly all of them are male and most of them are egotistical.
An old Zen parable says, "The finger that points to the moon is not the moon." The one who points to the truth does not necessarily speak the truth. The one who teaches a martial art is not the martial art. Do not mistake the finger for the moon.
People may sincerely believe they have the right answers, their children are innocent of crimes, their stock brokers have their best interests in mind, etc. However, just because a person really and truly believes something to be true, it does not mean it is true. Just because a pseudo-master sincerely believes his or her martial art is legitimate, it does not mean it is a legitimate martial art. People with little knowledge about something tend to believe martial art instructors who seem to really believe what they saying to be true, but sometimes what they are saying is completely wrong. Do not confuse belief with fact.
Most masters earned their status through legitimate means and they have no respect for illegitimate organizations or pseudo-masters, no matter how much good they appear to be doing for the martial arts. Just because a fraud does some good does not make him or her less a fraud. Take the mafia dons for example. They are loved by the people in their neighborhoods for their generosity. The neighbors do not know, have forgotten, or do not care that the dons got their power and wealth by illegal means; they only care what the dons are doing for them.
When it comes to evaluating a martial art, my basic premise is, if the techniques are as effective as claimed, why is it that professional fighters are not using the techniques to win and make more money. Granted, techniques that are inherently deadly cannot be used in sports, but if a unique punching or kicking style or some other special techniques are effective, then why do not the professionals use them. Why is it that professional fighters do not use an earth punch? As may be seen in UFC style fighting events or in street fights, what is effective in fighting is hitting the other person with a lot of basic punches and kicks while avoiding getting hit as much as possible. All the martial art BS put out by many “masters” exists only increase the egos and bank accounts of the purveyors of the BS.
When a master or instructor starts talking as if he or she was from another world—beware! A martial art is not quantum physics, it about humans fighting each other using their hands, feet, and brains, just as they have for millions of years. It is not complicated. When someone ties to make it seem complicated—beware!
Check out your organization, master, school, and instructors before you get too attached.
For more information on martial art school rip-offs, go to http://www.ripoffreport.com and search for terms such as karate, martial arts, etc. or a specific school.