There is an old saying, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck!
It's not true; it could be a crow masquerading as a duck.
What is a pseudo-master?
Something that is pseudo is not real or genuine. A pseudo-master is not a real or genuine master; the master designation is merely the product of the person's imagination. Some pseudo-masters are self created; they fake their resume and credentials to make themselves appear to be masters or they "found" their own style and make themselves the master of the style. Some pseudo-masters are the creation of other pseudo-masters; a rank awarded by a pseudo-master is just as bogus as the original pseudo-master's rank.
Indicators of pseudo-masters
Another way to state this is, if you dress, behave, perform, write, and speak like a master, then the gullible public will perceive you as a master, even if you are not a master!
The following are indicators that compare pseudo-masters and legitimate masters. The indicators are not foolproof, but if you do a little research into the background of a claimed master you may find that many, if not all, of the indicators are present, which should cause you to reconsider you opinion of the "master."
- Pseudo-master indicators are in normal text. Legitimate master indicators are in bold text.
- Pseudo-masters make blatantly obvious claims to be the descendant or successor of some supreme grand master or style founder. If a legitimate master is a descendant or a successor, you will have to search to discover it. The master will be humble and not publicize or mention it.
- Pseudo-masters wear uniforms that would make the robes of a king or queen look inadequate. Their uniforms are usually covered with patches, wild colors, piping, silk, symbols, etc. They wear colorful head bands, wrist bands, etc. Pseudo-masters have large egos, but usually do not have the intellect, education, skills, etc. that would allow them the success needed to justify the large egos. To make up for the deficient, they wear clothing they think makes them appear special. Legitimate masters usually wear simple uniforms of the traditional colors used by their arts.
- Pseudo-masters wear belts that are extra wide and/or extra log. The belts are usually brightly colored and cover with symbols. The ranks stripes are wide, bright, and numerous. The belts are usually as preposterous as their uniforms. Legitimate masters wear simple belts with simple stripes.
- Pseudo-masters speak mumbo jumbo. They use terminology they invented or learned from another pseudo-master. They give complicated names to simple things or techniques to make them sound special. Legitimate masters speak clearly and use standard phraseology.
- Pseudo-masters are usually founders of a new martial. Since there are only a few ways to kick, punch, and grapple, all variations of each are already used in traditional martial arts. Therefore any new art is usually a combination of existing martial arts, or it is some existing martial art with new packaging. Legitimate masters are usually masters in well-established traditional martial arts.
- Pseudo-masters claim their methods and techniques are secret, banned, mystical, cannot be measured scientifically, rely on some special herb or tonic, rely on some internal power that only comes from years of training with said masters, are too deadly to be used by other martial arts, or use some death or delayed death touch. Legitimate masters use time-tested techniques that have been proved scientifically or in actual use.
- Pseudo-masters claims to be a professor or a PhD in the martial arts or some other obscure subject. A check of a pseudo-master's vita will usually result in the degree being a mail order or online degree from an unaccredited university, an "alternative" learning university, some degree program set up by another pseudo-master, or some foreign unrecognized university. Some degrees are honorary, bestowed by some supreme grand pseudo-master. Diplomas, just like rank certificates, are easily generated on computers and are easily obtained from Internet sources. Legitimate masters have standard degrees from accredited universities and have certified transcripts to prove it.
- Pseudo-masters have rank, usually high rank, in numerous martial arts. Like roaches, pseudo-masters seem to attract each other. They give each other rank in each other's "organizations" so they all seem like supermen. Legitimate masters have rank in one or two, may three unique arts that complement each other and do not conflict with each other. Just as you cannot be a true Baptist and also be a true Catholic, you cannot be a true believer in the concepts of, and a black belt in, Taekwondo, and also be a true believer in the concepts of, and a black belt in, Shito-ryu karate. If you truly believe in one, you cannot truly believe in the other.
- Pseudo-masters are members of some "recognizing" or "unifying" organization; some even operate their own "recognizing" organization. If you have rank from a legitimate organization, you do not need to be "recognized" by any other organizations. Recognizing organizations tend to "recognize" each other and the members of each other, for a fee of course. These organizations claim not criticize other organizations, styles, or people; however, this claim is usually used to indict others who dare criticize them. Legitimate masters belong to their style's regional, national, or international organizations and that is all, unless membership in another organization is needed for competition, such as belonging to the AAU to compete in AAU tournaments.
- Pseudo-masters are members of one or more "halls of fame" of "recognizing" organizations. Legitimate masters are recognized by their peers in their own organizations.
- Pseudo-masters are usually fat and out of condition, and have some reason for being that way, like a hormone imbalance. Legitimate masters are usually in excellent physical condition, whatever their age or medical situation.
- Both legitimate masters and pseudo-masters have concern for their reputations, and the reputations of their schools, arts, and organizations. However, legitimate masters strive to maintain good reputations, sometimes at the risk of other things, such as income, while pseudo-masters, will risk their reputations in the pursuit of another dollar. The most successful con men are those who are friendly, likable, good looking, seem to care, and seem to know what they are doing. Sometimes masters are too good to be true—so beware.
- Pseudo-masters, although they are now slow and use poor technique, have tales of yesteryear when they were the greatest fighters on the planet. You do not have to know anything about snow skiing to recognize a world-class skier on the slopes; even old ones still have world-class techniques. If you could perform a perfect kick to an opponent's head as a 20 year old, you should at least be able to perform a perfect kick to an opponents' abdomen as a 60 year old, or to the opponent's knee as a 70 or 80 year old. If you could ever ride a bicycle, you will never forget how to ride a bicycle no matter how old you are, or how long it has been since you last rode. Legitimate masters always use perfect techniques or, if unable to perform perfect techniques due to health reasons, will at least know how to teach perfect technique.
- Pseudo-masters usually demand some type respect other than common courtesy; they demand to be called eternal grandmaster, overlord, your highness, or some other ego boosting title that makes them feel important since they have no real authority or power. Legitimate masters only have your call them sir or ma'am or some other simple traditional title.
- Pseudo-masters have photographs hung on walls that show them with numerous other pseudo-masters. The photographs were usually made at one of the aforementioned hall of fame banquets held by recognizing organizations. To be photographed with a master, all you have to do is be at an event where the master is participating in photograph taking with fans; it does not necessarily mean the master knows who you are. Legitimate masters will also have photographs but they will usually be of them with community leaders.
Modern pseudo-masters are super salesmen. They play on fear, cater to hope,and, once they have you, they will keep you coming back for more. Seldom do their victims realize how often or how skillfully they have been cheated.
Most people think that a pseudo-master would be easy to spot, but sometimes it difficult to separate fact from hype. Many pseudo-masters use scientific terms and quote (or misquote) scientific references. Many think of a pseudo-master as a weird, loud person with outlandish ideas, so they are fooled by the smooth talking, well dressed, seemly educated pseudo-masters. How many people do you know who believe in acupuncture, parapsychology, death touch, walking on hot coals, crystal power, pyramid power, the plants can communicate, astrology, etc.
Pseudo-masters are not promoting the quality of their arts, but their ability to influence people. To those who feel victimized by bullies, they promise relief. To those who feel victimized by crime, they promise to make you a killing machine. To the health-conscious, they promise good health. Pseudo-masters reach people by appealing to their emotions. The following are some of the ways they do it:
- Appeal to vanity. Pseudo-masters appeal to your curiosity and persuade you give their art a try and see if it works. When you notice some results, then they appeal to your vanity to convince you to disregard scientific fact in favor of your personal experience. Anytime a person tries something new, he or she will notice some changes and results; that how fad diets work. Usually people notice results because they are desperate for some results. Pseudo-masters will tell you that traditional styles are outdated. They convince you that although their techniques have been proven not to work for other people, they still might work for you—because you are special.
- Turn students into salespeople. Most people, who think they have been helped by an unorthodox art, enjoy sharing their success stories with their friends. People who give such testimonials are usually motivated by a sincere wish to help their friends. Rarely do they realize how difficult it is to evaluate any martial art on the basis of personal experience. Many people experience the placebo effect (see the next item for information on the placebo effect), where a person feels better merely because he or she has taken a positive step in his or her life. Since we tend to believe what others tell us of their personal experiences, testimonials may be powerful persuaders. Despite their unreliability, they are the cornerstone of a pseudo-master's success. Some pseudo-masters systematically turn their students into salespeople.
- Use involuntary actions. Pseudo-masters use the involuntary thoughts and motions that occur in people to fool the public into thinking that the pseudo-masters have special powers. Sometimes, pseudo-masters fool themselves to the point that they actually believe they have special powers. People who claim to find water using "divining rods" are in this last category. They hold rods or sticks loosely in their hands and claim that the rods come together when the person is standing over water. They believe that divining works and are unaware that they are actually involuntarily moving the rods.
- Use of fear. A slick way for pseudo-masters to attract students is to invent a problem. For example, by exploiting news reports of crime, a pseudo-master may convince you that crime is rampant in your city or neighborhood when in reality it is statistically lower than average.
- Pseudo-mystics. Some pseudo-masters claim they can detect "deficiencies" or "imbalances" in your body before any symptoms appear or before they can be detected by conventional means. Then they show you how their methods can prevent the problems. And, when the terrible consequences they warn about do not develop, they claim success.
- Try not to think about a yellow Volkswagen Beetle. Once the thought is in your mind, the more you try not to think about it, the more you will think about it. As a child, I used to fool children, and adults, into believing that occult forces were at work by using a string to detect whether or not they were telling the truth. To make a string truth detector, tie a small weight, such as a ring or a small pyramid shaped fishing weight, to the end of a string. Have the victim sit at a table, place an elbow on the table, and hold the other end of the weighted string above a spot on the table using just the thumb and forefinger to hold the string. Have the victim hold the weight still, just above the spot on the table. Tell the person try to keep the weight still and the spirits will make the weight will swing clockwise (to the right) for "yes" and counterclockwise (to the left) for "no" in response to questions you will ask them. Then ask the person simple questions to which you both know the answers. The weight will move according to the correct answer. Then try some personal questions and really get the person frustrated. The harder the person tries to keep the weight still, the more it will move.
Pseudo-masters use these human characteristic to fool people into believing they have mystical powers. They plant thoughts into the minds of people and then let the involuntary actions of the people take over.
- Character. Pseudo-masters seem to think that being a character is the same as having character. Character is earned through a lifetime of exemplary behavior, not from dressing or acting as a caricature of what a "master" should look and act like as portrayed in the movies.
- Hope for sale. Since ancient times, people have sought at least four different magic potions: the love potion, the fountain of youth, the cure-all, and the athletic super pill. Pseudo-masters have always been willing to cater to these desires. They used to offer unicorn horn, special elixirs, amulets, and magical brews; today they offer vitamins, bee pollen, ginseng, pyramids, biorhythm charts, aromatherapy, and much more. Even reputable products are promoted as though they are potions; Olympic athletes tell us that breakfast cereals will make us champions.
- Rely on the placebo effect. The placebo effect is a measurable, observable, or perceived improvement in health that is not attributable to standard medical treatment. It is a real phenomenon that is used by charlatans and pseudo-masters to convince gullible people that they have some mystic power.
Studies have shown objective improvements in health from placebos in support of the notion that the placebo effect is an entirely psychological phenomenon.
Doctors in one study successfully eliminated warts by painting them with a brightly colored, inert dye and promising patients the warts would be gone when the color wore off. In a study of asthmatics, researchers found that they could produce dilation of the airways by simply telling people they were inhaling a bronchiodilator, even when they were not. Patients suffering pain after wisdom-tooth extraction got just as much relief from a fake application of ultrasound as from a real one, so long as both patient and therapist thought the machine was on. Fifty-two percent of the colitis patients treated with placebo in 11 different trials reported feeling better -- and 50 percent of the inflamed intestines actually looked better when assessed with a sigmoidoscope ("The Placebo Prescription" by Margaret Talbot, New York Times Magazine, January 9, 2000).
Some "alternative" health practices that rely on the placebo effect are: acupuncture, aromatherapy, bioharmonics, crystal power, homeopathy, and reflexology. Recent studies have show that acupuncture is an effective treatment for pain, but the same studies found that needles placed randomly by a sham acupuncturist had the same effect. If people believe something will work, it will usually works for them in some manner. Look at the success of faith healers or stage hypnotists.
Pseudo-masters use the placebo effect to prove their off-the-wall concepts work. For example, look at Dim-mak practitioners. Dim-mak professes to use a light touch, or even thought waves, to incapacitate a person. Dim-mak techniques work when used on Dim-mak believers, however, when it is used on non-believers, it is useless. Most Dim-mak practitioners are not purposefully faking the effects; they honestly believe that Dim-mak works, so they produce the desired effect when a technique is applied to them.
- False hope. False hope is the cruelest thing that pseudo-masters offer because it can lure victims away from effective training. Students with proper martial arts training do not have false expectations of their abilities. They learn their capabilities and their weaknesses and learn deal with them. Pseudo-masters who give students false expectations of their abilities and waste the students' time and money. Then, when self-defense may be needed, the false training may lead to a student's injury or death.
- Confidence. Pseudo-masters exude confidence. Even when they admit that their methods are unproven, they attempt to minimize it by mentioning how difficult it is to prove mystical things. When they exude self-confidence and enthusiasm, it is likely to be contagious and spread to their students.
- Alternatives. Because people like the idea of making choices, pseudo-masters often refer to their arts as "alternatives" to traditional martial arts. But unsafe, ineffective, or unproven arts cannot be a genuine alternative to one that has a proven track record.
- Extras. Pseudo-masters often promote their art as offering "something extra" that other arts to not offer. Usually that something is the very thing you were seeking, such as a better love life.
- Association. Another clever trick pseudo-masters use is to include their techniques in a list of otherwise commonly accepted techniques to promote it by association. They may say that their techniques work best when combined with lifestyle changes, which in itself usually produces tangible benefits.
- One-sided coin. When students on a combined training regime (both a traditional art and pseudo-art) improve, the pseudo regime gets the credit. If the students do not improve, pseudo-masters tell them the traditional art was to blame.
- Taking credit. Pseudo-masters also capitalize on the natural healing powers of the body by taking credit for any improvement in a student's health. When you start feeling better, pseudo-masters say it is because of their art. An opposite tack the use is to shift blame when their techniques do not work. They tell you that you have not improved because your previous training has polluted your thinking.
- Rationalization. Pseudo-masters rationalize their own existence by making up rules that prove their existence. For example, the following are the words of "a Soke" and "PhD in martial arts:
- "A person cannot win a tournament he or she created." TKDTutor says: Thus, sokes do not compete. If sokes do not compete, then they do not have to prove their claims in the ring.
- "A person cannot be graded in a martial art he or she created. I personally believe such a person is above rank." TKDTutor says: Therefore, you make yourself god of your martial art. Since you are above rank, no one will ever be able to attain your position.
- "Grade should reflect a person's skill, not his or her age. Just because a person is older, it does not make the person wiser or better." TKDTutor says: To attain a "master" status in an established martial art, you must train and work within the art and within the martial arts community for many years until you become a recognized pillar of the martial arts community. This takes many. many years of hard work, not just in your school as the owner, but as a member of the martial arts community in general. A grandmaster needs even more years of hard work. This means grandmasters are usually over 50 years old. However, if you are the "founder" of your style, you may make yourself the "grandmaster" regardless of your age.
- "You should always train with a person before you pass judgment on them." TKDTutor says: When you hear statements such as this, you know something is wrong. Michael Moore says, "You should not judge my movies until you see them." Translation: "Pay to see my movie and make me rich." I do not need to train with "masters" to judge them idiots. Their statements, actions, behavior, character, etc. establishes their idiocy.
- "If a person is 25 and has trained 7 day a week since the age of five, is the person any better or worse than someone who is 50 years of age who has trained once a week since the age of 5? Shouldn't their rank reflect this?" TKDTutor says: This is the classic rationalization used by people who do not have what it takes to achieve rank. While in the Navy, I heard this type of comment from sailors all the time when they rationalized their not achieving rank. In their own minds, they were just as good, if not better, than the higher ranks. Therefore, they believed they should be that rank. Needless, to say, they never achieved high rank and they could not create their own Navy and make themselves the highest rank in it as the pseudo-masters when creating their own martial arts.
- "If a person's rules are different than yours, you should respect the rules, but they should also respect your rules." TKDTutor says: Pseudo-masters like to feel righteous. They say they respect your legitimate rank, so you should respect their rank, even though it is illegitimate. Thus, it is you that is wrong, not them.
- "Never ask someone to do something you cannot do yourself." TKDTutor says: I guess a football coach should not ask a player to do something the coach cannot do. If this were true, all students would be limited to the abilities of their instructors. So, if your instructor is a pseudo-master with limited or questionable abilities, you will be limited by those limited abilities.
- "If a person awards you a rank or title, you should accept it and say thank you, even if you know you don't deserve such an honor. Instead, prove to them that you were deserving of the honor." TKDTutor says: Pseudo-masters shower each other with ranks and awards. Thus, they justify each other's existence. Poor employees use this rationalization when they think they deserve a promotion. Instead of being awarded a higher position because they have proven they have earned it, they think you should give them the position, and then they will prove they deserved the position.
- Doctors and professors. Doctorates are awarded by accredited universities to students have met all the requirements for the degree. A honorary doctorate is just that—honorary—it is meaningless in the academic world. Doctorate degrees may be obtained over the Internet for a fee without ever entering a university classroom. If the degree is not from a recognized, accredited university, it is useless. Professors are college or university teachers who, through years of teaching and published independent research, have earn the coveted position of professor. To maintain this position, they must continue to be published researchers.
Many pseudo-masters claim to hold doctorates and professorships, but, with a little investigation, you will find the degrees are frauds or honorary and that the professor title is also self-appointed or awarded by an illegitimate organization. Some claim an honorary doctorate from a fraudulent college (you must be a rotten master if you can only claim a honorary degree from a diploma mill).
Some pseudo-masters have real doctorates, but this does not make them less a fraud. Being a expert in one thing does not make you an expert at something else. There are many doctorate holders who are in prison for fraud. Being a doctorate does not mean you are any wiser than an ordinary person. There were doctorates among the thousands of people who drank poisoned Kool-Aid in the Jim Jones cult in Guiana in the 1970s.
Some Internet martial art organizations bestow PhDs and the title professor based upon "life experience" or "work experience." If a person has been a martial arts instructor for many years and is a soke (often bestowed by the same organization), they qualify for an advanced degree or a sokeship. It is no wonder that these organizations are not accredited by any nationally recognized accreditation agency. If life experience entitles you to a PhD, then I deserve a PhD for having to deal with idiots. There are hundreds of public school teachers with BA or MA degrees who have taught school for 30 or more years, often winning awards for teaching. Why are they not awarded PhDs or professorships because of their work experience? What makes a police officer who is a part-time martial arts instructor so special that he or she deserves to be called a soke or professor of the martial arts? Why do they not seek a PhD for work experience from a national police organization? (One reason is because they would be the laughing stock of their precinct)
- Founders. Pseudo-masters are generally the founders of their own martial arts systems and thus are the "grandmasters" of the system. Anyone may "found" a system and install themselves as the grandmaster, even people who have not even studied another martial arts style. There are no laws that regulate the founding of a martial arts system.
- Disclaimer. Instead of promising to make you a good martial artist, some pseudo-masters offer to "cleanse" or "detoxify" your body, balance its chemistry, release its "ki energy," bring it in harmony with nature, or do other things to help you help yourself. This type of disclaimer serves two purposes. Since it is impossible to measure the processes the pseudo-masters describe, it is difficult to prove them wrong. In addition, the use of this specific terminology may help them avoid prosecution for fraud.
- Consult doctor. Many pseudo-masters suggest that students consult a doctor before following their advice. Since they know most people probably will not consult with their doctor, this disclaimer protects the pseudo-masters from legal responsibility for any dangerous tactics since they told you consult a doctor.
- Your fault. Sometimes the pseudo-masters will say, "You may have come to me too late, but I will try my best to help you." That way, if you fail, you have only yourself to blame. For students who see the light and quit the training, pseudo-masters the failure on their stopping training too soon.
- Cultural association. Some pseudo-masters ally themselves with religious or other cultural beliefs by associating their art with some prejudice in their target audience.
- Create governing organizations. Pseudo-masters not only create their own martial arts but also create "world" organizations that recognize themselves as legitimate masters, as well as other pseudo-masters. By uniting in this effort, pseudo-masters will be able to claim high ranks in numerous martial arts and have the "certificates" to prove it.
- Handling the opposition. Pseudo-masters are involved in a constant struggle with traditional martial arts. To maintain their credibility, they use a variety of clever propaganda ploys. Here are some favorites:
- Resistance. The history of martial arts is laced with instances where great pioneers and their arts were met with resistance. Today's pseudo-masters boldly assert that they are another example of people ahead of their time, and, as such, they are persecuted and condemned by tradition martial art masters. However, close examination shows how unlikely this is. First of all, the early pioneers who were persecuted for their arts lived during times that were much less scientific. In some cases, opposition to their ideas stemmed from religious beliefs that rejected anything not associated with the church. Secondly, a basic principle of the scientific method is that the burden of proof belongs to the claimant. The early martial arts pioneers overcame their opposition because the soundness of their techniques and ideas could be proved.
- Conspiracy. Pseudo-masters claim that mainstream martial arts organizations are involved in some secret conspiracy to discredit their efforts. They claim that these organizations are trying to suppress their ideas because they are so revolutionary. If you disagree with the pseudo-masters, they say you are disagreeing with them because you are a part of the conspiracy.
- Conflict. Pseudo-masters poses their opposition to traditional martial arts as a "philosophical conflict" or "paradigm shift," rather than a clash between proven versus unproven or fraudulent techniques and philosophies. This creates the illusion of a "holy war" rather than a conflict that could be resolved by examining the facts. Another diversionary tactic is to charge that critics are biased or have been brainwashed by mainstream martial arts organizations.
- Science. Pseudo-masters like to charge that, "Science doesn't have all the answers." That may be true, but science does not claim to have all the answers. Rather, science is a rational and responsible process that can answer many questions, including whether techniques are safe and effective for their intended purpose. Pseudo-masters are the ones that constantly claim to have all the answers. Science may not have all the answers, but pseudo-masters have no answers at all!
- Mistakes. Many techniques advanced by traditional martial arts have later been shown to be unsafe or worthless. Everyone makes mistakes. Such failures become grist for pseudo-masters in their ongoing attacks on traditional arts. Actually, "failures" reflect a key element of the growth of martial arts: the willingness to test its methods and beliefs and abandon those shown to be invalid. True masters have no philosophical commitment to particular techniques, only a commitment to develop and use techniques that are safe and effective. When one of pseudo-master's techniques flunks an effectiveness test, he or she merely rejects the test.
- Misdirection. Misdirection is what magicians use to shift the audience's attention away from what is important so as to deceive them. When faced with a criticism they cannot meet head on, pseudo-masters simply change the subject or attack the critic in an effort to direct attention away from themselves, much as the way politicians do.
Words of wisdom from some pseudo-masters
Periodically, I get email from pseudo-masters complaining about my definition of what constitutes a pseudo-master, questioning what gives me the right to tell potential martial art students that “pseudo-masters” exist, and even making threats of legal proceedings or physical harm. Here are some of their comments and my responses:
Quite often masters only instruct part-time because they will not sell out their integrity by giving out black belts like the McDojos to make money.
You seem to imply that people who operate large, successful martial art schools have sold out their integrity, and the integrity of their arts, for money. While this may be true in in some cases, there are also many large, highly successful schools that have high standards. While some may seek the easy way to get a black belt, such as by just declaring themselves one or by buying rank online, there are others who prefer to earn it the traditional way so that it means more to them. There are several “old school” martial art businesses in my area that have been successful for decades.
I would suggest that you be very careful about the accusations you level at some masters in an attempt to discredit them. Often what you reveal does not achieve these intentions, but only reveals a misguided lack of insight or lack of experience on your own behalf.
What you are saying is that my revealing the way pseudo-masters defraud people is misguided. Are you saying that it is wrong to discredit frauds? Are you suggesting that we should just accept what every “master” or “soke” claims and not question it? Should I tell people it is wrong to question a “master’s” credentials until they have been defrauded by him, or, should I tell them to be aware of fraudulent instructors and tell them how to verify an instructor’s claims and credentials? How is wrong to discredit a “master” who claims false education degrees and titles? Just because someone founds a “new” martial art (new usually means it is just a new combination of other arts with a different name) it does not mean we should automatically believe what the “master” says and put years of our time and money into pursuing the art only to find the rank awarded by “master” is worthless outside the front door of the “master’s” school.
Certification began with someone make up rank and giving it to others. Since all ranks are made up so what is wrong with my making up rank?
I agree that all ranks were made up, but so was every manmade thing in the world, including college degrees, medical licenses, real estate licenses, etc. What makes these things valid is their widespread acceptance as indicators that the persons holding them are authorities on the subjects. Just because a storefront martial art “organization” awards rank and title certificates to anyone who pays the membership fee does not make the certificates valid. Some “masters” collect these certifications from every “certifying organization” on the Internet in a feeble attempt to appear to legitimate.
Rank doesn’t really matter; what really matters is what’s being done in the classroom and in life.
It easy to say that all that matters is what’s being done in the classroom and in life, but that does not make it correct. This is what we say to people who fail to achieve something. This is what the instructor says to the new students who failed a rank testing. This is what a coach says to players when they lose the game, but he knows that what really matters is winning and being successful, especially if he wants to keep his job. You can tell the bar association that, although you did not earn a law degree, you really worked hard in the classroom and you are a good person in life, but that will not get you a law license.
The way a person gets certification does not determine their value as a martial art instructor.
Should the way a doctor gets a medical degree determine his or her value as a doctor? Should a mail-order medical degree count the same as a degree earned in the classrooms and labs of an accredited medical school?
I have no desire to have a prestigious job or to become rich, because that kind of material gain could interfere with my personal moral beliefs
While in the Navy, reasons I heard from sailors who were retiring as first class petty officers (E6) instead of as a chiefs (E7-E9) was that they did not get promoted because they would not “sell out their standards”, they did not hold back from “stating the truth to their superiors”, and they were too busy doing their jobs to worry about getting promotions or being successful. The real reason they were not promoted was because they had no bothered doing the things that would make them promoted. Anyone driven enough to achieve legitimate high rank in the martial arts, should also have the drive to be successful at their profession. I wish you well in your quest for anonymity and poverty.
Please don’t write about things you don’t understand as if you were an expert, your article on pressure points was written by someone of amateur status who was projecting their own inadequacies, by saying these things are impossible to do, Well maybe for you!
When it relates to extraordinary claims, it is not the responsibility of the skeptic to prove that the claims made by every charlatan in the world are invalid, it up to the claimants to prove their claims are valid. For example, there are thousands of people in the world who claim to speak with the dead. It is not up to the rest of the world to prove each of them is a fraud; it is up to each of them to prove that they are indeed able to speak with the dead.
Your opinion is that I am an amateur whose inadequacies prevent me from performing, or even understanding, the techniques used by pressure point slappers. I assume that you think this because you think you are above amateur status in the subject, and that you think you are adequate enough to understand these techniques and possibly even successfully perform them upon non-believers. If this is the case, rather making insults, why not send me facts and rational arguments that support your contention that these techniques are possible?
One of the organizations I had listed here objected to their organization being compared to other organizations and demanded their link be removed. The founder's emails included statements such as:
“Our attorney will be notified tomorrow to begin action against you.”
“I have forwarded a copy of this email to the FCC as evidence of internet fraud.”
“I also intend to notify all others on your website you have written slanderous and liable remarks about so that they may also pursue legal action against you.”
“You have 24 hours in which to remove your false claims or face civil and criminal prosecution”
An attached email from another esteemed master in the organization stated that “Maybe you should drive down here and kick his ass that may convince him that the xxx is a legitimate organization.”
The organization was another "unifying" organization that recognizes rank. The legal threats were the usual ones and were baseless. However, there are many unstable people on the Internet, so when they speak of hunting you down and getting physical, it is best to avoid them. I removed the link to avoid any other contact with the organization, but it is still out there, so be aware. From their site, it was unclear about how the recognizing and certifying processes interacted, so it is possible I could have been wrong and they may not have been a mill, but due to the belligerent attitude of the organization, I did not want to communicate with them any longer to find out.
Another organization sent an email that requested a link to their site be posted on TKDTutor. I checked out the site and sent an email declining to post a link, saying that the site appeared to be a certificate mill since it issued rank certificates upon sending an application along with a fee, while offering no other tangible benefits.
As result of my email, I received numerous email rants from the "master" and he emailed and phoned my instructor saying he was appalled that one of his students would reject the "masters" organization. His rational for the call, he was concerned about my mental health. As I said before, there are unstable people on the Internet.
What pseudo-masters fear
Many pseudo martial art masters claim to be fearless, but they all fear one thing—the truth. They do not want their martial arts or their concepts and theories exposed to public scrutiny. True masters do not fear public scrutiny since it only strengthens their arts and teachings. True masters are able to defend their statements with clear, logical reasoning, and verifiable facts. Pseudo-masters will attempt obscure the truth with mumbo jumbo, attack the accuser, and use misdirection to avoid the truth.
When presenting information about a martial art, instructors or masters make statements that may be:
- Provable, verifiable facts
When an instructor or master makes a statement he or she claims to be true, then you are permitted to form a corollary to that statement. Pseudo-masters fear corollaries for the point out problems with the validity of their statements. Corollaries are explained more below.
When you are analyzing information presented by an instructor or a master, here are some things to consider.
Facts are statements that have been proven true and may be verified by the proofs used to prove them. When an instructor or a master states that what he or she says is a fact, he or she should be able to present the supporting proof, or furnish information as to where the proof may be reasonably found. Some say they believe what the master says because what the master says is true. For example, when asked how they know that what is said in the Bible is true, Christians say because the Bible says its true and what the Bible says is true; therefore, the Bible must be true.
Do not accept an instructor’s “word” as proof that what he or she is saying is true. Ask questions of the instructor and see what kind of answers you get. Are the answers evasive; do they skirt around the subject without dealing with it directly? Are the answers just more of the same mumbo jumbo or are they clear and to the point? Are you attacked for asking the questions and made to feel as if you were a bad person for having the audacity to question the master? Does the instructor put you down for asking questions and make you look bad in front of your classmates. Does the instructor punish your for asking a question by telling you to research the question and write a paper on it; and then, when your paper disputes the instructor's claims, it is rejected.
Searching for the truth can be confusing. For instance, if I say I am a liar, then I may be lying when I say I am a liar; so I may actually be telling the truth, which means that I am in fact—a liar.
Theory has a number of distinct meanings in different fields of knowledge. In common usage, theory is used to signify a conjecture, an opinion, or a speculation. In this usage, a theory is not necessarily based upon facts; while in science, a theory is collection of facts that may be empirically verified.
A theory may be said to explain a fact. For example, it is a fact that if an apple is dropped, it will fall towards the center of the planet; the theory of gravitation explains this behavior. A theory is different from a theorem.
A theorem is a formal proposition that has been or is to be proved on the basis of explicit assumptions.
A theorem has two parts: a statement of what is to be proved and a list of assumptions. The assumptions prove the statement by offering proof; but he proof is not considered part of the theorem, so a single theorem may have more than one proof. Informally, an assumption may be presented without showing formal proof if such proof could be reasonably assumed. A statement with a trivially simple derivation is not a theorem.
Every theorem must be proved using axioms, postulates, or other theorems, such as lemmata, corollaries, or propositions.
The following types of statements are not theorems and are typically offered without proof:
- Axiom. An axiom is a statement that is considered "self-proved”; it is not dependent on the conditions of any other statement.
- Postulate. A postulate is a statement that is accepted without proof in a certain context. Every axiom is a postulate, but theorems may be used as postulates in certain situations.
The following types of statements are theorems and require some proof.
- Lemma. A lemma is a proven statement used as a stepping-stone toward the proof of another statement.
- Proposition. A proposition is basically a statement with a simple proof.
- Corollary. A corollary is an obvious or reasonable deduction or an easily drawn conclusion that is a natural consequence of a previous supposedly true statement. Pseudo-masters do not like corollaries because they usually expose the illogic of their theories and contentions.
What this means is that, when an instructor or a master makes a statement he or she claims to be true, then others are permitted to make reasonable deductions or conclusions based upon that statement. In other words, if what the person says is true, then it is logical and reasonable to assume that the corollary is also true.
Many times the corollary may be the opposite of the original statement. For example, if a “master” claims to have the best martial art, then a corollary is that all other martial arts must be inferior to the master’s art. If other martial arts are not inferior to the master’s art, then the master’s art must not be the best art.pposite of the original statement, it is not always the case. If I say, a push will move the opponent backward, a corollary may be that a pull will move the opponent forward; however, a push or a pull may also move an opponent sideways, so these could also be corollaries.
- Claim. A claim is a result that may be part of the proof of another statement. Despite its name, a claim must be proved. Pseudo-masters make all kinds of outrageous claims with without offering any proof. They count on no one questioning them since they are “masters.”
Other types of statements are:
- Conjecture. A conjecture or hypothesis is a statement that is believed true but has not been proven true. A master should not state a conjecture as a fact; however, if the statement is prefaced by stating that it is unproven, then it is okay.
- Paradox. A paradox is a statement that has been provably true but it appears to defy simple intuition. The term may also refer to fallacies and other false (but seemingly true) statements. Paradoxes may be confusing, so pseudo-masters use them to support their wild theories. Anyone can walk on hot coals without being burned; this has been proven. However, since it seems impossible, pseudo-masters and other charlatans use hot coal walking as a to support their wild theories.
Hearsay is when someone is stating that something is true, based what they upon what they heard someone else say. Have you ever played the parlor game where a simple statement is whispered to from one person to another in a line with the admonition to repeat the message exactly as it was heard? After only a few people, the message usually does not resemble the original message.
A master may tell a student a fact. Years later, the student becomes an instructor and tells his student what the master said. Years later, that student becomes an instructor and tells her student what the master said. What this final student is told is probably nothing similar to what the master originally said.
Speculation is using your logic and reason to make an educated guess about whether something is true or false. If the logic and/or reasoning used in the thought process are flawed, the speculation may be incorrect. Many times instructors and masters will state speculation as being fact, not necessarily to mislead, but because the speculation has been stated so many times that it has taken on the appearance of fact. Sometimes speculation is not based upon any logic or reason, it exists only in the mind of the speculator.
Lies are purposeful statements of untruths. Some instructors and masters, for whatever reason, such as to hide their ignorance, make themselves seem important, or to take you money, will lie and hope not to be caught in the lie. Even if they are caught in a lie, they will deny it, try to obscure the facts, and change the subject, such as politicians do when they are caught in lies.
When an instructor or a master states something as being fact or as the truth, then that same person should be able to defend that statement against a corollary. If a master says that it is ki that permits him to lie on a bed of nails without being harmed, then a corollary would be that an ordinary person not using ki would probably be harmed if he or she lies on a bed of nails. Since it can be proven that—no one—will be harmed when lying on a bed of nails, this proves that the master's statement is false.
Quackwatch. [Online]. Available: http://quackwatch.org