Many intelligent and well-educated individuals fall victim to martial arts fraud and the worthless claims of pseudo-masters. Victims usually have one or more of the following vulnerabilities:
Lack of suspicion. Many people believe that if something is printed or broadcast, it must be true or somehow its publication would not be allowed. People also tend to believe what others tell them about personal experience or what they find on the Internet. The mass media provide much false and misleading information in advertisements, news reports, feature articles, and books, and on radio and television programs. News reports often sensationalize, stimulate false hopes, and arouse widespread fears. Many radio and television producers who promote unsubstantiated claims say they are merely providing entertainment and have no ethical duty to check out the claims. Just because a pseudo-master appeared in an article in a martial arts magazine does make him or her legitimate.
- Belief in magic. Some people are easily taken in by the promise of an easy solution to their problem. Those who believe there is some magic touch that will immobilize an attacker fall into this category. Have you ever seen a standing person faint or a boxer knocked out by a blow? The person just goes limp, immediately collapses, and the head bounces on the floor. When you watch a demonstration of a pseudo-master using a simple touch to incapacitate an person, watch the "incapacitated" person as he or she falls to the floor. They make a controlled fall and the neck is stiff to keep the head from hitting the floor. Unconscious people do not have control of their bodies so they cannot do these things to protect themselves.
- Overconfidence. Despite P. T. Barnum's advice that one should "never try to beat a man at his own game," some strong-willed people believe they are better equipped than experts to tell whether a pseudo-master is telling the truth.
Desperation. Many people faced with an immediate physical safety problem are susceptible to false claims by pseudo-masters. These people do not have the time or desire to train for months or years; they just want a quick fix; so they fall victim to claims of secret, easy to use self-defense techniques.
Alienation. Some people feel deeply antagonistic toward traditional ways; they are attracted to things represented as "natural" or otherwise unconventional. These people may also harbor an extreme distrust of the establishment in general.
Endorsement. Just because a prominent person endorses martial art, it does not mean it will work as advertised. Just because a magazine, newsletter, or web site has an editorial advisory board, that does not guarantee that its contents are trustworthy. Legitimate arts do not need endorsements, and few legitimate martial artists are willing to provide them. Many endorsers seldom pay attention to how arts they endorse are marketed and many editorial advisory boards have little to do with what gets published.
Some martial arts use endorsements from prominent athletes to promote their arts. Do not assume that the art was responsible for the athlete's success or that using the art will turn you into a champion. The major ingredient in athletic success is hard work. Some martial arts sponsor athletic teams or athletic events (such as the Olympic Games) to promote their arts. That, too, should not be interpreted to mean that the arts improve athletic performance.
Some low-quality magazines carry one or a few high-quality columns written by a reputable professional. Do not assume that because some writers are reputable, other information in a magazine must be valid.
The fact that a publication has a prominent editorial board is a plus, but do not assume that the board members read the articles or approve of the ads or that the people listed are reputable simply because they have a title or degree or that the board influences what is published. In many cases, they do not.
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