Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

In the United States, the term “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” is a legal doctrine used to describe evidence that, while obtained legally, the information used as the basis for obtaining the evidence was itself obtained illegally and thus can’t be used as evidence. The reasoning being, if the source of the information (the "tree") is tainted, then anything gained from it (the "fruit") is also tainted—you can’t use evidence legally that was obtained illegally.

We can apply this doctrine to bogus martial arts masters. If a grandmaster of a martial art is a fraud, then all ranks the master awarded to students are bogus, and all ranks awarded by the instructors that were certified by the master are also bogus, etc.

Whether you like it or not, whether you agree with it or not, and regardless of whether it is fair or not, any rank that stems from a bogus lineage is tainted and thus is also bogus. You may not have been aware of the fraud being perpetrated against you and you may have had the most honorable of intentions when obtaining the rank, but the rank is still bogus.

When you buy a bogus Rolex watch, it does not matter that you thought it was a real Rolex, how much you paid for it, or that you were the victim of fraud—the watch is still not a Rolex. The watch may operate like a Rolex, it may look like a Rolex, and other people may think it’s a real Rolex, but it’s still not a Rolex. Once you know the watch is not a real Rolex, if you tell others it’s a Rolex or sell the watch as a Rolex, you are yourself a perpetrator of fraud. If you bought a bogus Rolex and you still want a Rolex, you should toss the bogus Rolex in the trash and start the process of obtaining a real Rolex.

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