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Mind games


Pseudo-masters use 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.

Techniques they use

The following are some of the techniques pseudo-masters use to fool people.
  • Play the part of a 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.
  • Offer 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; however, today they offer vitamins, bee pollen, ginseng, pyramids, biorhythm charts, aromatherapy, etc. 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 powers. 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 that 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 bronchodilator, 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 turned 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 looked better when assessed with a sigmoidoscope.

Some "alternative" health practices that rely on the placebo effect are acupuncture, aromatherapy, bioharmonics, crystal power, homeopathy, and reflexology. Recent studies have shown 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 work 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.
  • Offer 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 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
  • Display 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.
  • Offer 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.
  • Offer something extra. 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 health.
  • Use 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 usually produces tangible benefits without doing anything else. 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.
  • Take 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 they 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.
  • Become doctors and professors. Doctorates are awarded by accredited universities to students have met all the requirements for the degree. An honorary doctorate is just that—honorary—it is meaningless in the academic or business 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 earned 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 an honorary degree from a diploma mill). 
Some pseudo-masters have real doctorates, but this does not make them less a fraud. Being an 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 Ph.Ds. 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 Ph.D., then I deserve a Ph.D. 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 Ph.Ds. 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 Ph.D. for work experience from a national police organization? (One reason is that they would be the laughing stock of their precinct.)
  • Declare themselves founders. Pseudo-masters are generally the founders of their own martial arts systems and thus are the "grandmasters" of the system. Anyone can "found" a system and install themselves as the grandmaster, even people who have not never studied any martial arts style. There are no laws that regulate the founding of a martial arts system.
  • Offer disclaimers. 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.
  • Tell you to consult a 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 to consult a doctor.
  • Blame you. 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 blame it on their stopping training too soon. 
  • Claim some 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.

Rationalizations they make

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 "Ph.D. in martial arts (in bold) along with TKDTutor comments:
  • "A person cannot win a tournament he or she created." 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." Therefore, you make yourself the supreme, exalted grand master of your own martial art. Since you are above rank, no one will ever be able to attain your position.
  • "Rank 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." 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. Achieving grandmaster status requires 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." When you hear statements such as this, you know something is wrong. Michael Moore the director 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 to be idiots. Their statements, actions, behavior, character, etc. establishes their idiocy.
  • "If a person is 25 and has trained 7 days 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?" 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. They believed they should be promoted for their satisfactory work for many years just people got promoted for their extraordinary work over only a few years.  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 do 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." 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." 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. This means that, 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." 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.

Ways they attack 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 of their 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 pose their opposition to traditional martial arts as a "philosophical conflict" or "paradigm shift," rather than a clash between proven or unproven. This creates the illusion of a "holy war" rather than a conflict that could be resolved by examining the facts.
  • Brainwashing. Another diversionary tactic is to charge that critics are biased or have been brainwashed by mainstream martial arts organizations. I have had legal and physical threats from “masters” over the years TKDTutor has been online, not because I said anything bad about them or their organizations, but because I contaminated the minds of the public and their students with my skepticism and my obsession with facts. It was all just “hot air” like everything else they say.
  • 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 the 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 to deceive them. When faced with a criticism they cannot meet head-on, pseudo-masters simply change the subject or attack the critic to direct attention away from themselves, much as the way politicians do.
Be aware of the games pseudo-masters play with the minds of the media and the public and don’t fall for their lies.

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