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What is martial arts fraud?


The main motivation of most legitimate martial arts organizations and masters is their love of their art and the teaching of that art. However, if they are operating a school, then they must be concerned about paying the bills and keeping the doors open. If the school is their only livelihood, then they also must be concerned about making enough money to support themselves and their families. Sometimes they must compromise their art to stay in business but even then, they never consider doing anything unlawful or even unethical.

The main motivation of many illegitimate martial arts organizations and pseudo-masters is the glorification of themselves rather than fraud, greed, or misinformation. However, some are complete m frauds and rip-off their students every day.


"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 around that, while they may not be criminal frauds, they still fall under the definition of a quack.


There are hundreds of thousands of legitimate martial arts instructors around the world. However, there are also tens of thousands of illegitimate frauds that I refer to as pseudo-masters (pseudo means fake).

Most martial arts quacks are not content just making themselves black belts, they tend to go all the way and make themselves "masters," "professors," and "sokes," with all kinds of false certifications, titles, and awards from fellow frauds to use as proof of their status. Therefore, the greater the claims, the more skeptical you should be.

While pseudo-masters are fakes, they are not always totally wrong in their beliefs. While most are total nut cases, some have some scientific basis in their concepts and beliefs and are only minimally involved in unscientific practices. A pseudo-master's techniques may be useful for some purposes but worthless for others. Even a stopped clock indicates the correct time twice a day.

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 mental 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 the misinformation and their personal experiences with others. Since new students of martial arts styles are usually referred by friends, relatives, and neighbors who are already students, the pseudo-master sometimes builds a large following.

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.

It is painful to learn that you have been the victim of fraud, that the rank you acquired is not legitimate, and that all the time and money you put into years of training has been wasted. It is difficult to accept that your rank and certifications are useless outside the front door of the pseudo-master's school or organization. Therefore, it best to be informed about pseudo-masters before you fall prey to them.


Some names for pseudo-martial arts:
  • Take-your-dough
  • Faux-ryu
  • Partial arts
Some names for pseudo-masters:
  • Bruce Lie
  • Sokemon
  • Jackie Sham
  • Scamuari
  • Ju-joka
  • SPAM (Someone Posing as A Master)
  • O-Senseless
  • Charla-dan


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 best, loosely based on the truth, and, at worst, total fabrications and lies.

Some say all martial arts should be respected, that each one 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 are not complicated activities. Humans have been empty hand fighting for thousands of years. One would think we would have perfected our punching technique long ago, but no, every day some “master” invents a new way to punch or kick and gives it some exotic name. 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 have been proven to be frauds. Believing in something gives people a purpose in their lives, even when those beliefs are not based on 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, so 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 organization, or the martial art is a fraud—they just don’t 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 align themselves knowingly with rip-off martial arts because they are unwilling or unable to do what is required to earn 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 don’t care about the master's credentials, then that is fine. That is your choice. You have all the facts and you made your stupid decision based on 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 sokes. To see how many martial arts students have "founded" their own style of martial arts and made themselves the grandmaster of the art, do an Internet search using the words "karate soke" or "martial arts 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 and become a “certified” soke.

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 just trying to take money from the gullible public.


Before you can criticize me, you must pay me. This is the philosophy of many "masters." If I want to learn your art, I have no problem with 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 like 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 must 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 “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 known 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 don’t promote unproven procedures in the marketplace.


If you use the basic science, physics, chemistry, math, etc. that you learned in HIGH SCHOOL and use basic logic and reasoning, you will not be fooled by fraud, especially martial arts fraud.

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 that can get you put in jail or sued. 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. Do not blindly believe what a “master” is saying; instead, analyze what the “master” is saying to find if it is the truth and is factual. Magicians are not supernatural, they are master deceivers. Actors are not the person they are portraying, they are pretending to be that person.


People may sincerely believe they have the right answers, their children are innocent of crimes, their stockbrokers 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 are 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.


As may be seen in MMA fighting events, street fights, and even amateur fights, the most effective way to fight is to hit the other person with as many punches and kicks as you can while avoiding getting hit as much as possible.

When it comes to evaluating a martial art, my basic premise is, if the techniques are as effective as claimed, why aren’t professional fighters 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 don’t the professionals use them. Why is it that professional fighters do not use an earth punch, a mind pulse, sticky hands, or even aikido? Professional fighters want to win and gain glory and wealth; if these things worked, they would be using them. All the martial art BS put out by many “masters” exists only to increase their egos and bank accounts.


When a master or instructor starts talking as if he or she was from another world using pseudoscience and made up terms—beware! Martial arts are not quantum physics, they are simply methods for humans to use when fighting each other using their hands, feet, arms, legs, and brains, just as they have for millions of years. It’s not complicated. It’s the skills you learn from frequent, repetitive training that make you a martial artist, not the martial art you choose to practice. When someone tries to make the martial arts seem mysterious and complicated —beware!

Be aware, check out your organization, master, school, and instructors before you get too attached to them. The more time and money you invest in them, the harder it is to leave them.

For more information on martial arts rip-offs, go to and search for terms such as taekwondo, karate, martial arts, or for a specific organization or school.

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