I am a martial arts instructor. Recently I was looking for a place that offered a master's degree in martial science and I came across your website. I found it very interesting and informative but also somewhat offensive.
The section on your site about accredited colleges was a big eye opener. I never knew anything about the difference between regionally accredited and distance learning. But thanks to you now I do and it was just in time because I am a former student of the American College of Martial Science. Although your website painted a somewhat different picture than what I went through there. Instead of dishing out large sums of money and handing in a couple of certificates and a resume, I was required to do similar things that a regular college would require. For instance, I had to send in a copy of my high school diploma, high school transcripts, college transcripts, an admissions form, and even a financial aid form. In addition, as the prerequisite you were required to have already taken English and Math college courses. The credits were $80 and you had to take certain classes to receive your degree, like Korean History. However, after I had received my associates from them they began to change into your description. The website would change almost every week and the prices and courses dropped but I still thought I had an accredited degree until I went to your site and began reading. I don't think he was trying to rip people off I think he was just trying to offer something that wasn't available he really is a nice guy that loves martial arts. I thank you very much you saved me before I wasted more time looking for a school like this.
Now I did have one problem with your site and I'm sure you know what it is since I told you I went to American College of Martial Science. Yes, the pseudo-master part was the only thing I found offensive. Not so much towards myself but to people who have never learned martial arts and are going by your website.
For instance, if I go by your description of a pseudo-master I definitely fit the bill. I love to talk about my old training days, I've been inducted into several hall of fame's, I've got the unaccredited degree, I'm in dozens of organizations, I have pictures with just about all the people you see in black belt, and I'm a fifth degree black belt in numerous styles.
But on the other hand depending on what style I'm teaching I wear a simple uniform with one or two patches. I'm recognize by my peers in all of my organizations. I can jog the mile in seven minutes even though I'm overweight and have medical problem. But if you were to ask any of my students who, are mostly adults they would tell you I'm in really good shape and that I need to slow down because I'm pushing myself too hard. Something that may be really different from your average pseudo-master is that I don't own a actual building to teach from and majority of my students I teach for free and give them everything from the boards they break to some of the equipment they wear. And last but not least you can find all of my instructors with the exception of three because they have closed down there schools and stopped teaching.
So I would like to know based on the information I've given you do you consider me a pseudo-master or my mentor and former instructor XXX and if so why. Because I need to be able to explain to my students who read your website why you consider me to be this "pseudo-master.”
Good to hear you got out of the fraudulent martial arts degree program before you lost too much money. I think the ACMS is now defunct.
I recently did some checking up on a reader's “master;" she had some questions about the validity of his claims and credentials. He had a PhD in the martial arts and his rank was issued by an “international” organization. The organization's web site only listed a phone number and a post office box number for an address. I did I reverse lookup on the phone number and used Google Maps to trace the organization to an apartment in a tiny town (500 population) in Ohio. Using Google Maps street view, I could see the town was just crossroads with old buildings and no major business. Apparently, the “master” operated this international organization, and it’s accompanying Hall of Fame, from a computer in his apartment. The "master" had a PhD from the same university as the reader’s instructor. I found that the “university” that issued the degrees was operated by this same “master” from his apartment.
Snakes give birth to snakes, just as pseudo-masters give birth to other pseudo-masters. A snake may tell you he or she is not really a snake, but that does not change the fact that his parents were snakes so he is snake whether he likes it or not. Master rank issued by a pseudo-master makes the recipient a pseudo-master, not matter the good intentions of the recipient.
Here is a link to an example of a martial arts “soke” that belongs to a multitude of organizations, groups, hall of fame, etc. Does he really think true martial artists believe in or are impressed by all this bull? All is it shows is that this is a nobody with an inferiority complex who thinks he is important because he has certificates from a bunch of phony organizations. The way I see it, if a person has rank issued by a well-established, well-known, well-respected organization, why would he need to pay to get more rank from a multitude of other shady organizations.
I’m not a believer in black belts in multiple arts, unless the arts are not related, such as Taekwondo and Judo. Taekwondo does not use any of the techniques that Judo uses, and vice versa. It is similar to playing baseball and basketball; both are team sports that use a ball but they little else in common; therefore, one may play both sports and not get the two mixed up.
Taekwondo and Judo are so different that in a Taekwondo class, throws never enter the dual practitioner’s mind, and, in Judo class, he never even accidentally kicks or punches the opponent. In a street attack, the dual practitioner would instinctively use Taekwondo techniques against a striking attack, but would revert to Judo if grabbed. However, if a person is a practicing black belt in, say, Taekwondo and Aikido, there is a problem. Taekwondo stresses linear, powerful, hand and foot strikes, and hard blocks, whereas Aikido stresses circular deflection and avoidance techniques, and uses soft blocks, locks, and few strikes. When he trains in the individual arts, the dual practitioner may be able to keep the two arts separate, but during a surprise street attack, which art will he use instinctively?
After training to be forceful in one class, and then training to be yielding in another class, which art would the practitioner use instinctively? He would probably use some ineffective combination of the two. In addition, how does a person be an expert in, and fundamentally believe in, differing approaches to the same thing. If one believes linear, hard techniques are best, how may the person also profess to believe that circular, soft techniques are best? It’s similar to a person saying he believes in and practices both Christianity and Buddhism.
Since there is so much to learn in their professions, doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. specialize in one field of their profession. Whereas, martial artists seem to be able to become masters in numerous fields (styles) of their profession. Either they are highly intelligent, super athletes, or it must be relatively simple to get master certifications. With the advent of the Internet, master certifications are easier to get than a driver’s license.
I watched So You Think You Can Dance on television this summer. The winner was a street dancer with no formal dance training who did astonishing acrobatic tricks and normally danced in the Popping style. Each week, along with all the publicity appearances, he had to learn new two new dance styles he had never done before that included long, highly choreographed sequences, as well as a long group dance routine where everyone had to be synchronized in their movements. With his abilities, in a couple of weeks of training, he could perfectly perform all the techniques and forms required in any martial art. Does this mean he should be awarded a black belt in these arts? That is what happens in many cases of multiple ranks; the assumption being that if you a “master” in one art you deserve to be a master in another art, without going through the decades of dedicated training and service to the art. Steve Lopez is a multiple Olympic gold medal winner in Taekwondo, and yet he not considered a master, while some ordinary person in a strip mall has master certifications in multiple arts. Humility is certainly not a character trait practiced by many martial artists.
Some people do what they do and are very good at doing it, but they do it without fanfare; whereas, others constantly feel the need to be “recognized” by some new group or organization. I am a retired Navy master chief so I have talked with many military warriors. Most of the greatest warriors are unknown to the public; they just did their duty as a warrior because it was the right thing to do, not for any fanfare; they don't think they deserve any special notice. However, there are others, such as Senator McCain, who milk “doing their duty” for every drop of recognition they can get. If you do not know what they have done, they will tell you—over and over and over.
As to your specific question as to whether I consider you a pseudo-master, I don’t have enough information to make that call. As you stated in your email, you do exhibit some of the characteristics I describe as those I think are indicative of a pseudo-master, but that does not necessarily mean I would consider you one. I also exhibit some of those characteristics but I am not a pseudo-master, but then I am not a master nor do I claim to be a master.
Since there are no universally accepts standards in the martial arts, defining what constitutes a master or a pseudo-master is difficult, and finding definitions that would please even a simple majority of martial artists would probably be impossible, but I attempted to create a definition. If your question is, “how many of my indicators of a pseudo-master does it take before a person could be classified a pseudo-master,” there is no set number, it the totality of the person's experiences, training, beliefs, and what he says and does and the consistencies or inconsistencies between what he says and what he does that help determine the final call.
While in the Navy, I would have sailors as me if I thought they needed a haircut; I always answered “yes.” The sailors would say, “But you didn’t even look at my hair.” I would answer, “A good sailor gets a haircut when he needs one, and he knows when he needs one; he doesn’t need verification. So if you are asking me if you need a haircut, it must mean that someone has told you to get a haircut and you are trying to find a master chief to disagree with them so you can avoid getting one. So I don’t have to look at your hair to know that you must need a haircut; if you didn’t need a haircut, you would not be asking me.” When people ask me if I think they are right in what they are doing, it usually means they have some doubt as to whether what they are doing is right wrong and are seeking verification. That doubt may or may not be justified, but their need for verification should give them cause to reconsider what they are doing.
If you love your martial art and you enjoy teaching others to love it, then you should be happy with that. I put martial art information online for free and I design martial art school management software and provide it to small school instructors for free. I do it because the martial arts are my passion; I have made my living in other ways. From your email, it seems that you are the same way, you teach the martial arts because it is your passion, not as a vocation.
Since you have accomplished so much in the martial arts, why do you want a degree in the martial arts, especially since it is useless in real world? After he quit college to create Microsoft, Bill Gates did not go back to college to get a degree; he too was already at the top of his game and didn’t need it. It would be more advantageous for you to get a degree from an accredited college or university in a major that will help you achieve even greater things in life.
When a reader asks me about the validity of his or her martial art or instructor, I tell him or her to ask him or herself if the instructor:
- Teaches what they want to learn.
- Is a good teacher.
- Has a teaching style that suits their learning style.
- Has a personality that suits their personality.
- Belongs to an organization whose benefits are reasonable considering the cost.
- Has a reasonable tuition considering what is offered.
- Is upfront about the art he or she teaches, such as: I only teach what I know, which may or may not be very much.
- Tells your what the martial art is—its purpose, its philosophy, and what it attempts to achieve. Other arts may differ with min in their purpose or philosophy but this does not mean my art is better or worse than theirs, it just means we have differing ways of achieving the same purpose. However, there are frauds and rip-offs of which you should be aware.
- Whether the instructor is a martial art technician and martial art teacher. Although some may be both, it is not required that they be both. Some of the greatest coaches in world cannot do what they are able to teach others to do and some of the greatest athletes cannot teach anyone what they do.
- Tells you there is no “world” rank sanctioning body, so anyone can issue and certify rank, and there are no laws governing the issuance of martial art rank. Therefore, although your rank will be honored in this school and in any other school in our organization, if you go to a school in another organization, the rank you receive here may or may not be accepted, or it may even be even considered worthless.
- Tells you the techniques you learn here may or may not work for you in an actual self-defense situation.
- Tells you what belonging to this school will really cost you: tuition; required equipment costs; required uniform and patch costs; total cost (not just entry fees) to attend required seminars, camps, or tournaments; cost to belong to the organization, cost for rank tests, etc.
- Here is the school contract and what its terms really mean.
- If your goal is to compete at the World or Olympic level, our organization is or is not recognized by these governing organizations.
As long as a martial art student is aware of:
- what the martial arts really are and what they may accomplish;
- what is fact and fiction in the martial arts;
- how the ranking process works;
- that, as in other things, there are phonies, charlatans, and crooks in the martial arts;
- that there are people who, due to intelligence, education, or physiological problems, actually believe the drivel they are teaching;
- and, they are happy with their instructors and their martial arts, then they should just enjoy their training and what it offers, regardless of what others say, myself included.
I consider my mission in the martial arts is to educate others about the martial arts and point out illogic, flawed reasoning, inconsistencies, incomplete truths, and untruths, where I see them so they may make the right martial art choices for themselves. With some facts and a little digging, they should be able to determine for themselves who is really a creditable master and who is a pseudo-master.