Author: Bret Gordon
The most insulting thing you can say to a martial artist is that they are a fraud. It's right up there with being a pedophile, rapist or other vile criminal. Where martial artists pride themselves on upholding the virtues of honor, integrity and respect, the accusation that one is a liar, a conman or otherwise dishonorable is a blow that many never recover from. Unfortunately, the words "fraud" and "fake" get thrown around way too much in the martial arts community, almost to the point where they don't mean anything other than the accused belongs to a different group than the accuser. When we break it down, the actual definition of a fraud is:
So we can see very clearly what a fraud is and isn't. A fraud is someone trying to deceive others. Therefore, everyone who throws around the word "fraud" simply because the other person does not meet their standards, either in their skillsets or in their affiliations, is simply wrong. There is a difference between being a low-quality martial artist and being a fraud and since quality is subjective to begin with, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But let's explore this world of fraudulent martial artists even further, shall we?
Author: Bret Gordon
The purpose of the US Association of Martial Arts has always been to offer networking and training opportunities for our members. We have in the past also offered avenues of certification and rank recognition for those who needed help becoming legitimate or seeking an affiliation, but this has always been secondary to our purpose and mission. It was never our intention to become a sanctioning body.
However, due to the massive stigma in the martial arts community regarding diploma mills and multi-style organizations, we have decided to no longer offer this service. Therefore, effective immediately, the US Association of Martial Arts will no longer be offering certification of any kind. During the membership application process, upon successful induction in our organization, we will provide a welcome letter validating the rank you currently hold (provided that it can be verified to our standards) but this is not a certification issued or endorsed by us. Moving forward, we are returning to our initial mission of providing training opportunities, seminars, events, etc.
We thank you all for your understanding, and look forward to seeing everyone at our upcoming Taikai on Sunday, August 30th. Please remember due to space limitations and COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, you must be pre-registered in order to attend. No walk-ins will be allowed.
EDIT (August 13, 2020) - We have received several inquiries as to what it means to have your rank "verified to our standards." When a prospective member submits their application to the USAMA, they must include a copy of their most recent rank certification from their instructor or governing body. This must be a physical certificate (scanned copy will suffice) and no digital diplomas are accepted. We then contact the issuing authority for verification, as well as look into their authority to issue such credentials in the first place. If they cannot be contacted, as often happens with an in-school certification that later shuts down or the instructor passes away, the prospective member may still join our organization but there will be no rank recognition offered. For more information about the membership process, please click here to contact our headquarters.
Author: Bret Gordon
As part of the never-ending charade of BSMA, one of the common lies spread about my teacher, Steven Hatfield, in the recent months is that he "admitted to lying about his Judo rank" and he misrepresented his affiliation to the Kodokan Judo Institute. All of this started when an error was made by someone else entirely when promoting a seminar Hatfield sensei was teaching at their school. In the promotion, this gentleman claimed that Hatfield sensei was a 7th Dan ranked by Kodokan itself. However, this was never something my teacher ever said or claimed. When Hatfield sensei first started teaching Judo at his school, he posted the following:
Clearly he listed himself as 5th Dan, a rank awarded to him by "Papasan" Jack Stern (more on that later). So we can immediately throw out the lie that he fraudulently claimed a 7th Dan. Now we come to the matter of claiming to be ranked by the Kodokan. This is another outright lie, at worst, and a misunderstanding at best. In the screenshot above, we see that Hatfield sensei is listing the art that he is licensed in as "Kodokan Judo" whose hombu dojo is in Tokyo, Japan. He is not saying that his rank comes from the Kodokan. Many judoka who wish to separate themselves from the sport often list their art as "Kodokan Judo" rather than simply judo, indicating they teach the complete art as it is traditionally carried on in Japan rather than as a sport as commonly perpetuated by the national governing bodies (USA Judo, USJA and USJF).
Now, could the way it is listed at the top be misunderstood? Clearly, or we wouldn't have had any issues in the first place. That is why Hatfield sensei agreed to change it to what we see above. But that is not admitting he lied, as his detractors like to tout, but rather clarifying the information to avoid future issues. Unfortunately, it has done anything but that...
Author: Bret Gordon
As frustrating as the smear campaign is against me and my instructor by the trolls of BSMA, there is a bright side that when I sit down to reflect on is not so bad at all. In fact, I see it as an honor.
Several years ago, the same group of people drove a man named Dan Harmon to commit suicide due to their relentless bullying and degradation. I will admit I don't know much about Dan's martial arts background so I will not say whether or not what he claimed was legitimate, nor do I have any connection or affiliation to him, but the psychological abuse he suffered at the hands of Don Roley and his followers is well-documented. He even went so far as to check himself into a mental health facility to try to get help. He begged law enforcement to intervene, ultimately leading to him making the choice to take his own life rather than continue to suffer at the hands of these people.
I am not Dan Harmon. I will not be driven to such extreme measures. In fact, I welcome them to continue their attack on me and keep their energy focused here, because every day they do is another day of life I can give back to someone who may not be as strong that they could be attacking instead. Those who respect me and know the truth will not be swayed by such obvious lies, fabrications and misinformation. My ego is not so fragile as to be destroyed by their failed attempts. So go ahead boys, take your best shot. I am here to stay.
Author: Bret Gordon
I simply have no words for the amount of hypocrisy and idiocy that continues to plague the martial arts community, thanks to the wonderful invention of the internet. The ongoing harassment of BSMA towards myself and my instructor Steven Hatfield was documented in my last article (click here), but the events of the last few days have simply blown my mind.
On August 6th, an acupuncturist by the name of Dr. Dale Dugas issued a public challenge on the BSMA forum against me to fight him in a "full contact, no pads, all targets legal" match. Most interesting about this challenge is that prior to this remark, I didn't even know who he was. He was simply another troll that lurked the comment section of BSMA to me, and we had never even spoken so why does he want to fight me so badly? I looked him up on the internet and called him (click here for video) for the opportunity to speak to this man and figure out why he had such an issue with me in the first place. Of course he didn't answer, because not a single member of BSMA with the exception of one has ever had the audacity to step out from behind their keyboards and speak to someone, so I left him a message welcoming the opportunity to speak about his issues.
Apparently after doing some digging, it seems he wants to fight me because my teacher studied Judo with "Papasan" Jack Stern. Stern is absolutely a controversial figure in the martial arts and did some things in his personal life I won't comment on, but anyone who questions his Judo credentials is simply misinformed. He studied directly under Mifune Kyuzo, the "god of Judo," as well as Korean Yudo under Bong Yul Shin, Sung Jae Park, Tae Ju Chung and others. He was a staple of the New York martial arts scene in the mid-to-late 1960s as a member of Hara Naraki's demonstration team at the 1964 Worlds Fair alongside legends Ron Duncan and Moses Powell. He personally hosted Mas Oyama during his visit to the United States, and promoted martial arts on an international level throughout his entire life. To read more about "Papasan," check out this memorial written by his inheritor Dell Sharpe. He was anything but a fake martial artist.
Unfortunately, people tend to focus on the negative and allow one, albeit significant though not martial arts related in any way, instance of flawed character to ruin a man's entire legacy. They even go so far as to dismiss his military record, calling him a bread truck driver. I don't know too many bread truck drivers with 276 confirmed jumps (according to the 101st Airborne Division Association). They claim he admitted in open court that he lied about his martial arts background, which is itself an outright lie (something becoming increasingly more popular by the trolls of BSMA).
Now of course, the logical response to all of this is to fight me because you don't like one of my teacher's teachers, right? Surprisingly, the situation only got weirder from there...
Author: Bret Gordon
Most of my readers are aware of the ongoing harassment both my instructor and I have been subjected to by the Facebook hate group, BSMA, run by Don Roley and his goonies. What started as a dispute over some paperwork that we refused to show them, because what gives them the audacity to demand anything, has turned into a public charade that's nothing less than stalking. For those of you who don't know, and for the first time ever, let me give a play-by-play of how we ended up here.
Let me apologize now for the length of this article, but it's time the world got to see exactly what we're dealing with... Because I'll be honest. Nothing is more frustrating than venting about these bullies only to be met with the sentiment "just let it go" from those who have never been attacked like this. There's only so many times a chihuahua can nip at your heels before you turn around and kick the chihuahua. So this is me, punting the yappy little animal that is BSMA across my now barren field of....
Author: Bret Gordon
A common custom in Japanese culture is for men to change their names for any number of reasons. Maybe you just want to change the spelling of your name, you don't like the name your parents gave you, you want to get rid of your middle name, you want to remove any family associations, or maybe you just want a change. Another situation where changing your name is common is called mukoyoshi, or the adopted son-in-law who assumes his wife's surname. This adult adoption may take place in marriages where the woman's family is of a higher socio-economic rank than the man's family, where the woman has no brothers to be the heir to the family name, when the man has been disowned by his own family, or when the man's natural family comes from a notorious or shameful background and he thus prefers to hide his identity.
In Japan, you can legally change your first name, middle name or surname, or any combination of those. And of course, this just refers to a legal name change and not the practice of assuming an alias. While the custom of changing your name is an old, historical one (with my favorite example being Minamoto Yoshikiyo changing his surname to Takeda and starting the famous clan in the 12th century), the tradition carries on today. In 2017, nearly 5,000 name change applications were received in Japan according judicial statistics, with a roughly 92% approval rate. That may not seem like a lot in a country of over 120 million people, but it's enough to show it's not unheard of.
When choosing a name, Japanese people are limited to using 2,136 common use Chinese characters, 863 naming Chinese characters, as well as the two phonetic Japanese syllabaries: Hiragana and Katakana. Unlike in the West where names are often chosen either for popularity or to honor someone, Japanese names are often chosen for the meaning of the characters themselves. As such, many Japanese change their names because they feel the meaning of those characters no longer defines them. However, they aren't limited in the way those characters can be read and as such, may not even sound like a traditional Japanese name at all! A recent trend over the last 30+ years are to use what are called "kira kira" names きらきらネーム (meaning "shiny" or "sparkly"). Initially popularized by a number of books before spreading to the internet, the practice of finding completely original names has diversified considerably.
Author: Bret Gordon
The need to belong to something bigger than yourself is one that drives most people, but it's still amazing to me how many martial artists simply toe the line. Why what organization you paid for your certificate matters more than your ability to execute the art is mind boggling to me, and one of the most recent myths that has come to prominence is that if you do not belong to a National Governing Body, then you are somehow illegitimate or at least inferior. In Taekwondo, the national governing body is USA Taekwondo, an extension of World Taekwondo (it should be noted that only Kukkiwon rank is accepted by WT for international/Olympic competition, so the judgment extends to those who don't belong to the Kukkiwon). For Judo, there are actually three: USA Judo, US Judo Association and US Judo Federation.
The problem with that argument is that the NGBs serve only one purpose: to further the sport in this country as an extension of the Olympics. Yes, I said sport... Not martial art. No other martial art has a national governing body, because their existence is meant to regulate the sport. They are part of the umbrella system that every sport recognized by the IOC has, and are separate from the actual arts they represent. There's nothing wrong with belonging to them, especially if sport is your focus, but they are far from having any real authority or influence in governing anything related to the traditional arts these sport versions are derived from.
Author: Bret Gordon
One of only six men to receive the Shihan Menkyo from Horikawa Kodo, Nakamura Eishi is a rather obscure figure in Daito Ryu history with not much known about him. During the 1960s, Nakamura began the study of Daito Ryu Kodokai under the art’s founder, Horikawa Kodo. His classmates and training partners included Okamoto Seigo, founder of Daito Ryu Roppokai, and Inoue Yusuke, Menkyo Kaiden. It was through Horikawa that Nakamura would also meet Shioda Gozo, founder of Yoshinkan Aikido and fellow student of Kodo in the late 1970s.
As one of Horikawa's highest ranking students, Nakamura would often accompany him when traveling to give demonstrations and seminars, one of the most famous is the 1973 NHK Documentary on Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu (picture below).
In 1978, Nakamura would visit the Daito Ryu Kodokai North American Hombu in California under the direction of Kiyama Hayawo. After Horikawa's death in 1980, Nakamura began teaching Daito Ryu independently of the Kodokai and traveling across Japan. Although not much is publicly available about Nakamura sensei, given his close relationship to Horikawa Kodo and his prominence in the Kodokai we feel it's important to let the world know about this highly skilled aikijujutsuka.
The US Association of Martial Arts would like to officially endorse the Kokusai Nihon Bugei Rengokai as one of the premier organizations today dedicated to the preservation and continuation of classical as well as modern Japanese warrior arts. The KNBR is comprised of the following divisions: Judo, Jujutsu, Aiki-Budo, Karate-Do, Iaijutsu, Nihon Kobudo, Nihon Kempo, Goshinjutsu, Gendai Ninjutsu and Taihojutsu, and they're open to all respectable practitioners of Japanese oriented martial arts, regardless of system or previous & current affiliations. The KNBR offers membership, and provide its members with many services including; access to training, seminars, opportunity for rank grading and recognition, school charters and listing on the World Head Quarters site. For more information about this fast-growing, prestigious organization, please click here.
Enjoy Our Articles?
In an effort to share information, each year we publish a book containing all of the articles written that year. This book is an excellent supplemental training tool for the beginner and master alike! To order the most recent volume, click the image below. For previous years, please contact our headquarters.