Self Promotion or joining an Outside Organization.

Discussion in 'Kenpo' started by James Kovacich, Jul 14, 2006.

  1. James Kovacich

    James Kovacich RENEGADE

    Self promotion or joining an outside organization. Which is better? History proves that we’ve learned these practices from our seniors. So it is not new and this isn’t intended to be an argument. I just want to know why we as individual martial artists are expected to walk a path superior to our seniors? There is no clean lineage. Why the bad mouthing of those who walk a different path?

    This is ********!

    I think for some, joining an outside organization is the right choice. I know for a fact that Jeff Speakmans AKKS promotional board is overseen by my current Headmaster who Jeff calls a legendary master. Why would he do that? He’s not the only one. Tom Kelley is also under this same Grandmaster. Read the 2nd paragraph of this bio:
    Hanshi is a respectable man, a great instructor and a proven "guide" for martial artists who need guidance. Organizations overlap in many ways and I think it is much more respectable to go to an outside organization that to self promote oneself. If this thread gets out of hand, to prove my point I will produce the needed dirt.

    For those who wish to continue with the badmouthing, know that we ALL need to pay the piper sooner or later. I don’t take back what I say and I don’t care what certain individuals think. I just think that it is hypocritical to think that we are bound to walk a cleaner path than our seniors upline to ALL of us. This is American martial arts. Take it or leave it but it is what it is. I think it’s a much bigger problem with the schools that promote their students with the false belief that they can fight.

    The bottom line is, I haven’t promoted anyone who couldn’t fight. Can any of the schools reading this say that?
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2006
  2. Kenpo_Dave

    Kenpo_Dave Valued Member

    Personally I like what Speakman has done with his Kenpo system. The club where I train is becoming more and more interested in grappling, and have arranged for my Kyokushin instructor to visit on Monday. As for self promoters. Here is a thread I started about a guy in Ireland

    I think self promoters are people who failed to pass certain grades and eventually paid for the grade.


  3. dbmasters

    dbmasters Valued Member

    The gym I train at is not affiliated with anyone, it's owned by a guy that has done Kenpo for a couple decades and he has modified it a lot to including grappling and Muay Thai skills that compliment the Kenpo he learned, which is a Chow > Connors lineage...the only thing currently holding me back from getting my green belt is getting my blue belt in BJJ to fulfill the grappling requirement...which I am currently working very hard on.

    Personally I couldn't care less about affiliated organization, fancy grandmaster names to drop or any of that crap. I am learning an effective system (a few actually) from a guy that has fought MMA, Kicboxing, Boxing, grappling,, well, how gives a crap if he is recognized by any official organization...I'm getting in shape and learning a ton of great stuff. That's plenty good for me.
  4. Kenpo_Dave

    Kenpo_Dave Valued Member

    That sounds like a great place you train at dbmasters :). Hopefully after Monday we'll be doing more grappling in my Dojo. When I said my Kyokushin instructor is coming down, its actually Kyokushin Budokai, which is an all-round fighting system (Kyokushin and Judo). We, and a few other Dojos in Dublin, are going to break away from IKKA. I know we havent paid any fees or anything to them in years :)


  5. dbmasters

    dbmasters Valued Member

    Thanks, yeah, I think it's a great place, and it certainly weeds out some of the sissies...and kind of a forced crosstraining of sorts which is always good, my two young daughters like it too, they love grappling and the stand up stuff so they get a very well rounded education in self defense.

    Actually, I shouldn't say we are not affiliated with anyone, we are not affiliated with anyone in Kenpo, we are, however affiliated with Royce Gracie BJJ...Our next Rodrigo seminar is in November, and I can't wait, they always rock.
  6. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    I don’t have a problem with people going off on their own in principle. I don’t particularly like self promotion though. I liked the way Doshin So went about it. He established his own style and took the title of Kaiso or founder; his grade was mudan or no dan.

    The problem these days, and while it is predominantly a western phenomenon it is starting to occur in Asian societies too, is the amount of self promotion and own styles by people that have very little experience. Often these styles don’t offer anything of difference to separate them from their parent systems other than dropping some techniques because the instructor never understood them or mixing some combinations of arts together. Often these mixes are just that, a mix of arts and not a cohesive melding into a single art where techniques flow and interact together.

    One of the biggest advantages of training in Shorinji Kempo is belonging to an organisation that is world wide and very active in creating opportunities for all the kenshi to benefit from training opportunities of teachers from all over the world. WSKO (World Shorinji Kempo Organisation) is also very active in developing the teaching skills of instructors and furthering their knowledge of the science of why techniques work. As early as 1989 I was exposed to software WSKO developed to examine techniques and the physics of why they worked. The ability to draw on the knowledge of a very large number of senior teachers, many of whom studied under Doshin So allows kenshi the opportunity to experience the many different ways that techniques can be done or applied. The process of Shu Ha Ri ensures that there is always a method of applying a technique that will lend its self to your individuality. Further to this it allows me to travel most places in the world and be welcomed into a branch and train with them no matter what language they speak. Of course the benefits of an organisation depend on the organisations aims and objectives. If an organisation just wanted power and money with little benefits offered then it would have little worth.

    The biggest problem with martial arts today is ego. Too many people need to feed their egos by being a head or high rank of a style or organisation. There should be more training and less thinking of rank or position. Enjoy the training for what it is. Most people don’t start because they want to be boss, they start because they like the activity. Getting preoccupied by ranks and positions only detracts from the enjoyment of the training.
  7. KempoFist

    KempoFist Attention Whore

    You make a good point. There is no clean lineage of Kempo hence there is no "real" Kempo, hence none of it really matters in terms of lineage. In fact the term "Kempo" is quite a generic term much akin to saying "Kung Fu" or "Karate" in terms specificity. As long as you train hard, and stay well rounded I say you're doing Kempo, and if my opinion means anything to you then....well that's awesome then, I like feeling important. :)
  8. dbmasters

    dbmasters Valued Member

    I think the biggest problem with MA today is that everybody is too worried with what everybody else is doing and not concentrating on what they are doing...lineage, cleanliness of it, rank, how you go it, the philosophy of the style and all that crap means absolutely nothing when you are defending yourself...surviving does.

    Anyone can be tough, intelligent, insightful and judgemental or whatever behind a keyboard.

    If what someone does is enjoyable to them, it shouldn't matter a tiny little bit to anyone else.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2006
  9. James Kovacich

    James Kovacich RENEGADE

    Colin, Can you tell me the exact definition of mudan?
  10. James Kovacich

    James Kovacich RENEGADE

    Thanx Guys for you're positiveness. Most of what is being posted I do beleive in.
  11. dbmasters

    dbmasters Valued Member

    If belonging to some big group is the biggest advantage of a style, I personally have to kind of chuckle at that style...

    While that really isn't meant as disrespectful as it sounds, you are being disrespectful to people who are trying to take MA to a different place, a new level, and in some cases, bringing it full circel back to where it was before so many systems got bastardized. Mixing styles (or cross training, whatever you want to call it) is a good thing, and makes one a more well rounded martial artist. Anyone who spends all their time concentrating on one specific style will be a one dimensional fighter.

    While you have said many times (addressing Colin, here) that you are not trying to be the ultimate fighter, but are in MA for other reasons such as discipline and such, which I can completely respect, you are, in essence, dissing people that are in it for actual fighting, and those people, are predominently the ones more interested in cross training and developing a more complete fighting game.

    Some people "creating their own styles" are not newbies, or creating hodge-podge arts, some have been doing MA there entire lives from childhood, have high rankings in many styles and have created cohesive, multi-dimensional systems from a very wide range of knowledge. Those people should be applauded.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2006
  12. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    My best definition is no dan. While Doshin So wore the Hoi (the monks robes that we sometimes wear) and sometimes wore a dogi he didn't wear a black martial arts type belt.
  13. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    As laughable as it may sound a well run large group does offer very clear advantages to a small group. It creates a much deeper well of knowledge and experience and the strength to fund very good educational programs and study sessions that don’t cost the individuals an arm and leg to attend. This impacts directly on the ability to effectively defend oneself. Of course there can be clear disadvantages with the politics of organisations and overly intrusive management, fortunately this is not the case in WSKO.

    Cross training could be advantageous if the art you study is limited to the one dimension. I don’t believe this is the case with Shorinji Kempo or a number of other arts. As for me I have studied for a while and over the years I have cross trained in a number of arts. I don’t anymore because I sincerely believe my ability to defend myself is better by directing all my efforts to Shorinji Kempo.

    I remember our discussion on the value of philosophy in martial arts. The study of human relationships and human nature is one aspect of Shorinji Kempo I really like, but I really don’t mind if others don’t want this in their practice. The philosophy of Shorinji Kempo in no way lessens its effectiveness at self defence though. Practicality and application are the main focus of technical training. I have had ample opportunity to gauge how well the techniques work when needed. While I’m no ultimate warrior and there would be many people that would beat me I am happy with my level of ability given my age and injuries.

    I’m sorry if my comments caused confusion. I don’t disrespect people training for self defence only. I just like to clarify concepts at times. One concept is Budo, it is impossible to study Budo without some sort of personal development incorporated into it. There is a document (Budo Kensho) that is signed by representatives of Karate, Judo, Aikido, Jujutsu, Shorinji Kempo and a number of other Japanese arts that explain this. Arts that don’t have this goal of development are referred to as bujutsu if they are for defence our kakutougi if sport related.

    I have also tried to point out why the Japanese hold budo more highly than bujutsu. Earlier in the century thugs used to practice bujutsu and use it to beat up ordinary people. Instructors then thought that they should teach some ethics and develop their students human qualities so they didn’t damage their reputation and standing in society. Actually this is not that new, this concept is what separated the Shaolin Temples art from the other styles of Kempo in China. This should be read in context, it is not my thoughts of people that practice for self defence now. I don’t think this is a problem these days and I respect anyone that puts training and effort into their art and treats others with respect.

    I stand by my comments regarding the number of people starting their own styles. I am fully prepared to admit that some of these styles are very valid and of great worth, after all this is what Doshin So did when he created Shorinji Kempo. I have seen little evidence though that this is the norm, but rather the exception.
  14. dbmasters

    dbmasters Valued Member

    That is where I completely differ from traditional MA I guess. I started MA in my mid 30's. By that point I had already formed my own code to live by, my own path of personal and professional development, had a family, was raising children and teaching them my value system/personal code of living, and had a reasonably well-established career.

    I started taking MA with my family as a means to further develop myself physically and teach my daughters and wife self defense and physical training for a strong body and nothing more. I have no interest in the bushido code or any of that other stuff, it's strictly a physical thing to me.

    If others are into the rest of it, great, whatever works for each person, but for me, it's all about self defense and family bonding.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2006
  15. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    I agree, I too have no interest in the bushido code, in many ways it is opposed to the ideals of Shorinji Kempo. People can improve their understanding of anything given direction and the chance to learn; it is not often that we come up with all the right answers on our own. Human relationships is an interesting subject matter and of practical worth, especially in a time when there is so much conflict. Interestingly one of our biggest self defence efforts as nations is not to create weapons and fight, but to create bonds and relationships, just as you are doing within your family.

    This is not meant as a sales pitch to you. I have no problems with people studying martial arts for what ever reason as long as its not so they can be some sort of tough guy and beat up on people. I just wanted to offer a counter thought that may help explain why I hold the study of our Philosophy so high. In truth I believe I have gained more practical benefits from this over the years than the study of fighting, mind you it is the physical training that has the grin factor.
  16. dbmasters

    dbmasters Valued Member

    On that I think many of us agree...

    Philosphy on the whole I find interesting, fascinating even, just don't look for it in my MA...that said, the human animal is a fascinating subject. I can certainly understand the attraction and interest in it, I just guess I put the two in different buckets.
  17. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

    Well, let's see if I can do this without giving the impression that I'm throwing insults here. Let's look at the SKK "upline" Villari was given a black belt from Cerio (his instructor that taught him the art); Cerio was given his black belt from Pesare (his instructor that taught him the art); Pesare was given black belts in several martial arts (5th Degree Black Belt in Judo 4th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo 4th Degree Black Belt in Eskrima 2nd Degree Black Belt in Aikido ) that went into the creation of his art by his various instructors that taught him. True that he didn't have one from Gascon, but Pesare made MANY MANY changes to his art from what he'd learned from Gascon from his various influences (he was eventully given black belts by Gascon too); Gascon was given a black belt by Leoning (His instructor); Leoning was given a black belt by Sijo Emperado (His instructor); Emperado was given a fifth degree black belt by Prof. Chow (his instructor) and Chow was given his black belt by Prof. Young who was under Mitose.

    I'm not seeing anyone self promoting to the rank of black belt here, nor am I seeing anyone getting certified from someone outside of their own art. They were all promoted by the people that taught them. Once you get into the higher ranks, then you run into the self promotions and outside recognition etc.

    None of this takes away from the fact that the initial black belts were earned the hard way. No one was writing off to some remote person asking for rank. No one was lying about how long they had trained in order to get rank etc. etc.

    I fail to see the value of going to someone that you haven't learned from and having them say, "Well, I don't know your art, but I will give you a black belt in that art anyways" I mean, I could issue computer programming certificates, or certify people as electricians all day, but it would be meaningless. Or, to bring it closer to home, I could give a kid a report card for his history class with an "A" on it, unfortunately, I don't teach history so it would have no value. He would need to get a report card from his actual history teacher for it to have any value.

    Same goes for Lou Angel. A Gojo Ryu stylist ranking people in SKK or whatever MMA you practice makes about as much sense as me giving out the above mentioned grade. If somone got their black belt from someone that isn't in their art and that didn't train them in that art, then it isn't legitimate. That's just how I see it Jim.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2006
  18. Dave Humm

    Dave Humm Serving Queen and Country

    Since in Japan, traditionally, kyu isn't specifically considered a level of grade in the truest sense but, a dan is; mudan means no grade.

    Yudansha - Those with grades (shodan and above)

    Mudansha - Those who do not have grades

    "kyu" and "grade" have been associated as a level of achievement since the introduction of Kano Sensei's coloured belt system, before that most arts wore kaku obi which bore no resemblance to experience.


    Although not a Kenpo practitioner, I hope you guys don't mine me chirping in on the issue of the debate.

    Within one of two quarters of the aikido community here in the UK, I am seen as a bit of a political animal, a trouble causer or a wild card; this is because I have seen my **** with a number of people who are self promoted self pontificating frauds and, I've taken them to task over it.

    The problem isn't so much about being independent from world or internationally recognised organisations (who would hitherto issue grades) but its a matter of why these people start up on their own.

    It has been my experience that although there are some pretty excellent independent dojo and organisations, they pale into insignificance compared to the 'run of the mill' ****e which exists. Having made it my business to train with almost all of the organisations (aikido) of any significance here in the UK, numbering around 40, 95% of those have nothing to do with their style respective hombu in Japan and are free of any quality control what so ever.

    Out of that 95% only 6 of those organisations are headed-up by people who can legitimately claim to have had sufficient training to warrant the experience and breadth of knowledge to credibly teach "aikido" to the masses. I'll let you guys form your own judgement on the quality within *most* of the aikido in the UK.

    So why then has this situation occurred ? There are many factors which have contributed to this however; substitute [aikido] for [kenpo] or [one instructor's name] for [another] and I'll bet the reasons and circumstances are almost identical.

    Politics. Ego. Inability to learn an orthodox art.

    The first two are fairly self explanatory however; to the third. It has been my unfortunate experience to find that there are those people (mostly with inflated self awarded or bought grades).. who essentially make up, merge with, alter or entirely change what they do, simply because they aren't skilled enough to get their head's around an establish or orthodox art. That's too hard, takes too long or isn't "effective" (according to them) so off they go, and create something they make up themselves where, they feel (so they think) are above the criticism of their peers and their (now ex) seniors.

    Googling "soke 10th dan" is an exercise in futility

    Facts and figures Results about 18,900 for "soke 10th dan". None of which BTW are JAPANESE... Interesting isn't it.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2006
  19. James Kovacich

    James Kovacich RENEGADE

    1) Gascon "may" have been given a black belt by Leoning but it does not make any sense that after he broke away from Kajukenbo to form his own style in 1958 that he would remain a Kajukenbo student under Leoning and receive his black belt much later in the '60's sometime.

    When it comes to history especially Kajukenbo, John Bishop is the one to listen to.
    John's earliest black belts in California were not until 1962-63.
    Carlos Bunda and Bill Ryusaki were the first ones

    In 1958 there are only 3 karate schools in all of So. California. Tsutomu Oshima's Shotokan school (1955), Ed Parker's Kenpo school (1956), and John Leoning Kajukenbo school (1958).__________________

    I talked to John Leoning's first black belt, Carlos Bunda. He told me that Leoning came to the mainland in 1958[/B]. I talked to Ed Parker. He verified the date of 1958. He also told me that Leoning was a "brown belt" when he first came here. He said he know's this because he called Sijo Emperado to "check him out", (competition you know) when Leoning opened his school. And Sijo told him that Leoning was a "brown belt". Ed said that Leoning later got his "black belt". I never asked how much "later". It really didn't matter to me at the time.
    Bill Ryusaki also confirmed this information.
    I then talked to Alan Reyes, who is a Kajukenbo historian. He grew up in Kajukenbo and his father Aleju Reyes was Sijo Emperado "scribe". In other words he recorded for Emperado all the "techniques", "black belt promotions", and other matters important to the Kajukenbo organization.
    Alan told me that Leoning, like most of the other early Kajukenbo instructors on the mainland, was "not a black belt when he first arrived".
    He, like most of the others came here looking for jobs. When the opportunity arose to teach,they did. Like I said before, at the time he opened, there are only 2 karate schools in all of So. Calif.

    That tells me that Gascon most likely created his style without EARNING his black belt the hard way as you say. It also tells me that even if he did earn his black belt later, he still founded his own style at a minumum of 4+ years before earning a legitimate black belt.

    During 1958-62. If he promoted anyone to black belt. He issued a rank that he did not earn.
    He is the first in your SSK line to self promote himself to 10th and all the others under him self promoted themselves to 10th.

    2) Emperado ws promoted to 10th OUTSIDE of his organization.
    Hawaii Chinese Physical Culture Association awarded Emperado the title Professor 10th degree.


    Not only that. Many of the Karazenpo black belts were not trained Karazenpo. Many listed at Gascons site were under other instructors downline and Gascon only tested them. At least thats what he says. We know he "slipped up once" and only once as he says. Pesares seems to be ****ed at Gascon for recruiting his students.

    And if Pesares style was so differant how could Gascon test them?

    Going to an outside organization still remains a better option than self promoting oneself which I have not done.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2006
  20. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

    Well, some interesting points you raise. You're saying that Leoning wasn't a black belt when he came out here, but he got one from Emperado soon enough it seems. Here's another quote From John Bishop: Sonny Gascon was/is a black belt under John Leoning, who was under Emperado. This is confirmed by Emperado himself. Leoning was a 5th degree in Kajukenbo and a 7th degree in kung fu.

    Either way, Gascon earned his black belt from the man who instructed him.

    You, on the other hand, did not earn a black belt from the person that instructed you correct?

    You also brought up Emperado being promoted by a group of people. Now think about that for a minute Jim, He was the founder of his style after being given a 5th degree by his instructor William Chow. He was recognized as a 10th, but he was not "tested" for it. Who could test him in his own system? It was an honorary recognition for someone who had done so much for the martial arts and had founded a style that has been internationally recognized. But it was a style founded by a fifth degree black belt, not someone who had several colored belts and had never earned a black belt.

    So, if you're willing to say that your rank and Geary's rank are honorary and not something that you tested for, fine. Hell, I have an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the Universal Life Church. So then just say it. Say that you never tested for black belt but it was merely given to you by Lou Angel. Not a group of people, but one person. Not after you had already earned a fifth degree black belt from your primary instructor the way Sijo did, but rather, after earning several colored belts in various arts and deciding that that entitled you to be a fifth degree. Say that and I'll concede the point. But don't try to put yourself in the same league as the Gascons and Emperados of this world.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2006

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