Hi all, this is a small project I have been working on for awhile. Feel free to repost/email this article, as long as it remains unaltered. Hope it's helpful! ---------- Warning Signs For Identifying Problematic Martial Arts Instruction Developed by 'Roundeyesamurai' Feel free to contact me: Roundeyesamurai (roundeyesamurai AT gmail.com) Glock Talk Martial Arts Forum (My Cyber-Home!): http://glocktalk.com/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=150 This article may be distributed freely, so long as it remains unaltered from its original form (including header information). General: 1) Identify the instructor's reputation in the community. A number of former students who have had bad experiences with the instructor is a good indication that he is potentially problematic; 2) "If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Usually Is"; 3) "Trust Your Gut" with regards to impressions of an instructor upon meeting them. The meeting should not sound like a sales pitch, a recruitment speech, etc. 4) Take a trial class. Make particular note of whether the instructor (or an assistant) pays special attention to you. As a beginner, you require special attention. Avoid any school which refuses to allow you (or charges a fee for) a trial class. Incompetent Instructors: 1) Does not actively discourage horseplay in the school; 2) Students and instructor demonstrate poor discipline and/or lack professional conduct, or instructor does not appear to demonstrate a high level of capability with his method. This high level should be readily apparent, even to a novice; 3) Demonstrates difficulty in communicating information and concepts to students. This is especially apparent if the instructor blames a student for an inability to understand the material, since this indicates that the instructor is incapable of teaching it appropriately; 4) Allows students to wear jewelry in class, keep beverages or food in or near the training area, or allows gym bags or other clutter to remain on the training floor where they may pose an injury hazard; 5) Attempts to demonstrate techniques or concepts and makes mistakes obvious to novices (falling over, hitting himself with a weapon, etc.); 6) Obviously lacks teaching ability; 7) Screams at and/or berates students; 8) Sounds as though he is "making up" information that he communicates to the students. Fraudulent Credentials/ Illegitimately Held Rank: 1) Refuses to provide, or demurs from providing, proof of credentials. Refuses to give verifiable specifics of his training (dates, locations, styles, instructors, etc.). Take accurate notes and verify the notes. Google search is a good way to verify credentials, as are martial arts discussion boards; 2) Refers to self and/or requires/requests students to refer to him using honorifics ("Soke", "Hanshi", etc.). The only appropriate title should be an instructor's title, such as "Sensei" in Japanese martial arts, "Sifu" in Chinese martial arts, "Guro" in Filipino martial arts, and so forth. Advanced titles or honorifics MUST be supported with verifiable credentials. Instructors titles should not be used in self-reference ("Hello, I'm Sensei John Smith"), or be used as title on letterhead, business cards, etc.; 3) Makes claims of work as a bodyguard, mercenary, soldier of fortune, or similar prior occupation, or makes claims of military or police service without supplying proof of such service (form DD214 for US military service, etc.); 4) Makes claims about himself which resemble movie or television scripts. If he sounds like a candidate for a movie-of-the-week or an 80s action movie, he's probably lying (unless he can prove it). 5) Claims to personally know celebrities, especially martial arts celebrities, without providing proof of such association. Claims to "have beaten" a celebrity. Employs "name-dropping". Displays multiple "glamour shots" type photographs of himself. 6) Claims championship status in martial arts competition, without providing verification. Titles such as "National Champion" should be viewed as especially suspicious, unless verified. Remember, many competitions are held internally, where a small association of schools will host frequent competitions solely for the purpose of awarding such titles to their instructors. Use of internet search engines such as Google for verification of status is an efficient way to determine the validity of the claim and the veracity of the competition. 7) Fails the Bullshido check. Bullshido.com is an excellent website devoted to exposing martial arts frauds. If the instructor is listed as fraudulent on Bullshido, he is most likely fraudulent. 8) Claims to teach multiple martial arts or has created "his own style". This is a difficult concept to express to novices, especially due to the fact that many legitimate schools teach more than one method, especially schools of Mixed martial arts, and some very competent instructors have "their own style", as well. Persons with extensive experience in the martial arts community are often able to easily discern whether claims of teaching multiple styles are fraudulent or not, and it would be prudent to seek their advice. Bullshido.com is an excellent resource for this, as well, as are martial arts discussion boards. 9) Instructor shows off his "prowess" by physically abusing students during training; conversely, instructor refuses to exercise with students because he is "too deadly" and may injure them; 10) Instructor claims to have "secret" material, knowledge, techniques, etc. that he keeps closely-guarded. Excessively Business-Oriented Instructors/Schools: 1) Maintains an abundance of ranks/grades and/or an elaborate heirarchal system (multiple stripes on belts, etc.), especially if the instructor hosts frequent promotion examinations (monthly "testing day", etc.); 2) Requires additional fees for participation in certain types of training (fees for sparring sessions, or additional tuition for weapons classes, etc.). Fees should consist solely of a single tuition paid regularly, and a (minimal) one-time Association membership fee. Tuition should not increase with increases in one's rank. Ensure that the "association" is not a construct of the owner, i.e. "association dues" go directly into his pocket. This is a common scam. Likewise, having "clubs" or sub-classes which require additional dues, or services rendered (such as promotion of the school), should be avoided; 3) School offers incentives for promoting the school, such as discounted tuition in exchange for referring friends to the school, or a "club" membership in exchange for assisting in distributing flyers, etc.; 4) Children or adolescents hold instructor ranks/grades, regardless of whether or not they are actually instructing; 5) School places advertisements in local media. This includes leaving business cards, flyers, advertisements in local circulars, telemarketing, TV advertisements, etc. As a rule, the only acceptable "advertisement" is listing in the telephone book; 6) School has excessive embellishments, such as ethnic ("Oriental") exterior features, mock gardens, elaborate interior decorations, etc.; 7) School pays a tithe to an association or to instructor's superior(s); 8) Individual students' Association membership requires regular renewal (with a fee paid). This is commonly found when the "association" is, in reality, an additional fee placed by the school owner, and the "association" consists solely of his own students. 9) Owner regularly delegates instruction duties to subordinates; 10) Owner requires participation in outside activities as a condition of membership or advancement (this includes tournaments). Sexually Predatory Instructors: 1) Instructor is overly familiar with the students, especially if the overfamiliarity includes humor deprecatory of students. Example: Instructor has pet names for students, especially if pet names are vaguely derogatory (i.e. "Doofus"). 2) Instructor acts in an overly sexual/suggestive manner with students. Examples are excessive physical contact, massages, pats on the buttocks, etc. 3) Instructor frequently encourages extramural socialization of the students, especially on the school premises. Examples include regular late-night parties. 4) Instructor insists on frequent travel, requiring overnight stays out-of-town or travel with an individual student. This includes frequent travel to tournaments. 5) Instructor has living accommodations at or very near the school- A few instructors actually do maintain living accommodations in or near their school, usually for reason of traditionalism (historically, teachers in Japan made their schools in their homes) or convenience. However, this living space should remain private- invitations into this living space should be viewed skeptically. 6) Instructor offers "special classes" which are private, especially if said classes are taught behind curtains, or late at night, etc. 7) Instructor offers unusual amenities, especially if amenities require or encourage nudity or provocative situations (such as saunas, or massage tables, or napping areas). 8) Instructor maintains alcohol or controlled substances on premises. 9) Instructor demonstrates unprofessional behavior, such as "ogling". 10) Instructor spends more training time correcting or "adjusting" students of the opposite sex than students of the same sex.