How To Recognize A Martial Arts Fraud / Cult
Martial arts is a lot like religion, and going to a martial arts school is a lot like going to a church.
You find your school / gym that you like, go inside and socialize with the teacher and the students, and if they seem like a good fit, you dedicate either a few months, or a few decades of your life spending time with them.
However, much like religion (or a belief system), martial arts can vary between quality, instruction, and practicality. Some martial arts schools can be great, while others are downright dangerous scams or cults.
There are a few steps that can be taken to help identify and prevent learning from a fraud or cult leader in the martial arts. Here are a few suggestions.
Research the instructor and school
Before signing up for classes or training with a new instructor, do some research to verify their credentials and reputation. Look for information about their training and experience, and ask for recommendations from other students or instructors.
A reputable school should have positive reviews, recommendations, and experienced instructors. Try a free trial class just to make sure.
Check for credentials and certifications
Many legitimate instructors and schools have certifications or credentials from reputable organizations. These can provide some assurance that the instructor has received proper training and has met certain standards of knowledge and skill.
While some legitimate instructors may not have formal credentials or certifications, and certifications alone are just pieces of paper, they at least provide some sort of a base standard of quality assurance. A lack of any credible evidence of training or experience may be a red flag.
Watch for red flags
Be wary of instructors who make grandiose claims or promises, or who seem more interested in selling products or services than in providing quality instruction.
Instructors who make exaggerated claims about their abilities or the benefits of their training can be dangerous cult leaders if they have no proof to back up their claims.
Another obvious red flag is if the school doesn't allow any sparring or live practice of the martial arts you're learning. If you're not allowed to test the martial arts you're practicing, you're training in make believe la-la-land and will only fall into a false sense of security.
Seek out quality instruction
Look for instructors and schools that have a proven track record and a reputation for providing quality instruction. This can help ensure that you are receiving authentic and effective training.
One merit to look for is their successful track record in live competitions. If they can churn out high quality competitive athletes, they are in a much better position to teach you rather than a school that focuses on non-competitive practice.
Poor teaching quality
Fraudulent instructors may have limited knowledge or skill, and may not be able to provide effective instruction. Look to see if there are other high level students in the classroom, or is everybody just a beginner that's being conned for money.
Unsafe training practices
While good schools should encourage live practice and sparring, it can be equally dangerous if a school is not protecting its students adequately.
Fraudulent instructors may not prioritize safety, and may allow students to engage in dangerous or reckless training practices, or encourage too much "hard sparring" which only shortens the career and lifespan of the student.
Report suspicious activity
If you suspect that an instructor or school is engaged in fraudulent activity, consider reporting it to the appropriate authorities or organizations, such as local law enforcement or martial arts governing bodies.
It's important to keep in mind that not all instructors or schools without formal credentials or certifications are necessarily fraudulent.
However, if you are considering training with a new instructor or school, it can be helpful to do some research to verify their credentials and reputation. This can help ensure that you are receiving authentic and effective training.
- Dynasty Team