Tag Archives: cultism

be careful who you trust

Martial Arts
Martial Arts (Photo credit: Tom Gill.)

A martial arts acquaintance of mine recently posted the following quote on a social media site:

“Only act with honorable people. You can trust them, and they you. Their honor is the best surety of their behavior even in misunderstandings, for they always act according to their character. Hence, it is better to have a dispute with an honorable person than to have a victory over dishonorable ones. You cannot deal well with the ruined, for they have no hostages for rectitude. With them there is no true friendship, and their agreements are not binding, however stringent they appear, because they have no feelings of honor. Never have anything to do with such people, for it honor does not restrain them, virtue will not, since honor is the throne of rectitude.” -Baltasar Gracian

Reading that got some wheels spinning in my head. The first association I made was with a previous post I authored here called “Learning good things from bad people”. There I addressed the issue of people overlooking the character flaws of some Martial Arts instructors because they believe that they can separate a teachers “issues” from the “good stuff” they teach. That post ended with the following:

What is the deciding factor that determines what you will overlook for that “good training”? Is it money? Is it just that the guy is close by..he’s “there”?  Is what he’s teaching really THAT much better than anybody else can show you? Is it because the instructor/style that you have invested a lot of your time, your money, and to some extent your “self” in is involved with this person?

Where do YOU draw the line?

In another mindstream I was mulling over a study I discovered a few years ago called Instructor-Student Commonalities in the Martial Arts: Leadership Traits and Similarities by Martin Thomas McGee. A snippet of this study states:

In a rigid social hierarchy, like martial arts, it would make sense that people would become more similar as a function of time, because everyone’s situational experience is relatively the same within the dojo. However, this hypothesis is not supported by Sylvia and Pindur (1978). Their findings suggest state that socialization takes place early and is independent of time and rank.

Martial arts schools are hierarchal, indoctrination-like social systems. Because of their rigidity, participants share the same experiences. Also, during this same time, modeling of super-ordinate positions occurs. These in-class experiences and modeling yield similar personalities among members. These similar personalities contain leadership qualities, such as a high need for cognition, strong locus of control, and strong motivation. Due to the subjective and reflexive nature of evaluation, those who have leadership qualities most similar to their instructors will be promoted to the next rank. Those who lack leadership qualities similar to their instructor will not be promoted. Not being promoted has nothing to do with being liked by the instructor, but not being qualified by displaying the attitude of one who is to be promoted to a higher rank. Or, because of this lack of attitude similarity as perceived by the student, there are differences in values that cause him or her to withdraw from classes. Hence, time “weeds out” those who are dissimilar from their instructor.

In other words, the “leadership”/instructors of a system are naturally self-selected from people who share personality traits with the head instructor.

In my opinion, the hangers-on of some of these teachers…even though they may deny it…are picking their side despite their assertions that they disagree with an instructors character but desire the skills nonetheless.

moral posturing and pretensions

An excellent article over at the TKRIblog:

Spend a few years in karate and you will find that there are all sorts of scoundrels associated with karate who—for all of the years they have spent talking about character perfection—are nothing more than bullies, thieves, liars, con men, or worse. There are lots of good people who train in karate as well, but in my experience the distribution of bad to good people pretty well matches the distribution in society at large; there is nothing magic about karate that makes its practitioners good people or moral exemplars.

Claims regarding the moral benefits of karate are pretty ubiquitous. These claims are everywhere from the copies of the dojo kun hung on training halls to the cheesy adverts in newspapers offering to help “little Johnny” stay off drugs, become more disciplined, to raise his grades, and turn him into Superman if his parents fork over some cash to “Grandmaster” (hold on tight to your wallet when someone starts trying to sell you morality.)

This association between karate and character does more than just line the pockets of snake oil samurai. It provides a platform for unwarranted moral posturing on the part of your friendly neighborhood shihan. If you want to find someone worth venerating as a moral exemplar, you are more likely to find them volunteering at a soup kitchen, working with special needs kids, or lending a hand at the local homeless shelter than at a karate dojo.

The moral pretensions of disingenuous karate teachers can be genuinely harmful. I remember a club that was affiliated with the same national organization I belonged to once hosted a seminar taught by a senior karate teacher. About an hour after training (ironically concluded with a period of seated meditation and recitation of the dojo kun), the group gathered at a local restaurant and the visiting instructor loudly asked the students “who is gonna f*** sensei tonight?”. This question was not meant to be funny or ironic, considering this man’s history it probably counted more as foreplay.


Read the rest at.

the dark side II



I notice that my “dark side” post is one of the most visited areas of my blog.  Seeing that has set my mind to considering the circumstances surrounding that earlier contribution.

Let me begin by saying that I have no personal knowledge of, or experience in, Bujinkan in general or with Mr. Prather and Warriorschool in particular. I stumbled across that whole situation while googling “warriorship” as part of some research for this blog. After reading through the various resources I thought that this was a compelling example of what I have always considered to be the risk surrounding the modern redefinition of warrior and decided to write about it here.

I must state that stories on the internet are far from “proof” of anything and many are “hearsay” at best. There is also the possibility of “signal noise” in any human interaction, where the intention of one party is “lost in translation” by the receiver. In other words what we may have here “is a failure to communicate” for all the proof I have. My personal opinion is, if all parties are willing participants and nothing illegal is going on…well it is a free country.

However, I don’t want to discount some of the compelling stories of people who claim to be former students. I think there is enough of a circumstantial case to warrant extreme caution. Especially before submitting oneself to a program where one has to suborn themselves in a subservient manner to someone without there being some sort of “public need”, such as in military or public service.

Following orders unquestioningly is one thing for real warriors in combat, where working together smoothly can be a matter of life and death. It’s another matter for civilians playing warrior (unless the intention is the forming of a militia or private army), to place another civilian in authority over themselves. Especially in the pursuit of something as nebulous as “warriorship”. When this pursuit takes priority over a persons “real life”; things like family, work, children, marriage and religion…that should be a warning to the student and the instructor alike.

I believe that a person interested in “warriorship” these days needs to take charge of his own education. Determine what it is you want to learn. Define your goal and be an educated consumer. If you want to act “like a warrior”…behave like one. Have some self-respect, stand up for what you think is right and speak out against wrongdoing. Don’t suborn yourself to another person without need. Respect towards your teacher and regulations or courtesy within the dojo are an entirely different matter than what I am talking about here. The warrior suborns himself to a leader for the accomplishment of a mission, NOT for some quest for “warriorship”. If someone is pushing for a superior/subordinate relationship outside the dojo…beware. Even within the military there are very clear limits regarding who is in the direct chain of command and what those leaders can and can’t order their subordinates to do. My lieutenant would have gotten a laugh in his face if he ORDERED me to go to his house and clean his basement.

Again, this is my personal opinion, take it or leave it. I think that one needs to beware of any school or organization that claims to “have it all”. I will respect an instructor that tells me that he can teach me unarmed combatives but I would be better served to get firearms training somewhere else, than I would someone who claims to “have it all”. Beware the instructor who tries to prevent you from furthering your education elsewhere. If you have the time, money and desire, go on your own musha shugyo. In the end I believe you will have a more fulfilling experience having been captain of your own ship, rather than kowtowing to some “bracelet” before mowing his lawn.

All of this brings a Zen koan to mind:

Zuigan called out to himself every day: `Master.’

Then he answered himself: `Yes, sir.’

And after that he added: `Become sober.’

Again he answered: `Yes, sir.’

`And after that,’ he continued, `do not be deceived by others.’

`Yes, sir; yes, sir,’ he answered.


the dark side


A site I stumbled across doing some research on “Warriorship” …do a google on that term and take a look at the results. It shows you what the problem is IMO.


This looks like the dark side of having a wanting and/or needing to be a warrior but taking the wrong path..into cultism. No offense meant to any Ninjutsu/Bujinkan folks out there, but they are amongst the biggest offenders of MY whole warrior rant here (again this is just MY OPINION…Im not implying that there is anything inherently wrong or Bad with emulating warriors, I just dont personally agree with it). The Ninjutsu folks really play up the whole “Warriorship” angle, some outright proclaiming themselves warriors. I grew up in the 80’s “ninja craze” days, which as a kid was great. I gobbled up all the Hayes/Hatsumi books I could find…still read them every once and a while…but :

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I
thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish
things.” -1 Corinthians 13:11

Some people are apparently so invested in being “Warriors” that they can become victims of some unscrupulous instructors with “issues”. In those links the main offender is described as a former USArmy Officer with combat experience (claimed..people lie about that sort of stuff). If true, it only goes to show yet another issue with this whole topic. He could very well be a “True Warrior” (combat vet etc.) yet still be a slimy bastard. Being a Warrior and being a “good person” are not always necessarily the same issue. People..deep down..if they can be honest with themselves…want to be “Warriors” for the power, fear and respect that they believe comes with it. That desire is natural as I see it, but once recognized it has to be tempered with thought and reason. Most people just cloak those base desires with the “high minded” gobbledy gook rather than face the truth and deal with it.

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