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Jamie Clubb
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PostSubject: Martial Arts Cults   Tue Jul 22, 2008 6:05 pm

I have posted this on a few other forums without a lot of interest. However, I think it is pretty important:

Are you part of or have you been a part of a martial arts cult? Below are the criteria set down by Michael Shermer regarding what generally constitutes a cult in his "Why People Believe Weird Things". I think they are sober guide for all CCMA students and prospective instructors:

"Veneration of the Leader: Excessive glorification to the point of virtual sainthood or divinity.

Inerrancy of the Leader: Belief that he or she cannot be wrong.

Omniscience of the Leader: Acceptance of beliefs and pronouncements on virtually all subjects, from the philosophical to the trivial.

Persuasive Techniques: Methods used to recruit new followers and reinforce current beliefs.

Hidden Agendas: Potential recruits and the public are not given a full disclosure of the true nature of the group's beliefs and plans.

Deceit: Recruits and followers are not told everything about the leader and the group's inner circle, particularly flaws or potentially embarrassing events or circumstances.

Financial and/or Sexual Exploitation: Recruits and followers are persuaded to invest in the group, and the leader may develop sexual relations with one or more of the followers.

Absolute Truth: Belief that the leader and/or group has a method of discovering final knowledge on any number of subjects.

Absolute Morality: Belief that the leader and/or the group have developed a system of right and wrong thought and action applicable to members and nonmembers alike. Those who strictly follow the moral code may become and remain members, those who do not are dismissed or punished."

A few links for your consideration:
http://www.furyu.com/archives/issue8/zanshin8.html http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/cults.htm http://www.freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/groups/c/chung/ http://www.unixgods.org/~monika/Fun/MartialArts/Unarmed.html http://www.koryu.com/library/wmuromoto4.html http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5hYsMcJM68 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyV-06JONjw&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtEsSCe_Fas&feature=related

We are not alone in discussing this topic:
http://www.factnet.org/discus/messages/3/675.html?1134690355 http://wmtkd.us/kalamazoo/BullShido.xml

Militant cults? http://www.atimes.com/se-asia/bg08ae01.html

Oh yes, and the classic example. Rev. Sun Myung Moon is the founder and head of the Unification Church, known collequially as "The Moonies". Moon is often known as one of the world's biggest cult leaders. http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Cults/unificat.htm

He also heads the Martial Arts Federation for World Peace.


MARTIAL ARTS
Martial arts were originally created in ancient Asia to ensure stable and peaceful societies. Reviving this original purpose of martial arts, Reverend Moon is a major sponsor of martial arts programs and events. He recognizes martial arts as an especially important way to reach young people. Martial arts is a uniquely inspiring, enriching and exciting sport where young persons, and even gang members, can develop their physical abilities and at the same time learn principles that develop their character and leadership abilities.

Martial Arts Federation for World Peace
Founded in 1997, the Martial Arts Federation for World Peace promotes martial arts as a way to achieve individual mind/unity, to give young people a healthy to way to channel their youthful energy and learn ethical principles, and to promote world peace through international tournaments. Delegates from 70 nations, including Grand Masters and Masters from the main martial arts schools, attended the 1997 inauguration. The Federation is unique in that it encourages members to study and practice many styles of martial arts and promotes martial arts programs that unify the strong points of individual martial arts schools.


Moon's own words on his own martial arts style, Won Wha Do:


Our martial art is Won Wha Do, is circular, 360 degrees. I created Won Wha Do. Also I gave Chung Do Sul, before. In America people like Tae Kwon Do. I supported the people who brought it to America, but they didnít connect it to me. Over 100,000 young people study martial arts. All the martial arts leaders are uniting, and the Christians opposed it. I knew what was coming in the future, in the worlds of religion, sports and art, and had to educate all humankind in a short time. I felt that we could change the world in three years. Now look at it, the Yakuza and Mafia are dominating these arenas of life. By 2010, the Mafia will dominate all distribution systems. Who will kick them out? Thatís why we need martial arts. So we need to bring martial arts leaders to Godís side, but they donít know what the purpose of martial arts is. So we need to re-organize them and bring them back to their original purpose.
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Fri Jul 25, 2008 7:52 pm

Another cracking post and I agree it should be posted, do not know why there is a lack of interest.

I read with interest today why people believe weird things, while I was at work, cracking book and as you quoted Jamie, I swear I was in an MA cult, not going to name names here as I have tried a few arts, but this instructor fit the description to a tee!

Thanks for posting this it is important!

Read the book, its excellent!

Regards,

Den.

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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Mon Jul 28, 2008 11:24 am

Thanks, Den. What I mean is the post kind of stopped the thread dead. There are plenty of people who would agree with all Shermer's criteria (I have experienced every single one and seen it happen again and again and again), but few who really want to discuss it. Having said that, I have collared a 5th dan who fled her club and is willing to be interviewed for my book.

This is not a very scientific statement, but from what I have seen/and do see, I would say that the majority of martial arts classes bear a number of strong similarities to cults. Too often they replace one form of insecurity for another.
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Mon Jul 28, 2008 11:52 am

This is interesting me because I have just watched disc one, root of all evil the uncut interviews, Richard Dawkins.

A lady explained how she was raised by parents in a catholic cult. She had to follow struict guidelines, was not allowed friends etc.

It was like walls around her and when she did escape this cult, it was as if she needed something to replace it immediately.

Now a martial art cult may not be as exrtreme but I wonder when people wake up and run, where do they go from there.

I know from my experience I was attracted back very strngly by my own emotions, I could not understand this.

Rationally I knew it would be idiocy to go back but emotionally..........

Regards,

Den.

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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Tue Jul 29, 2008 12:58 pm

Hi Den,

Dennis Jones (Samurai on the Door) has proven to be one of the most incisive people on this particular topic and it was he who put it to me in a nutshell "There isn't any other physical activity where a participant feels so much guilt if they give it up".

Humans are naturally tribal and many martial arts clubs exploit this need to be a part of something. I dare say that sports and workman's clubs also do this, but few make the claims of a martial arts club. Martial arts often offer a history, a tradition, a culture, a philosophy, terminology and venerated icons integrated with the physical work being carried out - all of which is totally alien from the outside world. All of this is often taught WITHOUT scepticism and few students are encouraged to properly research the material they have to learn in order to pass grades. So what do you get? Unquestioning people, following something that is at complete odds with the rest of the world.

Leaving that can be tough, as it can feel like you are leaving your family for good. Many clubs do not have a revolving door policy - once you are out, you are out! (read my "Prodigal Son: Rejected" article for an example). I am not against the feeling of family, but true family's value their children leaving home.
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Fri Aug 08, 2008 4:57 pm

Freedom from cults, by Matt Thornton
http://www.straightblastgym.com/freedom.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Fri Aug 08, 2008 5:35 pm

Cheers Tim Smile

regards,

Den.

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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Sun Aug 24, 2008 1:14 pm

Very interesting post Jamie.

I hate to say it, but I've been part of a few Martial Arts cults in my time. And "cult" is the right word to use unfortunately. In fact, it is one of the reasons that I started training privately.

I found my first particular Kenpo club to be like this, I luckily left after two years to train else where.

I was lured in by a complete "bait and switch" (I came form a strict shotokan background). The whole atmosphere was great initially, but it didn't take long for the cracks to appear. The main man was a scumbag and his only interest was getting money and getting "hands on" with his female students.

One of the big problems with most of these high Dan guys is that they can't or wont self-analyze (unlike an science). Thus, everything they do it right. Well it will be in a compliant warm fuzzy Dojo. Not forgetting a quick and painful punishment if a student makes a mistake or gets out of line.

I'm not saying that they are all like this of course - but this is just some of my experiences over the last 20 years.

The guy I'm training with now is just well cool (AKA - Lee Morrison). Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:40 pm

Thanks for the reply, Rob. Would you be interested in being interviewed about your experiences? It would be for my book.
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Mon Aug 25, 2008 2:02 pm

Sure! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Sun Aug 31, 2008 4:26 pm

Thanks, Rob. Please send me your email address and I will send out my standard first set of questions.

Okay, let's have a little closer look at Shermer's criteria. These first three concerning leadership in a martial arts club or, more importantly, an association. Are they really as rare as the martial arts community would have us believe?

Quote :
"Veneration of the Leader: Excessive glorification to the point of virtual sainthood or divinity.

Inerrancy of the Leader: Belief that he or she cannot be wrong.

Omniscience of the Leader: Acceptance of beliefs and pronouncements on virtually all subjects, from the philosophical to the trivial.

Think about it. It is dead easy to see the "classical" and "mystical" martial arts falling into this category. Nevertheless, for all their faults there is a good history of traditional martial arts schools dividing and branching off - and not always with bad blood. However, I have seen a disturbing number of modern martial arts movements, schools and associations fall exactly into this trap. How often has your association leader or club leader been politely questioned and invited debate? How often have you seen a shift in position go completley unquestioned? This coud be down to man's herd instinct, but that only lends weight to the argument that people do not take power they are given power.

May I also add that self-deprecation (which can be veiled as false modesty) is not enough. I cite Chairman Mao of communist China as a good historial comparison. Mao definitely ran a cult of personality in China in the '50s, '60s and '70s (source: "Wild Swans" by Yung Chan) and his "self-criticism" was only used a means to bring his people further to their knees.

Watch out for expressions being repeated too. Listen to the same wording being expressed by the person in charge being repeated by instructors under his influence.
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:42 pm

Jamie, sent you a PM with my addy.

Cheers,

R.
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Tue Sep 02, 2008 3:18 pm

Thanks, Rob. I will send the questions over later.

Any views on my points?
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Tue Sep 02, 2008 5:20 pm

Hey Jamie,

Yes, see a lot of sense in what you are saying... The whole "false modesty" thing is a great example to cite, and is so pervasive through the traditional Martial Arts. Although, I do see it happening in KM, KAPAP and RBSD (as you also pointed out).

I saw this many times in American Kenpo. From the instructors, and right through the whole system.

At the "indoctrination phase", Kenpo is gently introduced to you, and on the surface it sounds great (only to someone who doesn't understand real violence). If you have been, like I had, doing other arts - The previous systems, concepts will be gently chipped away with at first, and the "correct" American Knepo logic installed. They will prove their points really well too... But only in a compliant Dojo, where the attacker is you buddy, and doesn't want to really hurt you. Tra la la...

At first everyone will appear very friendly, and only trying to help you further you martial arts training (like one big cult family:)). So when I first joined up to the cult, um I mean... "club" Smile I was asked If I had any previous training. I said I has 3 years of Shotokan. They would reply, "yeah, Shotokan is good, but we are in modern times now, and the killer reverse punch doesn't work with people who are really big and well fed.... yada yada".

I also started to notice when students got out of line would receive a slightly harder punch, or throw next time they were up. This in turn, would get them back into line pronto. Sounds a bit like David Koresh to right?... But I'm not exaggerating. Every so often the "master" would have to "amp things up" to show who was still boss. So what, if a few students got more bruises than usual. But to me it's bullying plain and simple, emotional and physical.

I've always said this to my mates, that Martial Artists are lovely people until you don't agree with them anymore. That's when things suddenly fall to pieces, and they all become two faced back bitting gits. Just look at all the political schisms that have formed throughout the various organizations. That's entropy for you! Smile

Sorry, I'm rambling bit here...
All the American Knepo instructors were filled with this "false modesty". In fairness, I honestly think that they believe in their own hype. I mean, how could they really ever doubt themselves in such an environment? You've got sycophantic students who are desperate for there next belts, and master's favor. Not to mention the whole concept of compliant training. Plus if you've been doing something for 30 years, and have a very high rank, do you really want to find out that's it's really that good at all?

Of course the Grand Master (who are nearly always self-awarded btw) will also slate the opposition, much like a regular cult would (politely of course Smile). Basically, it's a mild form of brainwashing in my opinion. Why do I say this? Well, I've had many debates with students over the years, and no matter how I would prove my point they would still refuse to accept it, even after irrefutable proof. One of my favorite things to do is the "action beats reaction theory". I proved this to my last instructor (at one of my last ever Kenpo sessions before I left). I stood close to him, and he could not block ANY of my blows. He was totally confused.... and could not provide me with an answer (all thanks to Lee Morrison Geoff Thompson for showing me the truth!).

When my instructor found out that I was training in Combatives (I told him), he was very disappointed, and told me not to train with other people as it would "stunt" my growth as a Martial Artist, and was highly disloyal. Plus, it would compromise my abilities, as HIS system was the only way. Notice the other cult features?? Isolation, emotional, blackmail, feelings of guilt, His way was the only way, questioning my loyalty, etc.

Well I just fecked off... Whne got the chance to train with Lee. I didn't even bother grading for my second Dan, which was just around the corner.

What he didn't realize I only trained in Kenpo only, as a hobby, and for a bit of fitness. Att he time there were no Combatives groups in Ireland. I knew his shit would never work under pressure. I'd tested it! I'd been studying other peoples work for years before (Lee, GT etc), because I had always been questioning everything. I feel very lucky to be training with Lee now!

So I think that Jamie's cult analogy is spot on! But you have to know how to read the signs. Are you learning respect when you go through the ritual of bowing and scraping? What about when you get a telling off when your roundhouse kick is not up to scratch. What about when your Gi is untidy, and you belt is coming loose? Are they giving you shit for a god reason, or is it just another form of control?

Last point I feel I should make. I've been in and out of training for about 20 years now. Virtually all the schools I went to, ALL had elements of the things I mentioned (Kick boxing, Kenpo, Wado, Kung Fu, Ninjitsu and American Kenpo). Some were mild and it would be hard to notice them, some were a lot worse. Now, I'm not saying all schools are like this, and I can only speak from my own personal experience, and personal opinion. People have also said that I had experience one bad Kenpo club and couldn't hold the whole of Kenpo responsible. However, I'd been to several Kenpo schools in and around Dublin City, and I would keep leaving because I wasn't happy.
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Tue Sep 02, 2008 5:43 pm

Rob wrote:
Hey Jamie,

Yes, see a lot of sense in what you are saying... The whole "false modesty" thing is a great example to cite, and is so pervasive through the traditional Martial Arts. Although, I do see it happening in KM, KAPAP and RBSD (as you also pointed out).

I saw this many times in American Kenpo. From the instructors, and right through the whole system.

At the "indoctrination phase", Kenpo is gently introduced to you, and on the surface it sounds great (only to someone who doesn't understand real violence). If you have been, like I had, doing other arts - The previous systems, concepts will be gently chipped away with at first, and the "correct" American Knepo logic installed. They will prove their points really well too... But only in a compliant Dojo, where the attacker is you buddy, and doesn't want to really hurt you. Tra la la...

At first everyone will appear very friendly, and only trying to help you further you martial arts training (like one big cult family:)). So when I first joined up to the cult, um I mean... "club" Smile I was asked If I had any previous training. I said I has 3 years of Shotokan. They would reply, "yeah, Shotokan is good, but we are in modern times now, and the killer reverse punch doesn't work with people who are really big and well fed.... yada yada".

I also started to notice when students got out of line would receive a slightly harder punch, or throw next time they were up. This in turn, would get them back into line pronto. Sounds a bit like David Koresh to right?... But I'm not exaggerating. Every so often the "master" would have to "amp things up" to show who was still boss. So what, if a few students got more bruises than usual. But to me it's bullying plain and simple, emotional and physical.

I've always said this to my mates, that Martial Artists are lovely people until you don't agree with them anymore. That's when things suddenly fall to pieces, and they all become two faced back bitting gits. Just look at all the political schisms that have formed throughout the various organizations. That's entropy for you! Smile

Sorry, I'm rambling bit here...
All the American Knepo instructors were filled with this "false modesty". In fairness, I honestly think that they believe in their own hype. I mean, how could they really ever doubt themselves in such an environment? You've got sycophantic students who are desperate for there next belts, and master's favor. Not to mention the whole concept of compliant training. Plus if you've been doing something for 30 years, and have a very high rank, do you really want to find out that's it's really that good at all?

Of course the Grand Master (who are nearly always self-awarded btw) will also slate the opposition, much like a regular cult would (politely of course Smile). Basically, it's a mild form of brainwashing in my opinion. Why do I say this? Well, I've had many debates with students over the years, and no matter how I would prove my point they would still refuse to accept it, even after irrefutable proof. One of my favorite things to do is the "action beats reaction theory". I proved this to my last instructor (at one of my last ever Kenpo sessions before I left). I stood close to him, and he could not block ANY of my blows. He was totally confused.... and could not provide me with an answer (all thanks to Lee Morrison Geoff Thompson for showing me the truth!).

When my instructor found out that I was training in Combatives (I told him), he was very disappointed, and told me not to train with other people as it would "stunt" my growth as a Martial Artist, and was highly disloyal. Plus, it would compromise my abilities, as HIS system was the only way. Notice the other cult features?? Isolation, emotional, blackmail, feelings of guilt, His way was the only way, questioning my loyalty, etc.

Well I just fecked off... Whne got the chance to train with Lee. I didn't even bother grading for my second Dan, which was just around the corner.

What he didn't realize I only trained in Kenpo only, as a hobby, and for a bit of fitness. Att he time there were no Combatives groups in Ireland. I knew his shit would never work under pressure. I'd tested it! I'd been studying other peoples work for years before (Lee, GT etc), because I had always been questioning everything. I feel very lucky to be training with Lee now!

So I think that Jamie's cult analogy is spot on! But you have to know how to read the signs. Are you learning respect when you go through the ritual of bowing and scraping? What about when you get a telling off when your roundhouse kick is not up to scratch. What about when your Gi is untidy, and you belt is coming loose? Are they giving you shit for a god reason, or is it just another form of control?

Last point I feel I should make. I've been in and out of training for about 20 years now. Virtually all the schools I went to, ALL had elements of the things I mentioned (Kick boxing, Kenpo, Wado, Kung Fu, Ninjitsu and American Kenpo). Some were mild and it would be hard to notice them, some were a lot worse. Now, I'm not saying all schools are like this, and I can only speak from my own personal experience, and personal opinion. People have also said that I had experience one bad Kenpo club and couldn't hold the whole of Kenpo responsible. However, I'd been to several Kenpo schools in and around Dublin City, and I would keep leaving because I wasn't happy.

Overall I would look back in the time I spent in a 'TMA' in a positive light, but the above certainly does ring a lot of bells for me.
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Tue Sep 02, 2008 6:27 pm

Quote :
Overall I would look back in the time I spent in a 'TMA' in a positive light, but the above certainly does ring a lot of bells for me.

In hindsight I do not regret a single martial arts lesson I undertook. It is worth remembering that even cults in general have done good things - and I mean the really dangerous ones too! Jim Jones, Yahweh ben Yahweh etc. all did a lot of good before they started killing people.

How harmful a cult-like martial arts group can be on a individual is not something that has been properly assessed. The burden of proof is on me in this instance. Here is some stuff I unearthed:

Quote :
A few links for your consideration:
http://www.furyu.com/archives/issue8/zanshin8.html http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/cults.htm http://www.freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/groups/c/chung/ http://www.unixgods.org/~monika/Fun/MartialArts/Unarmed.html http://www.koryu.com/library/wmuromoto4.html http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5hYsMcJM68 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyV-06JONjw&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtEsSCe_Fas&feature=related

We are not alone in discussing this topic:
http://www.factnet.org/discus/messages/3/675.html?1134690355 http://wmtkd.us/kalamazoo/BullShido.xml

Militant cults? http://www.atimes.com/se-asia/bg08ae01.html

Oh yes, and the classic example. Rev. Sun Myung Moon is the founder and head of the Unification Church, known collequially as "The Moonies". Moon is often known as one of the world's biggest cult leaders. http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Cults/unificat.htm

He also heads the Martial Arts Federation for World Peace.


MARTIAL ARTS
Martial arts were originally created in ancient Asia to ensure stable and peaceful societies. Reviving this original purpose of martial arts, Reverend Moon is a major sponsor of martial arts programs and events. He recognizes martial arts as an especially important way to reach young people. Martial arts is a uniquely inspiring, enriching and exciting sport where young persons, and even gang members, can develop their physical abilities and at the same time learn principles that develop their character and leadership abilities.

Martial Arts Federation for World Peace
Founded in 1997, the Martial Arts Federation for World Peace promotes martial arts as a way to achieve individual mind/unity, to give young people a healthy to way to channel their youthful energy and learn ethical principles, and to promote world peace through international tournaments. Delegates from 70 nations, including Grand Masters and Masters from the main martial arts schools, attended the 1997 inauguration. The Federation is unique in that it encourages members to study and practice many styles of martial arts and promotes martial arts programs that unify the strong points of individual martial arts schools.


Moon's own words on his own martial arts style, Won Wha Do:


Our martial art is Won Wha Do, is circular, 360 degrees. I created Won Wha Do. Also I gave Chung Do Sul, before. In America people like Tae Kwon Do. I supported the people who brought it to America, but they didnít connect it to me. Over 100,000 young people study martial arts. All the martial arts leaders are uniting, and the Christians opposed it. I knew what was coming in the future, in the worlds of religion, sports and art, and had to educate all humankind in a short time. I felt that we could change the world in three years. Now look at it, the Yakuza and Mafia are dominating these arenas of life. By 2010, the Mafia will dominate all distribution systems. Who will kick them out? Thatís why we need martial arts. So we need to bring martial arts leaders to Godís side, but they donít know what the purpose of martial arts is. So we need to re-organize them and bring them back to their original purpose.
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Rob
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Tue Sep 02, 2008 6:32 pm

I think that's a fair point Tim, I know a lot of dudes who have had very positive TMA experiences, and still really enjoy their training. Which is cool!

I get asked alot about going to train somewhere. I always say pretty much the same thing. Try a few places out, and stick to the one that you like and enjoy. Also, one that will fill your needs, whether is recreation, sport or SD.

If it does not tick all the right boxes for you - then then move on to another club.

I think that some people are genuinely afraid to leave, because they wont find anything better, or have invested too much time clambering for their belts.
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Tue Sep 02, 2008 6:36 pm

Uh Oh.... I think I deleted Tim's post by accident. Really really sorry Tim, I must have hit edit instead of quote. Sad

Sorry guys, I'm still getting used to the mod controls.

Tim please feel free to post it again (sorry for any hassles caused). Tim basically said that he generally had positive experiences in TMA, but that a few points I made definitely rung some bells.

Sorry.....
Embarassed
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Tue Sep 02, 2008 6:38 pm

I would like to also say, that I'm really glad I went through my TMA experiences (good and bad), as they made me a much wiser man, and also lead me on to Combatives.
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Tue Sep 02, 2008 6:51 pm

I quoted him, so at least some of the post remains.
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Cults   Tue Sep 02, 2008 7:26 pm

Jamie Clubb wrote:
I quoted him, so at least some of the post remains.

Phew...
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