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AmericanTSDBJJ
12/05/2016 2:53am,
I haven’t posted anything on here since 2012, but felt to the need to after seeing this. There is a school in southern California (T.O. Westlake Karate) run by a family of “grandmasters” (who head up an association with several more “grandmasters” in it). Almost exactly a year ago an instructor by the name of Justin Ichikawa (then 30 years old) was promoted by his father, Dennis Ichikawa (whose promotions are suspect as well and wants to be referred to as “great grandmaster”) to seventh degree black belt “grandmaster”.

First of all, at 30 years old no one should be walking around claiming to be a seventh degree black belt or call him/herself a “master”, let alone “grandmaster”. I don’t care what age he started or what age he received his black belt from dad! Sensei like Fumio Demura, Tadashi Yamashita, Tsutomu Oshima who have been black belts longer than this guy’s father has been training don’t call themselves “grandmaster”.

I have training partners who either they or their kids have trained at one of their association’s member schools [one of which received his second degree black belt from them] left because the training was a joke. Unfortunately since I haven't done the minimum number of posts required I can't post a link to their videos, but if you Google "TO Westlake Karate" or type it or just "Westlake Karate" into YouTube it'll be the first result to show up.

Michael Tzadok
12/05/2016 9:32am,
I'm not really seeing the fraud here. So long as he is honest about where he got his belt from and his age when he did it, it isn't really a fraud, it's just a crud system. It would be nice if you could please explain the exact fraud being perpetrated.

DCS
12/05/2016 9:47am,
JUSTIN ICHIKAWA
Rank: 7th Degree Black Belt.
Justin Ichikawa started training in American Tang Soo Do at the age of 3 under the teachings of Great Grand Master Dennis Ichikawa then promoted to black belt at age 7. He is the co-owner and head instructor at the T.O. Westlake Karate Studio and was promoted to the rank of 7th Degree Black Belt in 2015.

Classes: Beginner Kids. Intermediate/Advanced Kids. Black Belts. Weapons. Black Belt Club. Demo Team.

http://www.towestlakekarate.com/instructors

Where does it says Justin is "grandmaster"?

The place looks McDojoish, but not fraudulent.

Nutcracker, sweet
12/05/2016 10:06am,
I'm not really seeing the fraud here. So long as he is honest about where he got his belt from and his age when he did it, it isn't really a fraud, it's just a crud system. It would be nice if you could please explain the exact fraud being perpetrated.

To be clear, there was no accusation of fraud in OP. Fraud is a legal term that can carry severe consequences for an accuser, even if that accuser is 100% justified in the claim. OP made no such claim.

Now, the school appears to be garden variety krotty, that is trying to also cash in on the *JJ craze with a JJJ blue-belt instructor. But, the website, as it stands, makes no claims of deadly or death-defying ability, so I'm happy to just weigh in that this is a school that one probably shouldn't bother with, unless cult of personality is your goal.

NeilG
12/05/2016 10:23am,
This doesn't seem like a MABS-y thing. FWIW minimum time to nanadan in kendo is 34, and it does happen. So I'm not too fussed about nanadan people in their early 30s. Having said that, in this case it's likely all just marketing.

BigJim520
12/05/2016 10:26am,
http://www.towestlakekarate.com/instructors

Where does it says Justin is "grandmaster"?

The place looks McDojoish, but not fraudulent.

It may not say that on the website, but that is kinda implied with 7th Dan, no?

NeilG
12/05/2016 10:39am,
It may not say that on the website, but that is kinda implied with 7th Dan, no?
Not in my book.

DCS
12/05/2016 10:42am,
It may not say that on the website, but that is kinda implied with 7th Dan, no?
Maybe, but I'm looking for the American Tang Soo Do governing body website, to check if they have something about rankings and their meaning, and can't find it.

Michael Tzadok
12/05/2016 11:38am,
http://www.towestlakekarate.com/instructors

Where does it says Justin is "grandmaster"?

The place looks McDojoish, but not fraudulent.

It says it here http://www.towestlakekarate.com/about

Established in 1974.
Grandmaster Dennis Ichikawa began his training with Chuck Norris in 1970. In 1974 he opened the Tarzana Karate Studio, then later moving to Thousand Oaks, to open the first T.O/Westlake Karate studio in 1987. His son, Justin Ichikawa (and T.O. Westlake head instructor), started his training when he was 3 years old in 1988. Grandmaster Dennis Ichikawa earned his 9th Degree black belt in 2010, and Grandmaster Justin Ichikawa earned his 7th Degree black belt in 2015.

Also on all the recent videos on the blog http://www.towestlakekarate.com/blog-1
I give you this example

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PGyXPWjEoY

Aside from that it seems to be a school that is traditional Karate that may be transitioning to BJJ/MMA.

In fairness Tiger Schuman was the dame TMA Karate thing and then successfully made the transition, so it is possible.

AmericanTSDBJJ
12/06/2016 3:13am,
I never referred to them as being frauds or claimed that they are defrauding anyone in any matter; on the contrary. Dennis, the father trained at Chuck Norris’ legendary Sherman Oaks [California] karate school under some of the top black belts in Norris’ organization before being booted out. Not denying they are legit martial artists at all.

My issue was with a 31 year old (from the same art as me) running around calling himself a “grandmaster”, regardless of rank. It’s bad enough that most karate schools today in the U.S. have lowered the requirements so low that we have 9 year old third degree black belts running around or more “masters” on every corner than McDonald’s; but now “grandmasters” in their 30s.

I know what someone else wants to call themselves is their business, but it’s so aggravating to see an art I’ve trained in for over 25 years become so watered down by others. I also train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and anyone who has studied that art knows how protective they are of it. I’m the same with my original art.

AmericanTSDBJJ
12/06/2016 3:49am,
There is no governing body for American Tang Soo Do (ATSD). ATSD is the original version of the Chuck Norris System. Back in the mid-1960s Norris combined Tang Soo Do-Moo Duk Kwan with Shotokan, Shito-ryu, American Kenpo and judo. In 1973, he founded an organization called the “National Tang Soo Do Congress” (NTC), which later became the United Fighting Arts Federation (UFAF) around 1979/1980.

In 1986 there was a big shake up in the organization between Norris and his top black belt, Pat E. Johnson. Most stayed with Norris, many went with Johnson, and others went off on their own. In 1990, Norris changed the name of his art to “Chun Kuk Do’ (renamed “Chuck Norris System” in 2015) and began making Brazilian jiu-jitsu training a requirement. ATSD is the version of the art prior to 1990.

Johnson reformed the NTC and other Norris black belts remained independent or formed associations of their own and continued teaching the original Norris system, albeit many have added jiu-jitsu to their curriculums as well. But as far as a main governing body like the JKA, WTF, ITF or IBJJF to look up a certain individual’s rank there isn’t.

For example, Dennis Ichikawa (9th Dan) received his first (1973) and second (1975) degrees under Norris; everything above that, your guess is as good as mine. Justin received his 7th Dan from his father and their association. I received my Dan ranks from my instructor, who received his from Norris.

As far as the meaning of rankings go; in traditional Korean Tang Soo Do fourth thru sixth Dan is considered “master”, seventh Dan and above is “grandmaster”. Masters wear a black (or midnight blue) belt with a red stripe down the length of it. Grandmasters will either wear the same aforementioned belt or a belt with two red stripes down the length of it.

In ATSD, at fourth Dan you are considered a “master”, below that you were simply “Mr.”, “Mrs.” or “Ms.” followed by your last name. As far as “grandmaster” goes, no one, not even Norris called themselves that. Traditionally only plain old black belts (no stripes or tips) were used regardless of rank; at the most maybe your name embroidered on it, but that was generally it. For the most part that has remained the same with some exceptions.

A few years ago for his organization, Johnson raised the minimum rank to be called a “master” to seventh Dan, no “grandmaster” not even himself. No special belts either. The Ichikawa’s group use the traditional Korean Dan rank system for “master” and “grandmaster”. They also use stripes on their belts to distinguish rank. At fourth Dan they wear a “masters” belt. At seventh Dan they wear a “grandmasters” belt that is the same as the “masters” belt only with a yellow stripe instead of a red one along the length.

Grey Owl
12/06/2016 5:51am,
"...42 years later he now has over 900 black belts.."

Yoda??

PDA
12/06/2016 6:12am,
Is this a MABs thread because somebody is annoyed that some idiots are calling themselves Grandmasters of bullshit?

If so ill look forward to its addition to YMAS

Christmas Spirit
12/06/2016 7:34am,
"...42 years later he now has over 900 black belts.."

Yoda??

Where is that quote from?


Is this a MABs thread because somebody is annoyed that some idiots are calling themselves Grandmasters of bullshit?

If so ill look forward to its addition to YMAS

I live by the code of " which staff got here first and seems to care the most" method of YMAS'ing and general moderation. I think the Sweet, Nutcracker is giving the thread enough time get it's crap together.

This one will make an excellent YMAS thread once it splits or moves.

Nutcracker, sweet
12/06/2016 7:50am,
Is this a MABs thread because somebody is annoyed that some idiots are calling themselves Grandmasters of bullshit?

If so ill look forward to its addition to YMAS

I think this qualifies as BS and/or skepticism, at least for the time being. You hit an important point - the art is so easy that you can achieve black belt at 9 years old, and be called grandmaster by your early thirties.

Christmas Spirit
12/06/2016 8:51am,
I think this qualifies as BS and/or skepticism, at least for the time being. You hit an important point - the art is so easy that you can achieve black belt at 9 years old, and be called grandmaster by your early thirties.

I love Justin's excellent martial pedigree. What kind of douche thinks a black belt at 7 years old means anything? It is a meaningless accomplishement. Congrats your parents can sign a check.


JUSTIN ICHIKAWA
Rank: 7th Degree Black Belt.
Justin Ichikawa started training in American Tang Soo Do at the age of 3 under the teachings of Great Grand Master Dennis Ichikawa then promoted to black belt at age 7...
http://www.towestlakekarate.com/instructors