http://www.africanmartialarts.8m.com/), the navigation links are at the top in blue. It's easily one of the worst layouts I've ever seen.
http://www.africanmartialarts.8m.com/about.html takes you directly to it.
Excellent, thank you!
I was going to highlight it in the text, but since that got a bit too messy, here his suspicious claims listed:
- Martial Arts Historian: Where? Accredited by whom? What are his academic credentials?
- Instructed Navy Seals, etc: Privately or professionally? Because the way he makes it sound, it clearly suggests that he did so professionally.
- Licensed pro boxing cornerman of star boxers: Possible, but unlikely in light of the other stuff.
- Professional kickboxing trainer of Dennis Alexio, and Eugene "jelly" Ray: Again, possible, but unlikely.
- Miscellanea fundamentals: That's just word bubbles. It can mean ANYTHING.
- Winner of over 45 Amateur Fighting Championships. (Sport Karate [pre 1988 Olympic Games], Judo, Kickboxing): Seems to suggest he was somehow involved with the Olympics. Vague. Also, 45 CHAMPIONSHIPS?! Wow!
- Celebrity and Executive Protection: What is that supposed to mean?
The point is, whatever he claims, whether for "kids, and people into easy training", or for full-fledged pros, he got to tell the truth about his curriculum.
Now, in this particular case, it's hard to tell for me if it's just that his mild dyslexia and complete inability to put up a readable internet representation make things look way worse than they are, or if he is intentionally trying to bullshit people.
However, his claims are vague, to say the least, and a lot of the stuff he writes about is simply bizarre. "Martial Massages", WTF?
The 45 championships thing is VERY questionable. He even makes sure to say that it's before the olympics so as to say, "don't bother looking this **** up."
....the other stuff...it's just so loosely worded. You don't actually need credentials to be a "historian." It's not an academic distinction or anything. You just need to know things (or say you know things.)
He does seem to be intimately familiar with James Toney (and there's a picture of them together) and a picture of him training with Brandy Norwood (You know, "The Boy Is Mine") on one of this many social networking sites he's on. So I guess he can say he's a celebrity trainer I guess. And "training navy seals" thing...well that simply means he's trained a navy seal. I've "trained a navy SEAL", and I assure you that I don't know **** about ****...but if you've trained one, you've trained one I guess.
Dude seems to be very aware of how easy it is to figure out when he's bullshitting so he's very loose with wha the says.
Exactly. What he does is mostly wordplay.
But there is a difference between people that run a McDojo,
and people who blow up their profiles.
Selling a system, and selling something you call "original mixed martial arts",
like he does, is not the same.
He seems to be purposely misleading his customers about his actual credentials and the nature of the martial arts system he teaches.
As to the pictures and stuff, that is easy to fake, or to take out of context.
If you actually look at what the material of the system seems to cover it appears better than your average TKD or karate class. You've got some empty hand KB skills and some basic grappling, the weapons stuff made me cringe a little but all I saw was young kids in the vids so I assume the older students look better. I didn't see any forms/kata but I didn't look that hard either.
The problem arises when you look at what the guy does to sell the art. He makes several very general claims that might impress someone with no knowledge of martial arts. If I were looking for a casual training school for my daughter to try out martial arts I might take her into the place if it wasn't so hyped to be special and different. If he just said I made up my own style with punching, kicks, and some grappling he might sound more legit to someone who knows a little about martial arts.
The art founder needs to stop advertising the phony phd and rethink how he markets his system. What the hell makes his art "the original martial art'? Isn't is just a bunch of skillsets from other arts? Not very original.
Somehow the author equates slap boxing to a system of fighting. I slap boxed as a kid but I don't list it under my training resume.
..“Slap boxing” which is boxing with open hands attacking the face and body of your training partner while at the same time moving your head defensively and blocking your partners attacks by slapping them out of the air and stopping them with your elbows, which they in turn taught me, not only making my brothers Reginald and Franklin my first Martial Arts Instructors but also making African American Martial Arts the first system of combat that I have ever learned."...
Again, the deal is this:
Very much like our old foe Ralph Severe, this guy seems to be a notorious resume-padder.
While, in the end, this might just be an average Tang Soo Do dojang with a rather bizarre marketing strategy and web presentation, the fact remains that the person or persons responsible claim things that we know or can very likely assume are factually untrue, and as virtually the only institution that grants customer protection to clients of martial arts schools, we should not left it uncommented.
Just in case anybody gets me wrong - those guys are liars, and they use their lies to market on their business. What they advertise is sure as hell not related to MMA, and sure as hell not rooted in some weird African tradition. And, they don't content with that, but associate with people meddled up in other bullshit business ("martial massages"/Dr Maat).
Can we, from what we have read and seen, take them anyway as serious representants of any sport, or recommend anybody to train there? - I think not.
Now, as to the extend and the intention of their fraud, yes, that can be debated, but only to a degree.
"Ancient Kemetic martial arts", my ass.
I actually just stopped training with this guy a couple months ago. I was there for 3 months, because he had an introductory offer where you pay for 2 and get the 3rd month free.
With regard to his claims, I think whoever said that he's doing a bit of wordplay and being vague with the intent to mislead is exactly right. I think the "45 championships" thing is probably the same story he told us in class, that when he and his brothers were younger (presumably 80's) they used to go around challenging people at different dojos "to see how well their own martial arts worked". When he told this story he also said it wasn't the smartest thing he ever did, and he sometimes got his ass kicked.
In the 3 months I was there I never saw the (self-appointed) grand master demonstrate anything in an alive fashion, but he did seem to have quite a bit of knowledge of professional boxing and MMA (with regard to who did what in what fight & so on). He is obviously a dedicated fan of those sports.
I found the school by walking by the dance studio they were renting space from at the time, and saw a sign that said MMA, as well as "african american shadow boxing". The main draw for me is that this was literally around the corner from my house- it was a 5 minute walk. When I called the number from the sign, the person on the other end gave the name "voice" when I asked what his name was. I figured I couldn't lose much by going to the free class, so I checked it out. When I met the man in person, he introduced himself as "Grand Master Rogers", and this was the same person who I had called. During the class, he had me spar to see where my skills were at. I hadn't trained in a while but had previously tried a Kenpo place where I was able to pretty much dominate in sparring from day 1, all along knowing I'm not that great and thinking that a real boxer would probably be a good reality check. In the Kenpo class, I had used some JKD stuff I saw in some online vids. I would keep my right hand forward, step in to block the front leg with my own (or sometimes stand on my opponent's foot), and do crappy amateurish arm trapping while punching the face. So anyways when I got into the Kwa Asilia bla bla place he had me spar first, and of course I had no idea what to expect. He first put me against he most senior student, who was about a month away from his B.B. In about the first 6 seconds I got my ass kicked. The sparring was full-force and I ended up with a concussion but "voice" stopped it before I was KO'd or anything. It was basically a kickboxing match since we were on a wood floor. So then he has me spar the next most senior student, and I continued to be dominated, having never previously been taught how to properly protect my head. Anyways eventually I got down to sparring a yellow belt who was closer to my own weight (210 at the time, the first students were 20-30lbs lighter). Now that I knew what to expect I held my own pretty well, but it was still a bit awkward for me to hit someone full-force in a sparring situation.
Anyways I really liked this "aliveness" as I've been a bullshido lurker for several years now and I know that this is something typically valued highly in sparring. "Voice" did a sales job on me after the class and told me I won't find a cheaper deal for MMA which was true. I had originally intended to look at several places nearby: a MT place, a BJJ school, and Gokor's gym (which I quickly realized I could not afford). Anyways I think the sheer convenience and the mistaken impression that we would be sparring like this fairly often got me to forgo my research. I signed up at this place the next day.
The classes turned out to be pretty far from what I expected. We only sparred 2 or 3 more times in the 3 months I was there. I also got to roll 3 or 4 times while other students prepared for an upcoming tourney- the one in the video that was posted in this thread.
I feel like I should just ask for questions at this point because I have so much to say and this post is turning into a book. Let me try and wrap it up as concisely as possible.
Did this individual engage in some questionable marketing, resume padding, self-awarding of rank etc? Absofucking lootly.
Were the skills being taught practical? For the most part yes. Kickboxing & boxing mixed with Tang Soo Do. Lots of different types of kicks that could be used, but might not be the best choice, for MMA/streets what have you, but there was nothing that I would call fake or silly or completely impractical.
Was the time in the class well-used? Erm, HELL NO. This was my major gripe. I've never seen a MA instructor spend so much valuable class time just talking to the students. Sometimes he would relate something in class to boxers of the 1920s, and most of the time he talked fight strategy. He also sometimes would talk about that ancient painting from one of the pyramids, you know, the one all the Kemetic MA guys point to as, and he repeated this lie "all of the moves from any martial art ever invented". 95% of the stuff regarding fight strategy was practical and I thought sounded right. One time he did say that it was a good idea to use a jump kick in MMA competition though, and I thought that was pretty damn foolish. When he wasn't talking at us, 90% of the time was spent punching and kicking the air in front of the mirrors, sometimes doing boxing combos that he would call out, sometimes going through the curriculum. By "curriculum" I mean all the basic kicks and punches, elbows and knees, which all had a special Swahili name that we had to memorize, in addition to the specific order he gave them in. Supposedly there was a similar treatment given to grappling techniques, but that was for the higher belts.
Other thoughts and conclusion: I should first qualify by saying I never did boxing or kickboxing before, so I'm not an expert. From what I saw, "voice" has an intelligent defensive boxing system unlike anything I've seen. He says it came from the "peek a boo" boxers of the 19(20s?). There was a huge emphasis on using the elbows against a strike aimed at the head, there was also a guard with the forearms horizontal in front of the face. He seemed to have some good ideas in that area, but I'm a bit skeptical of it just because you'd think someone in pro boxing or pro MMA would do these things if they were that great an idea.
As for the grappling, being a complete newb, you wouldn't have to know very much grappling to be able to teach me some stuff in that area over the course of a week or 2. He claimed the grappling in this style came from "catch as catch can wrestling". It doesn't get more conveniently vague and unverifiable than that. He never claimed any kind of rank in that style. So not many conclusions to be drawn here I guess. Probably tourney results are the best thing to look at in this area.
When I asked if we could do more sparring, he basically told me I had no right to ask something like that, because I was the student and I was supposed to trust him to pick the things that we needed to work on. There was generally a bit of a cult mentality to this guy that I really didn't like. He has us call him "Mfalme Bwana" which supposedly was some kind of Swahili title having to do with royalty. That was literally the extent to which it was explained to me- "having to do with royalty".
When I first signed up, there were only 3 or 4 adults total in the class. There were maybe 10 kids, ranging from 5 to 13 y.o. The class was always mixed like that, except (as he told me AFTER I signed up) on Tuesdays, which were "kids night". This directly contradicted his printed material, which I think said that I could train 7 days a week. It might have said 6. The reality was that I could only train 5 days a week, inclusive of a Saturday morning class at a local park, which I never went to. He actually had me spar a tiny little kid once. I immediately went into a really low stance so the kid could have a chance to reach my face, but he told me not to. I was really confused what he thought I was going to get out of this, or even what the kid would get for that matter. Obviously I treated it like super-light contact point sparring, but it was just ridiculous.
Over the course of my time there we gained about 3 more adult students, which was badly needed since some of the ones that were there when I signed up rarely showed. We (the adults) started to get a nice friendly atmosphere of comraderie with each other. About 3 weeks before the belt test, the man of indeterminate identity threw a tantrum because several students including myself had not yet memorized the curriculum we were supposed to test on soon. He went on and on for probably 5 minutes but it felt more like 15 while we were in the splits. He told us that because we hadn't memorized the material yet, he would not allow us to test. After he was done ranting he had us start doing kicks without any kind of a warm up now that we had been still for so long. I believe this is why I damaged the muscle over my ribcage while doing a spin kick. That night I decided I was done at that place even though I had another 2 weeks of my "free month" left. Anyways I ended up cracking a rib on the same side several days later doing squats at home so I wouldn't have been able to attend in any case.
I have since started training at Chris Lisciandro's Street Sports BJJ Club and I'm loving it. Part of me feels bad for this guy though, for all the bullshido he also did have some great stuff mixed in there. I think if he would give up the idea of teaching his own art and all the cult worship mentality stuff he could actually have a thriving business. Instead, he has since changed locations to another dance studio. The last I knew, his finances were really shaky- I'm betting the owner of the last dance studio kicked him out because he couldn't make rent.