Sifu Talib Fehlhaber
Apologies for the length of this post, but I feel this guy needs to be brought to peoples attention.
In the UK, there was a German Wing Chun instructor by the name of Talib Fehlhaber (Sifu Talib), who used to run a club in Norwich called The Rapid Defence Martial Arts Academy.
Don't trust him, he is a con man.
I had the bad fortune of training at his club in Norwich for a period of time, which stung me financially.
Initially, Rapid Defence was reasonably successful with around 100 students, which included adults and children, however Talib was charging extortionate prices of around £80-£120 per month depending on which programme you were signed up to. Seminars and equipment were also ridiculously priced.
Most of the students dropped out because of the prices Talib was charging, while his assistant instructors (who were unpaid) were overworked as they were doing the majority of the teaching and running of the club while he was sitting at home on Facebook.
In fact, all of his assistant instructors left after 2-3 years because of his bullying behaviour. I spoke to some of his ex-instructors and they all described how they were being exploited as slave labour by Talib (who himself described them as "expendable").
At the height of his success, Talib was pocketing several thousand pounds a month, which he siphoned off into a private account. Not only did he refuse to pay his instructors, he refused to invest any money into the club itself, which had fallen into a state of disrepair and was generally grotty.
For example, there was no hot water in the toilets, and there were no showers, the hand driers were broken, there wasn't sufficient heating of the gym in the winter, and no air con in the summer. Bags of rubbish were piled up in the womens changing rooms because he wouldn't pay for it to be collected (which itself became a hygiene issue, as well as being generally smelly and unwelcoming for new students) and on top of that there was a leaking roof and mould in the matted dojo where the childrens classes were taught.
Completely unacceptable for the students who were paying £120 a month for 2 classes a week.
His students were signed up to 3 year contracts with a company who would threaten debt collection if you attempted to cancel your contract. Many ex-students were left with a sour taste after they had problems canceling for genuine reasons (i.e. an injury).
Boy was I suckered. Talib talked me into signing up to his Black Belt Programme, and it wasn't until some way down the line I realised what I'd gotten myself into.
I've now since discovered Talib has been kicked out of some high profile martial arts organisations because of his behaviour, and I recently learned he bought his Sifu title from an organisation on the internet. He got into arrears with his rent payments, and Rapid Defence eventually closed its doors last year. Talib fled the UK back to his home in Germany after one of his ex-instructors sued him.
Towards the end of his career in Norwich, he attempted to launch a consultancy business to coach other martial arts clubs on how to become successful. Hysterically, Talib managed to publish his own book on running a successful club while his own club was going down the pan ("Kick Start Your Own Martial Arts School: How to set up and run a successful martial arts business").
The last we heard, Talib was living in Turkey working as an English teacher in the University, however there have been some whisperings that he is attempting to re-launch his consultancy business.
Stay away from this man. He's a snake. His only love is money. If he can't cash you out, then he's not interested.
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