Posted On:1/06/2015 12:36pm
Bohdi Sanders: Pseudo-Bushido and the Corruption of a Wisdom Warrior
My wife loves inspirational quotes. She’ll spend hours cruising the internet looking for pearls of wisdom from every philosophy, sage, and era imaginable. She says she’s drawn to topics that reflect whatever might be “going on with her” at a given moment, and that she finds it comforting, like a mini-therapy session. I think it’s cute, all her little snippets of fortune cookie wisdom illustrated with photos and artwork pulled off the internet and laid out across FaceBook like a cyber-collage. I totally “get” that there is some value in it as far as self-validation and self-actualization goes. It makes her feel good, motivates her to try new things and look at things in new ways, and I can think of worse things for her to do with her time than to look to sage wisdom for inspiration and insight.
But who knew you could collect them into a book, or even better, a series of books to make money. Who knew you could self-publish and market (sell) said books as if they simultaneously provide special insight into previously unknown spiritual and philosophical “secrets” that coincidentally also encapsulate the author’s very own personal philosophy about life, the universe, and everything (yes, that’s the name of a famous book).
A “Warrior Lifestyle,” if you will…
And who knew that you could develop a cult-like following that, through additional seminars, life coaching, and even more self-published tracts (not to mention strange electronic devices), might eventually lead to the sort of “personal enrichment” (i.e. cold, hard cash) we all dream of?
Apparently quite a few people did.
Or do, judging by the plethora of self-styled “lifestyle gurus” out there doing exactly that. Generally, I don’t care about them. Let people be full of themselves while they try to become third-rate Tony Robbins clones while hocking their own versions of The Secret. And let people waste their time and money on information, knowledge, and insight they can get at the library for free. I personally have no use for this sort of thing, and while I am generally convinced that most of what’s out there are scams designed solely to separate fools from their money, there’s enough value in some of it for me to admit it’s not all pure B.S.
Just most of it.
And while generally I don’t care about these people, or have the time to care about these people, I have to admit that there is a sub-set of the whole “lifestyle guru” phenomena that does irk me from time to time…
The martial arts lifestyle guru.
I hesitate to call myself a “martial artist,” but as a martial arts student and teacher for over 30 years now, as a Taekwondo leader in the state where I live for the past decade, and as an educated 50+ year old man who has seen a thing or two and can be said to “know better” when it comes to a lot of things; the idea that I have special knowledge, insight, and wisdom that people should seek me out and pay a lot of money for is…well…pretty laughable. Almost as laughable as the idea that I might set myself up as some sort of “guru” and that people should follow my example or do what I say…er…suggest.
I mean, come on!
I am a flawed person, just like everyone I know. I’m probably even a little more flawed than most since I have noticed over the years that most of the black belts I know are using martial arts to work out personal issues and demons galore. Sure…I’m qualified to teach you Taekwondo, and I can suggest ways of applying martial arts principles (like the Tenets of Taekwondo) to achieving personal goals like getting your homework done on time or being more focused at work…but show you how to transform your life? Lead you onto a path to prosperity and wealth? Give me a break. It would be pure ego to even suggest that. Hell, I can’t even do that for myself.
But what if, with the power of the internet, social media, and Google I could convince people that I had all the answers? What if I could set myself up as some sort of sword-wielding, side-kicking messiah and get a bunch of well-intentioned but gullible people to gush over my FaceBook posts, buy my books, pay for my seminars, and subscribe to my web site. Well, then I wouldn’t have to actually know how to do or achieve anything beyond setting up a web site and a PayPal account and learning to paraphrase the “wisdom of the elders.” I guess that’s a skill…and a path to prosperity – exploiting people’s insecurities, desire for validation, and want of silver bullets for all of life’s problems…all for my own personal gain – but it’s not really something that everyone can do. Only the guru who’s selling it…and maybe some wanna-be gurus who are smart enough to recognize what’s going on and then turn around and sell their own versions.
The lifestyle guru thing reminds me of a time in 2000 when I took a job at a major medical software company as a technical writer. They had an extremely comprehensive training program (which was one of the best things about the company back then) and during training I had a chance to get to know a lot of different people preparing to work in different areas within the company. They talked about their goals a lot, and nearly all them expressed a desire to parlay their experience there to eventually become “consultants.”
But just what the hell is a “consultant?”
At the time, becoming a “consultant” was the hot thing to aspire to, though just what being a “consultant” was all about was a little fuzzy to me. The conclusion I came to then, and still hold to, is that consultants observe stuff and then offer suggestions that are supposed to help the client make more money.
Consultants don’t really perform an actual function, provide a real service, or produce anything of value that you can hold in your hand. They just observe and suggest. They (actually their underlings) might do a little research, generate some metrics, or create a written report in between myriad “working lunches,” but by and large they don’t do much except walk around, observe, think, and talk. It’s a great job for people with big egos who see themselves as possessing special or unique insight into things and being smarter than everyone else. It also speaks to people who dream of being paid for doing little more than jacking their jaws because the upside of being a “consultant” is that they make a lot of money observing this stuff and offering these suggestions regardless of actual results. Charisma plays a big part in a consultant’s success, which is why there are so many narcissists in the consulting biz. Being a “consultant” also seems to fulfill the dream of getting something for nothing, which is what a lot of these “martial arts lifestyle gurus” are doing or trying to do…cash in on their knowledge of fortune cookie “wisdom” to make a lot of money. I suppose, on some level, it’s what we all dream of, but I have two small problems with it…
My first problem is that when I’m looking for an “authority” on something, or a “mentor,” I actually EXPECT that person to have real, demonstrable experience. I think anyone looking to someone for guidance, especially when it comes to life issues, should do the same. That’s my problem with lifestyle “consultants” or “coaches” or “gurus.” Most of them are leveraging SOMEONE ELSE’S experience to enrich themselves. How can anyone truly claim to have “insight” into anything they, at best, only have second or third-hand knowledge of? They can’t. All they can really hope to do is regurgitate a mixture of pop psychology, clichés, and accounts of other people’s words and experiences while pretending that they spring forth from some well of deep personal knowledge.
My second problem is that I actually expect people who make big claims about their credentials, background, and experiences while espousing better living through martial arts virtues like honesty and integrity to actually walk their talk. Their background should be truthful and verifiable; and their behavior should be in lock-step with the values they claim to hold dear (or at claim you should hold dear). Maybe that seems like I’m being unreasonable or expecting too much, but I have to draw a line somewhere…which finally brings me to the point of all this.
A friend of mine had a run-in with this guy and told me about it the other day. While I had heard of him (my wife has actually posted some quotes from his FaceBook), I didn’t know that much about him. Based on what my friend related to me, I decided to look a little deeper.
“Dr.” Bohdi Sanders claims to be a martial artist and is an author of what are essentially self-published quote books and his personal observations on “warrior” philosophy and living that make liberal use of other, classic works. He also markets a personal philosophy he calls the “Warrior Lifestyle™.” “Dr.” Sanders talks and writes about “Modern Bushido” and has many books in print through his own imprint (Kaizen Quest) with titles like:
Modern Bushido: Living a Life of Excellence
Warrior Wisdom: Ageless Wisdom for the Modern Warrior
WARRIOR: The Way of Warriorhood
The Warrior Lifestyle: Making Your Life Extraordinary
Defensive Living: The Other Side of Self-Defense
Wisdom of the Elders: The Ultimate Quote Book for Life
Martial Arts Wisdom: Quotes, Maxims, and Stories for Martial Artists & Warriors
Secrets of the Soul: The Guide to Uncovering Your Hidden Beliefs
He has lots of “likes” on his FaceBook (65,000 at last count), he gets interviewed on the internet, he’s occasionally invited to speak to groups, other well-known martial arts writers endorse his books, and…well, I have to ask…is “warriorhood” even a word in the English language?
“Dr.” William “Bohdi” Sanders Ph.D is also full of ****. As my conversation with my friends and my subsequent research into his background revealed, “Dr.” Sanders doesn’t live by the code or virtues he espouses and his personae is a total construct designed and maintained to do one thing…enrich “Dr.” “Bohdi” Sanders.
Let’s start with his name. “Bohdi” Sanders’ real name is William. “Bohdi” is obviously a play on “Bodhidharma.” It’s cute. I can actually imagine the process that led to him selecting this nickname. On one hand it makes him sound accessible, like a “good old boy,” while also suggesting some deep, “warrior” monk-like wisdom. It’s brilliant, really…and somewhat cynical in that it assumes that people are really stupid and can be fooled by something as simple as a redneck oriental-ish sounding nickname…
Or a title.
But I’ll get back to titles.
“Dr.” Sanders fails what I would consider to be the first test for seeking a martial arts mentor or a martial arts “lifestyle guru” espousing what he calls the “warrior lifestyle.” He’s never been a real warrior (i.e. no military service or similar experience I can find), nor does he seem to be much of a martial artist. I spent about an hour, unsuccessfully, trying to find a single picture of him training in martial arts or teaching martial arts to others and I came up completely empty. Oh sure, there are some staged photos of him posing with swords wearing a karate gi so new you can see the creases and smell the plastic bag it came in, but apparently he doesn’t train or train others. For someone who sells himself as a “teacher of teachers” and martial arts and “warrior lifestyle” expert (the FOREMOST expert according to the internet) this seems a little strange and strains his credibility as a model for anyone wanting to adopt the “warrior” lifestyle he is selling. I would expect this guy to have a pristine little Japanese-style dojo somewhere – heck, he could even build a little dojo-looking video studio in his basement without much effort – and dozens of training photos on his web site demonstrating his warrior prowess.
And what’s the deal with the swords?
Apparently “Dr.” Sanders is a Shotokan 1st dan. Last time I checked, there wasn’t a lot of sword play in the basic Shotokan curriculum. Lots of punching, kicking, blocking, and forms, but no swords. I have my copy of Karate-do Kyohan right here, so I checked…nothing…there are no shiny “Highlander” swords being menacingly balanced on anyone’s shoulders anywhere in the master text. He doesn’t list Iaido or Kendo in his online resume so I don’t get it. I guess bald white guys in karate gis wielding swords is impressive to armchair martial artists perusing the lifestyle section on Amazon (note to “Dr.” Sanders, a hakama and black Iaido gi with a really cool embroidered logo would be much more impressive, not to mention technically accurate).
And what about that online resume?
Where do I start? I used to write resumes for a living, so I could say a lot about it. Let’s just address it point by point…among “Dr.” Sanders’ major accomplishments (taken from his web site) are:
Member of the Board of Directors for the Extreme Budo Federation, 2014 to Present
It’s a common practice – though not an ethical one – among some “martial artists” to set up paper “federations” to award themselves and their friends impressive-sounding ranks and titles. The average person just doesn’t know any better, which is what the people who perpetuate this practice are banking on. It’s all marketing and has nothing to do with martial arts knowledge, skill, or time on the mat in the dojo (dojang). Legitimate titles and ranks from legitimate organizations are hard to get but easy to check, and those who can claim them (who are trying to sell themselves as gurus or experts) tend to put them out front and center, complete with a hi-res jpeg of the actual certificate and photos of the promotion. Putting an oddball federation no one ever heard of at the top of a resume like this is pretty much a dead giveaway that “Dr.” Sanders doesn’t have access to legitimate rank.
The word “extreme” in the title here should also be a BIG red flag. While appropriate for pro wrestling and failed football leagues, it’s very unlikely that a legitimate martial arts group would call itself “extreme” unless the board is comprised of 12 year old boys hopped up on Red Bull (or grown men wishing they were still 12-year-old boys hopped up on red bull, oh and by the way, I don’t see a list of board members on the web site, so it’s hard to verify this claim). Not that all that matters. The Extreme Budo Federation isn’t much of a federation. It’s a decidedly unprofessional web site on the internet and a FaceBook site loaded with pics of famous martial arts celebrities that sells memberships (the membership certificate, which looks just like a rank certificate but isn’t, is nice). Go check for yourself.
Awarded the title of Hanshi with the rank of 10th Dan, 2014
Awarded by whom? The Extreme Budo Federation? In what style? This pretty much reeks of someone promoting himself to a high rank. Americans are obsessed with foreign and exotic-sounding titles and high dan ranks, some even to the point of being willing to put a price on their own integrity for a piece of parchment and the oohs and ahs of an ignorant public.
Now there is a little confusion about this 10th dan on “Dr.” Sanders’ site and where it comes from. Is it a 10th dan in Shotokan (as stated on his Amazon author page), or is it a 10th dan in something else? It’s not clearly or consistently stated, which is another red flag for anyone who understands how these things work. Most people who self-promote like this usually at least have the sense to create an impressive-sounding name for their style, set up a professional-looking web site for their “association” or “federation,” order up a really fancy rank certificate from an online service, and then go out to one of the myriad “soke” (founders) councils you can find on the internet to attain “founder” status, which also sounds impressive to the uninitiated. I have to wonder what serious Shotokan people think about this. High-ranking and legitimate Shotokan people (the sort of folks it would take to elevate someone to such esteemed status) can’t be all that enamored by this sort of claim. Old Shoto must be spinning in his grave.
“Hanshi” in Japanese just means “teacher of teachers.” I suppose it can be (and is) bestowed as an official title – in America, anyway, where we are obsessed with (and typically don’t fully understand) such things – but then wouldn’t you want to attribute the organization or group that bestowed this “honor” upon you? As a martial arts lifestyle guru, I’m certain that “Dr.” Sanders has taught clients who have in turn taught others, which would by default make him a “teacher of teachers” (martial arts dojo operators, school teachers, driving instructors, etc.). This is one of those nonsense titles that impress people who are easily impressed by words from other languages. It’s like when a white belt in Taekwondo first hears the phrase “ahp-chaggi” and their eyes bulge in amazement at the sound. It’s so exotic-sounding…it MUST have a special meaning, right? Sorry, no…it just means front (ahp) kick (chaggi).
U.S.A. Martial Arts Hall of Fame (Warrior Award), 2013; The International Independent Martial Artist Association Hall of Fame (Best Martial Arts Books of the Year), 2011; U.S.A. Martial Arts Hall of Fame (Martial Arts Literary Man of the Year), 2011; The United States Martial Artist Association Hall of Fame (Inspiration of the Year), 2011; United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame (Martial Arts Author of the Year), 2011
There are a couple of real Martial Arts halls of fame out there. The test as to whether one is real or not (like many things involving recognition) is generally whether they charge you for the “honor.” The legitimate ones don’t.
Most Martial Arts Hall of Fames are what people sometimes call “vanity” awards and are the same as most paper federations. You send them money ($250-plus for the honor, and there are myriad other fees for companions at the banquet, a dvds of your “induction,” photos with well known martial artists to put on your dojo/dojang wall, etc.), dress up in a tux, and go to their dinner. They “induct” you into their “hall.”
At least you get a meal.
It’s a paycheck for the company that owns the “hall of fame” business, and a marketing opportunity for you, pure and simple. Something you can use to pad your resume and beef up your profile on your web site. It might sell a book or two and impresses soccer moms thinking about enrolling their kids in your school. It might even be good for a date or two if you’re single and the type who dates students, which you probably are if you’re willing to pay for such an honor.
Some of these halls (the better ones) do go to the trouble of including actual seminars and meet and greets with celebrity martial artists to give them some real value, but most are pure B.S. I personally know two people who have been “inducted” into one of the halls on the list above, one of whom probably wishes he could erase the experience entirely due to the embarrassment it has caused him in legitimate martial arts circles, and the other who is a mentally unstable alcoholic who hasn’t thrown a kick in 20 years but was able to write the check and rent a tux when he wasn’t trying to feel up the female cashiers at the local Ace Hardware store.
It’s interesting to note that nearly all of “Dr.” Sanders’ “martial arts” awards are actually for writing, not martial arts. I won’t tip-toe around it…obviously the organizers of these halls custom tailored his awards to what it is that he does, which is another feature of most vanity awards (you’re paying for it, so it might as well say what you want it to say). It’s a good thing, too, because “Dr.” Sanders isn’t much of a writer.
2013 Indie Excellence Book Awards 1st Place Winner for Modern Bushido: Living a Life of Excellence; USA Book News Best Books of 2013 1st Place Winner for Modern Bushido: Living a Life of Excellence; 2010 Indie Excellence Book Awards 1st Place Winner for Warrior Wisdom: Ageless Wisdom for the Modern Warrior; USA Book News Best Books of 2010 1st Place Award for Wisdom of the Elders
While they sound impressive, these awards are also “vanity” awards tailored to help self-publishers promote their books. Basically, you send them money ($69 for both of these award companies, which I suspect are owned by the same entity) and they either slot you into an existing category or create an award category for your book. Everyone who pays is either a “winner” or a “finalist.” No one really even knows if the entries are actually read or voted on.
This is simply more marketing, used by self-publishers to promote their books. No legitimate book award requires an entry fee…or sells marketing/book promotion tools (certificates, stickers, seals) to authors…like these do. Most of these awards are businesses run by the same company…but your average Joe has no clue.
Oh, and I should comment on something “Dr.” Sanders says on his LinkedIn page. He claims to “have been ‘signed’” to write a series of books, which is interesting if you are aware of the fact that he self-publishes his books under the “Kaizen Quest” imprint, which he owns. Hmmm…I guess he could have signed himself, but doesn’t that make hair grow on your palms or something? Can’t you go blind? I can’t remember.
In any case, his sales and position claims regarding Amazon are intentionally misleading, grossly exaggerated, and VASTLY overstated. Here’s the blurb for Modern Bushido off the Amazon web site. Amazon doesn’t write these, the author/publisher does, though it’s sure made to look like Amazon did. Note that this is all written to imply that it is currently true:
“Modern Bushido: Living a Life of Excellence has been honored with two first place national book awards, has spent 77 weeks in the TOP 10 on the Amazon.com Best Sellers List, and is a #1 bestseller on Amazon.com. Modern Bushido has also been honored by the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame for its contributions to the world of martial arts.”
As of today, here’s where “Dr.” Sanders’ books fall on Amazon: “Modern Bushido” Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,825 in Books, #89 in Books > Sports & Outdoors > Individual Sports > Martial Arts; “Martial Arts Wisdom” Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,501 in Books; “Warrior Wisdom” Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #351,529 in Books; “Defensive Living” Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #626,476 in Books; “The Warrior Lifestyle” Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #626,476 in Books; “Warrior” Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #543,900 in Books; “Wisdom of the Elders” Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #504,734 in Books; “Secrets of the Soul” Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #820,360 in Books.
Ph.D. in Health
I could go on and on about this Ph.D. On “Dr.” Sanders’ LinkedIn profile he lists Clayton College, a well known – actually infamous and now, thankfully, closed – diploma mill, as the source of his Ph.D in “Natural Health” (he’s rather inconsistent in how he lists it from web site to web site). The school’s reputation as an internet diploma factory with no accreditation or standards aside (the school also lost a big class action lawsuit for bilking “students” out of millions in fees), according to the information available, they never offered a Ph.D in anything:
(From Wikipedia) “The degree programs [offered by Clayton] included Bachelors and Masters of Science in Natural Health, Bachelor and Masters of Science in Holistic Nutrition, Doctor of Education in Holistic Health and Wellness, and Doctor of Naturopathy (not to be confused with Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) [which is a real, recognized credential requiring the same medical training as a real doctor]). “
So this is essentially an embellishment (claiming a Ph.D) on top of already having a widely recognized (as fake) degree on your resume. Of course this is all to exploit the fact that most common people have no understanding of the actual process one goes through to actually earn a real doctorate (three to eight years of graduate-level course work after four years earning an undergraduate degree – curiously there is no mention of a bachelors degree having been earned first, which is a requirement for being accepted into any legitimate graduate-level/doctoral program) and that they are impressed by the term “Ph.D” though they have no clue what it actually is (apparently “Dr.” Sanders doesn’t either, considering his own inappropriate use of the term).
“Dr.” Sanders is on record in some of his many online rants as taking people with “fake degrees” to task when, lo and behold, his degree is fake, too. Now, I am aware that it probably cost “Dr.” Sanders a lot of money (I’m going to start calling him “Little Willie” now since the whole “Dr.” thing is really offensive to anyone who ever earned a real degree), but the fact that someone pays thousands of dollars for a bogus piece of parchment from a fake school doesn’t make it any more “real.” I’m curious as to how many years (months?) it took for him to earn this “Ph.D.” One of the interesting notes regarding Clayton was that sometimes their doctorates were dated BEFORE the related bachelor and masters degrees for the same person, and that a bachelor, masters, and “doctorate” could all be earned in as little as 14 months. The fact is you simply can’t get a real doctorate this way and if Little Willie is a real doctor of anything, I want to see transcripts, to know where he did his clinical training (that’s a trick question, online Doctors of Naturopathy don’t do any clinical training), and I want to see his dissertation (which would be a requirement for any real doctorate).
Doctorate in Naturopathy
Everything about the Ph.D applies to this bogus credential (also from Clayton) as well. Actually, I suspect he’s double-dipping, but since Clayton went out of business in 2010, he can claim anything he wants as far as their so-called “credentials” are concerned.
I will add something, though… “Doctor of Naturopathy” suspiciously (intentionally?) sounds like “Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine” (an ND or NMD, which is actually recognized in 17 states) which is a REAL degree requiring real medical training at an accredited medical school. Funny how that works…I’ve known a few other “Doctors” of Naturopathy besides Little Willie, and they all bought their “Doctorates” as part of a deal to sell health supplements. A friend of a friend of mine is a “Doctor of Naturopathy.” He used to live in a single-wide trailer at the edge of town and ran his “practice” online where he sold a full line of health supplements and holistic remedies and “treatments.” He also ran out on all his debts and obligations in the still of night without saying a word to anyone when the whole Doctor of Naturopathy thing didn’t work out. He turned up in Florida about a month later where he’s now running a new “practice” from a new web site.
I wonder if that’s how Little Willie fell into this. It does occur to me that Willie might actually believe he is a real doctor (if he paid for it, it must be real, right?); but even if he does, why the embellishment and lack of proper attribution? Why the deliberate vagueness…oh why, oh why indeed? But then again, he seems to have a bit of a “problem” when it comes to collecting nonsense degrees, credentials, and certifications.
I wonder what his “love me” wall looks like…
Usui-Tibetan Reiki Master
Again, Little Willie neglects to list the source of this credential. I mean, that’s part of the deal. If I claim a credential, I should tell you where it came from so you can either verify it or at least make a judgment as to its validity or worth. When people don’t, they’re usually embellishing or hiding something…or flat out lying.
While I know lot’s of people believe in this stuff, Reiki – using ki energy for healing – is about on the same level as magic crystals, pyramid power, spirit guides, dream walkers, and the power of The Force. Anyone who would use this as a serious credential (or accept it as a serious credential) is…well…sometimes sincere people believe really stupid things…not that it matters. Reiki “mastery” can be purchased online from at least a dozen sources I was able to Google in about 30 seconds. Can we assume Willie doesn’t tell us where he got his so we can’t look it up online?
Master in G-Jo Acupressure
Fear no pain or injury!
Yeah…I saw the ad in the back of Black Belt Magazine, too. Now, acupressure and acupuncture apparently have some value (about as much as a good sports massage, I would wager). I just wonder how credible a certification advertized in the back of a magazine that boasts it can be self-taught over a weekend can really be. Personally, I can’t believe this is listed as an accomplishment on a serious person’s resume. It’s like listing that you once mailed in a comic book ad for the Charles Atlas bodybuilding course on an application to be a fitness trainer.
Certified Specialist in Martial Arts Conditioning
Again, by whom? Sports Conditioning certification is a real thing…so why be so shy about listing the certifying authority? I think we know the answer to that.
Foremost Authority on the Warrior Lifestyle…
So that pretty much covers, or perhaps better, uncovers, Little Willy’s resume (okay, I’m going to stop calling him that so that no thinks I’m talking about Bill Clinton). If it was a hot air balloon it would have enough lift to move a mountain. Nothing in it is credible, and the fact that he has it on his web site suggests that – beyond an absolute lack of integrity and honesty – William is arrogant and very cynical about his followers and fans. Clearly he thinks people are pretty stupid.
I’m reminded of a friend of mine, a well-known and highly successful school owner who, when he was starting out, bought into the notion that it wasn’t enough to just be good at what he did, but that he needed to have a really impressive martial arts resume to get established. So he embellished and exaggerated his training record, he went out and bought some rank, he got himself “inducted” a hall of fame, and he listed some awards and accolades that he never really won. Pretty much the whole package.
I don’t know if it really helped, but after almost 20 years, he’s really successful and no one disputes his skill or knowledge as a teacher and coach. He produces real national champions and runs a model business. He’s been a part of our state’s leadership for years and done impressive work there. His real accomplishments are as impressive as anyone could ever want.
But guess what? Lately, all those lies and embellishments and inflated credentials have come back to bite him on the ass a bit. Sometimes he’s opinionated, he’s a talker, and he has a special talent for using his influence to get what he wants out of people and situations. Over time he’s alienated a few folks and made a few enemies who know what the real history – what his real history – is, and now as opportunities on the national and international level are opening up for him, the truth is finding its way out into the open and slamming those doors shut.
It’s sad, because he never really needed to pad his resume to begin with. It’s a bit curious, too, in that everyone in the circles he moves in knows his martial arts resume is full of distortions, embellishments, and half-truths (and a couple flat-out fabrications). He’s not fooling any of his peers, but until recently, no one has ever called him out on any of it. Why do martial arts people put up with this stuff?
But enough of that… let’s get to this whole “warrior lifestyle” business.
Throughout the past century we’ve had all these “neo” movements. Martial arts are no different and all this “warrior lifestyle” and “modern bushido” stuff would more accurately be called “neo-budo” or “neo-bushido.” You could even argue that the modern development of Judo and Karate are examples of “neo-budo,” but Kano and Funokoshi were developing something real (fighting systems that have stood the test of time) while all this “warrior lifestyle” stuff has a lot more in common with neo-paganism or new age spiritualism with a dash of Iron John, Promise Keeper philosophy, and the Boy Scout Oath thrown in.
It’s mostly a load of crap.
A bald white guy who is an online school teacher, who probably earned his black belt in karate by training twice per week at the local Y, and who learned everything he knows about being a “warrior” from books and the internet doesn’t know anything about “warriorhood.” (Ugh, that’s his word for it) It is fantasy wish fulfillment, like kids thinking playing Rock Band will lead them to becoming rock stars, or D&D Dungeon Masters thinking their gaming prowess makes them experts on medieval combat and military strategy. Even worse, most of this “warrior lifestyle” nonsense is an amalgam of ideas and concepts that never existed in the same time and place. While bushido and the samurai in feudal Japan is a fascinating subject, westerners seem to want to mash it all together with ideas of the Native American “noble savage,” Dirty Harry, and good old King Arthur-style codes of chivalry with the hope of a moral philosophy dropping out at the end like the mutant offspring of Sir Thomas Malory and Miyamato Musashi as delivered by Clint Eastwood.
Okay, I’m getting a little out there…I’ll try to rein it in a bit.
“Warriors” are people skilled at war who kill people. That’s it. They’re tools used to achieve someone’s ends. In some cultures they may have followed a “romantic” moral and ethical code, and various militaries around the world have their traditions and codes of honor; but most real warriors don’t and never did. We just like to think they do or did because it makes the notion of war more palatable.
But let’s go with the idea that there really is a universal warrior ethos and code that can be aspired to and emulated for the good of all. And let’s assume that William’s code is it. After wading through his incredibly dense and repetitive prose (the “superb” writing he notes on his web site) I was able to glean, I think, the major tenets of his “Warrior Lifestyle.” They all tend to come back to some version of:
(From the Wisdom Warrior web site) “The warrior values honor, integrity, justice, and his sense of what is right, above all else.”
Dr. Bohdi Sanders, Ph.D
Those are William’s words.
Spoken from his own lips.
Put to paper by his own hand.
But when I look at his resume, read his FaceBook posts, and peruse his web site I don’t see a lot of this going on. The process that resulted in that online resume wasn’t very honorable and didn’t display a lot of integrity. Lies, exaggerations, embellishments…there’s not a lot that’s “right” here, and if there was any “justice” it would be for “Dr.” William “Bohdi” Sanders, PhD, Doctor of Naturopathy, Master of Usui-Tibetan Reiki, Master of G-Jo Acupressure, Certified Specialist in Martial Arts Conditioning, and 10th Dan Hanshi in “some martial art” (to quote Pink Floyd) “to be exposed before your peers” as the cynical, arrogant fake he is.
There are a lot of other tasty tidbits I could quote from William’s treatise on the “Warrior Lifestyle,” but I’ll limit myself, and conclude on, these two:
(From the Wisdom Warrior web site) “Being a warrior involves more than being trained to fight or being in the military; it involves character training as well. Character training is the true goal of Bushido, the way of the warrior.”
Dr. Bohdi Sanders, Ph.D
(From the Wisdom Warrior web site) “This lifestyle requires that you put your ethics before your comfort, and that you put what is right before what is profitable.”
Dr. Bohdi Sanders, Ph.D
I’m sorry…I need a minute to stop choking on my bile. Ack…
Okay, aside from the argument we could have regarding whether this definition of Bushido is accurate (I’m not going to bother to note that it also suggests a remarkable ignorance about the military), the statement about character begs the question…wouldn’t one expect the supposed LEADING AUTHORITY on the Warrior Lifestyle to be a man of rock solid, unwavering, GOOD CHARACTER? If anything, shouldn’t he hold himself to a higher standard than others to set the example for all those who seek to attain excellence through “warriorhood?” And as for the second…I think that pretty much says it all.
In a word…I am offended…and a little stunned. William rambles on a lot about moral relativism but leaves a lot of room for said relativism while railing on and on against it. There’s a thread of circular reasoning going on here that is truly impressive. It reminds me of listening to alcoholics, drug addicts, conspiracy theorists, and the mentally ill talking about government corruption, chemtrails, and the space aliens living in their closets.
In all seriousness, there’s nothing wrong with William being a so-so martial artist and writing his self-published quote books…if he would just stick to that. But if I was his martial arts senior (perish the thought) or his friend I would expect him to be honest and to practice what he preaches. I’m not, so I can’t…so more power to him, I guess. If he wants to be a bargain basement Tony Robbins (I was going to say a few things about the origin of Kaizen, but I’ve already rambled far too long) or third-rate L. Ron Hubbard, who am I to stand in his way? While in my personal relationships I can insist that the people in my life have integrity and behave honorably – keep their word, walk their talk, and be men and women of good character – I can’t make William do a damned thing. He’s free to sell his fake personae and pseudo-bushido to anyone dumb or naïve enough to buy it.
But I do wish there was something I could do about people like him because there are serious people doing serious work in these areas who actually know what they are doing and who actually do things that improve people’s lives in ways that can be measured that go beyond dollar signs on some self-appointed “guru’s” bank statement. The real damage here – beyond the exploitation of all these poor folks who don’t know any better – is the stain someone like “Bohdi” eventually leaves on the legitimate side of the field. The people doing serious scholarship, the real “warriors” who share their real and often harrowing experiences with other so that might learn from them, and the real teachers out there – thousands upon thousands of them – who never dare to dream of becoming rich from teaching who nonetheless continue to endow countless people with real knowledge and skills and experiences that really do make them “better people” and the world a better place.
Oh well, as a wise man once said (and Bohdi can quote me)…
“Wish in one hand, **** in another…”
Posted On:1/09/2015 10:45pm
...Why don't you...on this Hack? Why?
Funny, tho...every word true...must be because Bohdi has started changing his online resume...
And what's the deal with all the tough guy claims on his three or four facebook sites lately? Must be compensating for...something...on nothing at all...
Posted On:1/16/2015 6:35pm
Well, apparently "DOCTOR" Bohdi is running afoul of some folks...there's been some scrubbing going on with his myriad web sites and references to his membership on the Extreme Budo board, 19th dan in Shotokwan rank, and made-up title and even the fact that he claimed to be a black belt have been disappearing...other things have been dropping off, too...interesting...his posts have been getting pretty weird, too...bit of a crisis, me thinks...
Posted On:1/25/2015 7:12pm
I've seen this guy on Facebook too. Interesting. He used to have that 10th dan plastered all over Facebook and Amazon before Christmas. Now it has been removed from all those places.
But get this. Today he wrote a post about rank not being important and how he only trains for real life. Why did he have that fake 10th dan posted if not important? Maybe he had to change his tune because it was found out he was a fake.
I looked up that Clayton college stuff too. Also fake. There are a number of things on-line about that quack mill. I notice he also changed his website about the G Jo mentioned above too. He took it off after being exposed. You can find those ads in the back of old Black Belt magazines. Just google G Jo and Blackbelt and you can find them on-line. But yeah, not on his site after the post above exposed him.
Posted On:2/04/2015 1:30am
So I've been enjoying some Bohdidrama on facebook. Theirs a page that posts pictures of martial art masters with quotes. Shihan Essence. There was a post of Bohdi Sanders with his Highlander sword and a quote he supposed to have made.
Some of the people there laid into him about the sword. It was funny, calling it a wall hanger, etc. Then Bohdi comes on and says it is a real sword that was a gift from one of his readers. It was pointed out that he had the sword on his first book so how could he have had readers yet. Anyone that looks at it can tell it is a Highlander tv show replica that you can buy on-line.
Then this other guy, Ed something, starts badmouthing everyone who said anything about Bohdi and saying how great he is. Seems this was just Bohdi with a fake account. Some called him out on it. I looked at the dudes page and he only had like 14 friends and reposted Bohdi's stuff. Not much there so maybe they were right that he uses fake accounts. Everything else is fake about him. why not?
A Linda came to his defense too. She sure wrote a lot about how wonderful he is and all these accomplishments he has. Seemed over the top why someone would write so much to defend the guy. When asked why he didn't prove them, she said he didn't have to. So they laid into her bad. Didn't help her that she had sort of a slutty pic on her profile. One guy said it was just another Bohdi account. I don't know, but it was funny to read. Then the entire thing was deleted.
Next thing I saw was some posts about how Bohdi is writing fake stuff and telling people not to like a different warrior page. Guy does same kind of warrior stuff that Bohdi does so must be some competition. The post thinly hinted at Bohdi being fake as the guy was saying he had legitimate military experience, real degrees, and real martial art rank.
If nothing else, this fake Bohdi is good for some Bohdidrama on the internet.
My dog is cuter and smarter than yours.
Posted On:2/04/2015 1:09pm
Style: Kodokan Judo
Best write up in long time...thanks !
Falling for Judo since 1980
Posted On:2/05/2015 8:41am
Originally Posted by BKR
Best write up in long time...thanks !
Thanks...it's funny...bits and pieces of it are making the rounds and "DOCTOR" Sanders has been wigging out on his myriad web sites, fake and not so fake...
At first, he was merely content to scrub his resume on his main site (his "10th Dan Hanshi" claim disappeared, as did a couple of his really ridiculous "masterships"), then he started alluding to it (vaguely ) in his posts on his three facebook sites (the three that have his name on them, the guy must have a dozen others), then apparently, the Extreme Budo site went down and when it came back up, it was completely re-designed, and now he's writing posts like this one (on his Dr. Bohdi Sanders facebook site):
"K. Brett, L. Brett, and A. Burrese. You, and other of such low character, are NOT WELCOME HERE. Stay off my pages and my website. Get a life and quit stalking me, you bottom feeders!"
Someone needs to explain to this guy that it's THE INTERNET. He has no control over what happens to his info once he puts it out there...hey...you wanna be a guru, some sort of bare-faced messiah for the dim set who think a bunch of plagiarized quotes equals wisdom (Bohdi likes to call it "wisdom literature"), you gotta be ready and willing to deal with detractors. I mean...hey...look at what Jesus had to put up with...
Who the heck are these people (Brett, Brett, and Burrese...they cold be a folk music trio)? None of them wrote the above (actually, I know who Burrese is) because I did, and I'm not one of them (I must be "other"). Clearly, something is going on here...other people must be questioning his credentials, etc. There was a nice bit of "discussion" on the Shihan Essence facebook site where one of his quotes were posted (with a picture of him in Karate gi brandishing his Highlander sword). Curiously enough, on the Shihan Essence site, not everything said about him was said with glowing admiration...lots of negative comments and jibes about the sword (and Bohdi responding with a story that made no logical sense explaining why a supposed martial arts expert would be dumb enough to pose with a replica of a movie prop and claim it's real)...then the Bohdi groupies showed up to defend their budo-messiah and things got really weird...sadly, it got so ugly, the thread was removed...there was some good stuff on that thread that I wish I could post here.
Based on all that, I'm urging people to send Bohdi (and his followers) boxes of purple koolaid for xmas next year...
So here's a prediction...since my little diatribe has apparently motivated Bohdi to actually take action to alter his image (not to mention the Extreme Budo web site, which now looks like everything Bohdi builds online), I'm going to predict that in the not so distant future, he will be ditching the karate gi and Highlander sword and a brand new batch of professionally produced photos of him (hopefully in CORRECT traditional attire and wielding a REAL sword -- it shouldn't be too hard for him to figure out, he is a "DOCTOR" of something, after all) will flood the internet. Unfortunately, there's not much he can do about the lack of training photos...but if he was smart, and willing to put some effort into it and spend a few sheckles, he could come up with something...like a few fake dan certificates and a staged event where he could walk around in martial arts gear and have his picture taken "teaching." It's amazing how easy it is to create the appearance of credibility if one is willing to put some time and effort into it.
Posted On:2/05/2015 12:50pm
Nice write up. But actually, I've been hating Bodhi Sanders......thus making me cooler and more unique and original. See my better and more entertaining thread above.
Posted On:2/06/2015 9:00am
Originally Posted by jspeedy
Nice write up. But actually, I've been hating Bodhi Sanders......thus making me cooler and more unique and original. See my better and more entertaining thread above.
So, I guess Bohdi is threatening to lawyer-up and go after all these haters who are working so diligently to expose him for who he really is...seriously...why is that the solution in America for every disagreement? Is that what a "real warrior" does? Lawyer up and let someone else do their fighting for them? What happened to al that tough guy talk, Bohdi?
Hey Bohdi! (I know you've seen this...you're obsessed with yourself, after all, and spend every waking hour online either posting inane dribble or looking for conversations about yourself) You can't sue for libel if everything being said is true. You're a fake...otherwise you would be addressing all the points made in the above diatribe (which you've apparently been using to clean up some of your own "plot holes"). I dare you to defend your resume...come on...be a real man of honor, integrity....and courage. I dare you!
Oh wait...you can't...or won't...
Because every word is true.
And all you Bohdi Sanders groupies...I dare you all to try to come to his defense...come on...bring it! You're all a bunch of purple kool-aide drinking morons looking to a self-proclaimed warrior wise man to bring meaning to your lives...it's so sad...
Posted On:2/08/2015 8:17pm
Apparently DOCTOR Bohdi is getting ready to lawyer up and go after all the "others of low character" for libel...apparently rather than prove that all his fake assertions, claims, and credentials on his online resume are true (because he can't, though it would be fun to see him at least try), he's preparing to handle it the American way...by involving lawyers...Does he even know what "libel" is? It can't be libel if it's true...so Bohdi, I dare you to post here and defend your phony, made-up background...are you even a black belt? My suspicion is that you are a green belt who talks the talk just barely well enough to fool people (he also claims to have been a bodybuilder, which I also don't believe, cuz, man, if I had ever been a bodybuilder there would friggin be pics posted to prove it posted somewhere)...but that you never get out on the mat because, as real black belts know, (and as O Sensei Phil Porter used to say) everyone knows who can dance and who can't.
Anyway...my defense fund...I am REALLY SCARED of Bohdi, so please go to wwwdotbohdisandersisabigfatliardotfakebudodotomg and donate some of the green stuff to help me out. I accept paypal and if you donate 100 bucks or more I'll send you a copy of my book "Wisdom Of The Drunk Old Guy Who Pissed Himself In The Alley Behind The Corner Bar" and a membership in the Super Duper Mega Extreme Budoka Bushido of Warriorhood Federation (comes with a cool plastic decoder ring and certificate hand-drawn in purple crayon by me, Grand Poo-Ba 20th Degree First Class Billy Bob "I've Still Got Three Teeth Left" Baddass, leader Hanshi-Soke of the S.D.M.E.B.B.W.F).
Come on, Bohdi...all you gotta do is successfully defend that resume of yours...if you're really a "warrior and many of character and integrity" it should be easy...
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