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  1. #1

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Thirty-one year old grandmaster?

    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.

  2. #2

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    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.

  3. #3
    DCS's Avatar
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    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.

  4. #4
    submessenger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Tzadok View Post
    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.

  5. #5
    NeilG's Avatar
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    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.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by DCS View Post
    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?

  7. #7
    NeilG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigJim520 View Post
    It may not say that on the website, but that is kinda implied with 7th Dan, no?
    Not in my book.

  8. #8
    DCS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigJim520 View Post
    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.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by DCS View Post
    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


    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.

  10. #10

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    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.

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