Posted On:4/08/2009 3:48pm
Style: BJJ, Striking, TKD
So, after several life changing events, I've finally been able to fully participate in Dr. Sanders' class. Here's my report...<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
I arrived at about 650PM. From the website, the class Jeet Kun Do class was supposed to have started at 7PM. I was met at the door by Martin, who is now a black belt in the style. Congrats to Martin!<o:p></o:p>
About 2 minutes later, Dr. Sanders shows up. He greets and we carry on a casual conversation. I filled out the usual prospective student form and he went over some very basic information about the school and how class starts up. During the course of our conversation, he reiterates his training in Tokyo (non-specific details, just location and that it happened when he was a child) and that he spent some time teaching at Langley and Camp Perry. The time is now 7PM.<o:p></o:p>
He inquires as to my martial arts background and I'm very honest with my information. Heavy TKD experience. Moved a lot. Jump through several different styles and now I'm trying to find a place to train. He explains that his style, Nei Wai Chai Kung Fu, is both an internal and external martial art. It is an amalgamation of styles that he's mastered over the years. The point is later reemphasized during class technique. The range and depth of the styles and information is supposed to be encyclopedic and they therefore learn thing in a spiralling method. During one class, according to Dr. Sanders, 50 techniques may be demonstrated and an individual may only learn two, but the next day those same two techniques are built on and expanded.<o:p></o:p>
Clearly class does not start at 7PM. I learn later that JKD has either been dropped or combined with the Nei Wai Chai Kung Fu class and that the start time has been moved to 730PM. Not that big of a deal.<o:p></o:p>
Dr. Sanders excuses himself to go speak with some other students, so I'm free to walk about the school. I take note of the previously photographed certificates on the wall. There are also photos of Mr. Sanders and Mr. Inosanto. The certificate that I emailed the Inosanto's about it still on the wall and clearly says 1,000 hours of training, which conflicts with her comments about how the certificates were issued. As a side, it appears that there is some sort of alteration on the certificate at the spot where 1,000 is written. It somehow looks like it's been "cleaned" and then rewritten.<o:p></o:p>
Sanders has two certificates from Carter S. Hargrave. The first is the same that was shown in the photographs for an instructor certification in Jeet Kun Do. The second is an 8th Dan ranking in American Kempo.<o:p></o:p>
There is an award for a rank of some sort from the International Combat Aikido & Jujitsu Federation. On it, I noticed that there was a section for a membership number. Underneath this was a 10th Dan ranking. I cannot comment as to if this was what Sanders was awarded or if it was recognizing his previous achieved rank in his other style.<o:p></o:p>
There were no ranks for judo present. <o:p></o:p>
(or, Welcome to Club Sanders)<o:p></o:p>
Class began at 730PM. Sanders began the class with his method of bowing in. There was not much in terms of pomp and circumstance. A quick salute and they got down to “business.”<o:p></o:p>
Cue the techno music. (boomchickaboomboom)<o:p></o:p>
They start with light movements and work their way up…rolling joints, etc. The exercises seemed random and not generally focused. I don’t feel that sufficient time was given to properly warm up. Essentially, Sanders stood somewhere in the back of the class and prompted students to change from one movement to the next. All the while we’re getting down to the funky techno beats. The warm up is followed by a brief cool down with a few movements of tai chi. <o:p></o:p>
We then moved on to some hardening exercises. We banged forearm to forearm, shin to shin, and punched each other in the stomach. <o:p></o:p>
Following this, Sanders began his technique portion of the class.<o:p></o:p>
We began with a series of hand combinations that progressively build up in complexity. Everything is done from a right side stance. The reasoning behind this is that the majority of people are right hand dominant and typically use the left foot forward boxing stance. Sanders idea is that he wants his students to fight in the most advantageous manner, so fighting in a stance that opponents are unfamiliar with.<o:p></o:p>
Jab -> Cross ->Hook -> Under Punch (yes, under punch)<o:p></o:p>
Jab -> Cross ->Hook -> Under Punch -> Stomp kick -> Knee Round House -> Side Kick<o:p></o:p>
I can’t really say much about the skill level of the students. I was unable to determine the belt structure except for Martin, the new black belt. While I can accept varying levels of skill in different martial arts, I’d place a large number of his student at a 6<SUP>th</SUP> Kyu or lower level TKD student. Martin would be no higher than a skilled 4<SUP>th</SUP> Kyu. I mention this because much of the punching and kicking that was going on did not look practiced, and for a traditional martial art, was a poor representation of belt level ability. For comparison, when I taught TKD, I was a stickler for technique and would not suggest a person for promotion until the technique was proper. By the appearance of what I saw last night, the technique wasn’t emphasized as much as the idea of numerous techniques resulting in one that might work for you. Maybe that works for some, I dunno.<o:p></o:p>
We then began working on some set response techniques. Your opponent attempts to punch and is deflected with a kind of Karate Kid inside motion which strikes the inside of the opponents forearm. They punch with the other arm and the Karate Kid block is done with the outside of the wrist of the same arm. From here Sanders follows with a left arm straight punch, a slap with the right hand and a strike to the groin with the right palm. Because uke would be forced to bend over from the groin strike, Sanders brings his right arm straight up and strikes his opponent under the chin with the back of his wrist. It (the wrist/hand) looks something like a crane. The finishing technique is to side kick the opponent through the wall.<o:p></o:p>
Sanders then moved on to some Wing Tsun techniques. I’m going to be honest and say that I don’t know much about Wing Chun other than my brief experience years ago that lasted long enough for me to figure out that I wasn’t going to stay with it. <o:p></o:p>
Sanders began with his opponent going for a typical cross to the face. He parries with his left, attempts to follow with a punch, is blocked, does something called a tau, followed by a “bar” or “bo” (sorry for the lack of WC knowledge) and blocks/binds his opponents arms against his chest with one arm while delivering a punch to the face. Wash. Rinse. Repeat<o:p></o:p>
At this point, I excused myself from class as I had outside commitments to attend to. Total time at the school was 1 hour 50 min with 1 hour and 15 min having been actual class time.<o:p></o:p>
As I feel that striking is more to my standards (and we did not do any jiu jitsu/jujutsu, judo) I’ll limit my comments to that area. First on a positive note, I was impressed with Sanders when he demonstrated a technique on me that he actually applied some degree of power behind a strike so that I could feel him hit me. It wasn’t a full powered shot, but sufficient that I could see what he was getting at. I find that to be a check in the positive column. There won’t be any more positive marks.<o:p></o:p>
Class was generally very unorganized. I got the impression that it was mainly Sanders shooting from the hip. I noted that he changed technique and emphasis often. The focus of the drill was changed often and appeared to be directly by whim. After releasing his class to drill, he’d walk around and then stop the class to alter a movement or talk about why a certain movement was happening. As a student, I would have preferred more time to work though the awkwardness to develop the muscle coordination instead of having him interrupt repeatedly.<o:p></o:p>
This is probably the part that I was most disturbed with…Sanders focused A LOT on chi, pressure points, and the ability to kick people through walls. In one section of the class he was pointing out pressure points in the wrist and head that when combined, were a deadly knockout blow. To demonstrate, his student took the hit and was “knocked” about ten feet across the floor. When I say that he was knocked, I mean that he walked backwards in a hurried and excited manner before being stopped by a wall. Another demonstration mimicked one that was done on BS where strikes were made to the area behind the ear that allegedly knocks out opponents with quickness. I can’t find the link, but I recall that nobody in the video as knocked out. Using the same student, Sanders applied strikes to the zygomatic and frontal bone and the student was instantly unstable and in awe of the strike. I was not impressed.<o:p></o:p>
The bulk of the class focused very much on flashy hand movement and excessive technique. While I’m very certain there are those who are capable of delivering powerful strikes and blows using the back of the wrist, I don’t think that it was practical for his students to learn these techniques. They just seemed like too much flash and not enough practical function. <o:p></o:p>
Outside of the techniques portion, Sanders has added a Pro Shop of equipment and martial arts resources. I was curious about the books, but I decided not to question them since I didn’t want to change the purpose of my visit. Of note were the books on Brazilian jiujitsu, which I thought out of place next to the foam padded chucks…<o:p></o:p>
Speaking with Martin before the start of the class, it was revealed that Mr. Sanders has a huge collection of martial arts video and books at his home. Martin described it as being like a library. I asked about how classes were structured and Martin basically stated that Sanders have binders full of workouts that he has done in the previous years. I suspect that there is a connection between the binders, the type of workouts, and the martial arts videos that Sanders owns. In short, I’m certain that much of his technique is derived from the video library.<o:p></o:p>
Sanders Black Belt Academy has no matted floors. They do have some gymnastics mats that children play on, but not of the quality that an adult would need to safely work through technique. The mats were stored against the wall. The majority of the equipment was of poor quality and not fit for advanced use by competent fighters. Well, allow me to say that I would not use them in my gym if I were an owner or a student.<o:p></o:p>
<o:p></o:p>Fees<o:p></o:p>I was kind of caught off guard with the fees for the school. Sanders repeated on several occasions that yesterday was the final day for the special he was running for new students. I was told that new students pay a $200 sign up fee. Monthly dues are $100 per month. Students are limited to two training days per week. So two days a week at 1.5 hours a day. In comparison, I train three days a week for $85 and have the option to start working out as early as 6AM (if I’m feeling frisky, usually not), again at lunch, and again at 5PM. In one day, I could probably swing 7-8 hours of mat time for $85. You really can’t beat it.<o:p></o:p>
Martin mentioned a Black Belt Club during our conversation. He said that they normally do not bring it up to new students and generally wait until a person has advanced in rank before bringing it up. Apparently, the BBC offers training all week for an additional fee. I didn’t ask what the fee was, so I can’t provide more information on it.<o:p></o:p>
Dr. Larry Sanders is not all that he claims to be. At the time of this writing, I’ve received information from the Kodokan, USA Judo, and the IJF that claim that they do not have any record of a Larry Sanders as a judoka of any level.<o:p></o:p>
I do not have supporting evidence that Dr. Sanders was ever involved with and Special Operations Group. His records indicate that he never left the CONUS and served as a Corpsman from 11Sep76 to 11Sep71. His primary place of duty was Carswell AFB, Tx. <o:p></o:p>
The majority of the certification presented on his wall have been investigated thoroughly here on BS. Please reference the below listed links for supporting evidence:<o:p></o:p>
Carter S. Hargrave<o:p></o:p>
Additional work could be done on International Combat Aikido & Jujitsu Federation, but the person is now deceased and likely wouldn’t lead to much in terms of results.<o:p></o:p>
Sanders Black Belt Academy is not for the serious martial arts looking to train with aliveness. The random nature of the classes coupled with frequent interruptions make it difficult to really get involved with the training. The students who were in the school seemed happy with their level of involvement, but I would suspect that those same students would not fare well in an actual fight without supplementing their training elsewhere. As a student of striking, I feel that his students are unprepared for physical contact on any level above the light contact they were making. As I was a new prospect, the option to spar was not made to me, nor do I think that it’s a frequent activity in the school.<o:p></o:p>
More to follow in the next week as things develop. Thanks!<o:p></o:p>
Last edited by 7thSamurai; 4/08/2009 3:58pm at .
Posted On:4/08/2009 7:54pm
Style: Tao Ga
While one class does not an investigation make,
it does bring up several issues that do not seem
a deeper look will be able to discard as simply a
Looking forward to more pertinent info when possible.
Posted On:4/08/2009 9:09pm
Unfortunately, the combined efforts of myself and JNP will have to suffice for first hand classroom experience. I'm not in a position to pony up $200 in an effort to learn more about the school and his teaching style.
I'll be trying to tie up some ends in the coming days, but I won't be able to attend another class without paying for the training.
Posted On:4/08/2009 10:27pm
I did understand the situation.
My comment was m ore toward
other developments, ie: hearing
from some of the sources you
guys wrote to, or, even JNP in
another role, and/or the two of
you with an actual interview.
I do aqppreciate the effort.
Posted On:4/11/2009 1:45am
Also received email from Sanders about the class.
From: Larry Sanders <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: my email @ yahoo.com
Sent: Tuesday, April 7, 2009 10:43:03 PM
Subject: Eric, Great to have you.
Eric, it was great to have you in class tonight. I am sorry that you
couldn't join us tonight and get the savings, but i do look forward to
having you return. I can give you a discount if you sign up this week,
just not the big one we spoke of. I can give you $100 dollars down and
110 a month. If you want to join let me know and we will get you
signed up. Just bring a check or cash made out to Dr Larry Sanders
either wednesday or thursday evening at 7:30. Once again it was good
to have you in class.
Dr Larry Sanders
Posted On:4/12/2009 4:10pm
bb in customer service & marketing FTW!
Posted On:5/01/2009 11:10am
Style: BJJ, wrestling
Update: Two weeks ago, 7thSamurai and I asked Munacra to interview Mr. Sanders in an attempt to get him to commit to some of the claims he has made. Mr. Sanders did not reply to any of the e-mails Munacra sent him requesting an interview. When Munacra showed up at Mr. Sanders school to ask in person, he was told that his interview would not be granted and that the school was not accepting new students at that time.
Last night, 7thSamurai and I met outside Mr. Sanders' school and waited for him to show up. When he did, we asked him if he would answer some questions. As he was heading into his school to teach class, we offered to meet him for coffee in the near future. He agreed to do this.
During this exchange, 7thSamurai asked him from whom did he receive his Judo ranking from. Mr. Sanders told us Phil Porter gave him his rank in Judo.
I will post the list of questions we are planning on asking Mr. Sanders when I have more time.
Posted On:5/01/2009 11:42am
Awesome. . .
Posted On:11/05/2009 1:49pm
Just fyi, I have visited this school twice-- watched one class, participated fully in a second. I'm going to write up a review shortly, but my experience there was laughably like the others posted in this thread. Same kinds of claims (with some embellishments-- like full-on, hand-to-hand solo combat resulting in a Purple Heart.)
Posted On:11/23/2009 4:29pm
The Org investigation article has been completed.
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