The eBay Dojo
Ok, it should be obvious that buying your certificate off of eBay, or any other venue that will sell you one, only serves to inflate ones ego, resume, and general liability. And in recent threads we have seen where instructors have more black belts than years in their age and as we look closer at their professional resume we find some of the same names keep popping up: Valadez kenpo http://www.valadezkenpo.net/ , Reginal Hoover http://www.dkkc.us/sokehooverbio.php ,Nicholas Lee, Michael Accord, the Dragon Kenpo Consortium http://chiduce.tripod.com/, , the SKAA Academy http://skkaacademy.weebly.com/, and other well too numerous to entertain.
These individuals and organizations (consortiums, sokeships, academies, yadda yadda yadda) make good money off of selling ego strokes- dan grade black belts and above- to individuals who, after receiving said ranks, turn around and open a school teaching typically ineffective, potentially dangerous techniques and philosophies to students who don’t know any better.
The styles bought on eBay usually come with all of the certificates signed – some of them even dated!- and on the rare occasion they make you send in a video of yourself aping their maneuvers to prove that you actually studied their systems. A few even make videos of themselves and put them up on youtube to bolster their own reputation.
YouTube - Dragon Kenpo Karate Consortium International
With that being said, most serious martial artists of any flavor generally look at these homestudy systems with a certain amount of disdain- usually ranging from minorly amused to violently opposed to the concept.
And why not? Its questionable teachers teaching a questionable curriculum to individuals who are either to cheap or to scared to join a real class dealing with real martial artists.
What, if any, are the possible benefits from buying a training system and certificate from online sources such as eBay or other entity?
Most of you don’t know me yet and so I’m sure my lemons to lemonade attitude will probably piss you off at some point. But this particular subject is near and dear to my heart….
See, little over five years ago I twisted wrong in training and screwed up several disks in my back. It laid me up for over a month and basically took me out of training for quite sometime. Worse, with the constant threat of “throwing out” my back and losing more time from my business, sparring was well out of the question. And formal training stopped cold.
At that point I had to go from Physical training to Conceptual training. That is, I began buying books. And videos. And full systems. Yup- from eBay. Not because I wanted the certs, but because I was fully compelled to stay in the martial arts, even though I couldn’t throw a kick without hurting myself.
Boy did I get one hell of an education too!
I learned about two very important things: Motivation and Critical Thinking.
Everybody takes motivation for granted. It will always be there. You’ll never really lose it right? Until it’s tested.
Sure, you take a good roundhouse to the ribs and you keep fighting. A striker breaks your nose during sparring and you step out just long enough to get the bleeding to stop and then you’re right back in. You’re motivated, right? Pretty determined to finish the fight? Sure. Now face an injury which is debilitating and see what happens to your motivation, your will to go on- especially after multiple false starts which result in undesired pain. Make it last for several years and see how badly you really want to get back into the arts.
Physically it’s a hell no. Mentally you might be shaken. Ah, but the spirit conquers all!
For many people, the way to reinvigorate their warrior spirit is to flood it with stimulus. This is where the cheap black belt home study courses can actually be usefull!
It’s a way to remain motivated in the arts- buy studying, emulating, and slowly working through the lesson with no one around to correct ever little compensatory pattern. It can even broaden one’s martial horizon by studying even flawed systems which are thoroughly different.
Different ideas, different techniques, different concepts, different philosophies- whether one agrees with them or not- forces one broaden ones view of their art form and might even encourage humility where arrogance once resided.
And what about Critical Thinking? Most people have no clue how to do this. They don’t bother to study- instead they simply adopt the prejudices and bias of their instructors without questioning the reasons behind the ideas.
That is the basis of critical thinking- finding the why behind the what and assessing whether it is valid or not for the situation at hand.
In truth, most of what I paid for was little more than fertilizer, but what I learned through this study was why it was fertilizer. As an example, I’ll take a technique called “Preparing with Preliminary Practice”, a fourth degree black belt technique from a system called Zen Kempo-jitsu. It is a response for a lead hand punch to the throat:
“You both have same foot forward. Front foot steps back and leading forearm block inward.
Same arm Backfist to face
Shuffle forward for Rear Elbow strike to ribcage
Same arm delivers reverse Hammerfist to kidney
Step around to side-rear, so that you’re facing the same direction he is
Rear forearm smash to his throat
Same arm stays across front of neck to choke him as your other palm strikes kidney
Pull him backwards onto one knee
Chop his face or throat
Double gouge to his eyes
Drive his head to the floor with both hands
Stand up and stomp his head”
First problem I see is that it’s way to long and if you even get halfway done with the technique you’ll probably go to jail. It’s way to extreme of a technique for a simple jab- even if it is to the throat.
Second problem, there is no way to move fast enough to do this- regardless of how much meth your doing
Third, in order to dance around the attacker, he would have to have been stunned completely with every strike thrown- in which case the fight was well over before you finished it.
Fourth, in order to score your first ribcage strike, that backfist would have to have hit him hard enough to stun him. But not hard enough to make him step back or fall down- just stun him. Like a dear in headlights…
Well, I could go on and on, every step of the way, but I think I’ve illustrated my point. Critical thinking is absolutely a required skill for any martial artist who wants to strip away all of the Bullshido and bravado of a particular style and get down to the core effective concepts behind the techniques. Once you find that integral part of the training, then you really “own” the system you’re studying.
With the one above, I personally would just chuck it to the wind. There are easier ways of accomplishing ones goal. But, if you looked at it hard enough you would probably find some redeeming value….no, probably not. Sorry.
But there is redeeming value in the study at home course: Motivation and Critical Thinking. Notice I didn’t say effective techniques or sound martial principles. Why? Most of what I found has been crap. Not even good enough for fertilizer kind of crap. In fact most of what I found has been worth less than the certificates that accompanied them! And that’s saying, considering that the net worth of those certs is impossibly low due to the shiny coating on the dan grades. If it was at least regular paper you could wipe your ass with them…
Anyways, that’s my take. Everything has it’s place and as long as you pick the right tool for the job you’ll never be mislead. There are some things you can MacGyver- training is not one of them!
When I read 'home weapon training' I'm thinking a lot of TV's with cracks in the glass, like when the Nintendo Wii first came out.
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