Investigation: Jeff Davis' School of Martial Arts in Morgantown, West Virginia
Research and interviews performed by C.F. Delck
Mr. Davis has claims for these ranks, the list of which may be found here: http://www.tsksma.com/instructor2.htm
Certified Teaching Degrees:
-Kodokan Judo (pending verification)
-Aikido (unable to be verified)
-Aikijujutsu (unable to be verified)
-Jujutsu (unable to be verified)
Martial Arts Master's Degrees:
-Pai-Lum Kung Fu
-Southern Chinese Kempo
Mr. Davis trained under one Eugene (Gene) F. Thorner from the age of 8 years old in the disciplines of Judo, Aikido, Jujutsu, Gyaku-Nami-Do Karate, Pai-Lum Kung-fu, and Shorin-ryu karate. Currently, Mr. Davis teaches Gyaku-Nami-Do Karate (under the name of Kitae-ryu), Shorin-ryu karate, Judo, and Pai-Lum Kung fu (under the name Southern Chinese Kempo)
Mr. Davis also claimed to have taken part in PKA-sanctioned Kickboxing matches, been ranked #3 in fighting by the United Fight Arts Federation (UFAF) by Chuck Norris in 1976. Also, Mr. Davis is connected with an eclectic group of martial artists known as the “Association of the Martial Arts” including individuals such as Tony Farrell, current head of a Kyokushinkai split-off group “Kyokushin-ha Karate” (9-dan), Ruriko Masutani of Aikido of Pittsburgh (6-dan), and Ted Vollrath a.k.a Mr. No-Legs and founder of Handi-capable Karate, to name a few.
The school, located in the Seneca Center in Morgantown, has above a door with kanji that read “Tao-Shiu-Kan”. Inside, there is a Shinto-esque archway leading onto the training floor. The floor itself is split into halves, one half being carpet, the other mats. The changing rooms, floors, and lavatory were all clean and in working order.
Mr. Davis himself was clean-shaven, well-dressed, and amiable. After exchanging introductions, I began asking him about some of his ranks, including Judo and Shorin-ryu karate. After receiving acceptable answers with candor, I explained to Mr. Davis about my investigation and ties to Bullshido.net. He then presented to me his various certificates which were in a cardboard box in a closet near to his desk.
I took some photographs of these various certificates, however due to the camera function on my phone being lackluster, many of these pictures came out blurry and indistinguishable. However, I will attest to having seen certification documents in all of the martial arts claimed by Mr. Davis, outlined in the list at the beginning of the article.
Many of these certifications were given by the various martial artists in the ASMA, so pending further investigation into the members of the organization, I shall assume they are legitimate. After this, I was introduced to one John Mann, a black belt under Mr. Davis who trained in Judo under Gene Thorner.
In my conversation with him, he commented to me that Mr. Thorner was “an incredible judoka, but not a great striker” as well as not often teaching “with words, he could show you something like a kosoto-gari and it would be amazing, but if you asked him how to do it, he couldn't tell you.” He also related to me that the classes run by Jeff Davis do not typically involve sparring due to the large age and physical capability gap between the students.
After my conversation with Mr. Mann, I made an appointment to view the Shorin-ryu and Judo/Jujutsu classes later on in the week. I had hoped to possibly participate, however an injury to my toe and a cold prevented me from doing so.
Before training started, I viewed the students striking the metal beam in the center of the room in varying fashion with what I would consider medium contact. Some small sections of Taikyoku and Heian kata were also seen. There were four brown belts and four other individuals with varying lower colored ranks (white, yellow, orange, and green). After stretching, kicks were practiced in the air and then with pads. The brown belt students I saw were more often holding the pads, rather than kicking an equal amount. When I did see kicks from them I did not feel they were consistent with brown belt-level technique. However, as a passive observer, I also cannot know of circumstances such as injury and lack of physical capability, so I must present that as a caveat.
Japanese terminology is accurately used throughout the class and Mr. Davis seems competent in the movements himself as evidence by his demonstrations. However, I did not see a very strict amount of precision placed on learning techniques at a beginner level and striking with power was not emphasized.
An important note: One of the brown belts I was watching, a heavy-set gray haired gentleman, was punching the air with bent wrists. I cannot overlook this as it is potentially disastrous punching technique if he were to strike an object with power.
Overall, I felt a sense of awkwardness from the Shorin-ryu students which transmitted into their technique. I do not think this was from a lack of knowledge in the technique nor a result of my observing them, but a lack of training in striking objects rather than the air on a regular basis.
I believe that introduction of hojo undo equipment such as a makiwara (Punching post), chi ishi (Swinging stones), and nigiri game (Lifting jars) would be very beneficial to the group as a whole. I also believe that despite the difficulties surrounding sparring, it should still be included in the program even if pads, gloves, and headgear must be used.
The Judo class began with stretching just as before, then proceeded directly into ukemi (breakfalls). Having trained in ukemi in a similar fashion, I find no problems with it. Much of the class was dedicated to sutemi-waza (sacrifice throws) while the single white belt in the class worked on o soto gari. The typical fashion of performing the throws would include three repetitions, the first two involved tori releasing his grip and practicing falling away from uke, the third being the throw in total without releasing grips. This was for the whole group, including brown belts.
Osae-komi was then practiced. Kesa-gatame and its variations were covered with no further advanced technique presented for brown belts. A short session of grip fighting where submissions were not allowed was then done, then further work on holds. There was no ne-waza covered, nor was there randori done. However, Mr. Davis complained that he had planned on such but had run out of time. I shall give him the benefit of the doubt in this matter.
Mr. Davis is an amiable individual whose ranks (pending further investigation) I conclude are legitimate. It has been corroborated by others concerning an injury sustained years ago which limits his movement. He demonstrated for me a section of Naihanchi which I found to my satisfaction. I was shown a syllabus of techniques for each belt level and also found this to be acceptable.
I feel that Mr. Davis' students would benefit greatly from more sparring and partner drills in the Shorin-ryu karate sessions and randori in the Judo sessions. There are certain logistical problems with this, but I believe they ought to be overcome regardless.
However, my opinions aside, I found no fraudulent business practices or claims in my research or interviews. I must then conclude that Jeff Davis' School of Martial Arts is not Bullshido.