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  1. #21

    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Naha, Okinawa, Japan
    Kyokushin Karate
    I have to be totally honest and say that I feel the issue of any 'grade' based certificate as a "Thank you" is not only stupid, but opens up a world of misuse.

    Certificates of appreciation can be issued without there needing to be a rank attached or associated with them, and again, being honest, if the Soryu Japan Honbu has issued any certificate with a dan grade written on it, without there being an explicit exception that it is issued just for appreciation or, honorary reasons, they deserve the drama that certification may bring on them.

    I don't give a hoot if about the reason a certificate of appreciation is given, if it states 9th dan on it then the issuing authority MUST recognise the holder as a 9TH DAN regardless; unless of course the caveat is clearly documented on the certificate.
    I agree with you completely on this. But, just let me clarify that the certificate I questioned the Honbu about is Mr. Guerra’s 7th dan, not Chris Lopez’s 9th dan.

    Chris Lopez has, on several occasions, admitted that he did not receive his 9th dan from the Japanese Honbu, that he received it from Joe Alvarado. Joe Alvarado is only a 4th dan by Japanese standards. That is where the rank inflation occurred, and is still occurring. Chris Lopez also states that he only received a 2nd dan from the Japanese Honbu. Alas, we are still waiting for Mr. Chris Lopez’s response to your questions and for him to state or contest these facts directly on this forum.

    So, my question is this:

    Are these certificates of appreciation clearly marked in writing or through use of hanko (official organisational approval stamps) that the 9th dan is not a hard earned rank but one of purely appreciation, and therefore does not carry the rank privileges normally associated with such documentation?

    If those documents do indeed state words to that effect then you have a case here, if they do not, then respectfully you need to drop this and accept that Soryu Japan have brought much of this upon themselves in issuing legitimate dan grade certification (regardless of the reason)
    Right, and that is also my question. However, Mr. Guerra is un-willing to show his certificate to either confirm or disprove this. In the mean-time, all I have is the communication with the honbu that states that it is different. It is in the process of being stated in writing. If Mr. Guerra would be willing to display his certificate so that the kanji can be translated, then I would gladly put this to bed. However, since Mr. Guerra has a history of being dishonest with his military claims, and does not know the entire Soryu curriculum, I only think it right to question the validity of what he received from Japan. Here is a link to the fraudulent military claims Mr. Guerra has made:

    I understand this does not automatically mean Richard Guerra is also lying about his 7th dan. If he isn’t I will gladly drop it. In the meantime, I will also question the honbu about the actual certificate Mr. Guerra received and what it actually says. They may have a copy.

    Even if his certificate is proven to be legit and the Honbu carries the responsibility of backing an individual who has a history or dishonesty and a perpetual habit of spinning the truth to inflate his self-image, it would be good for those searching for information on Mr. Guerra to have it readily available. For the general purposes of helping individuals find credible martial arts instructors, I can say that, because of his failure to recall the curriculum in its completion, this individual is significantly lacking in his knowledge of the Soryu style.

    If the Honbu will back an individual such as Mr. Guerra, I would certainly question the direction of Soryu karate as a whole. I must say, I'm glad I switched styles.

    James Caldwell, however, holds the same numbered rank as Mr. Guerra, but was given the rights by Soke Michio Koyasu, to run things in the U.S. Mr. Caldwell also proves his capability by possessing the most complete body of knowledge. He still uses the same curriculum that was taught by Soke Koyasu and has complete knowledge of the kata, unlike Mr. Lopez and Mr. Guerra. His rank is also not inflated, unlike Mr. Lopez's "9th dan."

    Mr. Caldwell has also provided me with a list from the Japanese Honbu of all of the yudansha, dated August 1997. As you can see, Mr. Guerra's name is not on it, Mr. Lopez's name is not on it, and not even Mr. Alvarado's name is on it. Only yudansha who were active within the organization are on this list. Here you go:

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    This does not mean that Joe Alvarado never got a 4th dan, however it does provide more proof of his separation from the organization and further raises the issue of his actions, meaning the promotion of Chris Lopez to "9th dan" and Chris Lopez's subsequent actions of promoting others up to "8th dan."

    So as of this moment, I can identify two main issues:

    1. The validity of Richard M. Guerra's 7th dan certificate from the Japanese Honbu, and whether or not it specifically states that it is not the equivalent of a real 7th dan. This can be resolved by actually seeing Mr. Guerra's certificate and translating the kana, or obtaining a copy of it from the Honbu (if available) and translating the kana from their provided document.

    2. The self-promotion and rank inflation carried out by Joe Alvarado and Chris Lopez. Although they claim to be separate from Japan, they still utilize the logos and name, therefore creating a deceptive stance in their representation of the Japanese originated karate style, "Soryu." I'm not sure how you can resolve self-promotion and rank inflation. Isn't that the whole reason for this website?
    Last edited by MisoCray; 3/27/2013 10:18pm at .

  2. #22
    Rock Ape's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Thank you for the summery thus far.

    In terms of the purpose of the website, we exist as a martial arts consumer advocacy, the fact that we're providing a platform for this thread and the information contained within it, serves to bring this to the attention of the wider public should they wish to research any of the named individuals or in fact Soryu Karate-do.

    Ultimately there's very little that can be physically done to prevent the nature of the issues being discussed in the thread however, as arguably one of the most popular English language martial arts websites on the internet, people will see this and hopefully question the legitimacy of both what they read and the subjects themselves.

    At the end of the day it's "Buyer beware"
    Last edited by Rock Ape; 3/28/2013 4:10am at .
    "To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".

    ~Ella Wheeler

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