About a month ago, USAdojo posted an article concerning the claims of author William “Bohdi” Sanders. A great deal of fore-thought and research went into assembling the article as its purpose was controversial…to expose the false claims Sanders has made concerning his credentials and martial arts background.
This, obviously, was an unusual move as it’s not the usual purpose or intent for Martial Arts Enterprises (MAE, Inc.) to get involved in discussing the legitimacy of a “martial artist’s” credentials. The truth is, if Martial Arts Enterprises was to concern itself with the inflated or fraudulent claims of every high-profile martial artist in our “community,” it would have no time to do anything else. At minimum, embellishments to one’s martial arts resume seem to be accepted and all-to common these days, and it’s a rare martial artist indeed who might not have an embarrassing claim somewhere in his or her background.
That said, Sanders is a special case for a number of reasons.
Sanders promotes himself as the “Wisdom Warrior” and his “product” – if we’re to look at it from a business perspective – is selling integrity and honor in the form of his books and online persona. Combined with universally accepted standards for ethics in the martial arts, it seems reasonable that Sanders would conduct himself in an ethical manner in his professional and personal dealings with people, and that his credentials and background would hold up to a high level of scrutiny, certainly the same level of scrutiny applied to a typical Black Belt instructor.
Sanders’ conduct, as it turns out in Martial Arts Enterprises’ experience working with him, is at times quite lacking professionally, ethically, and in terms of integrity, which led to an examination of his background that revealed that many of his claims concerning his credentials and background couldn’t stand up to even the slightest serious examination.
As alluded to above, that alone probably wouldn’t have been enough to justify the exposé published a month ago. While deeply troubling and disappointing, Sander’s fraudulent background is all-too common in martial arts, especially among martial arts business types who feel that lofty – and often quite dubious – credentials are a business necessity. The tipping point was actually Sanders’ feuding with another martial artist and Sanders’ attempt to draw Martial Arts Enterprises into that feud in a blatant attempt to destroy the other individual and hurt anyone associated with him.
Based on what we knew of Sanders, Martial Arts Enterprises initially had no reason not to believe him. Fortunately, however, we took the time to look into Sanders’ claims and accusations, talking to everyone involved that we could at length, only to discover that, again and again, Sanders’ assertions failed to hold up to our examination of the facts. Even more damning was the fact that many accusations leveled at Sanders over the past – accusations (especially concerning his martial arts credentials) Sanders went out of his way to vehemently deny – turned out again, and to our surprise, to be demonstrably true.
In the end, Sanders’ attempt to pass off fabricated “evidence” that he claimed proved his version of events contributing to his personal feud – and his attempt to engage Martial Arts Enterprises and USAdojo into helping circulate this completely fabricated document throughout the martial arts community – ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was decided that Martial Arts Enterprises would go to extraordinary lengths to air the truth and published the article The Real William “Bohdi” Sanders.
The article created considerable discussion and fallout, as might be expected. Sanders promised to post a response, but didn’t, instead spending the time on doing “damage control” behind the scenes. By all accounts, there has been a mass exodus from Sanders’ websites and many notable martial artists have disavowed him and his work.
Finally, after a month had passed, Sanders posted a response. It’s rambling and often nonsensical and doesn’t adequately address or dispute anything posted in our article. Great pains were made to provide verifiable proof for the assertions made in The Real William “Bohdi” Sanders. Sanders does not respond in similar fashion or by making a similar effort to provide verifiable proof for his claims.
The following is our response to that article which was posted on Bohdi Sander’s Wisdom Warrior website on March 15, 2019.
* * *
“Dana Stamos contacted me out of the blue a few weeks ago, asking for evidence about the guy who has been stalking me, Alain Burrese. She called me close to 30 times that week, and emailed over and over again as well. My wife was ready to rip her head off by the weekend, as she was being such a pain and disrupting our family time. I guess some people have nothing better to do with their lives, but I digress.
Two of the days when Stamos called, I was spending time with my two-year-old grandson. I told her that I was babysitting my two-year-old grandson and did not have time to deal with her demands at that time. In response, she became irate, demanding that she “needed this NOW!” and that “this is important!” I again told her that my grandson comes first, and she continued to demand that I give her all this information, etc. NOW! Apparently, her ego is so huge that she thinks her needs should come before taking care of a two-year-old.”
Sanders’ characterization of events is completely false. No one called anyone “out of the blue.” Sanders initiated many discussions focused on his personal feud with Alain Burrese, eventually making claims that Burrese was engaged in a campaign to hurt Sanders’ Secrets of the Masters book project (which was being heavily promoted by Martial Arts Enterprises on USAdojo and its other websites, for FREE, as we initially believed Sanders’ claims and sought to help him overcome supposed unfair efforts to torpedo Secrets of the Masters). Sanders strongly expressed his frustration that Martial Arts Enterprises might cover or support Burrese or anyone who might support him (specifically Thomas Gordon and his Korean Martial Arts Festival) especially in consideration of his claims regarding Burrese. Sanders’ purpose eventually became abundantly clear. He felt Martial Arts Enterprises should side with him against Burrese and refuse to post information on Burrese or support anyone who might associate with Burrese.
While Martial Arts Enterprises does not acquiesce to the wishes or demands of clients or contributors, Sanders’ claims regarding Burrese’s behavior and character (according to Sanders) seemed quite serious…serious enough that, if true, we might not have wanted to have anything to do with him or anything he might be associated with. So, we decided to do some due diligence, make some calls, and thoroughly investigate the matter ourselves.
The results were shocking.
Time and again, Sanders’ accusations regarding Burrese were easily disproven while claims made about Sanders himself – claims Sanders decried as categorically false – by various martial artists and bloggers online were just as easily proven to be true thanks to the dearth of supporting evidence provided by the authors or otherwise available.
This, of course, did initiate a flurry of activity as Martial Arts Enterprises tried to work with everyone involved to get to the truth. While his statements regarding his grandson aren’t relevant (merely a strange attempt to garner some sort of sympathy), given the way Sanders felt comfortable in imposing Martial Arts Enterprises to join him in his personal feud with Burrese, one might think that as his claims started to fail to hold up to scrutiny, that he would want to get to root of matters quickly by correcting inaccuracies, validating his story, and verifying his claims as quickly as possible. In Sanders’ response, he says:
“It became obvious that she was not digging for proof about Alain Burrese, but had already taken the side of a stalker, a liar, and a fraud.”
This is a complete misrepresentation of the facts and the sequence of events. While Sanders expectation might have been that we take him at his word, it simply doesn’t work that way if you are following anything resembling an ethical path. If you’re going to make grave accusations (like Sanders did in this situation), you have to expect that they will be checked out. They were checked out, and as sometimes happens, the tables turned contrary to Sanders’ expectations.
Once it became clear that an objective look into all sides of the situation was revealing a troubling pattern of fabrication, misrepresentation, and dishonesty on Sanders’ part, rather than get to the truth or try to work things out, Sanders chose to abruptly cut off communication. He did provide some information before doing so, but nothing he provided proved his claims or version of events or disproved any of the accusations of fraud or misrepresentation that have been leveled at him for over four years now (not seven, eight, or more years as Sanders often claims).
In his March 15 response, Sanders felt the need to address a number of things from the USAdojo article. Here are our responses:
Sanders took exception to the statement: “Sanders’ books are all self-published through his Kaizen Quest imprint.”
This is true. Sanders often refers to Kaizen Quest as if it is another entity, one that he is not connected to, to give the impression that he is signed to a “real” publishing company, but it’s his self-publishing imprint. There’s nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that he sometimes misrepresents the imprint and his relation to it in social media and elsewhere to make it look like a bigger deal than it is. Sanders also uses many common self-publishing strategies and tricks to inflate the public’s perception of his books’ performance on Amazon. It’s not a crime, but it’s not entirely ethical either.
Sanders then discusses his publishing history before establishing Kaizen Quest. The previous “publisher” he mentions is Shawn Kovacich. Kovacich – who has nothing positive to say about Sanders – also self-publishes books on martial arts. It was through Kovacich that Sanders made his first contacts in the martial arts author community. The two had a falling out, as Sanders states, which resulted in Sanders buying back the rights to the books they were publishing together (with the exception of one that they co-authored).
Sanders’ claim that he turned down multiple offers from publishing companies to start his own company to self-publish his books is extremely dubious, but if Sanders’ claim is true, it should be a simple matter for Sanders to name these companies and post their offer letters as proof. Sanders has a long-established pattern of making extraordinary claims without providing verifiable proof, but as they say…extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof…or at least a minimum of proof which Sanders consistently fails to provide.
Sanders then addresses his diploma mill doctorates.
In our article, we characterize Sanders’ PhD as having come from a diploma mill and discussed how over time Sanders’ claims regarding his either one or two “degrees” from the defunct, yet still infamous, Clayton College of Natural Health have been inconsistent with him only ever providing proof of a single degree. The Martial Arts Enterprises statement was based on what was known and verifiable then.
Sanders accuses Martial Arts Enterprises of lying here, and then claims to have THREE degrees from Clayton. He does provide a screen shot of a second doctorate that to our knowledge has never been seen before but does not provide proof of the third degree (which is typical for Sanders, to make a claim and then fail to provide proof). Sanders had never provided proof of the “Doctor of Naturopathy’ before March 15, 2019, and it is a fact that at one point he temporarily stopped citing a “Doctor of Naturopathy” degree on his website after he started attracting intense scrutiny. If he actually had access to proof, his reasons for not providing it previously (all the way back to the beginning of intense scrutiny into his background in 2015) are only known to Sanders.
The point regarding the Clayton degrees has never been whether he possessed them. The point has always been that he uses an academic title derived from a diploma mill on his books, his social media, and his correspondence to inflate his academic credentials, which is completely unethical.
Sanders goes on to say:
“…I NEVER CLAIMED that my degrees from Clayton College were acceptable by the Department of Education for teacher licensing. That was her spinning the truth yet again.
What I actually said, and what is still on my website is that, ‘Doctorate degrees from Clayton College are also recognized by state and federal organizations, such as public schools and government organizations. My degree has been recognized and accepted by the State of Colorado as a legitimate degree and the coursework has been accepted for MY PAY SCALE and for my teaching endorsement.’ Please notice that I never said anything about it being used for teacher licensing or by the Department of Education. She completely made that up to fit her agenda. I was paid for my Ph.D. at three different public schools in Colorado and it is stated as such right in my school contract for each school, as well as on my pay stubs.”
This is some clever “spin” on his words. It’s quite reasonable for someone to infer that “for my teaching endorsement” means “licensing” since that’s what a teaching endorsement is…it’s your license and the state determines whether someone qualifies for a specific endorsement based on its standards, which in the case of Colorado does not include non-accredited schools. Based on Colorado’s standards, a degree or coursework from Clayton would NOT satisfy licensing requirements, which would include endorsement requirements. Whether or not someone on the local level might have made a mistake and adjusted Sanders’ salary based on a degree from Clayton is something else. It’s unlikely, but possible, and deserves further investigation since Sanders chooses, again, not to provide proof for this claim.
Sanders goes on to discuss his legitimate education, which has never been in dispute. Rather, it has always begged the question as to why someone with a substantial legitimate education – an actual educator – would turn to an online/distance learning diploma mill for inflated credentials just so he can list “Dr.” or “PhD” on a book cover. Only Sanders really knows, but regarding Clayton, some additional details have surfaced. For example, a call to the Alabama State Department of Education reveals that during the time that Sanders was acquiring his doctorates, not only was it never accredited, but Clayton wasn’t even licensed in the state as required by the ASDE (it was only licensed for a brief period from 2003 to 2005) and by state law shouldn’t even have been allowed to operate as a school – accredited or otherwise – in Alabama for much of its existence.
Clayton “grads” are well known for trying to defend the validity of their degrees, creating all sorts of “alternative” accreditation explanations and schemes and logical-sounding justifications for why a “doctorate” from Clayton should be accepted as “real.” This make sense, since they did do some “work” and paid a significant amount of money for these diplomas (though nowhere near what a legitimate doctorate really takes or costs), but time and again Clayton’s practices and standards have been shown to be inconsistent and substandard, which is why outside of the world of alternative medicine, the “holistic arts,” and naturopathy (which are overrun with hucksterism and snake oil salesmen and not to be confused with naturopathic medicine, which is a legitimate field), advanced degrees from Clayton are almost universally regarded as next to worthless and can’t even be cited as legitimate credentials in some countries.
Sanders then goes on to dispute the USAdojo article’s claims and conclusions regarding his rank claims over the years, specifically starting in 2008 when he started his website and then moving forward. Martial Arts Enterprises stands by its article in that these conclusions were made based on reviews of archived pages from Sanders’ own website.
“No mention of me being a Black Belt? Really? I earned my first Dan in 1996 (which I told her and gave her evidence of). I gave her evidence of my dojo, in which I had 65 students back in 1997. She downplayed that as some after school program or something of the sort. That is very strange since many of the martial artists that she pals around with teaches less than 10 students in their garages or in the park. But I had a dojo with 65 students and she claims that it was some after school program or something. I would hate to hear what she truly thinks of her “friends” martial arts expertise since they teach in their garages or have no students at all!
She also claims that there was “no mention of being a black until I added a “press kit” in 2008.” Well, consider this…I didn’t even have a website until 2008! My first book was not even published until sometime 2008! I wasn’t on the internet at all until sometime that year; nor was I in the public eye. But, yes, everyone who knew me then knew what rank I was and knew that I was a martial artist. This is yet another bogus claim to spin her malicious agenda. Not everyone goes around bragging about their martial arts rank all the time, Dana. Believe it or not, there is still such a things as being an unpretentious and humble martial artist. Not everyone in the martial arts world is a braggart.”
First off, Sanders claim that he provided Martial Arts Enterprises with evidence of his 1st dan is completely untrue. He did no such thing. The only certificate Sanders provided was his Yellow Belt certificate from Bob Allen.
The statements in the USAdojo article are true and accurate and can be verified by simply reviewing the archived Wisdom Warrior website pages available at https://archive.org/web/ (it’s worth noting that these archived pages cannot be altered or faked, and are admissible as evidence in a court of law). Martial Arts Enterprises did not characterize Sanders’ martial arts program in Missouri in a negative way, or in a manner meant to belittle him. We merely based the information in our article based on what was said in the newspaper article provided by Sanders which states:
“Classes are held in the multi-purpose room at the school and are split into two sections. One class is for second grade through fifth grade and is held Mondays and Thursdays after school. The other is for sixth grade through twelfth grade and is held Thursday nights from 7 to 9.”
The article goes on to mention intentions to add a class that would have met at a church. While all this is well and good, these were essentially rec classes held in borrowed or rented spaces. Sanders’ claim of owning a dojo is an exaggeration, and the single year (according to Sanders) he operated is fairly typical of many martial arts schools that appear and disappear with regularity in the martial arts world. It might have been an admirable effort, but the fact that he feels compelled to embellish and exaggerate ends up tarnishing and casting doubt on the experience.
“Not everyone goes around bragging about their martial arts rank all the time…”
…should be addressed in that it is meant to imply that Sanders doesn’t brag about himself or his credentials, but this totally contradicts reality. A review of his websites (with its long, often changing lists of titles, ranks, training claims, certifications, and awards) and even a short time spent on his social media quickly reveals that Sanders is anything but humble in this regard, which is why his lack of similar extensive claims when he came onto the scene in 2008 becomes indicative of exaggeration, embellishment, and fabrication.
Anecdotally, people who have known Sanders from his first appearance on the martial arts publishing scene agree that Sanders was initially vague about his rank and background and they often remark that for someone who claims to be a Black Belt, Sanders doesn’t seem to know very much about martial arts. Eventually, however, as Sanders gained acceptance, his claims about his martial arts background started to expand and he was emboldened by his relative success as an author and acceptance as some sort of “expert” online.
Factually (on his archived pages) Sanders does not state he’s a Black Belt initially (in 2008), with that claim emerging later. A review of all of Sanders’s archived webpages doesn’t show a claim of a 5th dan until 2015 (and screen shots of two fake certificates), and not until AFTER the article on Bullshido appeared and he decided to post his “credentials” page in order to try to defend his claims.
Sanders goes on to say:
“The claim that there was no mention of me being a 5th Dan until 2015 is ridiculous! She claims that I kept my rank hidden for 10 years? That is laughable! I am sure that if you ask, hundreds of my readers from that time could tell you exactly what my rank was, and still is.”
The USAdojo article claims nothing of the sort, but rather it establishes a pattern of embellishment from 2008 to 2015 in Sanders’ martial arts claims, which can be easily verified by simply going to the effort to review archived “snapshots” of the Wisdom Warrior website over that period. It should be noted that Sanders does not address the indisputable fact that he posted two fraudulent rank certificates on his credentials page in 2015. He also does not dispute the 2014 private message between he and a hall of fame promoter, from whom he had requested an induction, where he claims to only be a 1st dan who has spent all his time “solo training” without access to rank.
In reference to his habit of repeatedly scrubbing and re-posting his credentials page, Sanders then states:
“Again, this is not true. The page has never been removed. When I found that Alain Burrese was stalking me and harassing me on a trashy martial arts forum, I decided to have a little fun with him. I published and unpublished the page over and over (with the click of a button), and each time he would go into a little rant on that forum. This was part of my proving that he was stalking my website. Sifu Al Dacascos can verify this, as we were both laughing about this as I was doing it and Sifu Al knew what I was doing. I have to say, it was very funny watching my stalker being maneuvered like a puppet on a string, but that is a story for another time.”
The fact is, Sanders did scrub and re-post the page multiple times, as the archive clearly shows, and Sanders’ statement, “I published and unpublished the page over and over” is a clear admission that he did so. This account of Sanders and Dacascos apparently posting intentionally inaccurate information on the site – apparently to frustrate his so-called “stalker” – is strange. The posts on Bullshido and elsewhere that he is talking about were not written by Burrese, and one has to wonder what someone like Dacascos thinks about being implicated in such purposefully dishonest behavior. It needs to be pointed out that the information on the “trashy martial arts forum” (Bullshido) was not posted by Burrese, but rather was posted by blogger Lordus Sapiens using the handle MTTKDGUY. Martial Arts Enterprises has established and verified that Burrese and Sapiens are not the same person.
Sanders then goes on to try to paint a picture of some sort of conspiracy developing between Martial Arts Enterprises, Burrese, and others to act on a personal vendetta to attack and discredit him. Sanders complains that negative information that has been circulating about him for years was used in the USAdojo piece but fails to acknowledge that the reason for that is that the information checks out. It’s verifiable and true while Sanders’s claims repeatedly fail to hold up to serious examination or scrutiny. While it might be inconvenient for Sanders, the truth is simply the truth. Nobody gets by merely on their word…not even in the “martial arts community.”
Sanders then addresses the myriad ranks he has claimed over the years:
“‘Bohdi Sanders has claimed at various times on his website, Amazon author page, LinkedIn page, and social media sites ranks from 5th degree Black Belt to 6th and then 10th degree Black Belt and training in a wide range of martial arts (ninjutsu, krav maga, jujitsu, etc.).’
I never claimed to be a 10th Dan; I stated that I was given an honorary certificate for 10th Dan. I was given an honorary 10th Dan certificate from the Extreme Budo Federation when I served on the board…”
This is untrue. Again, this can be easily verified by looking at the archives and screen shots from that period, however, Sanders has a long established pattern of announcing and bragging about various “promotions,” awards, and acknowledgements, and then disavowing them after they have failed scrutiny or after he has had a falling out with the individual or group who was given them to him.
Click on any of the images below for a larger view.
His statements regarding the EBF 10th dan are false. For months leading up to posting the certificate online, Sanders bragged about the new rank and title in social media and “10th Dan in Shotokan Karate” appeared in numerous places online, never claiming that it was “honorary.” It wasn’t until he started receiving scrutiny and criticism for the inflated rank and unjustifiable promotion that he began scrubbing the reference online and referring to it as “honorary.” The actual citation on the certificate reads:
Certificate of Rank
This is to certify that
Has completed the required training in the art of
The above named individual is hereby awarded the rank of
10th Dan Black Belt with the title Hanshi
On the 1st Day of September in the Year 2014
It is sincerely hoped that the student will continue to study and grow in the spirit of Martial Arts and strive for the perfect union of Mind, Body, and Spirit.
There are other problems with this citation (“Budo” is not a martial art, for example, but a Japanese word that means “Martial Way”), but the word “honorary” never appears on the certificate. It’s should also be noted that when Sanders finally did post the certificate online, he altered it to remove specific EBF board member signatures and chops (http://www.extreme-budo-federation.com/bs.html).
Sanders follows this in his March 15, 2019 response with extensive efforts at character assassination regarding Harless and Slonski, as well as efforts to discredit the EBF and establish a timeline that allows him to claim that he declined the ranks and resigned from the EBF, but his version of events doesn’t seem to hold up. For a time in 2016, Sanders was still posting the EBF certificate and the Slonski certificate on his site along with Slonski’s phone number for verification. Sometime in 2016, he had a falling out with the EBF (which posted the following: http://www.extreme-budo-federation.com/bs.html) and Slonski and the certificates and contact information were taken down, but not until the EBF certificate and the Slonski certificate had been posted on his site as his only martial arts credentials for over a year.
This to certify that Bohdi Sanders
5th Dan in Shotokan Karate
Is hereby awarded the honorary
Title of Hanshi
On September 1, 2014
It is sincerely hoped that Dr. Sanders will continue to strive for the Perfection of Character and the Perfect Union of Spirit, mind, and Body.”
Sanders goes on to try to explain the “replacement” hanshi certificate, explaining that it was created – on Sanders’ request and by Sanders – with the blessing of Al Dacascos. The story of how this certificate was created, and the justification for its creation, is strange. Of course, Al Dacascos can do what he wants, and others can follow that lead if they want, but it is odd that this was all initiated by Sanders. Essentially, this is a junior asking a senior to create an extremely high-level acknowledgement (rank or title) for…whatever reason, but in this case it’s clearly some sort of ego-stroking aggrandizement. That’s just not how it’s done in the martial arts. You don’t ask for or go “shopping” for such things, they come when your seniors deem appropriate. Status and rank flow from the top down, not the bottom up. Any story that Sanders wants to tell that involves him going to a senior and asking for such a thing – honorary or not – is extremely suspect and in this case suggests that Al Dacascos and the other signers either have no problem being a party to fabricating fancy martial arts wall paper for their buddies or they did not realize what they were signing.
Further, the title of “hanshi” is a very specific thing. It’s a title given by a style organization to someone of extremely high rank who has decades upon decades of martial arts experience and contributions, not a martial-artsy nickname to be handed out to quote book authors on a whim or as a favor. Dacascos could have more easily, and more appropriately, bestowed an honor through his own Kajukenbo organization (Wun Hop Kuen Do), but instead signed his name to a generic certificate improperly featuring a Shotokan logo with no issuing authority to back it up.
Why did he do that?
Only Sanders and Dacascos truly know.
Sanders then states:
“‘The fraudulent 5th degree Black Belt certificates were replaced by a 6th degree Black Belt certificate from Joseph Slonski that was later stripped and disavowed, and an “honorary” 10th degree Black Belt from the Extreme Budo Federation that was also later stripped and disavowed after Sanders was removed from the federation’s board.’
Again, Dana Stamos does not know what she is talking about. First, I have never had any “fraudulent” rank, period. And, I never “replaced” my 5th Dan and I was NOT “stripped” of anything.”
Click on the image below for a larger view.
This is false. Sanders did post two fraudulent 5th degree Black Belts on his site in 2015. Upon their being outed immediately as fakes, Sanders scrubbed them from his credentials page, and he has never mentioned them since. It is widely assumed that Sanders acquired the 6th dan from Slonski to replace the outed fake fifth dans. This speculation, given the events and timing, is quite reasonable considering that his 5th dan certificates had been so thoroughly and embarrassingly discredited.
Regarding whether or not the Slonski and EBF certificates were stripped, this is largely a matter of concern for the issuers. Slonski and the EBF awarded the certificates. Slonski and the EBF say they were stripped. Sanders disagrees and tries to present a scenario that supports his version of events. Unfortunately, Sanders’ version is contradictory in that he accepted them and then posted them on his site for an extended period of time, all the while singing Slonski’s and the EBF’s praises – and even posting Slonski’s contact information for verification – until the falling out occurred. This can all be verified by reviewing the archived pages from the Wisdom Warrior website.
Sanders continues with:
“First, I turned down ALL rank from this organization when I resigned. Secondly, how can anyone strip anyone of any rank and title when that person has never trained with them or even ever met them in person? A real organization does not offer people rank when they have never met them before. The fact that Harless and Slonski both offer me rank, without ever meeting me or training with me, simply shows how fraudulent their organization was/is to start with; and it just one of the reasons that I, and ALL the other board members resigned and left this organization once we found out the truth about them. Thirdly, even if those ranks were real, how do you strip someone of a rank or title in which they have already refused and politely declined? If you turn a rank down, you cannot later be stripped of that rank. Any rational thinking martial artist knows that this is true, but that doesn’t stop people like Dana Stamos from trying to spin this to fit her agenda.”
Here Sanders is simply lying as he and presents us with a startling set of contradictions in that he absolutely DID in fact accept these certificates from people he’d never met nor ever trained with, and he continues to accept credentials from people he’s never met or trained with (the Shihan Menjo from Richard Hallman, for example, and it’s a fact that he has never met nearly all the signers of his “replacement” hanshi certificate). The actual timing of events regarding the Slonski and EBF certificates may never be known with 100% accuracy. Sanders claims a long list of people who can support his story, but to date, no one has. Until someone does, we simply cannot ignore the inconsistencies and contradictions in Sanders’ claims and are forced to go with Slonski’s and the EBF’s version of events.
Sanders then addresses questions regarding his martial arts training and claimed ranks in Shotokan Karate:
“‘Sanders has been unable or unwilling to provide proof of his training or progression through the ranks in Shotokan Karate.’
Again, this is not true. I gave her a specific progression of my training including years and locations, which she chose to leave out of her irate little internet rant because they did not further her own little twisted agenda. In addition to leaving out that information, she also chose to leave out the firsthand conversations with Sifu Al Dacascos, GM Terrence Shea, GM Richard Hackworth, and others.”
While Sanders did provide a Yellow Belt certificate from Bob Allen and a newspaper article concerning the class he started in Missouri in the mid-nineties, he did not provide anything else that could substantiate his broad and many claims of years of training and rank. Information that would have helped his case would be credible rank certificates and contact information for credible people with first-hand experience with Sanders during the times in question willing to vouch for him. The fact that he posted two fraudulent rank certificates on his site makes the former difficult because unless they come from a well-known Shotokan governing body, there’s simply no way to be sure that any certificate he presents is legitimate or simply another fake. Regarding the latter…being able to talk to people who trained with, trained, or graded Sanders in the 90’s would go a long way toward restoring even the slightest credibility to anything he might say on the matter. He hasn’t been able or willing to do any of these things.
Sanders’s suggestion that Martial Arts Enterprises had first-hand contact with Dacascos, Shea, or Hackworth regarding his background or credibility is simply untrue. In our limited contact with these three men, we briefly talked to Dacascos about Burrese, and neither Shea nor Hackworth could vouch for Sanders’ background. To our knowledge, he has never met or trained with Shea or Hackworth, and the sum total of training hours he has with Dacascos can likely be counted on one hand.
Both of these men either represent (Shea – TAI Martial Arts Association) or own (Hackworth – too many to list) their own organizations. Why can’t they vouch for Sanders? Why is it they don’t simply promote Sanders within their own organizations?
Along these lines, Sanders says:
“She continues to attack my instructor, claiming he doesn’t exist because she could not find any mention of him, etc. She attacks me for being “unable or unwilling” to give her more information about my background, etc. I actually gave her a lot before I stopped sending her stuff after she got rude, called me a liar, and questioned my honor. But it didn’t matter, as she did not use what I gave her and ignored the firsthand accounts from several grandmasters who know the truth.”
Martial Arts Enterprises did not “attack” William Jackson. We merely questioned his existence. The “made up instructor” is something of a cliché when it comes to martial arts frauds, and to date nothing is truly known about Jackson and not even a single photo of the man has ever been seen (Sanders claims Jackson died in 2007). Sanders has never been able or willing to provide information about Jackson or anyone who could vouch for him that would allow for verification. The simplest way Sanders could have put all this to rest would have been to provide this sort of information, but the best he ever seems to do is to cite people he barely knows, has never met or trained with, and who didn’t even know him during the time in question and whose knowledge of Sanders is entirely comprised of what Sanders has told them about himself. This simply does not meet any possible criteria for establishing credibility or legitimacy no matter how Mr. Sanders might see it or want other people to see it.
Sanders then goes on to spin a scenario involving “secret” rank certificates that he claims a select few – Dacascos, Hallman, Upton – have seen:
“Sifu Al Dacascos has seen my certificates. Soke Richard Hallman has seen my real certificate. Master Howard Upton has seen it. Anyone who visits me has seen them; but no, I don’t make use them to impress people like Dana Stamos. I have nothing to prove to anyone; I know what training I received and I don’t really care whether Dana Stamos likes it or not, or anyone else for that matter.”
This assertion, frankly, is bizarre. Who in their right mind, if they have legitimate rank certificates that would resolve everything in their favor, would hide them, only to instead post easily identified fakes that end up not only destroying their credibility but result in years of feuding with a variety of people and online groups over his legitimacy? It’s a patently crazy notion that no mature, intelligent person should believe.
Sanders then discusses comments regarding the Richard Hallman Shihan Menjo certificate:
William Bohdi Sanders
Has been awarded the title of
Let it be known from this day forward that
William Bohdi Sanders at his current Rank of Godan/5th Dan,
Shall be addressed by the awarded title of “Shihan”
With all the rights and the privilege that accompanies this award.
This title of “Shihan” is authenticated by the hands of
The underscored signatures on this the
29th Day of March, 2017.
“She goes on to attack my Shihan title, given to me by Soke Richard Hallman…
‘Though it gives the impression of being one, this certificate is not a rank certificate. This certificate itself is odd in that it doesn’t explicitly state an issuing authority, though it can be assumed that it is the “United States Soke Council” (a small group based in Indiana and established sometime around 2015 to sell memberships and issue “sokeships” and licenses) since all the signatories are from that organization.’
Wow, how many lies can you fit into one short paragraph? First, the certificate and letter awarded to me does not give any impression of conferring rank to anyone. If she assumes that, that is on her, although anyone who can read would not assume that. Secondly, that council was established in 2010. Thirdly, this council has turned down over 200 applications. They are extremely strict about their membership. They absolutely DO NOT sell memberships. In addition, my title does not have anything to do with the United States Soke Council, which she consistently lies about, stating that they “sell memberships,” which they absolutely do not. It is another blatant lie to state that. Also, all the people who signed my Shihan certificate ARE NOT members of the Soke Council. She states that “it can be assumed…” Really? It doesn’t state any of that, but she “assumes” what she wants, as people with an agenda often do. Also, as anyone who can read can plainly see, it say absolutely nothing about rank!”
There’s a lot to unpack here, most of it hardly relevant in the context of discussing Sanders’ legitimacy. First off, the United States Soke Council (USSC) simply IS a small group without real influence or authority. There are thousands of groups like this in the US that fade in and out of existence daily. Assertions regarding vetting or exclusivity are impossible to verify, but they currently are not maintaining their web presence and the few members they do list (you can look up their site using the internet archive) appear to be inactive. The last news update on their website appears to have been made in 2016 and their Facebook site has almost no information or activity. The USSC hardly seems like much of a going concern.
It should be noted that a correction was actually made to the USAdojo article regarding the signatories. Actually, TWO of the signatories are USSC members — Richard Hallman and Stephen Barber – while the other two are not, so Sanders’ statement that none of the people who signed the certificate are USSC members is incorrect. This certificate appeared just after the last of Sanders’ martial arts credentials had been stripped, leaving him with nothing to hang his martial arts claims on.
On the certificate, Hallman specifically notes rank in the citation, he affixes his USSC seal to the certificate, the certificate looks like a rank certificate, and the certificate design is very similar (almost identical) to that used by the USSC. It is reasonable to draw the conclusions in the USAdojo article. This is, of course, speculation, but it was never presented as anything else.
Our opinion is that this certificate was created specifically to support Sanders’ rank claims and to feed his obsession for lofty titles (“doctor,” “PhD,” “Shihan,” “Hanshi”). The letter from Hallman that Sanders provides seems to bear this out in that Hallman very clearly is using his position and membership in the USSC to establish his authority. This ends up being awkward in that the President of the USSC, Rick Greene, has publicly made it clear that Sanders has absolutely no affiliation with the USSC, that the USSC has never awarded a certificate, rank, or title to Sanders, and that any such award made by Hallman to Sanders was done so independently and without the USSC’s approval, sanction, or authority and that any such credential or award conferred by Hallman was done privately an on his personal authority.
Given that Hallman and Sanders have never met, and that Hallman’s background has its own issues, the awarding of this “Shihan Menjo” becomes increasingly suspect.
Sanders then goes on to discuss his use of the Shotokan tiger logo on the “honorary hanshi” certificate and the date used on the certificate:
“‘Contrary to what the inclusion of the Shotokan logo might suggest, Sanders is not formally affiliated with the Japan Karate Association or any recognized Shotokan group. The certificate is not issued by a martial arts governing body, association, or federation. While its design and wording might suggest otherwise, it is not a rank certificate.’
Okay, let me get this right. According to Dana Stamos, no one should use a Shotokan logo unless they are formally affiliated with the JKA? That is ridiculous! And, just to be clear, I used to be a member of the Japan Karate Association but I got tired of the politics and the ridiculously expensive belt tests. I used the Shotokan logo because that is my style, plain and simple. Once again, she has no clue what she is talking about! I never claimed that my Hanshi certificate was anything other than honorary. It clearly states this.
Also, I never claimed it was from any “governing body, association, or federation.” It is issued by the original people who signed it. Only someone with a malicious agenda would make such a statement. And I damn sure did not suggest that it was any rank certificate. I have my rank certificate for my 5th Dan, as I stated above. Why would I need and second one? It simply and plainly states that it is an HONORARY title, period, nothing more, and nothing less. Her attempt to make it seem like something else is juvenile and is simply another example of her spinning the truth to fit her malicious agenda.
In addition, she has been telling people that it was backdated after the fact. The certificate date was printed on the certificate when the certificate was made. The date was on the certificate when it was signed by each of the martial artists who originally signed it. Nothing was changed, added, or deleted. And for anyone to say any different is nothing but a blatant lie, but that doesn’t stop her or her little friends from stating that it was backdated in their gossip sessions. She also claims that it was written in a confusing manner to read as if it conferred rank. Really? The only people who would be confused by this would be in elementary school! Unfortunately for Dana Stamos or those she has misled into believing her lies, this is another truth, which she lied about, that is easily proved. Here us that untouched certificate which clearly states, “is hereby awared the honorary title of Hanshi on September 1, 2014, which was the date when the original masters awarded me the title, and it is the ONLY date that has ever been on this certificate, contrary to what Dana Stamos has been telling people! Again, she flat out lies about this honorary title.”
Sanders’ “honorary hanshi” certificate. Note (1) improper use of the Shotokan tiger logo which gives the impression it is an official Shotokan award, (2) “Shotokan Karate” as the heading of the citation which again gives the impression it is an official Shotokan award, (3) rank is specifically noted in the citation which suggests it confers or validates rank in Shotokan Karate, and (4) the certificate – which did not appear until July 20, 2017 – has been back-dated to September 1, 2014.
The question here is related to intent. Why improperly use the Shotokan logo on this certificate if there is no intention to suggest it is related to Shotokan or somehow draws authority from Shotokan? Claiming this was done merely as a decorative element is ridiculous. It is clear and obvious that the intent was to make it appear to be an “official” martial arts certificate as much as possible. Regarding the use of the logo, this is completely improper, and probably illegal. The Shotokan tiger logo is an international trademark, however the trademark holder simply doesn’t strenuously enforce its rights concerning appropriate use. Sanders can certainly use it if he wants to (as long as the trademark holder doesn’t object), but his intent here – in our opinion – is obvious and completely inappropriate.
Regarding back-dating…Sanders created a certificate and then dated it to a date in the past. That is the textbook definition of “back-dating.”
This idea that this is a “replacement” certificate is very strange and seems to be an attempt to justify the creation of what could also be called a “false document” (he made a fake certificate and then got a group of martial artists to sign it to lend it their authority and create the illusion of legitimacy). The EBF issued the original certificate. Only the EBF can issue a “replacement.” Put another way, say a Kukkiwon-certified Taekwondo practitioner is stripped of his rank. That practitioner cannot go out and make their own “replacement” Kukkiwon certificate and then get a bunch of his buddies to sign it to make it seem “real.” He can work to acquire SIMILAR certification from another rank-issuing authority, but it would not be a “replacement,” it would be its own thing entirely. Only the Kukkiwon can issue a “replacement” Kukkiwon certificate. Only the EBF can replace the (never was “honorary”) 10th dan hanshi certificate they gave Sanders on September 1, 2014.
Sanders then turns his focus towards his feud with Burrese:
“‘To date, Sanders has failed to produce credible evidence backing his claim and Burrese has consistently maintained that he did not author the articles any related forum posts. In retaliation, Sanders (with the help of others) has written numerous long articles attacking Alain Burrese, making many unsubstantiated and defamatory claims about Burrese’s military service and his career as an attorney, as well as attempting to discredit his martial arts credentials and accomplishments. These claims against Alain Burrese have all been proven to be false.’
I will give Dana Stamos one thing – she does like to economize and fits lots of lies into a small paragraph! The truth is that I have produced an abundance of credible evidence about Alain Burrese including screenshots, transcripts from Alain Burrese messaging many of my readers, firsthand accounts from Grandmasters who Burrese contacted personally, and much more. Also, in over seven years that Burrese and his buddies have been attacking me, I have written three articles about him, exposing his lies, just as I am doing in this article. In addition, I have also offered an abundance of evidence, including firsthand, primary accounts from Burrese’s own mouth and from his own accounts. And none of them have been disproven by Burrese, although, if they were not true, he could have easily disproven them, which he has not. One has to ask oneself why would Dana Stamos lie to cover for Alain Burrse? I will not share all the evidence concerning Alain Burrese here, as I have shared it all already, although I will share some later in this article”
The main issues regarding Sanders and his feud with Burrese seemed to center around whether or not Burrese has been harassing Sanders using the alias “Lordus Sapiens” and claims made by Sanders concerning Burrese’s career and standing as an attorney, career as a martial arts instructor, martial arts credentials, and military background. We were able to very quickly establish and verify that Burrese and Sapiens are entirely different people. Regarding the rest, Burrese was extremely forthcoming and accommodating regarding his record and credentials and so it was a quick and simple matter to disprove Sanders’ claims. While yes, Burrese has said some unflattering things about Sanders in private messages that ended up being shared with Sanders, he has largely stayed out of the feud and most of the things Sanders attributes to Burrese were actually written by Sapiens on Bullshido (using the handle MTTKDGUY) and on his Martial Arts Frauds and Fakes blog (https://martialartsfraudsandfakes.wordpress.com/). Beyond the misattribution on Sanders’ part, there is the issue of fabrication (by Sanders) intended to harm Burrese that simply cannot be ignored…but let us state that our examination of the facts led us to conclude that Burrese is being honest about his background and credentials and Sanders’ claims about him simply fail under scrutiny.
Sanders brings up the fraudulent forensic handwriting analysis report:
“‘In late January of 2019, Bohdi Sanders posted a fraudulent forensic handwriting analysis report in an article about Alain Burrse.’
It was not a “fraudulent handwriting analysis report” as she claims. Apparently, she thinks that since it came from India, where one of my readers had it analyzed, that is must be fraudulent. Are you racist against Indians as well, Dana? I have news for you, Americans do not have a monopoly on forensic science. The analysis was done by a very respected doctor of forensic science who works for the Indian government and who specializes in handwriting analysis and bank fraud. But that doesn’t fit into her agenda, so she immediately called it fraudulent when it came out. Just because you would like it to be fraudulent, Dana, that does not make it so.”
The “report” was fraudulent. Period. It was acquired on Sanders’ behalf by a personal friend who went to a personal friend (who refused to put his name on the report) who then obviously tailored his “analysis” to say exactly what Sanders wanted it to say based on a pair of computer screen shots that couldn’t possibly be analyzed in the manner described using the tools listed. The report was handed over to a professional handwriting analyst in the US who quickly discredited it and then went on to explain how it was improper and why it would be inadmissible in the US (contradicting Sanders’ claims). Those are simply the facts. The conflicts of interest related to Sanders’ report are simply off the chart and no reasonable person would accept it at face value. That said, any time Sanders wants to join Martial Arts Enterprises in engaging a completely impartial, professional American handwriting analyst in having his samples analyzed and a court admissible report prepared, we will be happy to do so.
Sanders’ accusation of racism towards Indians is simply juvenile, especially for someone of his education and advanced age.
Sanders goes on to discuss his relationships with instructors, specifically Allen and Dacascos. Martial Arts Enterprises stands by this part of The Real William “Bohdi” Sanders and finds it odd that Sanders doesn’t also address the fact that Harry Greene disavowed him and stated unequivocally that Sanders’ claims of having trained with him were untrue.
The point of this was to show how Sanders has never been able to produce anyone who can support his martial arts claims (between 1984 and, say, 2014), and how he tries desperately to align himself with current martial arts acquaintances who might vouch for him in spite of having no knowledge or first-hand experience training with Sanders. The Harry Greene situation is quite telling in that Sanders got caught and publicly outed (by Greene) for trying to turn twenty minutes in a hallway with one of Greene’s students at a hall of fame event into a deep and profound teacher-student relationship with Greene himself that he spoke of often on his social media sites. This dishonesty speaks directly to Sanders’ character and credibility.
It also casts a deep shadow on his claimed relationship and training with Al Dacascos. As it currently stands, Dacascos is the ONLY person who has ever vouched for Sanders, all based on a few hours “training” in Sanders’ back yard. It should be pointed out that they have a business relationship and that Sanders ghost wrote and published Dacascos’ book, so maybe his support of Sanders isn’t entirely on the up and up. Only “Sifu Al” knows for sure, and of course he can support whomever he wants, but…
Photo 1) Al Dacascos signing copies of his book Legacy, (ghost written by Sanders and published through Sanders self-publishing imprint Kaizen Quest), in preparation for Andrew Fanelli’s All Pro TKD Hall of Fame. Photo 2) At Andrew Fanelli’s All Pro TKD Hall of Fame event where Sanders was a guest in 2016.
Sanders then brings up the Martial Science Magazine article. Martial Arts Enterprises linked to a copy of Guy Larke’s email in the original USAdojo article explaining the error made by Guy Larke concerning the “grandmaster” rank as soon as Martial Arts Enterprises was contacted by Guy Larke. This email shows Sanders saying “I only have a 5th Dan”.
And finally, Sanders brings up his use of the name “Bohdi.” This is somewhat odd in that no one is disputing that Sanders has been calling himself “Bohdi” for years. Using a nickname, however, is not the same thing as “changing your name,” which is a legal process. Sanders did not legally change his middle name to “Bohdi” until mid-2015, about six months after the Bullshido article on him was posted and the scrutiny of his background began. This is a simple matter of record (court record, which can be verified on the Larimer County, CO website). It’s not really an “issue,” it’s merely odd. There are other “odd” legal proceedings concerning Sanders around that time that Martial Arts Enterprises chose not to write about because they aren’t relevant to the USAdojo article or this response, but they are there for anyone who wants to look for them. You’ll recognize them when you see them.
The Petitioner requests that the name of William Bernhard Sanders, Jr. be changed to William Bohdi Sanders. June 2015.
The rest of Sanders’ March 15, 2019 article is largely a rambling, sometimes nonsensical rant where he rehashes various feuds, indulges in character assassination, and attempts to deflect away from the facts concerning his behavior, claims, accusations and the clear and proven instances of embellishment, dishonesty, and fraud in his background. He provides a new martial arts progression but nothing new that can be verified to support his claims.
In all this he does make one interesting claim:
“Alain Burrese is a well-known internet troll who is also guilty of stolen valor claims. He has been stalking me and my family for almost eight years now and has dozens of fake accounts according to an NSA agent who was investigating him and gave me that information. I will withhold the agent’s name at the request of his uncle who is a close friend of mine and also a grandmaster in the martial arts.”
This statement speaks to the degree to which Sanders appears to be becoming unhinged. First of all, Martial Arts Enterprises has determined that the author if the articles Sanders speaks of here is not Burrese. Sanders has long claimed that a blogger who goes by the name “Lordus Sapiens” (who authored all these articles unflattering of Sanders) is Burrese, but we have been able to determine that Sapiens and Burrese are completely different people. To our knowledge, Burrese has never written a blog or article about Sanders (though in the past he did write many endorsements and positive reviews for Sanders’ books).
Second is the reference to the NSA. Apparently (though he has been told repeatedly) Sanders watches way too much TV and doesn’t understand that it is illegal for the NSA to conduct investigations of US Citizens on US soil (that is the FBI’s job). It is simply impossible for an NSA agent to have been investigating Burrese, which means either Sanders is flat-out lying, or one of his well-meaning “friends” or followers is lying to him and he’s choosing to ignore the illegality and improbability of his claim. Of course, Sanders has to say he is withholding the “agent’s” name, because if some real NSA agent actually did this for him, and Sanders named him, that person would go to prison on felony charges. That is simply a fact. In any case, true or not, someone would have to be a fool to do something like this for Sanders because Sanders clearly is incapable of maintaining a confidence.
One of the constants in Sanders’ argument is his many claims of having real evidence supporting what he says…but then steadfastly refusing to produce it. His “secret rank certificate” claims are the stuff of paranoid delusion and for someone with as many “grandmaster” backing him (he claims) it seems odd that no one credible ever comes forward to vouch for him. He claims to have phone recordings, but never posts them. He says he has a mountain of damning documents and screen shots, but apparently he has lost the key to the vault he keeps them in because they never seem to see the light of day and instead he posts fabrications that end up eroding his credibility even further. It’s all very…strange.
Sanders clearly thinks that people should take him at his word. Usually in martial arts, people ARE taken at their word because the system is designed to advance people of integrity and weed out those who are dishonorable. Sanders has been caught in enough contradictions, misrepresentations – and outright lies – that he no longer can expect or demand that consideration. He simply has no credibility, so the only path left for him is to either own up to what he has done and apologize, or start lining up real proof – proof that can be independently verified, doesn’t rely on taking his word for it, or accepting the word of people he’s never met or barely knows – for all his claims, which at this point not only seems unlikely, but is probably impossible.
He ends with:
“I am 99% sure that this response won’t satisfy Dana Stamos or my other haters, but I am 100% sure that I don’t give damn. I did not train to be famous or to take pictures with attention whores. I did not go to school for years and years to impress internet trolls or anyone else for that matter. My training was for me and my education was for me, not for anyone else! If you don’t like it, frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass.
It is only the people in the martial arts community who live for fake hall of fame awards and photos with martial arts celebrities, who calculate everything they do in some vain attempt to make themselves look more important than they are. Normal people, like me, go to school to improve themselves, not to impress other people. They train for their own personal goals, not to impress martial arts trolls.
This is my background and I am good with it. Would it have been nice to train with some of the martial arts pioneers like my friend, Sifu Al Dacascos, earlier in my life when I could do more? Absolutely. But not everyone is in a position to do that. Believe it or not, some people actually put their family first, ahead of martial arts or the next opportunity to play dress up, take photos, and try to prove how important they are. That maybe the martial arts world that Dana Stamos lives in, but it is not mine!
You questioned my honor in one of your little rants, Dana. Well, my honor is 100% intact; although I can’t say the same for yours.
Bohdi Sanders Shihan”
This close says a lot about Sanders. While here he tries to project himself as some sort of modest victim, even the most cursory review of his websites and conduct online reveal him to be someone obsessed with the persona he has created and his connections, status, awards, and titles…so obsessed, he’s willing to set aside his integrity to acquire these things and maintain the image he has created. Hanshi, shihan, 5th/6th/10th dan, winner of a kazzilion hall of fame and book awards, scores of photos of himself at hall of fame events posing with martial arts celebs…that is the real “Bohdi Sanders Shihan” and even here where he is trying his hardest to paint a picture of modesty and himself as some sort of martyr, he just can’t help himself and tacks on a title he could have never have legitimately earned.
He does say something true here, however…which is that everything he does is for him and him alone.
That’s who Bohdi – the Wisdom Warrior – really is.