Fraudulent activity in the martial arts industry has previously been countered by unprofessional mud slinging and frustration from those trying to stop them. Unfortunately, martial arts are probably the worlds most unregulated industry allowing opportunists a crawlspace from which they can establish themselves in the industry. Let’s not pull punches here, individuals that worm there way into the industry have intent, whether it just be to feed their ego’s and create financial profit or worse – to predate on members of the public including children, their intentions and existence is very bad for the martial arts industry and put the reputations of the good industry professionals into question.
In recent times Coach Check have picked up on the following:
- Exposing a serial sexual predator
The predator in question had been working in the martial arts industry for close to 30 years whilst obtaining an invalid pension and earning significant cash money. Although approved by certain industry bodies (and kept on the approved list, even after the accusations were brought to their attention) we needed to follow through because his martial arts certificates just didn’t add up. Not only were dates and timings of certification’s inconsistent, but they were also what we consider invalid because all certificates were either unknown to the person who supposedly issued them, and some could not be validated because the organizations did not exist – ever! This person was clearly smart enough to understand how to work the system.
In the resultant follow through it was not hard to uncover complaints of child grooming and rape and stand over tactics to keep families silent. Whilst this predator had never obtained a working with children check for Australia, he was surprisingly never seriously investigated by Police even though complaints were made. Since being alerted that Coach Check were initiating further investigation he has since closed and vanished.
- Style and Grade Hopping to Gain Advantage!
These traits are not exclusive to one individual. It seems to be commonplace for certain characters to leave a style and join a new organization with the view of becoming a branch chief or branch representative. They promise loyalty and expansion to the new organization whilst hustling for a higher grade, then when they get what they want, they repeat the cycle all over again with another organization.
Coach Check have uncovered several cases where grade hopping is obvious. One case that stands out is where an individual has gone from 4th dan to 5th dan, to 6th dan and hustling for 7th dan all within a 2-year period. Coach Check requirements are such that these anomalies will be picked up and unfortunately being too high in rank at a young age is questionable amongst even the most naïve members of the public.
The important message here is: You do not have to be a high grade to be a great martial arts teacher. Often the opposite applies! Forget feeling you are not good enough because you don’t have a high grade, be proud of what you have right now! Be recognized for your passion as a coach rather than the number of stripes on your belt!
- Bogus Certificates
Presenting Certificate’s where the organization does not appear to have ever existed or the signatories on the certificate are unidentifiable and uncontactable, is usually a red alert. In some case’s signatures of persons deceased prior to the signing of a certificate not surprisingly sets off alarm bells. It doesn’t matter if someone has supposedly given someone permission to use a dead person’s signature, it’s not right, you cannot do it!
Unfortunately, many high-level instructors are using a deceased master’s signature on their organization certificate, but unfortunately for the recipient, raised eyebrows and embarrassment awaits when they show the certificate to some else who understands the dynamic. This can be overcome by asking the organization to reissue the certificate without the illegal signature.
In other less serious cases, the following issues were identified, and remedies put in place to help the coach validate their skills.
- Outdated Certificates
It’s fair to say that the first certificate that we ever earned is one that we hold dear to our heart. It’s the one that defines us and the one that we mount on the wall with pride, and rightly so. However, don’t expect to open a martial arts school based on that certificate from 20 years ago unless you have maintained skills and sought ongoing professional development.
In all professional circles a certificate only remains valid if the recipient can prove that they are current with the latest industry skills and laws of the land. So, it is important to maintain an ongoing record of your achievement/s from year to year to confidently demonstrate “currency” within industry standards.
Coach Check provide the world’s only professional “Coach dashboard” where you can store a comprehensive online list of your skills, achievements, work experience and ongoing professional development.
- Ongoing Professional Development
Every professional industry requires that their members undertake professional development to remain current with industry standards. Failure to do so will see you suspended or removed from that organization. In martial arts it seems that they don’t want to be bothered by this, to be left alone so they can develop their own “martial creativity” – translation, to be free to do whatever they want. This mentality leaves me dumbfounded! The old mantra of “I teach the traditional way” just doesn’t cut it anymore. That’s just like a doctor saying he treats cancer the same way they did in 1920.
Whilst certain aspects of traditional martial arts are still highly valued such as its philosophical elements, we must be willing to adopt the principles of the modern world into our development. For example, recognized “first aid,” understanding the laws that govern all industries such as “child safety,” and what about a basic understanding of coaching principles so we can deliver programs that ensure the positive physical and psychological development of students.
I can assure you that the laws governing safe sport and child protection have evolved to such a point that it is very dangerous to tippy toe around them. If you are concerned with the safety of adult and child students, then you must adopt a culture of continuous learning. There are some amazing professional development courses out there that are highly affordable and even free. The “US Centre for Safe Sport,” and “Play by The Rules” offer very professional and worthwhile courses for anyone to access.
You can upload to your all your professional development certificates to your personal online portal where it remains forever, to serve you as evidence of continuous learning for years to come.
Next time you attend a seminar, or workshop ask the trainer to provide you with a “Statement of Attainment” or a “Certificate of Participation.” Let the trainer know that they can have their workshop registered for Professional Development Points (PDP’s) to help drive more interest in their courses.
Recommendations are an important way of letting the public know who you are, but in the words of others. But when is a recommendation not a recommendation? A recommendation (or testimonial) does not usually stand up if the referee cannot be identified or they are uncontactable. Testimonials are only valid if the referee is a real person. Sadly, in today’s ruthless world of “do or die” marketing, testimonials are used in such a way that it undermines the whole testimonial concept. These testimonials are used to blind side consumers into purchasing a product or service, they are 99.9% of the time, “FALSE” testimonials. The only way to determine if a testimonial is valid is to be able to verify the referee.
Coach Check have created the only system where all references that appear on a coach profile are real. Every “referee” (person writing the testimonial) must create their own profile via a one-time password (OTP) which will identify them before a testimonial can be submitted. The testimonial cannot go live until it is approved by the Coach.
In conclusion: If you haven’t already noticed, the world has changed! Its time to rethink your marketing strategies and instead of looking for the newest marketing funnel to attract clients, you need to go back to basics, get your own back yard in order, put hand on heart and establish integrity and trust in the communities that you serve. Frauds and cheats will continue to be exposed!
By Barry Johnston