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#355488 - 08/16/07 02:23 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Great. Sounds like the visit went well and there are no hard feelings. Did the subject of what he was planning on teaching come up during the conversation? I'm not sure we ever really established what style he was planning on teaching and what his connection to that style was. Last I checked it wasn't really clear on the website.
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#355489 - 08/16/07 02:29 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
No, we didn't really get into the sword class itself.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
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#355490 - 08/16/07 06:02 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
Dereck Offline
Prolific

Registered: 10/04/04
Posts: 10413
Loc: Great White North
Forgive me for coming into this late, and jpoor I honestly feel for you. You were excited about taking these classes and you are also exciting in getting a new sword. You took the time to try to find out more about your sword to only find out that it was not legit. Now I read the Instructor purchased it back from you which certainly is a step in the right direction.

My thing is this. He teaches swords but does he not know anything about them himself? Could not he for many years being around them recognize fake swords? That it took you to bring this to light for him to react? It almost feels like he is trying to save face and is doing damage control by doing what he has done. I honestly think that if somebody on the internet ( http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=82124 ) can see that it is a fake, would not he have? He uncrated them, he unboxed them, he held them in his own hands, and he gave them out. Would not he have known they were fake? Wouldn't he?
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#355491 - 08/16/07 09:36 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Dereck]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
The criteria he was judging by were : Full tang+ real ray skin + kanji on the tang = real sword. He showed me his Paul Chen sword which he assesses to be a Piece of crap (fake ray skin, plastic pin, gangly fittings, etc). I have to say the sword he showed me did look pretty bad, mine looked nicer, but looks are deceiving.

My thoughts were pretty much the same, I feel he _should_ have known. That said, he has told me that he has no excuse for his "ignorance" (his word, not mine), but that he never really bothered to learn about the swords themselves, rather, just how to use them. I choose to believe him, for to do anything else would just make me angry and upset again. That is certainly not the way _I_ would have done things for all those years, and I don't want to be on the floor with 15 other people who may be just a clueless about the safety issues and quality of their swords. In the end, he thanked me for bringing the issues to light, and in turn pointed them out to the other students in the class. That is more than a lot of people would have done. Many folks would have just told me "ok, you want to quit, don't let the door hit ya where your maker split ya." Instead, he has talked to me at length, invited me to return when I feel like it and even bought back my uniforms (who has ever heard of that?). I am not that important to the school in the scheme of things.

If he was truly as uneducated on that particular aspect as he said, then he has learned something. If not, then I have lost nothing more by choosing to take him at his word.
Looking back, I may have fallen into the trap of believing that "the instructor doesn't make mistakes in or out of the dojo." Using that flawed logic, when there was an issue, if it wasn't a mistake it had to be malicious. I suppose I"ve learned something too.
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

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#355492 - 08/16/07 10:27 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
I can't really see how he can be a well trained instructor in a Japanese Sword Art, and not have learned some basics about swords. You can't train with real swords for any length of time and not learn how to spot certain signs of very poor quality, like a loose wrap. You also can't really be well trained in a genuine sword art, and not be aware of certain things, like the cost of decent training tools.

If these swords were genuine antiques which were in good enough shape to be used for training, they should not have come particularly cheap. $800+ is pretty much the super low end of acceptable training tools, and those are newly manufactured swords from reputable Chinese companies. I imagine antique swords which were actually in good enough condition to be used in training would be considerably more expensive. Japanese swords appreciate in value over time so long as they remain in good condition, and newly smithed Japanese blades START in the $4000 range. That's for a sword made by an apprentice with some less than perfect attributes.

This instructor says he teaches an art which proscribes that new students go straight from bokuto to shinken. One would assume that he would have some knowledge of usable training tools. The fact that he got taken in this way, and it was up to a student to discover the problems... Well that's just troubling and doesn't bode well for the quality of instruction.

Clearly I know nothing whatsoever of his JSA training credentials. I haven't been able to find any reference to his training history with regards to any particular style of JSA. He might be a truly reputable instructor from some obscure Japanese Koryu with great ties back to Japan. Then again he could be introducing a version of Aikiken. Or he could just be making something up that works with the Aiki principles that he might really be fantastic at. There simply is no way to know for sure based on the information available. But there are more than a few red flags about this whole thing.

The fact that he has offered to buy back the sword and has been very concilliatory about the whole thing goes to show that he is a nice guy, or at the very least image concious, but it still leaves a lot of red flags floating around.


[edit]BTW, I think we can rule out strong ties back to a Japanese koryu organization. The teacher in question officially took on the title of Soke in the summer of 2005 in an official awards ceremony. That's another red flag.


Edited by Charles Mahan (08/16/07 10:41 PM)
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Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#355493 - 08/16/07 11:10 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
Tashigae Offline
Mister Bendy

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 690
Loc: Samarobriva, Gallia
Quote:

I choose to believe him




I too would think he has given sufficient token of his good will to right the wrongs done, to deserve this belief. As you pointed out, few people would have gone to the lengths he did to correct what had happened. And his ignorance of genuine swords is perfectly believable: the rule of thumb generally applied within the EIF (European Iai Federation) is that one should only start handling a live blade around 4th dan or so. So the vast majority of practitioners, including a fair number of instructors, have never even touched a shinken - leave alone a true antique.

On the other hand, for the same reason, this idea of ordering a number of antiques from Japan for students that he insists should use live blades (and not any live blades but bloody antiques!) from day one, is one of the fishiest stories I've ever heard. I would take it as ample proof of his being in the con, IF he hadn't displayed such good will to fix things afterwards. But since it seems he's not, I think that the only other possible explanation for this most strange policy of his is that he has little knowledge of how things are done in the trade, and thus, most probably, too little experience in it to teach IMVHO.

Of course I may very well be wrong, having never met the man and merely speculating over a few data obtained through an Internet forum.I'm certainly less qualified to judge than you.
But from what you've told me, my opinion is that the steps he has taken after you've discovered the blades were fake are a rather rare feat of honesty indeed, no matter what mistakes he's made; and such honesty would earn him my respect (if not necessarily my trust for instruction). I think you've made the right choice.
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#355494 - 08/16/07 11:11 PM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
E-budo has a forum specifically for this kind of stuff. I have posted a thread there and asked the wider JSA community for any info they can share on the instructor.

Unfortunately due to some upgrade efforts underway at E-budo you have to already be an E-budo member in order to read the forums, and the registration form is down.

For those of you who already have ebudo accounts, here's the link to the post I just made.

http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=37713
_________________________
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#355495 - 08/17/07 07:16 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Thank you, Mr. Mahan, for doing that.

Have to say, from observations of some members, and private pms, there is something...cultish...about this group. I hope some former members will be willing to go public about a dojo that seems to say a lot on the internet...and yet...curiously...not much at all.

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#355496 - 08/17/07 09:07 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: Charles Mahan]
jpoor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 726
Loc: Fairfax, VA
Quote:

E-budo has a forum specifically for this kind of stuff. I have posted a thread there and asked the wider JSA community for any info they can share on the instructor.

Unfortunately due to some upgrade efforts underway at E-budo you have to already be an E-budo member in order to read the forums, and the registration form is down.

For those of you who already have ebudo accounts, here's the link to the post I just made.

http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=37713





Can't read it, not a member
_________________________
Don't let the white belt fool you. . .
I know even less than you might think.

Best,
Jim

Top
#355497 - 08/17/07 09:25 AM Re: My sword got here :D [Re: jpoor]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Nothing conclusive yet. Just someone who thought it was wierd to incorporate Tode(an old name for karate) into Aikibujutsu.
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Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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