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#363681 - 10/05/07 11:21 AM Re: What are YOUR 'karate credentials'? [Re: harlan]
Joss Offline

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 567

Guys...remember...this thread is about what 'credentials' means to you. 'You should check out their credentials' was the advice given to clueless parents looking to enroll their kids in karate. So, going on that, if someone comes to your door looking for them, it's obvious that different folks are going to have different understandings of what 'credentials' means.

For someone like me, it comes down to word of mouth reputation/recommendaton with a follow up on the mat. I didn't ask about 'papers', thought it was rather...'rude' enquire about rank. It didn't occur for me ask about style, lineage, who is your teacher, etc. Actually, starting MA completely blind...the single most important criteria was...behavior. As an adult learner, I had the luxury of being able to closely observe others in class - student/teacher dynamics and learn about them as people. Did I like what I saw, observed, and sensed about the them? If I was a parent, enrolling a child, it would be harder to nail down these intangible aspects that are important to me.


Regarding your orignal topic, I see now that paper "credentials" would be meaningless to any person new to the arts (and many within them). Telling the parents of a six year old to "check the teacher's credentials" is worthless.

First off they haven't a clue as to what piece of paper they are looking at. Second, they haven't a clue as to whether the credentials are real. Third, they have no MA lineage context within which to place the information, even if they DID understand it. And last, the paper in no way guarantees or even implies, that the holder is a good teacher and decent person.

A six year old's parents would have been served much better by being told to watch some classes (direct observation) and talk to other parents (reputation).

#363682 - 10/05/07 11:32 AM Re: What are YOUR 'karate credentials'? [Re: MattJ]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas


Hello Matt:

With regret, I must disagree with sparring as being "credentials". It presupposes the person who "wins" is the teacher, no? Irrelevent to me who wins bad days, injuries happen... I need to see who looses, specifically how they respond to loosing!!!!

Winning is simple, how you loose says far more important things...IMHO!


Ehhhh.....Ok. I will quote myself:


If one is simply looking to learn fight skills, then the only credential the teacher needs is to be able to beat your a$$.

Implied was the ability to consistently win in sparring. I guess I should have been more clear. That is the most valid indicator of fighting skill, period. I am assuming that people studying fighting arts are doing so to gain skill in fighting.

How you lose is more important though Matt. What about that? Huh? Yeah, so anyways I learned martial arts to learn how to lose my sparring matches with utmost sportsmanship and humility. Anytime a student wants to train with me I simply let them beat my ass, then I shake their hand and we begin our first lesson.
* snicker snicker*
The2nd ammendment, it makes all the others possible. <///<

#363683 - 10/05/07 11:52 AM Re: What are YOUR 'karate credentials'? [Re: bearich]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772

First, saying which of these organizations trumps another would be a circular arguement either side could make. The style was given to Nagamine's son at the time of his death. However, Taba (and a few other Matsubayashi masters) were of higher rank and had more training under Nagamine at the time. Whether more weight is given to rank and time training or who heads the parent style is a debate either side can justify.

exactly my point. association says nothing as to ability, understanding or propegation of the essence.

before any others protecting their interests swoop down on the thread - I'm not pointing out faults or questioning the people mentioned or the organizations referenced. I'm illustrating with example the fallacy of relying upon 'credentials on paper' as oppossed to actual experience with the Art.

harlan, sorry to have misinterpreted the spirit of your thread.

problems with using association/affiliation/organization as a credential - Some that are new are excellent. some that are long-established are poor. and vice-versa. some are certificate mills, some have strict standards. some have 'direct lineage' with poor representation of that lineage. some have indirect lineage with a more complete transmission of the essence.

...and then all the grey in-between. To someone just coming into the MA world, paper credentials don't mean a whole lot, but at the same time, too much.

I'd say the best credential a newbie can consider is the vibe they get after a 5 minute conversation with the instructor.

#363684 - 10/05/07 11:54 AM Re: What are YOUR 'karate credentials'? [Re: harlan]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
'karate credentials'

If we are talking about an adult class then for me the following is a really good guide,

1. is the actulal training fit for it's suggested 'purpose', example sports, self defence or life development ? Is it a combination of these or is it specific, is it something else?

2. does the instructor have good general life experience and specific experience in the above?

3. is the instructor basically a good guy/gal, no need for huge spiritual journeys really, is it someone you can be in a student-teacher 'relasionship' with long term (that doesn't mean you have to like them all the time), someone you can trust, rely on ?

4. does the instructor walk the walk, or do they talk the talk ? It's important for an instructor to lead by good technical/ability example, within reason of course.
Jim Neeter

#363685 - 10/05/07 12:07 PM Re: What are YOUR 'karate credentials'? [Re: Ed_Morris]
butterfly Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA

...and then all the grey in-between. To someone just coming into the MA world, paper credentials don't mean a whole lot, but at the same time, too much.

I'd say the best credential a newbie can consider is the vibe they get after a 5 minute conversation with the instructor.

Exactly! But here's the problem: The new, potential student has no way of gauging sincerity from a huckster, and the trappings of officialdom that some less official folk want to attach themselves to bring about an implication of lineage, will not be understood or known by the newbie.

They will see this as the regular way things are and may not be in a position to gauge ability.

It's the same thing that happens if you are in a McDojo and BBs are awarded after 1-3 years as the norm, and you think this is standard practice. Therefore, it's not a problem to have 5th degree BB who has been studing for 10 years and are 15 years old. You digest what is being presented and it becomes the defacto sensibility that you measure all other disciplines by.

It's to the new student that traceable lineage needs to be ascertained and to the new student who must needs be more careful since an eye to see ability may not be developed either.

#363686 - 10/05/07 12:12 PM Re: What are YOUR 'karate credentials'? [Re: butterfly]
oldman Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5884

Therefore, it's not a problem to have 5th degree BB who has been studing for 10 years and are 15 years old.

We prefer our students not start studing until they are of legal age, if at all.

#363687 - 10/05/07 12:26 PM Re: What are YOUR 'karate credentials'? [Re: shoshinkan]
Neko456 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 01/18/05
Posts: 3260
Loc: Midwest City, Ok, USA
I don't think its rude to ask for credentials if you know what you are talking about or looking for. For a parent to ask why should I let you teach my child? I think is a valid question. I usually tell them the benifit of health, fitness and respect, stop one of the similar age green belts or 7 kyu. Have the parent touch the stomach and arms of his (joy stix pushing) child, then use his index finger and touch the students. Watch and listen how the student addresses his elders. Usually that sells them. Learning to fight is just part of the whole.

I'm on board with credentials here in the USA start and stop with the immediate or senior Instructor, if directly linked. I've seen some dojos that are linked by sanction with the head Sensei traveling from Okinawa (or within the USA) to the satellite/branch dojos, breed soild technicains. If directly linked not a visiting instructor.

Though mail order sanctioned dojos may not follow the technicail standards when the certificate is mail ordered & not directly linked. Usually direct linked/branch dojos/Instructors follow the protocol of good effective techniques and sometimes ethics.

Bottom line imho, credentials have gone full circle and back to the way it was, you are as good as your training effort and teachining. I know plenty of Instructors that have trained students/now Senseis, that are far better then they were in their prime, and I know some students that are now teachers that couldn't carry their old Sensei jock strap in his prime. Theres some pride to be taken either way.

Your training efforts eventually becomes your credentials not what you got on the wall or who your teacher is or was. Its what you've sharpened and horned.

Some people have solid credentials but have stopped training years ago, so are they still effective? The knowledge can't be taken away but the timing and effective skill can and does diminished.

Edited by Neko456 (10/05/07 12:32 PM)

#363688 - 10/05/07 04:28 PM Re: What are YOUR 'karate credentials'? [Re: Blackrainbow]
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
I think the bottom line is ability trumphs any "paper" you can produce to prove your credentials. In fact, if one uses this "paper" to justify their credentials rather than their ability or that of their students, something is seriously wrong.

As far as buying certificates and dues and such that exists in EVERY organization. I know for a fact that it is/was a part of Shogen Ryu as well. That's not an insult, but its just a part of the politics of EVERY organization. If you are a part of one and believe these things do not exist you are fooling yourself.
Dulaney Dojo

#363689 - 10/05/07 04:31 PM Re: What are YOUR 'karate credentials'? [Re: medulanet]
hedkikr Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 02/28/05
Posts: 2827
Loc: Southern California, USA
"Credentials? I don't need no stinkin' credentials"

#363690 - 10/05/07 05:48 PM Re: What are YOUR 'karate credentials'? [Re: Ed_Morris]
Saisho Offline
more than just a pretty face

Registered: 06/26/06
Posts: 620
Loc: Dayton, Ohio
Marcel, I don't think Ed is attacking me. I appreciate his opinions and his knowledge. He is wrong on a few things and uneducated on a few.

First, I have said that I don't think you can give karate credentials except for what you can do and sometimes people can't even see what you are showing them.

Are there Shogen-Ryu dojos in Okinawa? Yes. Maeda Sensei, Tamaki Sensei, Tokashiki Sensei and Ikehara Sensei. Shiroma Sensei had one, but I think he is retired.

Mastin is not in Dayton. He is in Cincinnati and I speak with him often.

I did train with some of the self appointed masters. While they are self appointed masters, they did receive legitimate rank from Osensei (some as high as 7th-Dan). As I mentioned, there is no way for me to 'prove' to anyone that I train directly with Taba Sensei.

Are there any unskilled people in Shogen-Ryu? Yes. However, Taba Sensei does not grant dojo licenses to people until he has seen them for an extended period and believes they meet his standard. No one I have met from Okinawa is without a great deal of skill.

Who promoted him? I believe it was Miyahira Sensei, President of the All Okinawa Shorin-Ryu.

As for Takayoshi Sensei 'Trumping' Taba Sensei.... Yes, Takayoshi was given the system, but at that time he was an 8th-Dan (although he claimed 9th) and not even a member of the board. Taba Sensei was the only active 9th-Dan, the President of Matsubayashi-Ryu and had been the President for many years prior to Osensei's passing.

Shogen-Ryu is rather new. The three people that started it are certainly not. Taba Sensei, Tamaki Sensei and SHiroma Sensei are very well known. Also, I agree that new orgs. sometimes recruit by giving rank. Taba Sensei refuses to do so and we have had people want to join and then get upset because they were not immediately promoted. One in particular left and ended up getting his 7th. No one knows from where.

In fact, I am only a 5th-Dan and I am in the top 10 ranking people.

Lastly, just because a person is an M.D., does not mean they know a lot about physical anatomy. Depending on their field, they may know a lot or the may know very little and know a lot about diseases and medicine.

Knowing how long a person has trained with an instructor is not a very good credential either. I have learned more in the past 5 years of training with Taba Sensei than I did in my first 15+. My first instructor was very good, but it was still night and day. Lineage is a good indicator of skill if you can legitimately trace it back (and what prospects would do that).
Tony Partlow Shogen-Ryu Karate-Do Minamoto Shibu Dojo

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