What is a Grandmaster???

By Professor Gary Dill

ShoDai / Soke, 10th Dan, Bushido Kempo

 What would you think if “John Doe” had just announced to the world that he was now the President of the United States, even though his present job is working as a clerk in a convenience store. That he had just recently purchased a document from some unknown political organization which stated that he was now President. But if he has a certificate stipulating that he is now President, would that be true? It states so in writing. Wouldn’t you believe it? Of course not, you would think that he is a “wacko.” But do you realize that this happens on a regular basis in the martial arts community. Low ranking black belts, and even colored kyu ranks, are surfacing telling their students and the unsuspecting public that they are now “grandmasters”, they even have a certificate stipulating such (which of course they have recently purchased through some unethical “diploma mill” which make money selling rank certificates of all level to those who do not wish to take the time to earn the rank. They buy these certificates to feed their egos and to build up the marketing for their martial arts program using lies and deception, a training program that they probably made up or stole from their original instructor. Of course the unsuspecting student doesn’t get close to the quality of training since all of “John Doe’s” program is based on his actual skill level, which is usually very weak and his technique is probably poor.

 When one purchases his ‘grandmaster” certificate through the mail or internet, there is no test, no background check, all one has to do is send in the money, and he get the fraudulent certificate. I have seen so many of these fakes surface over the many years that I have been in the martial arts, but recently it has become more prevalent. I know of a guy who was expelled from a legitimate martial arts organization as a brown belt student, and then just 5-6 years later he is claiming to be a “grandmaster”. He has a list of high level black belt ranks listed on his resume now that would take several life times to accomplish if done properly. All of the ranks were purchased from “diploma mills” and it is doubtful that he ever tested for even one of them. Adolf Hitler said that if you tell a lie big enough and long enough people will believe it. This is what happens to the public when they do not check out credentials. There is no government oversight on the martial arts, so what we have is a problem of consumer fraud. But there is another problem, fakes like this erode the integrity and the image of the legitimate martial arts community.

 In order to combat this activity, the World Head of Family Soke-ship Council was formed ten years ago. The WHFSC is the world’s largest grandmaster organization comprised of over 250 members of all different martial arts systems from the US and the international martial arts community. Some of the most famous martial artists in the world are members of the WHFSC.

 The Council has set up a procedure for recognizing Grandmasters. The candidate must submit his credentials to the Council Screening Committee, then they are required to stand in front of the WHFSC recognition Board at its annual meeting in Orlando. At that time the candidate will have an oral board, and then is required to present his system to the Board (physical testing). If the candidate meets all of the criteria set up by the Council, then he is accepted into its membership and is recognized as a grandmaster. If you think the pressure is on when you take a black belt test, think about taking a GM test in front of a board of Grandmasters. LOL

 The Council is headed by Grandmaster Frank Sanchez. I am honored to be the “Head Advisor” to GM Sanchez and the “Head of the WHFSC Screening Committee” and will continue to serve at his pleasure. Some of the Council’s members are Wally Jay, Peter Urban, Steven K. Hayes, Helio Gracie, Rorian Gracie, Lou Angel, Jim Arvanitis, Adriano Emperado, Mas Hatsumi, Richard Kim, Kang Rhee, Ed Parker, Ron Van Clief, Yip Chun, and many many more.

 As legitimate grandmaster members of the WHFSC, we intend to maintain our high standards of martial arts excellence and integrity, and continue to set an example to the world as to what is a true representation of a martial arts Grandmaster.

Prof. Gary Dill



  These frauds happen on a local level as well. Instructors who never qualify for an instructor position at their own school can simply write a check and become an instructor or school owner. They find a home with the unethical money driven organizations. Its completely amazing to me that someone can claim to be an instructor when their credentials came from some person that never even witnessed one of their testings. This person who issued them the credentials cannot  vouch for their true rank or instructor skills. This is the most unethical aspect of fraudulent Martial Arts. The prospective student is who really loses.  Its unfortunate and sad that naive students can be duped by these organizations, fraudulent instructors and Grandmasters. It eventually works itself out because they typically cannot retain students. Their students eventually realize the fraud.

 A little research and you can find out that a Grandmaster  rose to his supposed level in a ridiculously short amount or time. You can also find out the supposed Grandmaster is being ranked by another Grandmaster of a completely different style. This should raise a red flag.  A little research on the Internet and you can find out a great deal about someone's reputation and history. Naive students can be fooled and its a shame. Those that do their homework will find out who the frauds are. Their fraudulent schools and organizations eventually work their way out of style and they shrivel and die. They are found out by their students and their students move on to more reputable schools and organizations. In the true order of nature, the weak and flawed eventually get thinned out of the herd.