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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Charlatans


I used to wonder about charlatans.

As a traditional martial art teacher, you see a lot of them. They pop up like weeds in what once was a pristine lawn of real, trained, professionals. The result is, of course, people learn and promote junk technique, and will get themselves and others hurt, trying to perform this stuff in the real world.

These days, there is a new breed of this phony. They wrap themselves in ambiguity, innuendo – or even go so far as to wrap themselves in a uniform.  Then they show up at community events.

It’s no longer cool enough to be a martial artist – now, these maggots have to be SEALS.

A recent “Thank You Soldiers” tribute in Thousand Oaks, California drew some meatball named Salhem Dreasden, replete in a Naval officer’s uniform complete with a trident. Of course, he was a fake, but he’s not alone.

A friend of mine relentlessly pursued the true history of a guy claiming to be a professional martial art teacher and – you guessed it –a SEAL. He is neither thing, but has managed to convince members of the press, a local law enforcement community – and many others, simply because no one looked closely enough.

My perspective: he was apparently compensating for something.

It’s everywhere – and it’s going to get worse.

I once visited a martial arts school where they gathered around in a comfortable circle at the end of practice and exchanged lovely stories about how compassionate and forgiving and gentle, etc., their original teachers were. I don’t know if they did this to determine my background – or if they do that kind of stroking regularly there, but when asked, I gave them the truth:

My training was painful, is still ongoing after decades – as I will always view myself as a student – and my teachers were anything but compassionate. They were hard men who scared the crap out of me, and to this day, I am very careful when I am on the mat with them. Practices were a slice of Hell. Earning my 1st Dan (first degree black belt) was the culmination of a decade of work, and one of the greatest honors of my life. Bones broke, joints dislocated, and I did all of it in a foreign country while serving in the Air Force with the 501st Tactical Missile Wing. Look it up – a nuclear missile system, which helped bring an end to the Cold War.

The practices were hard and uncompromising. I’d pay real money to be that young and do all of it again.

Of course, the greatest single honor of my life was finding my wife and knowing my children. Following that – I was fortunate to serve in the U.S. military. I was a Sergeant. I was no one important. I served with people who were important - they were great men and women back then – and would become greater in time. The military was often hard and uncompromising.

I loved it and would give away a lot just to wear the uniform one more time. And although I often dream of it - that will never happen.

But what is guaranteed to happen is this: Today or tomorrow, I’ll bump into an alleged 10th Degree such-and-such at the grocery store, or online. I’ll get to hear bullshit stories from some dweeb who is so insecure, he has to fabricate a background. They are like lint or pillballs, I can’t keep them off of me – away from me. I have been coated in these creatures for decades.

I know how sick it makes me feel. And I know how disgusted it makes others feel, but I have to wonder what that says about us as a people? Are so many people so insignificant – so worthless – that they have to become a lie?

They can – of course – never be reached for comment.

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For the fakes, I have this to say:            Grow a pair. 

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