Open Letter to Fraudulent Black Belts

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To whom it may concern,

For you, the obsessive need for credit and attention compounds with a lack of honor and an abundance of deceit to commit the despicable act that the military has deemed ‘stolen valor’. Your troubled soul thrives in a fraudulent world where the only credentials required are a high ranking uniform and a ‘fake it ‘til ya make it’ attitude.

As Jiu-Jitsu continues its meteoric rise in popularity, the art form has seen a similar increase in the number of your fellow fraudulent black belts being exposed. You have claimed legitimacy without actually enduring the lengthy and often grueling journey involved with such a prestigious status. For shame!

By now you should be getting an unsettling feeling in your gut. Your biggest fear of being discovered as a fraud is finally unfolding. All of the false credit that you have taken and each lie told to every training partner is now coming back to stare you in the face.

The time has come for you to explain yourself.

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On second thought… SAVE IT!

There is no sort of excuse sufficient enough to pardon such a facade. Multiple lives have been put at risk by simply sharing a mat with such a dangerous hazard. If you feel like the term ‘hazard’ is a bit of a harsh assessment then you must be oblivious to the actual dangers that correlate to training with pseudo-black belts. Allow me to shed some light on the ways in which your presence hurts more than it helps.

When you have improper techniques being taught by unqualified imposters the results can be a false sense of skill set. This delusion can lead to devastating results if one must rely on said skills in a survival situation. I became aware of this when I attended your Tae Kwon Do Dojang for my physical education elective in college.

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At the time, I was a white belt in Jiu-Jitsu at a vetted local academy. It took me about two minutes on the internet to discover that my instructor, Frank Cucci, was a legitimate black belt under Pedro Sauer, who is a product of Rickson Gracie. I doubt you know who any of those guys are since you’ve been faking the funk this whole time…

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I attended your first few classes and they were exactly as I anticipated; a lot of forms and stances and a basic introduction to the art of Tae Kwon Do. You are a legitimate black belt in terms of Tae Kwon Do; however, during the fourth class you claimed that we were going to be learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

I was surprised that you felt you had the credentials to teach BJJ knowing that black belts are not transferable between disciplines. People cross train all of the time so I gave you the benefit of the doubt and assumed that you were versed in both.

I noticed something was awry when the techniques on display were mostly ‘forced’ and ignored even the most basic fundamentals such as ‘shrimping’ and positional control. I asked you if your Dojang offers that version of BJJ to your regular students to which you boasted that you did. Once I divulged my white belt experience, you in turn invited me to come and ‘spar’ with your black belts during your Friday class. I agreed to attend your ‘BJJ sparring’ class even though it was not required as part of my class elective because I had to see what was going on.

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I showed up sans Gi and we started with basic warm up drills which seemed to add legitimacy to your program. I opted to go first. Your students formed a line and one by one I ran the gauntlet submitting each student in less than two minutes. You basically threw your unprepared students to the wolves, a no stripe white belt. If I weren’t such a nice guy I could have easily hurt them and continued on with my day. Normally I would feel good about getting the subs but something just felt wrong about the whole thing.

I saw the struggle on your face as you refused to accept that a mere white belt had starched your entire class. You then insisted that I teach a brief crash course on a standard armbar from the guard. I was willing to share my limited knowledge for no other reason than the fact that your students had been learning ‘poor man’s Jiu-Jitsu’ and I felt compelled to show them what actual technique looked like.

Thankfully, you decided not to teach anymore BJJ to my specific class and stuck to Tae Kwon Do for the remainder of my semester. I hope you learned a lesson that day.

I still think about your students and whether or not they have a false sense of ability from the rudimentary techniques that you have taught to them. If they tried those moves in a street fight would they be effective? Or would the lack of fundamentals shine through like an early morning sun piercing through a crack in the bedroom blinds? Such gaps in ability could render the students vulnerable to attacks without proper technical answers.

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I’m not sure if you were scamming people or if you legitimately thought you were teaching technical skill; either way, unqualified instructors instilling a false sense of confidence into their students, as far as skill set goes, is a recipe for disaster and should be labeled ‘dangerous’ at best.

This is why you must stop pretending to be able to teach that which you do not know. Stop taking money from people under a false pretense. Stop giving people a false belief in faulty techniques before you hurt somebody.

Now not all of you fake black belts are instructors. Some of you parade around academies disguised as knowledgeable training partners and that can be dangerous in and of itself. Anyone who has been on the mat can attest to the importance of relying on training partners and instructors to help keep them safe in a martial art form in which serious bodily injury can and does occur. Now I know your inner fakeness wants to make the argument that if I, a faux black belt, am just training and not instructing then what harm can I really be doing?

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The truth is that black belts are looked to by lower ranking artists for guidance, safety tips, and insight to technical advancement.

How can you provide accurate guidance on a journey that you have never taken? How can you know the safest ways to train without having seen or experienced them firsthand? How in the world can you provide tech tips and teach someone else something that you didn’t take the time to learn yourself?

The answer is you cannot. There is a good chance of getting lost by taking direction from someone like you who has never travelled the road. In fact, without experience, safety tips can go by the wayside and the chances of sustaining a training related injury severely increase.

Placing trust in someone with false experience seems inevitably dangerous. Would you want to trust your health to a doctor who claims legitimacy without actually putting in the time to hone their craft? No way!

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I’m not saying you have to train with black belts but I trust that the black belts at my school have been around the block a time or two. I trust that they are knowledgeable on matters such as how hard to train, specific safety related do’s and don’ts, and pointing out technical flaws that could lead to injury.

These tips are especially invaluable to those with limited experience and those that are new to the game. If you have not put in the time and work necessary then you will not possess this crucial information let alone be able to pass on this information to other training partners.

Aside from completely removing honor from a community that is built around such merit, there are real physical dangers associated with learning from and training with you and your fake credentials. Recently, a multitude of stories and videos have surfaced in which some of your fellow self-proclaimed black belts are confronted and ousted as being fraudulent. A fair percentage of said imposters were then excommunicated from their respective schools and publically shunned in the BJJ community… and rightfully so.

Dojo Storming An Alleged Fake Black Belt

Video: Fake Black Belt Outed And Was Asked To Remove The Belt

Statement from UFC GYM Program Directot On Fake Black Belt Incident

The journey to black belt status comes with great sacrifice. Any false representation of such merit is directly disrespectful to those that have achieved such status, those on the journey, and to the Jiu-Jitsu art form itself.

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Fret not faker for you may find solace within the Jiu-Jitsu community. The time has come for you to relinquish that worthless belt of blackness as you dry those weighted tears of deceit. Absolve yourself from the shroud of fraudulence by simply donning a white belt and attending a vetted Jiu-Jitsu class for beginners. Earn your way to the black belt status but keep in mind that you should be chasing techniques and not belts.

Sincerely,

Every artist that keeps it real

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Twitter- @TheEddieMercado

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