Monday, 24 September 2007

Fake karate certificates: how to distinguish fradulent karate diplomas

The fake certificate sent to me (compare to Asai Sensei's writing below).
I've republished this article, which I originally posted in 2007, as in 2013 I joined the JKA (Japan Karate Association). Accordingly, I’ve done this to avoid confusing my readers (via adding this introduction). It is important to note that in 2007 I’d already been out of the Japan Karate Shotorenmei (JKS) for a year. You will notice that I’ve also reposted the article on the same date—as it was originally posted—to avoid any possibility of confusion. Furthermore, I have cropped the photo down, of me holding the false certificate, to avoid people from using the image in a negative manner.
Lastly, I have added the image of my `second Godan certificate’ from Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei… I have done this because he gave me two 5th Dan diplomas. One being the standard one with the gold seal (this was not in the original article), and the second certificate, which is in his own handwriting. This better serves the purpose of the original article; that is, “…to show what authentic certification of Asai Sensei looks like in comparison to a fake”. Moreover, to emphasise that karate, and the martial arts world in general, is full of false qualifications; nonetheless, there is a comprehensive means to identify fraudulent diplomas, and fraudulent instructors. – André Bertel (August 4th, 2014).
Here is an authentic diploma from Asai Sensei. It is blatantly clear that the certificate shown above this one is fake.


Last year I formally resigned from the JKS (Japan Karate Shotorenmei); however, not long after my resignation I was sent a dodgy certificate from an individual who is planning to start their own Asai Karate organisation (and wishes me to be involved). Needless to say, in the context of karate, I immediately lost all respect for this person.

The certificate is obviously fraudulent—by a quick glance—when one looks at the writing and signature (when comparing the writing to my JKS 5th Dan certificate handwritten by Asai Shihan).

My informal experiment: For interest sake, as a fun experiment (prior to moving back to Japan), I decided to check if my senior students in New Zealand would immediately detect that the certificate was indeed fake. My notion was that, as senior karateka—who have personally acquired grades from Asai Sensei—they would easily recognise that the certificate was bogus. I framed the cert nicely and put it next to one of my authentic diplomas, which as you can see has Asai Sensei’s calligraphy. However, to my shock, my senior students all failed to notice that the certificate was fake!!! When I told them they were very surprised…

I’d like to use this point to elucidate that false certification is rampant in the karate world, and martial arts world in general; moreover, even highly experienced dan graded karateka outside of Japan, are tricked by such certification.

Remember, never trust at piece of paper, especially when it comes to the martial arts: irrespective of how much you respect a person or `think' they are good.  

Here’s two simple of ways to verify the authenticity of karate qualifications:

1.      The certificate is issued by either of Japan’s two official organisations (not the NPO groups, which can be formed by anyone who pays and has a few supporters). To confirm, Japan’s two OFFICIAL KARATE ORGANISATIONS are: (1) the JKA (Japan Karate Association)—Budo Karate; and (2) the JKF (Japan Karate Federation)—which is primarily sports karate but, unlike the majority of WKF affiliated national federations, also supports budo groups (who access official status through them).

2.      The technical ability of the person concerned. Along with the above mentioned certification, the instructor must reflect their grade in technical skill, knowledge, experience, the capacity to use their karate in the real world, and teaching ability.

 In sum, fake certificates are prevalent in karate and the martial arts, it is sad but a reality. If a certificate is presented to you, or you can see it, the chances are that you wont be able to establish its authenticity (as based on my little experiment even my senior students, who knew Asai Sensei personally, couldn’t). Therefore, rather than rely on paper, use the above two points to verify peoples qualifications/authenticity. Indeed, this can also be verified by contacting either the JKA or JKF. Osu, André Bertel.
I have added this diploma to supplement the original article. Please note Sensei's signature (in Kanji) in comparison to the fake certificate. 
© André Bertel, Japan 2007.

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