How can I tell if my Karate Sensei is legit?

I have been attending a Karate class for the past 3 months, the training seems good and most of us in the class have passed our first grading.

The problem I am having with this is that myself and many others have payed for our licence but have no proof of it, on paying for my grading he told me that in the next couple of weeks I would recieve a letter to confirm this so far myself and no-one else has recieved this.

He has insisted on puchasing suits, mits and pads through him and many of us have payed him months ago for this and each week another poor excuse has been given as to why he hasnt got them yet!

Although I enjoy doing it and feel that my own self confidence has grown I feel more and more like he is a conman of sorts.

Can anyone tell me of an official body that could perhaps get in touch with myself or even better to come down to a class to speak / assess him so that the matter can be resolved.

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16 Responses to How can I tell if my Karate Sensei is legit?

  1. professor_perv says:

    Yeah, your style will have its own governing body – most have websites – just google it.
    e.g. wado-ryu, shukokai, shotokan all have national web pages.

  2. Googlyworm says:

    Sounds a bit like a McDojo if you ask me.

    Any paperwork that he gives you should have a logo/header with the governing body printed on it.

    Get in touch with them.

    If he’s not covered by any governing body – be suspicious

    The fact that he’s insisting you buy the equipment through him gets the alarm bells ringing too, so long as you’ve got the correct stuff, it doesn’t matter where you buy them from. He’s trying to make profit off you which is unethical to say the least

  3. erik l says:

    Ask him to break the ” Bottom Brick”.

    that wil reveal all.

  4. Northern Lad says:

    I was going to say: “mention your doubt about him to the police and mention that he may be a fraud.”
    But that would be like talking to multiple brick walls.

  5. satan h says:

    about your license that’s a load of crap you do not need your hands and feet licensed until you are at a masters level so you have gotton ripped off if you have any receipts for items you have paid for and not received then and only then can you take him to court and sue for your loss what style of Karate does he teach and on his certificate what is the name of the organization that he is registered through find out this info and then you can go to them
    sorry to be the Bear of bad news but at least you know what to look for next time

    I hope I have helped

  6. shootersway says:

    A few big indicators he doesn’t spar with his students if he does he gets angry because they score a point here and there.This means he equates dojo sparring with real fighting which indicates he is all ego and a rank amateur.Pushs tournament technique above good self defense methods.
    He cant show technique at all 4 ranges kicking /punching/ kneeing elbowing /locking throwing/ .
    Gives really bad explanations of KATA movements and doesn’t know there are throws and locks hidden in all kata.

    Having said the above I have met sensei who can do and know and teach all of the above who dont have registration with any world body and some who have hi rank with world governing bodys that dont know any of the above.

    However the aspect of not producing goods for money paid and you must buy from him has MCDOJO written all over it.

  7. ron d says:

    The longest it takes for equipment to ship is 4 to 6 weeks. that is when the order is for an entire classroom. Even if there were some xxxl sizes mixed in, partial order would ship. You need to google your instructor. If you are worried about being licensed remember, a white belt can’t fight after dark and must have at least a brown belt present when thwarting criminal activity!

  8. havasi_mark says:

    Learning martial arts for money is just that: you have to pay a regular fee for classes. If there is a sports association with administration staff and events behind the school, then a yearly fee would be adequate (not more than about a month’s class fee).
    Whatever else you are required to pay for is a sham. If what they teach is unique, then it might be a conscious decision to do it anyway – it that is the only way to learn good stuff. (I did that myself – there’s nobody else to teach the style I chose openly within 500 km’s from me but where I learned).
    If what they teach is just your general stuff, you’d be better off finding another school. Now that you’re wiser it might be easier than it was the first time.
    You can visit to find examples of defacing self-made masters. There’s also advice there on identifying whether your instructor is legit or no.

  9. Shannon J says:

    OK ask him to do this flying kick. show him the picture if he can’t do it, or gives you an exuse then he’s a fake. print out the picture from this website below.

    also ask him what the E.A.S.K.A is
    if he doesn’t know then he100% is a fake.
    By the way it is the- english all styles karate association

  10. idai says:

    Hi there

    I understand your concerns but don’t jump the gun too soon. Give him the benefit of the doubt and wait a few more weeks to see if he delivers the goods.

    Personally it doesn’t sound too good but there are ways that you can check his credentials. First thing you need to do is check out the organisation and style you belong to. If you ask your instructor i’m sure he wouldn’t mind telling you about his background. Just make sure you go about doing it in a tactful way.

    If he fails to do this then check any letters you have received which should have the name of the organisation on it. With this information you can cross check it using the internet. Most of the bigger governing bodies have web pages these days with contact details just for this reason.

    If he’s still playing cloak and dagger then there’s something not quite right. If you have paid for insurance too and you have no proof of your insurance then you have no insurance and that’s illegal. But really the proof is in the pudding. Is his class structured?

    Does he teach kata, kihon waza, sparring, ippons, kihons etc. If all he does is sparring and self defence with very little evidence of any of the other then you may have a problem.

    Is there too much talk and not enough chalk?

    Ask nicely for information, Cross check it using the internet by contacting the appropriate body. Then decide what you’re going to do.

    Remember there are martial artists and there are con artists. The two are not the same.

    Best wishes


  11. Aurora says:

    Contact the UMMA (United Martial Arts Alliance) ask around and see if anyone has ever heard of him.

  12. Sinister-6000 says:

    take him to the ground…

  13. dssr_sempai says:

    wow, talk about A LOT of junk answers on here.

    First, it does sound like you’re in a McDojo by your description. However, depending on what you want out of martial arts, that might not be a huge factor. If you’re more interested in working out and socializing over practical self-defense then getting all worked up over potentially impractical training would be unjustified.

    If you’re interested in learning whether your instructor is legit or not, why not approach him directly. Obviously don’t come out and say “hey, I think you’re a fraud,” but find out who he studied under, for how long, ranks held, and if he can validate any of that. And don’t be afraid to contact your instructor’s instructor if you’re truely concerned. Also search the internet for information both on your style and your school. is a great resource for finding martial arts frauds and charlatans.

    On top of that, if you are in a McDojo, that doesn’t neccessarily mean that your instructor is any less legitimate than other instructors. I know plenty of legitimate instructors who run McDojos. That doesn’t mean their ranks and experience is any less valid, it just means they choose to run a martial arts school to make a profit rather than teach effective and practical self-defense.

    Now to address some of the previous answers:

    Northernlad suggested contacting the police – the police are going to have literally no clue as to whether an instructor is legitmate. What access would a police department have to martial arts lineage, history, and so on. Furthermore, they would probably not even bother to begin to invesitage a fraudulent instructor unless you were able to present some credible evidence to support your claims.

    Satan h–mentioned registering your hands a leathal weapons. This is complete and total BS. I have NEVER met any martial artists masters (or students otherwise) that have had to register their hands and feet as leathal weapons. This is nothing more than a martial arts myth. On top of that, if you do ever have to take an instructor to court over unfulfilled orders, unless it’s thousands and thousands of dollars worth, you’ll have to take him to small claims court; which will probably end up costing you a large chuck of your money owed in court fees.

    To sidetrack for a moment, ron d stated that a white belt cannot defend themselves, but a brown belt can. This is a fallacy as one’s belt color means nothing of one’s knowledge. I know many martial artists who have rank in one style, join another style, and start back at white belt again. Starting a new style at white belt doesn’t magically make previous experience disappear. On top of that, different schools have different belt systems and certain styles don’t use belts at all (i.e.– kung-fu uses sashs, MMA doesn’t use belts at all, etc)

    Now, back on track, Shannon J and Aurora, spoke about different organizations. First off, knowledge or lack thereof an organization does not mean an instructor is legit or not. For example, I had no idea what the EASKA was. Is that because I’m a fraud – no, it’s because I train and teach in the USA and have no need for an English karate organization.

    Also contacting the UMAA isn’t a surefire way to check for the legitimacy of an instructor, especially since many martial arts organizations are full of those who buy rank and create their own styles, self promoting themselves to 10th Dan (note: this isn’t saying that all member and organizations are frauds, but there are A LOT of them out there).

    Futhermore, Shannon J stated that your instructor should be able to execute a flying kick. I’m assuming this was sarcasm, but if its not, it does brings up a relative point. Just because an instructor cannot do a move doens’t point to illegitimate training or background, the instructor could have a legitmate health reason to why they can’t do moves. Alternatively, an instructor might not be able to perform certain moves because they haven’t practiced it simply because it would never work in a real situation (think of why you never see MMA fighters do 540s or tornado kicks for example).

  14. northcarrlight says:

    Sounds suspicious to me, talk to him and don’t let him go until you get some answers, there is strength in numbers so get the rest of the class on your side before the showdown

  15. mafundhelper says:

    The best answer comes from “dssr” for sure.

    Thera era hundreds of associations out there and he may or may not be in any of them. That doesn’t make him legit or not.

    I also know of broke teachers who have done lots of shady things to put food on the table and gas in the car to make it to his poor handling of your fees could be just a money management problem.

    Talk to him. Do some research (google his name, and the school name, etc). Ask some other martial artists in your area. While the odd teacher may just try to steal a student..many will give advice to students caught in the grasp of a bad school/teacher…

    Good luck!

  16. Shihfu Mike Evans says:

    Dssr is spot on. Also keep in mind that many traditional martial artists are poor businessmen. The fact that you have to wait for paperwork and gear could just be because your teacher is a martial artist, not an office coordinator (not really an excuse if he wants to stay in business, but it happens). Also, governing bodies are not the gold standard the TKD guys (and others like them) want you to think they are. While they do have their benefits, the VAST majority of legitimate insrtuctors function without a formal overeeing body, other than their teachers. As far as what make him legit? What type of legitimacy are you looking for: ability (judge him on his techniques and ability to transmit his knowledge)…lineage (ask him about his teacher and the history of the system)…honesty (search the internet to verify any claims). If he is waiting for some kind of paperwork/licensure from ‘headquarters’, ask him about the governing body as part of a discussion on what it is you are doing and the history of your system. Keep in mind that many of the ‘governing bodies’ in America – and I’m sure around the world – are just a bunch of guys that got together and charge members for the right to test and use the organization name to try to add legitimacy. Good Luck!

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