Who's to Blame?

For countless years now many video shysters continue putting out ads in magazines, claiming their secret fighting system can teach anyone…of any age, sex, size, physical ability, or lack of skills….to defeat ANYONE else of any age, sex, size, skills, on the planet. In my opinion someone needs to be held accountable for allowing these bogus claims to continue, but who? Well we can of course blame the "video shysters", and the suckers who buy their stuff, but whose really to blame? In my opinion, I blame the magazines who run these ads. By allowing these ads to continue, without researching the claims made, I believe the magazines are to blame. Their lack of "due diligence" (investigation, putting claims to the test, etc) implies, in my opinion, a silent approval of these video shysters, and silently adds credibility to the claims they make. OK, so maybe the magazines wish to claim "that's not true". Well then I sure would like to hear their explanation as to why, from time-to-time, they put out rave articles about some video shysters? Personally, I believe there's a lot more going on behind-the-scenes, specifically, trading advertising for articles. Meaning, I'll continue to spend tens of thousands a year running ads about my bogus tapes/fighting system, if you'll every now-and-then do a rave article about me.

I am of the opinion that the magazines need to police these video shysters, and that the magazines should become the "consumers advocate", or more like a "Consumer Report" of these video instructors claims. Why do I feel this way? Personally, I feel a majority of the public looks up to these magazines, and feels they should be looking out for the best interest of their readers. In doing so, readers unconsciously assign a certain amount of credibility to the magazines ads, articles and opinions. I believe that at a very minimum, the martial arts magazines should tell video instructors/companies to "tone down the verbage and claims in their ads". And if the magazines are unwilling to do this, the they should certainly investigate the background of every video author, put their claims to the test, before running any kind of ad. In addition, I believe the magazines should expose all liars, fakes, frauds, ineffective fighting systems, etc. By not doing this, I believe the magazines are silently condoning and adding credibility to every claim any video author makes.

Ask yourself this, are the magazines more interested in it's readers or it's advertisers? I feel years ago a line was crossed, that should've NEVER been crossed! At some point, many years ago, I believe advertisers became more important to magazines than readers. Yet, to subtly hide this fact, the magazines continued putting out articles and information, geared towards readers, specifically, gathering up every type of reader (martial arts style) possible. And why would they do this? Because "circulation numbers" equal dollars, big dollars, in fact, the bigger the "circulation number" the more a magazine can charge for advertising. Kind of like what the TV networks do. The most watched shows can get the most dollars for advertising (Super Bowl, Top 10 shows, Nielsen Ratings, etc). OK, back to this issue I have with the magazines, and why I feel this way. First, what stringent advertising standards, ethics, etc, do each of the martial arts magazines have in place, to protect the readers! Outrageous claims by video instructors continue to be allowed, unchecked. Do these magazines really believe there's "one secret fighting system" out there, that will 100% of the time, defeat all other fighting systems? If not, why do they allow those type of ads to continue? If they do believe there's an "unbeatable fighting system", then why don't we have one big article every month, and no others, about that perfect fighting system that beats all others. Allowing anyone else to voice their opinion is unnecessarily contributing to the deletion of our forests (wasted paper). ;-) Also, why do the magazines allow one ad, and sometimes more than one ad, each claiming to be an "unbeatable system", to be placed in their magazine month-after-month? Where does their loyalty lie? With the readers or with the advertisers? With the claims they continue allowing to be run in ads, unproven and unchecked, how can they really be loyal to both? Whose best interest are they looking out for? In my opinion, they have no loyalty, except to the almighty dollar! When was the last time you saw a magazine expose anyone in the martial arts as a fraud? Do you really believe there aren't any frauds running around in the martial arts? Dozens of video instructors continue running ads each month more-or-less claiming "my fighting system can beat any other fighting system". Logically ask yourself this. How can we have dozens of fighting systems, that all claim they can beat all other fighting systems? If any fighting system can truly defeat all other fighting systems, doesn't that mean there's only one fighting system that can do so? Why don't the magazines put all these unbeatable fighting systems to the test? Let's throw every video instructor who claims an "unbeatable system" in a room, shut and lock the door, wait a few hours, check back, see whose left standing, and report it in their magazine? Opps, I forgot, that might effect tens-of-thousands-of-dollars-a-month spent on full page ads video authors run, all claiming "I'm the only fighting system you'll ever need".

Side note….let's talk for a second about all these official military hand-to-hand instructors. At one time I counted about 4 different guys who were all claiming, at the same time, to be the only official hand-to-hand instructor to the Navy Seals. So whose the current official hand-to-hand instructor for the Navy Seals? Why won't any of the magazines do an investigative report on this for their readers? And if someone isn't currently teaching the Seals, when and why did they stop teaching them? I mean, if their hand-to-hand program was as great as their ads claim, why would the Seals stop using an instructor who teaches the "best fighting system in the world"? Wouldn't all branches of our military want to use such a deadly/lethal system? Teaching anything else would be negligently putting the lives of every Seal, and enlistee in every branch, in danger, wouldn't it? Why won't one of these guys take their "unbeatable system" to court, show a judge that's it unbeatable, and on that basis sue the American government for recklessly putting "our boys" lives in danger, for not currently using it? Sounds like a slam dunk to me, if of course it's truly unbeatable! ;-) Why don't the magazines step in, investigate the claims made by video instructors, and end the publics confusion? Who again are the magazines loyal too? The readers, advertisers, or do they prefer that the confusion continues, so that advertisers continue spending tens-of-thousands-a-month on ads that confuse the public? Whose job is it to expose the liars, fakes, frauds, and those who take advantage of the public? I say it's the magazines responsibility? They, better than anyone else, have the investigative resources, clout, influence, and dollars to get it done. So why don't they? Could it all be about $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ ? Even more important, when, if ever, will the magazines put advertising standards in place?

Why am I so angry about all this? There are tons of obvious reasons. One of the big ones is that I believe the shysters and magazines both, want to perpetuate this confusion, for their own financial gain. Why bite the hand that feeds you? Each martial arts magazine makes hundreds-of-thousands-a-year on ads, and many video shysters continue making as much, probably more, peddling less-than-top-notch training. And the circle goes round-and-round, you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. All the while consumers continue believing, due to the advertising hype allowed, that they're getting quality training that will 100% of the time save their life! In any industry there will always be shysters looking for suckers, there's no way around that. I believe that in the martial arts industry it's the magazines responsibility to weed-them-out. Whose to blame if someone ends up getting killed, due to purchasing, using, and believing the advertising "hype" of some ineffective fighting system? Sure, some of the liability of that belongs to the video shyster, and some with the company that publishes and promotes his material (the video company), but shouldn't the magazines, who we're suppose to trust, have ultimately been the final check point? Shouldn't we look up to them to establish some sort of standard. I mean come on...who ultimately is allowing the ads to be published?

I guess what I'm saying is this, we shouldn't expect the video shysters to have standards (we should, but there will always be those who try to rip off the public), and we should expect some level of accountability from the video companies, but me, I expect the highest standard of accountability to come from the magazines, especially those who portray themselves as providers of unbiased information we're suppose to trust. We're talking about self defense here, and people's lives. If a magazine wants to foster an image of being in the self defense business, shouldn't they live up to some kind of standard? Or are those just meaningless words? Isn't each person who trains taught to believe that the training they receive, and techniques they're learning, will someday work to save their life if they ever need them. What if it doesn't? Who do we point the finger at? Just look at how the magazines try to pass themselves off as an entity we should unquestionably trust. They provide us health tips, diet tips, training tips, opinions, articles, big name celebrity inteviews, breaking news, ideas, etc. They get very personal with us, on many levels, appealing to what's important to us. In doing so, I believe the public assigns a certain level of trust to them, and the magazines know this (know this?...heck I believe some intentionally abuse this). Just think about it, on a conscious and unconscious level, the magazines work VERY HARD at "building an image" we're suppose to trust. Why is it so important TO THEM that we trust them? Ever ask yourself that one?

OK, follow my train of thought here for a minute. Do the magazines really make a ton of money each month when you shell out $3-$5 for them, or do they make more off an advertiser? OK, now ask yourself this one, what advertiser, including the shysters, is going to place an ad in a magazine that's not trusted by the public? No one will hardly read the magazine, thus no one will see the ad, and hardly no one will buy the product they're advertising, so no more placing "repeat ads" month-after-month (can you say loss of $ to the magazines?) Ads that "pull" (bring in $) are repeated, those that don't, aren't. Anyway, let's say you were an advertiser, so isn't it important to any advertiser, that whatever magazine they place an ad in, that magazine is perceived as impeccable and without reproach (trusted implicitly...even if it shouldn't be)? Could the magazines intentionally be sustaining an environment that allows anyone with a buck in their pocket, no matter how corrupt they are, to advertise with them? I think so. Have you ever heard of a magazine dropping an advertiser, for reasons other than paying his bill? I haven't. Have you ever heard of any magazine exposing an advertiser as a "rip-off-artist", fraud, or someone who teaches crap? I haven't. Again, the magazines want us to trust their articles, opinions, health tips, diet tips, training tips, other information. They wan't us to believe everything they publish, including their advertising. But realistically, how can we believe anything they publish (articles, tips, advertising, etc)? Every-now-and-then they put out rave articles about certain video instructors, who our readers tell us, either teach crap, or whose credentials and claims are highly suspect. And still, no magazine ever exposes anyone as a fraud, or their "unbeatable fighting system" as possibly beatable. Do you honestly think the magazines don't know, or suspect, who's a fraud and who isn't? Personally, I think the magazines are alot smarter than we give them credit. They know where their bread is buttered and they know the game they're playing with our heads. Until something gives, I know I'm going to have an X-Files attitude ("Trust No One") towards these magazines and anything they attempt to cram-down-my-throat? ;-)

Legal Disclaimer (for us poor folks) - Most video instructors aren't shysters, and some martial arts magazines don't allow "garbage ads". Best advice...investigate, ask for proof (names, phone numbers, etc), think, ask yourself questions, read-between-the-lines, talk to others. And if all else fails remember this...if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

* Note to our fans*

Please be aware that some information on each of our reviews may not currently be accurate. I can assure you it was when each review was originally posted. So should you be unable to locate a company through the physical address, website address, phone number, or email address we show, or should their pricing on their tapes change, please don't blame us. We have no control over the changes these companies make, nor how often they make them. Should you be unable to find a company whose products we've reviewed, please, don't contact us about that. I sometimes get 2-3 requests about that per day. I do not have any kind of "handy reference" that provides up-to-the-minute info for all 50+ companies we're dealing with. 99% of the time these companies forget to contact me about their changes, and so when they do change, I don't even have a way of reaching them. If you can't locate a company, my best suggestion would be for you to go to a search engine and try finding them that way.

© 1997-2016 Martial Arts Video Reviews. All Rights Reserved.