The Hall of Fame Scam in the Martial Arts Industry

Having been in the martial arts industry for most of my life, I’ve become educated throughout the years about certain martial arts myths as well as scams that occur throughout the industry.  If you are a logical martial artist you know what I’m talking about. If you aren’t a martial artist, or are a beginner in the martial arts world, it’s easy to be fooled by these fallacies and scams.  I even know numerous advanced practitioners who are duped into the false mentality and are brainwashed by certain fables. This article is to educate those martial artists who are currently being fooled, as well as those who are interested in martial arts and want to know some truth behind the industry.  In this instance, I am referring to the hundreds of hall of fames in the martial arts world, and why 99 percent of them are scams.

I’ve been inducted into the U.S.A. Martial Arts Hall of Fame every year since 2006. I speak from actual experience about these scams and I will share everything with all of you. I originally got a phone message on my answering machine at my martial arts school one day in 2006 saying I’ve been nominated for this award.  I never returned the call. Up until that point I hadn’t heard of that particular hall of fame. I had heard of many of the other fake halls of fames, but not this particular one.  Being a writer, I research everything. You can do a Google search by typing in martial arts hall of fame scams and you can find all the info you need.

I ended up getting a packet in the mail stating that I had been nominated by some martial arts instructor I had never heard of.  The best part was, however, that I was nominated as the Korean Master of the Year.  First, I’m not Korean; second, I don’t teach a Korean system; and third, I am not a master – in fact I will never ever refer to myself as a master, and I never want to be called that. I am a student, a teacher, a mentor, and a coach – but never will I be a master. There is only one master in my life and that’s my lord and savior. Aside from this ridiculous title they had nominated me for, there were several other things that stood out about this hall of fame.  Reading through the packet, they give you a nomination form to nominate six people to be inducted.  It could be anybody.  If you filled out the form and mailed it, they would then induct the people I mentioned as well. Aside from that, they mentioned that if I didn’t like the reason I was nominated (Korean Master of the Year), I could change it to something I would prefer.  They even gave well over 150 categories to choose from: Fighter of the Year, Kung-Fu Master of the Year, Kenpo Instructor of the Year, Self-Defense Instructor of the Year, to name a few. I couldn’t believe anybody could be fooled by this.  All the signs of non-legit were shining on every page of the 8 page packet.

After all that, I finally got to the real reason why this hall of fame was nominating everybody and their brother – MONEY.  I got to the part where it says, our award banquet will be held on this day at this time and this place. It’s an all weekend event and these celebrities will be there.  Come receive your award in front of Bill “Superfoot” Wallace and Cynthia Rothrock. Get your picture with these legends.  The fee for the banquet is $259, and the fee for any guests is only $99. If you can’t make the banquet, send us $129 and we will send you your trophy. First off, for people who get star struck it’s a good way to fool them into going. I don’t – I’ve talked to and met so many of them. In the martial arts world I’ve trained with many of them.  For instance, I have trained with Bill “Superfoot” Wallace many times and have had him at my school for an entire weekend.  I’ve got several pictures of him and me training together, sparring, and just hanging out.  I don’t need to be fooled into paying for my hall of fame induction just to shake hands with him, get a picture with him, and then pretend we are best friends.  There is a reason why celebrities are there – they are PAID for the appearance.

The reality is, if you have to pay for being inducted into a hall of fame it is a scam. There are a few legit halls of fames such as black belt magazine’s hall of fame. That is real. That’s a hall of fame that you only get inducted in if you are extremely well known in the martial arts industry – such as Chuck Norris, Joe Lewis, Don Wilson, and UFC fighters like Matt Hughes, Chuck Liddell and so on.  The reality is, you don’t pay to be in that hall of fame – it is real. 

Anybody can create a so called organization, and come up with a hall of fame. And as long as people are paying money the organization heads will be laughing to the bank.  Just because a hall of fame has been around since 1974, it doesn’t make it legit. It just means they have been fooling people for several years.  Well, they haven’t fooled me. It’s funny that I have been nominated every year since 2006 in the U.S.A. Hall of Fame like I will just buy into one of these years. Not going to happen.

I don’t understand how anybody can be fooled into thinking they were actually nominated into a legit hall of fame when thousands of other people are all ready in that same hall of fame. The purpose of a hall of fame is to induct people who were the best and were/are legends in that arena. Look at the UFC. They have only a handful of people who are UFC hall of famers, thus far. Not every UFC fighter – or every UFC champion -will be inducted. That’s a real hall of fame.

Go to just about any martial arts Web site and you will find the instructors boasting about being in five different halls of fames.  That doesn’t mean squat.  All you have to do is research each hall of fame they claim to be in and you will find the same answers I have found. If you are looking into a martial arts school don’t be fooled by those who brag about their hall of fame inductions.  I’m not saying that they are poor instructors; some are, but not all of them. They may be good instructors, but were fooled into the hall of fame scam. The instructor you want to look for is one who keeps the conversations about you, not him or her.  If she brags about her hall of fames and all the trophies she’s won, chances are she can’t help you reach your goals because she’s too stuck on herself.  If an instructor brags about his world champion status and puts down other instructors, you can pretty much bet that he can’t help you. 

Base an instructor on what he can do for you, not on what he’s accomplished. Even if the instructor is really legit and she accomplished real accomplishments, it doesn’t mean she can teach you how to accomplish what you need to accomplish. It takes a special teacher to get you to reach your full potential, and any instructor sporting an ego and the “all eyes on me” mentality can not help you. In fact, those types of instructors will only brainwash you and possibly get you hurt or killed someday. Also, if an instructor doesn’t allow you to watch a class first, or participate in a class before you make a decision, that school isn’t for you. If you do watch a class, pay particular attention to how the instructor teaches and how the black belts are. You will easily spot the schools that we call “belt factories” where people are promoted extremely fast and get black belts in 2-3 years just because they are writing a pay check.  Being a black belt with only two or three years in an art will only give you a false mindset.

If an instructor was inducted into a legit hall of fame, that is awesome; a big accomplishment.  The thing is, he won’t brag about it.  Good instructors care more about the growth of their students than they do about their own past achievements.

About the Author:

Michael Miller is a real world self-defense and personal protection expert who holds a 4th degree black belt in American Kenpo (a modern reality based system of self-defense based on logic and reason), and also teaches boxing, kickboxing, Joe Lewis Fighting Systems, Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu, and Modern Arnis. He’s also a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and boxing trainer/coach. He operates his full-time school, Miller’s Kenpo Karate Dojo, in Bradford, Pa. He is also a writer who has been featured in Inside Kung-fu and Black Belt magazines several times as an authority in his field and is the author of the Legends of Kenpo biography series.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh in writing with a minor in sociology.  He can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 814-368-3725.