Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shenanigans! Thomas Daw and the MFMA

Online martial arts schools.  Belt mills and buying into "Halls of Fame".  Black belt/sash in lots of styles. 10th Dan by age 30.  All this comes together in today's Shenanigans.  Note:  All images and videos from Mr. Daw are used here for review and parody purposes under fair use.

Check out our friend Thomas Daw.

Because it's really impressive to twirl  foam nunchaku
with no actual strikes when you're blindfolded.
Mr. Daw sells online martial arts courses on Ebay and via his web site.  He has taken down his YouTube channel, but much of the content was archived on this channel here.

As of January 2014, here is what he claims (captured from his web site):

Hokay.  Founded three different martial arts in ten years?  "Recognized Internationally"? "Certified Knife Master and Kamas Instructor"?   And he mastered all those arts and stuff by the age of 30?  Impressive.

This sentence is the one that cracks me up the most in his bio:  "It was no surprise that when Master Thomas approached Doryoku Ryu for a job as assistant teacher he was told he was over-qualified."  Riiiggghhtt.

Well, claims are one thing, but let's go to the videos and watch him in action.  Mr. Daw has many videos showing his martial arts mastery.  Well, actually, many videos claiming mastery and trying to sell his home video study course and fighting with the guys over at Bullshido (where I first learned of this guy), but there are a few videos in which he actually does something that might be vaguely "martial artsy".

Let's try this one:

My questions:
  1. Where's the power?  No strikes are delivered with any power at all.  According to his bio, he's a Black Belt in TKD that he earned at age 16, which I actually somewhat believe, looking at what he does, because it looks like bad TKD combined with a poor understanding of Tai Chi and Kung Fu. TKD white belts hit with better technique than this. My six year old TKD white belt daughter punches with more force and intent than this.
  2. Are all of the strikes supposed to be delivered in horse stance?  I mean, horse stance?  Really?
  3. Why does he not use his hips and legs in any strike? Does he think that strikes are from the arm only?
  4. Why are all his strikes coming from the waist?  Does the concept of a "fighting stance" and "chambering" elude him?
  5. What does he believe he is hitting with these strikes?  What's the bunkai?  Does he in fact know the word "bunkai"?
  6. Has he, in fact, actually ever hit anything with these strikes?  I see a punching bag there in his basement, but I don't think he's tried to hit it with many of these strikes, because it looks to me like he'd really hurt himself.
  7. Does he teach his students to stand in one place at all times?  Looks to me like he does (see other videos of him below).  It could be the constraint of doing this by himself in a very small basement, so he has to set his camera and fit the frame, but... you can't teach people properly this way (if he's interested in that, which I doubt).
Here's what "Grand Master" Daw teaches his SIXTH DAN students (to be honest, I doubt he has any...):

Now, I'm not an expert by any means, but I'm pretty sure strikes shouldn't look like you are swatting away gnats from your head.   THIS IS HIS SIXTH DAN "KATA".  Sixth. Freaking. Dan.

Well, never mind punching in the air, what about self defense?  That's what it's all about, right?  Here's some self defense "techniques".

This video reminds me of TKD one-steps.  Sloppily performed, no power, bad technique, zero understanding of human anatomy, off balance, and against an opponent-that-is-apparently-either- a-broken-store-mannequin-or-a-corpse TKD one-steps.

One more, because it's a doozy.

You can be better with one hand than most are with two.  Okay - but why?  And secondly, why do you remind me of this?

Learn how to kick like they do in the movies?  You mean, completely unrealistically and for entertainment purposes only?

For the rest of the video...  yes, that's the same nunchaku form you did blindfolded.  It's not very impressive, sir, especially with trainer foam nunchaku.  My older daughter did better in competition when she was seven.

Then he does single sinawali with a short club (I think he must have seen an FMA video on YouTube once) and then tries some tonfa-ish strikes with the same club, and then he BADLY plays around with tonfa (I'm embarrassed for him on this one, it's truly awful).

Then he flails around at high speed (Hurticane, anybody?), and the combos... oh, just...

One more video - this one is audio only, and this is the one that explains the rest.  Listen to the whole thing.

So, Daw claims that in-person training is a scam and that by training two-three times a week, you can be 1st Dan black belt in six months.  Other styles are just dragging it out to make money off you, and his style - again, a few months - is practically a bargain.

Well, to be fair, in HIS style(s), I don't know it would take all of six months to master.

This man calls himself a GRAND MASTER.  The truth is that he bought his Grandmaster-ship from a well known belt mill in the USA.  He knows next to nothing about the martial arts, and sending him a single solitary cent in any currency would be wasted.

Shenanigans, Mr. Daw.  SHENANIGANS.


A few updates and an edit or two to fix broken links and whatnot.

Mr. Daw pointed out the Snake Fist video I had in this post was not Snake Fist Karate.  I stand corrected - it looked like something legitimate and completely not made up in the video I shared, versus anything I have ever seen from Mr. Daw. I would hate for the competent martial artist in that video to be in any way associated with Mr. Daw accidentally.  So I have removed that video from this post.

Mr. Daw tried to get the Guinness Book of World Records to certify him as the fastest or bestest puncher-er (or something). They refused.  I'm not quite sure what Mr. Daw thinks this proves.

This is what Mr. Daw, himself (here), posted that Tom Ibsen at Guinness said:

Dear Thomas Daw,

Thank you for your enquiry.

This is not something we can monitor at Guinness World Records. We cover a huge number of records in different category areas, not just martial arts. While we certainly do not underestimate your proposal, we think that it is a little too specialised for a body of reference as general as Guinness World Records.

Although we are not currently able to accept your proposal for a new record, we will keep your details on file and will let you know if our decision changes in the near future.

Yours sincerely,
Tom Ibison
Guinness World Records
What this actually proves is that the folks at Guinness have a very nice and well-written form letter to reject inquiries of this kind.  And sorry for linking there, the text makes the eyes bleed, I know.  The concept of mixed case, much like much of the fundamentals of the martial arts, has escaped Mr. Daw.

Mr. Daw has joined the Black Dragon Fighting Society.  If you don't know what that is, it's basically a fraud organization picking off the carcass of Count Dante.  It's a belt mill associated with such luminaries as Ashida Kim.  Because if you want to go somewhere for legitimacy, it's a society associated with Ashida Kim, right? Riiigght.  The primary qualification to join the BDFS is making sure the check clears.

Mr. Daw has not, in the years since this post was originally made, posted a single video of himself training with another live, breathing human being.  Fake testimonial videos where he used an online text-to-voice app and then claimed it was a student of his?  Yep.  Written hit pieces at fiction sites under a fake name? Oh yeah.  Created free site after free site yelling in all caps and claiming how awesome he is?  Definitely.

But an actual video of Mr. Daw with another human being doing some martial arts training?  Nope.

I don't even ask for alive training - just a video of "Grand Master" Daw actually training with another person.  A man, a woman, a child , his mom, his dad, one of his siblings, some bum off the street - anybody.  I'm pretty sure I'll be waiting a few more years on that one.

I'd also love to see a video of him actually punching his punching bag, but I won't hold my breath on that either.

Mr. Daw remains, as of this writing, the David Brent of the martial arts world.  Except David Brent would kick his butt.


Mr. Daw has decided to go on another out-of-the-blue spasm of death threats and shenanigans, aimed at a single individual, Dale Dugas.  He does this every few months.

He mentions me on rare occasion (Hi Tommy!) but most of his impotent ire is aimed at Dr. Dugas.  Dr. Dugas is a legitimate practitioner of Iron Palm techniques and of Southern Mantis Gung Fu, and is also a well respected herbalist and acupuncturist (licensed in Florida), known in many martial arts circles for his excellent Dit Da Jow.  Here's the link to screen shots of Mr. Daw's rantings, if you want to know what kind of person "Grand Master" Daw really is.

Hey, Black Dragon Fighting Society folks - you guys proud he's one of yours?

It's interesting that he's made sure that he only attacks people who live a continent away, isn't it?  It's not like Mr. Daw will ever have the funds to travel outside of Cornwall (stocking shelves at the local do-it-yourself hardware store can't pay much, especially for a guy in his 30's, even if he lives with Mum).  And as much as many of us would love to meet Mr. Daw in the flesh, the expense to get to such a small corner of the world is a bit much for us normal, non-Grand Master types.

Here's a new video from Mr. Daw.  He has this stuff on his free Wix page (come on, Tommy, domains aren't that pricey) HERE, behind his usual walls of poorly punctuated text. Be sure to mute your sound as he's added a soundtrack from one of those free text-to-voice services to make it sound "professional".

I am amazed that after all this time he's still as bad as he was years ago.  You would think, even if a person were working solo but hitting the bags, you'd see some improvement, but NOPE.

I still believe Mr. Daw doesn't ever hit or kick that heavy bag he owns. It's impossible to do so and have that terrible of a technique. 

I will repeat my request to him - post video of yourself hitting and kicking your bag, using the techniques you show in your videos (and if you think I haven't seen one of your courses, sir, think again, because I have, and it was hilarious).

Let's see what a Grand Master can do to a bag.  You don't even have to demonstrate on a live human being, much less one that is resisting, because we both know how that one will turn out, don't we, "Grand Master" Daw?

Again, I won't hold my breath.