Bullshido.net is a website that aims to root out fraudulent practices in the martial arts.1 Since its start in 2002 Bullshido.net has earned media attention for at least one of its investigations.2 Bullshido.net's discoveries, methods, and forum have brought criticism from some parties, particularly those it has investigated.3, 4, 16
Origin and name
The term "Bullshido" is a blend of "bullshit" and "bushidō" and is used as a pejorative term for a school's inaccurate or fraudulent claims. Bullshido.net began in 2002 when several members of an Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) forum, disgruntled at the management and attitude of moderators of that site, decided to form their own in response. The site was then called "McDojo.com", from "McDonalds" and "dojo". The term McDojo was used for schools that had overly commercial features that could harm the study of martial arts. However, due to a legal challenge by the McDonald's Corporation over the use of this McWord, the website was renamed Bullshido.net. 5
Bullshido.net, as the name suggests, was created to expose "bullshit" in claims made by martial arts schools and instructors. Because of the loose moderation of its forums, other martial arts sites have used its forums for discussions that would be censored or forbidden elsewhere, particularly if the topic is a figure close to the leadership of those other boards. It models itself after scientific skepticism organizations such as CSICOP, employing various means of investigation to test the claims of martial arts practitioners or their schools. Those found to be fraudulent or lacking in substance it terms bullshido.
Bullshido.net is divided into several forums to separate threads into particular topics such as grappling ("Department of Homeland Security"), martial arts history ("Martial Arts History Project"), and fraud in the martial arts ("Martial Arts BS"). The site also hosts martial arts-related content as a member benefit, including picture galleries, video clips, and news articles from mainstream media. Most notably, the website also conducts and publishes its own inquiries into individuals or schools involved in the martial arts (see "Notable investigations").
The website rejects the idea that "all martial arts have something to offer" or that all martial arts are equally capable of imparting martial ability. The rejection cites the existence of fraudulent martial arts instructors who teach poor methods of fighting and the lack of participation from some fighting methods in professional martial arts competition. While the members and staff of Bullshido.net tend to favor martial competition, cross-training, and the MMA format, several members and staff are strictly practitioners of traditional martial arts.
With varying degrees of rigor, Bullshido.net and its members have completed investigations of individuals and figures in martial arts.2, 4, 6 A majority of these are informal and by a handful of regular members. Some investigations span months or years,2, 6, 7 and involve many staff and general members; these are considered "official site investigations" and receive front-page attention.7 The site's authority and credibility is partially derived from the involvement of members with professional qualifications: lawyers with investigative experience2, 6 and other members who have been professional martial artists as fighters, instructors, and so on. One investigation played a role in a felony case.
Sean Treanor of Stanford University's Graduate Program in Journalism wrote an article10 discussing Bullshido's investigation of martial artist Milton Wallace11.
Frank Dux raised objections to his investigation on "Carson's Corner", an independent MMA radio show.16 Bullshido investigators Samuel Browning and Chuck Hardin appeared on the show the following week to dispute his objections.17
David "Race" Bannon
As David "Race" Bannon, convicted American con-artist David Wayne Dilley claimed to be an expert on human trafficking, a former covert Interpol agent, and an assassin who hunted child pornographers and other criminals. Dilley was arrested in January 2006 on three felony charges, including criminal impersonation.2, 6 In April 2006, Dilley pled guilty to criminal impersonation in exchange for the prosecutors not pursuing the other two felony charges.
Samuel Browning, a staff member of Bullshido.net, spent close to two years investigating the claims made in Dilley's book Race Against Evil. For instance, Browning debunked Dilley's claim of having tortured a man to death on the tenth floor of London's Byron Hotel by calling the hotel and finding that it did not, in fact, have that many floors. Browning himself was contacted by the Rocky Mountain News concerning the story, and the information he provided to reporter Charlie Brennen contributed to the writing of two newspaper articles on this subject.2, 6 Both Browning and the Bullshido.net website were mentioned in an article by the Charlotte Observer.12 Browning later wrote an article summarizing the Bannon investigation which was published in Kung Fu Magazine.13
Interpol posted a page dismissing Dilley's claims on their website.14
Bullshido.net organizes regional "Throwdowns" both to test martial arts claims and to host friendly gatherings for sparring between people of different styles and abilities. Participants are required to abide by minimum standards of safety in equipment and techniques, and are expected to "go home as friends" at the end of the day.
Throwdowns promote the mixed martial arts (MMA) style of sparring, wherein participants are allowed to use the martial skill sets of striking and grappling to best or submit an opponent. In contrast, sparring in many martial arts tends to emphasize only one of these. the guidelines for organizing Throwdowns state that participants should never be required to spar in a manner that is disagreeable to them; this can include restricting techniques or emphasizing a desired level of intensity (light/medium/full contact).
Less often, Bullshido members experienced in armed combat systems such as Escrima have added this fourth martial skill set to the Throwdown experience, which also allows them to experience the extreme difficulty of unarmed defense against an armed assailant.
A final purpose of Throwdowns is to let members "put their money where their mouth is" by providing a venue for them to back up their claims through actual fights. When visitors to the site claims great prowess or denigrate the abilities of forum members, a frequent rejoinder is something like: "Show up to a Throwdown and prove it." A claimed inability or unwillingness by a member to do so is often interpreted by site members as a weakness in their argument or actual ability, in line with the site's heavy emphasis on empirical evidence.
To be recognized, Throwdowns must be organized in the appropriate forum on the site and recognized by the site admins.
A 2007 Bullshido throwdown in Slovakia was the subject of a news feature on local channel JOJ15.
Criticism and opposition
The website has drawn questions about its validity and objectivity.3 The forum has been criticized for its rudeness.
The growing popularity of Bullshido and the growing demand for accurate information on martial arts, led to the creation of three additional sites: Bullshido.com, Bullshido.org, and Sociocide.com.
In March 2007, Bullshido.org was launched to host "The Martial Arts Encyclopedia," now in a wiki format and only editable by Bullshido Members.
Sociocide.com was created to provide members with a community site for threads on politics, scientific discoveries, current events, and the like.
- Bullshido at YouTube
2 - Brennan, C. "Attorney dismisses accounts as fiction" Rocky Mountain News, February 25, 2006. Archived at the Internet Archive, 2007-09-30.]
4 - Record of the 'Official Shit list' dated May 04 2006 from the Bibliotheca Alexandrina mirror of the Internet Archive . Retrieved April 28, 2008.
7 - Ashida Kim, the Punking of article on Bullshido.com.
8 - Khristian_Geraci
9 - Feinman, S: "The Con Artist", Real Fighter, 5.1(2009):50-55.
11 - Milt_Wallace
14 - Refutation of claims made by Brandon on the Interpol Website.