Article by Fantasy Warrior and Virus.
Introduction: Who is Leo Clausen?
Leo “Berador” Clausen, 30, of Ranum, Denmark is an individual who is listed on several websites as the Soke of Kawachi Yon Tengu Ryu Ninjitsu, and a ninja style called Ryoko Ryu Ninpo Bugei. He claims to hold the rank of 15th dan, but this actual number varies on different sources. Thomas Andersen, the instructor at the closest Bujinkan Dojo to Ranum, stated on email correspondence that he has never before heard of the so-called ninja grandmaster Leo Clausen.
False Status as Ninja Grandmaster
Soke is a title conferred upon the grandmaster or head of a school of martial arts that has been passed on over many generations. The Soke keeps scrolls called densho which contain the techniques of the school along with information on tactics, strategy, weapons or tools. There are many individuals claiming to be the Soke of a ninjitsu school. Ashida Kim, Frank Dux and Rick Tew are some of the more well known.
Leo Clausen claims to have studied Kawachi Yon Tengu Ryu in Japan under a man named Mishima Ooyama for an undefined length of time. He claims that in the mid 1990’s he helped form a new ninjitsu ryu called Ryoko Ryu Ninpo Bugei and that Ooyama died on the 23rd of August 2005. Clausen claims that after the death of this grandmaster, he was chosen as the 38th Soke of Kawachi Yon tengu ryu, along with the sokeship to the art he claims to have co-founded.
There are many reasons as to why this tale is suspect. To begin with, no photographs of Clausen training with Mishima Ooyama exist on any of his websites, neither is there any pictures of Ooyama by himself or pictures of Clausen in Japan. There has been no photographic evidence put forward to corroborate this story in any way. Evil Asia has confirmed that the name Mishima Ooyama is unlikely to be a real name as “Mishima” and “Ooyama” are both family names. “Ooyama” is a name yet to be encountered in Japan, but it could be that he has attempted to use the name “Oyama”.
The “ICMAUA Worldchampion” Debacle
Leo is a regular poster on the Ashida Kim message boards. On the 16th of October 2005 posted this thread requesting advice for preparing for a combat tournament. Clausen, who has only 16 years martial arts experience, had not previously competed in combat sports since the three years of Kykoshinkai karate he did as a child.
Clausen then went on to claim that he competed in a No-Holds-Barred tournament, and now publicly states that he is the “ICMAUA Worldchampion, 2005”. He claimed to defeat ten opponents, Careful reading and chronological analysis of his internet claims, told on another forum, reveals that he appears to have only trained for the event for a few days. On the Ashida Kim message board Clausen claimed to be preparing for a combat tournament held by the ICMAUA. He claimed eight days later that he had won the tournament, and claimed to have fought full contact with stylists of other martial arts such as Preying Mantis and Monkey Kung Fu, Kempo, Systema and mixed martial arts.
He alleged that the first round took place on 22nd October 2005 and that he beat four opponents under NHB (/MMA) rules. Anyone familiar with MMA will no doubt realize how unlikely that sounds. 4 fights in close succession would require phenomenal conditioning. The following are the screen grabs of Leo’s posts on the Ashida Kim message board:
On 23rd October he claims to have fought 5 matches, again winning all:
The finals supposedly took place on 24th October, making the total fights at least 10 in 3 days.
KickCatcher has confirmed with the ICMAUA that Clausen is a “World Champion” with them. HOWEVER, the championship in question was a virtual tournament where competitors sent in video clips of ten techniques which were assessed by a panel of “experts” and if 9/10 were considered “effective”, the applicant is awarded a “world Champion”….
Extracts from the correspondence with the President of the ICMAUA specifically mentioning Mr Clausen:
he is recognized as a ICMAUA World Champion by our commission according his skills and sent video.
The participant sends film or CD with anyone 10 techniques with the partner, on a bag, with the weapon, with a pistol, knife, anyone. The commission of judges of the championship estimates a reality sent technoques for application in the street. If not less than 9 техник are real, the participant is recognized as the champion. We have more of 60 countries at present, therefore our championship has name World Championship.
The ICMAUA is therefore an organization which accepts videos of martial artists performing techniques either by themselves, with a partner or on a punch ball. The winner is awarded with a medal. The judgment criteria are:
Realism of technique; Rapidity; Equilibrium; Balance; Sharpness; Strength; Directivity of influence; Condition of one’s spirits; Look; Confidence of performance; Understanding of technique’s aim, etc.
He embellished his story by claiming injuries such as a crushed rib and a knocked out molar tooth from a head butt. These injuries are quite suspect. He claimed that he had broken an undefined number of ribs when “squished” by a MMA fighter. As practitioners of grappling styles such as wrestling or Brazilian jujitsu are aware, getting crushed underneath people is very uncomfortable but rarely results in broken ribs, even when the opponent lands on the body from a hip toss. The knocked out tooth is even more suspect. He presented as “evidence” a photo of his mouth in which there is indeed a missing molar, but no bruising around the mouth or jaw.
A head butt powerful enough to knock out a molar through a mouth guard would result in a large amount of trauma around the surrounding area, none of this is visible in his photo however. It is unlikely that a mixed martial arts event that allowed the use of head-butts would be sanctioned by any medical or athletic authority.
The allegation of deception was put to Leo on the Ashida Kim message board by TakeAnother; but he still maintained his story that he fought in a NHB tournament. A tournament of this nature would be easy to verify. There would be advertising, almost certainly on the internet or the martial arts press, and his opponents would be named. No such information has been forthcoming from Clausen who has repeatedly snubbed attempts to verify his claims. There is no mention of any combat rules, or the venue for the event. If such an event were to be held, physical checkups of fighters would be required along with informed consent forms and waivers. No information about any of these things is to be found on the ICMAUA website. The members list of the site clearly shows Leo Berador as a member:
International Combat Martial Arts Founders Union ICMAUA Lifetime Member.
3rd Dan Kawachi Yon Tengu Ryu, Instructor, Examiner.
6th Dan Ryoku Ryu, Soke, Instructor, Examiner.
Several other supposed masters of unverified ninjitsu styles are also listed as members. The evidence points to an obvious conclusion: Clausen’s claims are extremely unlikely, unverified and that Clausen has grossly misrepresented the truth or lied.
Plagiarizing Other People’s Work
Information about the koga ninja from his website was plagarised from a Bujinkan newsletter called Ura & Omote June 1996 issue. Clausen’s version of the history of the koga ryu can be found here, and the original Ura & Omote article here.
Note that the Ura & Omote article lists Kawachi Yon Tengu Ryu as one of the koga ninjitsu schools. It is likely that Clausen simply came across this article, picked out the name of a ninjitsu ryu that appealed to him, and started advertising himself as its grandmaster.
Why is it that a soke of a koga ninjitsu school needs to copy, almost verbatim from a Bujinkan newsletter for historical information of his art? Surely he should be the reference point if he really was the headmaster of a koga ninjitsu ryu. Not to mention a personage of great interest to Japanese historians and koryu martial art researchers. The Danish government should make him a national living treasure!
The Phony Certificate
On his personal website, there is a picture of his supposed certificate of Kawachi Yon Tengu Ryu. His certificate reads as follows, with underlined words denoting a blank space on the form which is filled in with handwriting:
Black Belt Certificate
We are proud to certify that Leo Clausen is hereby awarded the International Rank of Black Belt 3rd Dan, in the art of Tengu Ryu. He/She has completed all the qualifications set by the Reviewing Board of this association. He/She has excelled in the special skill of Martial Arts and has acted according to the standards of this association.
Date: 25/4 1995 / 1/1 2005 Soke
Studio: Leo Clausen (Soke) 3 Ryoku
Ryoko Ryu Karate-Do
Master: Mishima Oyama Soke
The certificate is an obvious phony for the following reasons:
- The certificate is in English not Japanese kanji.
- The certificate is printed not handwritten.
- There is no individual seal, stamp or signature of Soke "Ooyama" who supposedly awarded it.
Several other reasons indicate the certificate is a sham:
- Both Leo and Ooyama (which doesn’t appear to be a real Japanese name) are both listed as Soke on the certificate. Soke is an inherited title so once one is named Soke the other person doesn't use the title anymore if still alive, as the term generally means “Head of Household”.
- The certificate is giving him a Sandan (3rd Dan) which is a low rank for a Soke, who would automatically be the highest ranking person in the system. (such as 10th dan)
- The cert list Karatedo on it as well a Tengu Ryu. Karate is a Gendai (modern) art and has never used the term Soke. Why would karate be mentioned on a certificate for a ninjitsu ryu?
- The handwriting is poorly done. Even when Japanese learn to write English they have very flowing strokes that characterize the kana they are normally writing. It appears as though a westerner attempted to use a brush in order to imitate a Japanese hand.
These “fill in the blanks” certificates are common mail order purchases and can easily be obtained over the internet. They might be used for lower ranking students but a real Soke of a koryu art would not receive such a cheap printout.
There are many reasons why an individual might claim to be a ninja grandmaster. They may do it for money, fame or to fill in emptiness in their lives. Perhaps Leo Clausen is mentally ill and really does believe himself to be a ninja grandmaster? One thing is for sure, despite several requests and opportunities, not a single piece of corroborating evidence has ever been put forward by this man for any of his claims.
Thanks to Evil Asia for the information on historical Japanese certificates and names. TakeAnother for confronting Leo on the Ashida Kim message board. Thomas Andersen for assistance in enquiries. And all the members of Bullshido who discussed the issue.