Article by Dave Humm
Ralph Severe who refers to himself as "Kamiyama", is a former Bujinkan Black Belt who runs a Dallas based martial arts academy.
Severe is widely known as an outspoken individual and former student of Ninjutsu under Masaaki Hatsumi. Severe claims to have studied a multitude of martial systems over 35 years. Claiming to achieved 6 separate black belt grades in 6 different martial arts at the age of 19. Original source here.
He first came to the attention of the Bullshido community in 2004, then again in 2005 when a question was posed asking if Ralph Severe was Bullshido. Some 5 years later, the thread along with a sister thread re-emerged with Severe himself contributing.
Severe had been discussed here in 2004, although there were some unfavorable comments made by various forum members concerning the wording, terminology or other grammatical faux pas from Severe's own website and, the usual scorn abound regarding Ninjutsu; the general consensus was that Severe was open minded, cross trained and wasn't afraid of sparring with aliveness in his training and teaching methods.
The 2004 thread, although posted in the MABS investigation forum went nowhere. It was later revisited in 2006 by one of Severe's students apparently offering his own perspective but didn't reveal anything important enough for anyone to start more formal enquiries. The thread eventually drifted into obscurity.
On the 26th January 2010 "kamiyamashinobi" (Ralph Severe) posted within the 2005 thread stating he'd found the thread and considered it immature and silly however, he had an open policy on answering questions and would be willing to do so.
The same day Severe made his initial post, forum member "AMF" asked Severe to provide information regarding his claimed Shodan in Shotokan Karate and what Severe's website described as "a Black Belt in Sport Judo" Severe responded by stating he would only answer questions regarding his present day training or that of his training within the Bujinkan. Severe continued restricting the scope of questions, until the questions were limited to the last nine years of his teaching. He again made the point that he found the thread immature and silly.
Severe avoided answering the questions posed by AMF, prompting them to be brought to Severe's attention again the following day, Severe's response was to similarly avoid the question choosing to post a meaningless rebuttal.
Severe responded to a third enquiry by finally posting a list of alleged qualifications or courses which he claimed to have undertaken however, although listing those courses, he neglected to provide sufficient information which would enable simple verification, information such as the issuing body or authority. Severe soon took the stance that posting these qualifications was justification enough of their validity.
It was with the inclusion of this post which caught my particular attention. As an operationally experienced member of the British Armed Forces I found it interesting that Severe was claiming his AOC (Art Of Combat) material was useful to US military operating overseas. Given that much of the last decade has been devoted to operations within Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East in general, I thought it reasonable to assume that Severe would have trained military personnel who'd operated in those Middle Eastern theatres. It was this assumption, my own operational experience and the material I was seeing from Severe that gave me some concerns.
Ralph's Judo and BJJ Ranking Problems
Some five days after Severe's first post, the questions regarding his dan grades in Karate and Judo were again put to him. They remained unanswered until the following information was posted by forum member Jeff Hanson: Hason had been in communication with the three recognised Judo organisations. These were their responses.
The above messages refuted Severe's claim of a Judo Yudansha grade. Forum member "Mtripp" - a legitimate and well known Judo 6th dan - confirmed that if the US Judo organisations USJI, USJF, USJA did not list Severe then his Judo black belt would not be legitimate.
All three of the US organisations responsible for administering Judo yudansha grades had never heard of Ralph Severe. Forum member "Cy Q. Faunce" additionally questioned Severe about his legitimacy soliciting no discernable response. It is therefore quite reasonable to assert that Ralph Severe does not hold a legitimately issued shodan in Judo within the United States.
Jeff Hanson obtained a another response from the World Tang Soo Association to his enquiries relating to Severe's Tang Soo Do claim of Black Belt. Not surprisingly they did not list Severe as a black belt either. It is therefore quite reasonable to assert that Ralph Severe does not hold a legitimately issued black belt in Tang Soo Do from the World Tang Soo Association.
Severe had claimed that although he didn't hold an instructional qualification he was the holder of a brown belt with black stripe in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. When questioned about the grade, Severe eventually released the name of the instructor as being Allen Mohler.
On the 9th Feb 2010, Forum member "Psycho Dad" telephoned Mohler where he confirmed that Severe had been an "on and off" student over a period of 6 years and, although initially, Mohler wasn't sure of the grade he'd issued to Severe, he later confirmed that his [Severe's] last grade was at least that of a purple belt. It is therefore reasonable to assert that Ralph Severe does not hold the grade of brown belt with black stripe from the named instructor.
Ralph's Military Experiences, and ability to teach military techniques
On the 6th February 2010, my interest in Severe's training piqued again with this post which included a YouTube clip of an AK47 reliability test. This was in direct response to an earlier post of mine in another active thread of the YMAS forum. The question was asked "How much of this advice is sound?" I offered my opinion as an operationally deployed infantry soldier, as well as an experienced small arms instructor.
Severe didn't like what I had to say challenging me to prove my point by posting a video clip on YouTube of me breaking an AK47 by using the foresight, rear sight and magazine as areas to strike with. (those points being in contention) He took exception to my opinions which were based on professional qualifications and current military operational experience, - dismissing both as irrelevant.
Severe later posted another clip demonstrating the robustness of the AK47 claiming that this particular video corroborated his earlier point of view however; ironically, what it actually did was demonstrate very clearly two specific aspects I had refuted. Namely, the ways in which a rifle would be used and handled in a CQC (Close Quarter Combat) situation.
From this point onwards Severe simply repeated his demands for me to prove my point by posting on YouTube. Something which I cannot do living in the United Kingdom whose laws legally prohibit me from handling such a weapon, let alone attempting to damage one. However, common sense dictates that even without resorting to breaking a weapon to prove it will break, nothing, including an AK 47 (robust as they are) is entirely indestructible. Despite this, Severe simply repeated himself to the point of stupidity.
I later attempted to discuss material Severe described as woodland tactics. Severe had a YouTube video clip showing members of his Ninja school apparently engaged in "woodland" tactics including what looked like advance and manouvre with firearms. I wanted to know if he was actually teaching this material. Severe claimed on more than one occasion that he had taught these skills to Military/LEO and Bodyguard personnel.
Severe's students demonstrated some skill in terms of movement with a rifle however; what I was also seeing were members of Severe's Ninja school performing rolling to the ground (ukemi) then taking up a fire position with weapons, skills which are simply not applicable in a real world military environment.
Remembering - these individuals were dressed in US military uniforms and Severe had already claimed to have taught these skills to military personnel. Despite my efforts, Severe disregarded my questions on the subject. I later asked Severe if the drills I'd watched in his video were simply conditioning, a from of physical exercise; he ignored the question.
The following picture was taken in the Basra region of Iraq during my last tour in 2009. It clearly illustrates both US and UK forces carrying equipment which would restrict the freedom of movement required to perform either a forward or backward roll to the ground or, the weapon handling/control as seen in Severe's YouTube video, the same skills he claims being taught to US military before going overseas.
Now, I'm not suggesting that Severe hasn't physically taught military personnel, merely questioning the actual worth of such material to professionals who undergo considerable pre-deployment training prior to and during any operational tour. Given my own British military experiences and having served alongside such professionals from the 10th Mountain Division and other US Army units, I believe otherwise.
Indeed forum member "Tgace" a former US soldier who was previously attached to 10th Mountain Division confirmed
..//.. I was NEVER trained in nor saw anybody else using the sort of tumbling, rolling, weaponcraft skills that Ralph is displaying about the net
Conversely, if Severe was presenting his AOC material directed purely for home defense, I could at least partly understand it's purpose however, this cannot be the case as this fails to explain the strong military style of ground tactics, the dressing in military uniform(s) and the study of fixed bayonet rifle drills. "Tgace" - posted video material offering this up as a direct comparison against what Severe and his students presented. when asked if Severe could ...see any differences he retorted defensively and pointlessly
Do anything of purpose today?
Get anything done other than post on a forum?
Do you have a life?
Eventually I challenged Severe to produce just one verifiable, independent testimony from either a serving LEO/Military/Government client who could verify the worth of his skills/knowledge. If he produced such verification I offered to publicly retract everything negative I'd said about him. Despite Severe later attempting to claim this challenge had been satisfied, there was never any independent verification. However, on the 11th Feb 2010 Severe again protested that he'd provided information sufficient to satisfy my request, in doing so also claimed to have served in the US Marines. Forum member AMF - a current member of the US military extended an offer to verify his DD214 from his service in an unofficial capacity, not surprisingly Severe refused.
Further, Severe apparently did send a number of documents to a fellow member of Bullshido - Darrell Simon - "Dsimon" however; Severe stipulated that this information was not to be disseminated. It was therefore a worthless gesture and one which became apparent as an intentional tactic to draw the debate away from Severe providing simple concise answers to simple and concise questions.
If Severe's website is to be believed, it appears that Severe draws much of his "tactical" instructional material from Systema however, he doesn't appear to have any formal teaching qualification in Systema its self. Original source here.
..//.. Even though Ralph Severe has personally trained with Russian martial artist over the years he is not licensed in any Russian cultural arts
Tired with Raph's evasions, forum member "Cy Q. Faunce" requested Severe's military records under the Freedom Of Information Act. Severe had claimed he'd served in the US Marines. Carried a firearm in the line of duty, and discharged it at a human being. It was unclear whether Severe was using his experience in the Marines or his experience in security work to support those specific claims. However; Since Severe's military records indicated he had served less then 50 days in the United States Marines, this undermined his claims to any expertise in military matters, or any combat experience as a Marine. It is possible he may have carried a rifle around his base a couple times before being prematurely discharged.
On the 12th March I requested information specifically regarding the bayonet training Marine recruits received in 1979.
I was informed by members of the USMC community that very little fixed bayonet training was undertaken - around 1 to 2 hours within the 13 week course, and that it was undertaken during "Field Week" around the 43 day mark of the course.
Further, it was also confirmed that anyone with a medical issue severe enough to warrant a discharge from the Corps would have required the individual to have spent time within a holding platoon outside of the training regime. Given this information and, that I understand that Ralph Severe was medically discharged, it is reasonable to assert Ralph Severe never actually conducted fixed bayonet training whilst a recruit.
As a result of my enquiries at www.leatherneck.com a member for that website made contact with Severe via telephone in an attempt to discuss issue of my questions. Following a short period of time I received a reply which stated Ralph Severe was "good to go" with regard to his martial arts credentials. However; this did nothing to further answer the actual question at hand concerning USMC bayonet training conducted in 1979.
On the 16th March Severe posted into the same thread at www.leatherneck.com in an attempt at defending himself and berating me for making my enquiries. Within Severe's post he attempted to highlight several comments which caused him concern, unfortunately Severe failed to provide a clear and concise argument posting a wall of text in red font - making the reading and understanding of such information impossible on the eyes. Behaviour which is conducive to his own here, and on other discussion forums.
It is interesting to note on the 16th March 2010 Severe stated...
At no time have I ever told anyone, wrote on my web site, or on a forum that I trained in bayonet fighting at Paris Island during my very short stay at bootcamp in 1979.
But that's not true because, on the 27th January 2006 Severe wrote...
..//.. When I was in USMC boot camp in 1979 I was training fixed bayonet
Within the same statement Severe also alluded to have taught US Special Forces over a period in excess of 15 years.
Ralph's Law Enforcement Claims
Severe had made several comments which appeared to suggest Law Enforcement service or claim possession of Law Enforcement training and certification. Severe also alluded to being in possession of...
..//.. Licences from three different Law Enforcement Academies.
Severe had previous alluded that by listing his courses/qualifications was justification enough for their validity, but also suggested that that an instructor was available to take a phone call to validate the questions we were presenting. Not so ironically, Severe neglected to provide the number for anyone to call however, I believe the "instructor" Severe was referring too, was actually one of his black belt students and Police Officer Kevin L Gutierrez.
Forum Member and serving Police Officer "tgace" provided information which clarified what Severe was claiming as "Law Enforcment" qualification was actually Security Guard training. The issue of what Severe referred too as "GSPTA" was still under question.
Severe eventually started to produce electronically edited images of his supposed Law Enforcement qualifications however; certain areas of those documents were intentionally blanked out, specifically; signatures and aspects of the name of the academy or learning centre where the certification was issued. It is also important to state that in addition to Severe's presentation of those certificates, it also accompanied a statement on his part, that those documents might (or might not) be fake.
More of Severe's claimed certification:
Severe's list of "LE Certified" training had been difficult to either prove or disprove because the acronyms Severe attached to them were unknown to a serving Police Officer. Most search engine results of the claimed sources point back primarily to his Bullshido thread. However, following the release of Severe's edited certification, it appeared as if some of the documentation may have come from one of his students, a Law Enforcement Officer - Kevin L Gutierrez. aka "Oniyama".
According to Severe's website, Kevin L Gutierrez, is a police officer, Gutierrez's instructor profile states that he also teaches private classes in his Security and Law Enforcement program in his spare time. When Severe was questioned if Gutierrez was one of the sources for his 'law enforcement' credentials, his response was to ignore the enquiry.
"Oniyama" is the warrior name for Kevin L Gutierrez given through Ralph Severe's Kamiyama Dojo, some of Severe's own alledged LE Certification come from the Oniyama Protection and Security Academy and from the Gutierrez Security and Law Enforcement [or Police] Training Center.
These are the qualifications Severe claims from : "GSPTA" which I believe to be from Kevin L Gutierrez. - Gutierrez Security and Police Training Academy
- Advanced Instructor Law Enforcement AK Semi Auto Rifle
- Advanced Instructor Law Enforcement Knife Defense
- Advanced Instructor Law Enforcement CQC - Building Search Tactics
- Advanced Instructor Law Enforcement Flashlight Defensive Tactics
- Advanced Instructor Law Enforcement Weaponless Physical Control Tactics
- Advanced Instructor Law Enforcement Stick Defense
- Advanced Instructor Law Enforcement Pump and Semi Auto Shotgun
- Advanced Instructor Law Enforcement Semi Auto Pistol 9mm .40 .45
- Advanced Instructor Law Enforcement AR-15 Semi Auto Rifle
It is interesting that neither Gutierrez's Security Academy or Police Training Centre appears to have a presence on the internet or is registered as a business, corporation or training facility in any of the 50 US States.
Forum member and Law Enforcement Officer "Tgace" noticed that Severe claimed to have taken an 8 hr course in Soft Body Armor II-IIIA. Tgace asked Severe where he had received such training, stating that he had never heard of any such course being offered. Not surprisingly, Severe refused to discuss any details about this training.
Throughout the thread Severe walked a fine line between implying that he was or is involved in Law Enforcement; yet when read literally, all of his statements can also be interpreted to imply that he has simply had “law enforcement training”. Stating that he received training “in Arlington at the police academy”, is not a statement that he was an Arlington Police Officer and saying that an instructor has trained him in Law Enforcement and Security “at his academy” is equally ambiguous, as is pretty much everything else he says when being questioned.
We discovered that a Ralph Severe of Texas was trained and employed as a private security guard at one time, some of Severe’s videos show him conducting interviews in some sort of LE/Security uniform. We can reasonably assume that Severe may indeed have some legitimate LE training, but that his resume may be embellished to imply more expertise than he perhaps deserved.
On the 5th March I sent Kevin L. Gutierrez an email bringing his attention to the Ralph Severe threads. In doing so I hoped he'd respond. The following day I received a lengthy, informative - if not carefully worded response.
Gutierrez stated in his opinion ...
..//.. he [Severe] is using this type of forum [Bullshido] to study human behavior
Gutierrez additionally responded with a second email, the content of which is very likely heavily influenced by Severe himself given the construction, content, grammatical errors and statements which are almost identical to those posted into the Ralph Severe threads. None of the emails provide conclusive information or answers to the questions posed within the website threads.
On the 15th March Ralph Severe began to post threats against myself and forum members "Tgace", and "Cy Q. Faunce".
- Threat against Dave Humm - Here
How about I post all the many photos of you as well as your family names and history here too
- Threat against forum member Cy Q. Faunce - Here
..//.. you have no idea what's going on behind your back
- Threat against Dave Humm - Here
..//.. it comes without any notice or name.. you will not even know where it came from
- Threat against forum member "tgace" - Here
Your employer would love to read the childish BS you wrote..
Ultimately you have to ask yourself what you reasonably believe. Is Ralph Severe a Bullshido Artist as first claimed here in 2005?
Lets look at the facts at a glance:
- His Judo rank is questionable - none of the major organisations list him as a black belt.
- His Karate rank is questionable - he refuses to discuss the topic.
- His Tang Soo Do rank is questionable - The World Tang Soo Association does not list Severe as a black belt.
- His Brazilian Jujutsu rank is questionable - his named BJJ teacher did not issue him the grade he claims. We can confirm he is a purple belt, but not a brown belt, with a single stripe.
- His military based knowledge is questionable - Military professionals have challenged the worth of the material.
- Systema - if his website is correct, Severe teaches Systema without formal qualifications.
- His LE/LEO qualifications are exaggerated, and appear to stem from private courses taught to him by at least one of his own students who is a LEO.
- His Military service - He served less then 50 days in the United States Marines, this undermines his claims to any 'real world' expertise in military matters. Severe was prematurely discharged for an unknown medical reason.
- Severe resorted to petty threats.
I cannot be entirely sure if Severe intentionally lied with respect to his training at Parris Island in 1979 or, more generally, guilty of believing his own hype. Whichever is the case, it is reasonable to assert that one should be cautious when reading any material Severe releases into the public domain, especially when attempting to discern it's authenticity. To this end I'd be delighted to see some legitimate certifications for his claims. Not postage-stamp-sized computer-generated previews, not evasions, not lies, but simple honest proof.
My thanks go out to everyone who helped with this article.