Sandbox:Steve Arce

From The Martial Arts Encyclopedia
Steve Arce


Article by Chuck Hardin.


Steve Marcello Arce is a Los Angeles, California judo instructor. He has made several claims of high judo rank and a glamorous record of service in the Marine Corps. The reality behind these claims is mostly honorable, but significantly less impressive. Arce has exaggerated his judo and military ranks, and has continued these deceptions even in the face of solid evidence to the contrary. Furthermore, his behavior is not appropriate as an instructor of the martial arts.


Martial Arts Claims

Judo Rank

Steven Seck's letter of recommendation. He later thought better of it, stating that Arce was "unqualified to be an instructor."

There is little dispute that Arce is a skilled judoka, nor that he is a dedicated practitioner of the art. However, his past rank claims have proven difficult to confirm, and in some cases are obviously exaggerated.

Bullshido member Matt Phillips posted two scans of Arce's credentials: A 1996 judo fourth-degree black belt certificate from Grappler's Edge instructor Sheldon Marr, and a letter of recommendation from judo instructor Steven Seck. Matt Phillips confirmed the Marr certification in a phone conversation.

I contacted Steven Seck to check the authenticity of the letter. His first reply was guarded, but he made a provocative statement: "Yes, he is a qualified black belt, but I do not consider him a qualified teacher of judo." When I inquired further, Seck explained:

I had to ban him from attending my classes due to unprofessional conduct. I thought he provoked an altercation with one of my brown belts, which is why I deem him unqualified to be an instructor.

As for the fourth-degree black belt claim, there is no evidence that it was ever registered with any official judo organization. As Mark Tripp, a sixth-degree black belt in judo, prominent coach, and world-famous judo expert, says about issuing dojo rank in judo:

Legitimate Judo rank MUST come from the people, and ONLY the people, given the authority to issue it, period. The power structure flows downhill in a very clear stream, well until it gets to the US. A person with legitimate Judo rank from Turkey, who relocates to the US, will have no problem. A few emails will be made up the chain of command, and then new papers will be issued for your new home country. Of course this all depends on if your papers were issued by the IJF approved people.

By now it should be plain why "dojo promotions" are a VERY bad idea.

Do people "slip through the cracks?" Yes, but usually not for long. People who have legitimate Judo ranks and skills will bloom where they are planted. They, or their students, display a level of skill around the rank claimed.

Butt kicking wrestlers, will promote through batsugun, and be registered at the rank they just earned at the shiai. Ron Tripp went from white belt to black belt in one event this way.

Currently, in the US, your papers must be issued from USJI, USJA, or USJF.

In any case, Arce's judo rank claims have varied wildly over time:

When USJA Board member Neil Ohlenkamp questioned Arce's judo black belt claim, Arce mentioned only the fourth-degree black belt from Sheldon Marr, and none of the subsequent rank claims.

Arce has never produced a single piece of evidence for any of those claims. Bullshido concludes that they are false.

Connections With Oleg Taktarov

Arce has claimed close connections to a number of famous martial artists. In some cases, as with Karo Parisyan, these connections are indisputable and close. In other cases, however, Arce is exaggerating or lying outright.

For example, Matt Phillips introduced Arce as a training partner of Oleg Taktarov. However, Stephen Koepfer contacted Taktarov on June 6, 2010:

...I called Oleg Taktarov. Arce seems to indicate in his posts that he knows Oleg, and told WW during a phone conversation that he recently spoke to Taktarov about MoS ranks and passbooks (because of our recent look into sambo black belts).

I called Oleg, whom I do have a friendship with and asked if he knew Arce. Oleg had no idea who I was talking about. I asked him about the name Steve Arce, The Hunter nickname, said he would have known him from Beverly hills JiuJitsu, and also about and recent phone conversations he had about sambo ranks and passbooks. Oleg drew a blank and had no idea who Arce is.

... One would assume that if Oleg had such a long relationship with Arce, and during such formative times in Oleg's career here in the states, he would know who he is. Oleg remembers me, and we have only trained together 2 times, had lunch once, and did a radio show together.

Bullshido concludes that Arce's claim is false.

Military Service Claims

Matt Phillips posted Arce's rank claims:

After high school I enlisted in the Marine Corps and completed AIT for MOS 5811 (Military Police) and 5816 (Special Reaction Team (3RT) Member) before being stationed in Okinawa. ...After 6 months in Okinawa I was permanently stationed in Quantico, VA, where I met and trained under my coach world champion wrestler and SAMBO player Greg Gibson...

Arce repeated his claims of MOS 5811 and 5816 (Military Police and Special Reaction Team, respectively) a few posts later. This was consistent with a 2004 claim he made on, and with later posts

His profile on VetFriends claims an exit rank of E-5 and service from 1987 to 1993. He repeated these claims in a post on Bullshido, and added that he was also qualified under MOS 0311 (infantryman). He also claimed multiple schools of training, including sniper school for SRT and three Expert qualifications on weapons.

His military claims also touched on his martial arts record, as when he claimed to have been "USMC Judo Champion at -84 Kg. from 88'-92'".

enrious interprets:

1st RTBN, RTR - 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment

MCRD, San Diego - Marine Corps Recruit Depot
Note that under Primary Duty it says (9900), indicating a student and (03), which I believe indicates the number of months serving in that capacity and at that station.

HQBN SCOLOFINF - Headquarters Battallion, School of Infantry
MCB CAMPEN - Marine Combat Battalion - somewhat shaky on this, as I remember it being referenced as "MCTB" or the like, Marine Combat Training Battalion, used to denote persons undergoing MCT, a 1 month "basic" infantry course for all Marines. After MCT, persons with an 0300 MOS will continue on to the Infantry Training Battalion (ITB), but this would be noted seperately. Also, note the (1) under Primary Duty. 1 month is consistent with MCT. If someone had a non 0300 MOS, then after MCT, they would proceed on to their MOS school.

Which brings us to
MarCor Det. AFMTC (ATC) - Guessing Marine Corps Detachment, Armed Forces Military Training Center. No idea about (ATC)
Note that he is listed as a student 5811 or Military Police. This would appear to be his MOS school.

For the rest, it appears that he was stationed in the Fleet for 12 months as a MP, before serving out almost 1.5 years in Pendelton in the same capacity. I believe the (29) reflects cumulative time spent as an 5811 in this instance

Counting up months, 3+1+2+29= 35 months, although there is some rounding evident in them. It can be quite easy for there to be lost weeks not reflected in the time lines, for example, the initial training period was 13 weeks but is rounded to 3 months, upon arrival to MCT he could have spent a week or two caught up in mess duty or the like and so on, not to mention leave time accrued.

So based solely upon that document, It appears to be someone who signed under a 3-year active plan (they had them at the time), went to boot camp in May of '90, proceeded on to MCT and then MP school, went to the Fleet for a year, then finished the remainder of those 3 years in Pendelton, before being discharged as LCPL.

Certainly an honorable service, without need of embellishment.

EDIT: I looked up the 3rd FSSG and it makes a little more sense. The 3rd Force Service Support Group was/is stationed in Okinawa and I'm guessing the San Fran reference is an administrative function. If this is the case, it would explain the Sea Service ribbon being awarded as the individual would have spent a year overseas.

Bullshido concludes that Arce's service claims are exaggerated. He was never trained in MOS 5816 (SRT), nor 0311 (infantry), nor was he "USMC Judo Champion at -84 Kg. from 88'-92'".

Arce's Response To The Investigation "That one Sniper School at Mare Island on it is not even in the right place at the right time." (What sniper school?) "Okinawa and Japan are also not on it. It is not correct. End of story. " (Okinawa is on it) (I follow up on this) (offered some photos that proved nothing, as I told him:

I make the SF-180 offer: enrious explains:

Arce stops responding