World Sokeship Councils

From The Martial Arts Encyclopedia

Article by Dave Humm

This phenomena emanates from predominately western origins, so called martial artists who claim to have invented their own system of fighting art, who then go on to promote themselves to lofty ranks and titles - those titles and ranks often being Japanese in nature. These individuals seek credibility and many join a Sokeship Council as a means of claiming recognition and documentation as the Founder of their Family art. The most well known of these Sokeship Councils is the World Head of Family Sokeship Council

Members of these councils are often known as "Professor", or Dr. Some will claim to hold formal academic qualifications in fighting arts but if one delves into the actual legitimacy of such qualifications you inevitably discover the qualification doesn't exist or the documentation was purchased from 'paper mill universities' with no accreditation to offer such qualification. There are those who even stretch one's imagination by being referred to as a "Supreme Grand Master"

Sokeship Councils, of which there are many, serve to provide, in the eyes of their membership, credibility to those who lack lineage and generic credibility gained from devotion and effort in an established form of martial tradition. Quite often these "founders" of their own styles are martial artists who've undergone training within established systems but again often not reaching particularly high standards of skill or grade but, for their own reasons choose to invent their own art thus, elevate themselves to the grandiose position of "Soke"

Very often there are a number of easily recognised traits, commonality between those who invent their own martial arts. Here is a small example:

  • They claim to have gone beyond the established forms to have found real effectiveness
  • The names of the art feature Japanese terminology which makes no discernable sense






Circle Jerking

The term "Circle Jerk" or "Circle Jerking" was first coined on around 2004, it refers to the general practice of groups of individuals who collectively stroke each other's ego. A physical example of circle jerking occurs when one founder of a made-up art, grants another founder a senior black belt grade without testing or earning it. This process generates further 'paper mill' certification which cross-pollutes through many of the individuals who feel the need to be recognised as a Soke.

"Soke" What Does It Mean?

For the most comprehensive explanation of the term please read this article presented on

..//.. One must struggle to imagine how any non-Japanese could call himself a "soke" in English except as a joke. At the same time it is also difficult to regard this term with any special reverence or to become overly troubled by its misuse among self-proclaimed "grandmasters" and "founders."

Western martial arts instructors who are referred too as Soke should be avoided.