Humor Me If You Will
“Honesty is something you can’t wear out.” – Waylon Jennings
I feel as if I am caught in a never-ending storm here, this continuing drama with Bret Gordon.... where we have been on this rambling journey and ultimately where did we find ourselves as this story unfolded? What a whirlwind these last many months have been with this constantly developing story. Across multiple blogs by different writers truths (not HALF truths) have been revealed and the story of Gordon and his antics have become the stuff of fraudoka legends.
Within the last few weeks Gordon out of the blue issued a challenge to Dr. Dale Dugas that was scheduled for November 12th, 2020 at his school, Trio Martial Arts, in , Florida. Gordon issued the challenge, had a long and lengthy back and forth with Dugas on his social media and then ultimately agreed to various terms to include the signing of a waiver. So...yeah, technically they agreed to stipulations set forth by both sides.
On November 5th, 2020 Dugas was out with his friends and decided to hand deliver the waiver to Gordon himself at his school. Of course for everyone’s safety and accountability both to himself and for Gordon he filmed it and his two friends who accompanied him did the same.
About an hour after Dugas left the school he sent me the footage from all three phones through Facebook Messenger and asked me to post them for proof he had accepted the challenge from the Kaiso of American Yoshinkan Aikijujutsu and everything was ready. He made comments about the cordiality and politeness of Gordon despite him drinking in the front office with another student. However as Dugas explained to me and as you can see in the video that Gordon further stated he was going through personal issues and had cancelled class. No worries at that point. Dugas said to me via telephone that Gordon invited them back anytime to the school afterwards and even offered to let them view the documents though no filming. Yeah, big surprise there. Gordon has caught a lot of flack over time for his claims of these "super secret scrolls" which he says some of which come from Daito Ryu itself in some of his posts.
However, I digress.
Sadly as is the way of Bret Gordon he saw an opportunity to spin the situation into something it was not even close to resembling. By the next day he was recycling the situation as an attempt to make him intimidated and to bravely call off the match on the 12th of November. Upon receiving the waiver he immediately went to his own social media and friends to scream of how Dugas was showing up and giving him the document with some twisted, ulterior motives. As he said this he also attempted to spin the friends who accompanied Dugas to the school in order to witness these events as “bodyguards.” Though most know this from the video we all know that could not be farther from the truth. And to make things clear Gordon DID say Dugas could bring one or two people with him, film the event, and move from there. He would of course be given the same courtesy. Gordon did, after all, issue the challenge and it was publicly acknowledged, accepted and agreed to.
So....what caused this sudden change of heart? I hope I can answer that question today. All it takes is some critical thinking and some small amounts of conjecture.
What Could Have Been
For this much of it is going to be based on conjecture and my own personal theories. Using the information that our heroes have made public it would be to assume that Gordon is both a victim of the lies perpetrated by Hatfield and his background stories of his training but it is also quite reasonable to assume that Gordon KNEW all along some of the things at least that Hatfield claimed began and ended with him. If the latter is more I will say outright he is just as culpable of these fraudulent claims. If that is the situation then the claims regarding one William Sirbaugh (here) or the situation about Patrick Justice (here) would have been very common knowledge between the two men. Justice was Hatfield's family and Sirbaugh passed before Gordon entered Hatfield’s life. So on Sirbaugh he may have taken it as he saw it….not so much face value but a way to guaranteed martial arts superstardom.
Is Gordon a villain in all of this? If things are as they seem he is at the very least a tragic one. Here we have a kid who at a young age wanted so badly to be a martial arts teacher that he decided at the age of sixteen to step out on his own and allow his family to financially back a school for him. He was found to have purchased his (then) fourth dan from the World Black Belt Bureau and he has since claimed that was his father’s doing. To his credit Gordon has been honest on this point it appears. But it seems to most reading that the ONLY legitimate rank he had earned at this stage was a first dan from his original Tae Kwon Do teacher who was blasted by members of Bullshido only for Gordon to get a pass.
So, sometime after 2008 I am going to assume that the school began to falter or possibly slow down and Gordon began competing. He has an old YouTube channel dedicated to these days and honestly, he looked quite happy in some of those old videos. One can hear who I assume is his father in there talking to him. And during this time perhaps he started training with other instructors attempting to refine himself. Maybe he started on a good path. It is confirmed he was on a Karate competition team and competed on the circuit. This would be impressive in and of itself and with that background he could have built a great career and school just on those laurels.
It would be sometime around 2011 that he met the man who brought him to this point: Steven W. Hatfield. It was then he began training with him. He even addresses him as being his “father” on his social media. For whatever their connection is truly there are some issues here which stand out as glaringly as pimples on a stripper's ass. From titles galore, multiple belts, and certificates littering his dojo wall Hatfield was to my knowledge the man who gave Gordon this...boost of confidence, maybe? If you compare their own love me walls in past articles they are almost identical. And yes, Hatfield’s own background is currently under scrutiny as the systems he passed to his student which include Combat , American and American have all come under fire since they seem to have originated with a man named Sirbaugh, and it appears the alleged master may have been in prison quite a good bit at this point. Note that Sirbaugh is, or was, Hatfield's step-father.
I think Hatfield built his entire history on dead people because they can tell no tales. From Sirbaugh to also Jack “Papasan” Stern (an amazing article by, of all things, CNN!) he appears to me to be an opportunist. Can he fight? Maybe so, but we never hear of him on the mat with others. He simply talks from the safety of his fortress. It does seem relative to me to point out that the only legitimate ranking he has that has so far been confirmed is in the system of Master Clarence West’s Kuen Do and Machado BJJ, the last one being alleged to be a video course from sources who have talked to myself and other bloggers. As a BJJ guy myself I would wager Steven uses his size a lot more rather than solid technique to overcome his opponents. He does this while stating that he has earned a blue belt in the art, something that takes on average 1-3 solid years of mat time, instruction and grappling. Again this is something I personally feel he does little of unless he wants to "silence his critics."
Also Gordon began to use the power of his blog to write articles smearing those he didn’t agree with and in May of this year he brought a lot of scrutiny down on himself with a poorly written article that I believe Hatfield assisted in and attempted to use to push a narrative against another legitimate martial artist. And it was around that time they both contacted the previous hotline number that Investigations had at the time. Gordon called first and he lied outright to Greg and Cayce on the phone. How do I know this? Because working with the both of them the truth about his allegations of fakery by Shepherd were already disassembled. But as was Greg’s way he wanted to give Gordon the chance to be honest just one time. And without surprise he failed. He blatantly lied to my friends on the phone without even blinking and they had already uncovered the information needed to debunk his “journalistic endeavor.” And ever since then information about his many organizations and methods have been made public in a snowball effect.
He ran with a theory that Dugas and Shepherd were me, something completely shot down and even affirmed with the words of a man who was in the picture with Greg himself and laughed that Gordon would make such an assumption practically out of desperation. It probably helped that our team talked Dugas into planting that seed to see if the duo would take the bait and without fail….they did. You can read how Gordon got his Sherlock Holmes on here.
Also there is the fact Gordon himself claims a fairly substantial rank in Judo through the USTKJ as does Hatfield as well. The USTKJ is one of these grass-root organizations which is NOT a governing body of the art but Gordon slammed in his own words the actual governing bodies of Judo in the USA actually recognized by the Kodokan in the United States. I believe this was why they slandered Shepherd to begin with was because he was in fact very legitimate and due to their idiocy he received a long and overdue promotion. So why not go for broke and slam the NGB’s? Anything to make your own tenuous organization with what appears no real links to anything beyond itself appear to be more real? I guess when you state you ONLY do self-defense and NOT sport....well, you probably do not really have the means or ability to get on the mat and show your alleged skills in randori.
Finally all of this came to a head at last with this final tuck and run from a challenge he himself administered and will not follow through with. Which if you read his social media this seems to be the OPPOSITE of what he claims. Gordon has been on record saying “if anyone has a problem” he will show upon your door and have a discussion with you. A sidenote here...if you are going to show up at someone's school do so when they're open. Not late at night, when they're closed, and when everyone is gone home.
Is it possible on this last "tucking" that perhaps Hatfield himself asked him to do that? He is after all sitting hundreds of miles away in Ohio at his own school. I think it has become obvious to a lot of people that he is using his own student to take this heat rather than stand and help him defend the situation which with every remark or blog post by Gordon gets progressively worse. I believe the fact that Dugas showed up and handed off the waiver in person is something that shook them all up and that includes Gordon, Hatfield, and even the apparent actual owner of the school, Richard Hackworth. Because up until that moment all of Gordon’s friends were rooting him on, making fun of Dugas and finally stating over and over that he would not have the guts to do so. Interestingly enough Gordon says sometimes he is part or half owner of the school, and then in situations like these he states Hackworth is the sole owner....or something.
But yes, his surrounding company continues to root him on against the Illustrated Mantis. Until the Illustrated Mantis showed up. But Gordon couldn't get on the mat that night if he wanted to. He didn't have his uniform on. He said so in the video.
Add to this he was drinking actively in the school with a student and regardless of how you view that it can’t be good for the image a school wants to project especially when one sees all of Hackworth’s own certificates on the walls around the office area.
Yes it is my firm belief that he ducked this time on the orders of Hatfield, and only Gordon and his teacher can say anything in regards to this. Or maybe I’m wrong and if so I doubt I or anyone else will ever know. But one thing for certain I see from watching this is that the only time Hatfield sees fit to call or reach out is if someone is on the phone with him of if he has a crowd cheering him on via social media. He is also known to send nasty messages via Facebook Messenger as well. And in that vein Gordon screams about intimidation against him yet they both had no issue making a conference call to Don Roley some months ago, nor did they think it was a problem to try that with Shepherd as well. The result of the latter was a complete and utter fail for them as Shepherd essentially told them both they were liars despite Gordon being the only one willing to speak. And yes, Steven, I know you were on there. Shepherd was nice enough to screenshot to me the actual call listing showing it was a conference call from you and your boy near him….Gordon. What were you thinking would happen when you two called him? Perhaps and invite to dinner? At Miller's maybe?
And here is yet again….conjecture. And please do correct me on any of these if I’m wrong. But it seems to me that you are pulling something very akin to what Bryce Dallas did. He stood behind his own cronies and had them defend him and any messages he put forth were sent through them. This man is his student, he inherited what now seems to be nothing but fluff, and he has let him take the brunt of this mess from the critics.
Somehow this doesn’t seem fair to me at all.
I mean, Patrick Justice was Hatfield’s cousin. Sirbaugh was his stepfather. These arts were given from Steve to Gordon. I find it kind of odd that he won’t stand up and actually speak in defense of his one and true inheritor.
Some very questionable things have come of this entire project. Greg worked to show that Gordon and Hatfield knew about Justice. Did Justice ever hurt or victimize another person? Most likely not and I would assume at this point being he was the cousin of Steven that it is likely a known fact in their whole family. Gordon to his defense in this may NOT have known about Justice's conviction prior to 2017. But in October of that year he did know by his own admission and never made a peep about it. Again I believe this was at the behest of his own teacher. Hatfield knew if that ever got out the stink it could cause and well, it caused it. Gordon has spun it so much and so far as to boggle the mind.
But they never minded doing it to others who registered for membership, did they?
But herein lies the beauty of this for Hatfield. He handed that over to Gordon. It was Gordon’s job to run it correctly and well and ensure that it was handled appropriately…which it wasn’t. And should things go South for the associations well Hatfield can hide within his only legitimate rankings, that of Kuen Do and continue to work with Master Parrish or he can go train with the Machado BJJ people via video and seminars as it is often claimed is his sole source of BJJ training.
This is my own thoughts here, but he can walk away from Gordon completely and never look back at this point. It seems Gordon is losing students and his consistent actions to keep the lie alive are not working. Add to it that a few months ago a BJJ practitioner friend of Greg’s came to see him before he passed and related he had actually visited Bret Gordon’s Trio Martial Arts and was not impressed at all with his “Judo” or his “grappling.”
And finally the thumbing of their noses at Kay Fuzy and her late husband’s legacy with the real American , it seems the end of many of their organizations are near. And who is to blame? They are. With the information they made public that could be disputed in the end it seems that both of them have done the damage to themselves. That very act has caught the attention of many of Fuzy's associates. This includes a Master Horn who was most disgruntled at the actions of these two men and their claims to fame on the coattails of a man he respected.
In the end we have as Sapiens has called it all along: one giant circle-jerk of epic proportions, to include rank trading, cross-certification, slander and defamation of any and all who would in their minds be a competitor…maybe this is why they worked so hard to talk massive amounts of proverbial poop about the NGB’s of Judo. I notice they have never done that to the IBJJF and with good reason. It would possibly hamper any future endeavors Hatfield has in the hopes of being a recognized blue belt and grappler.
Finally we have the question as to where will these two go from here? Will they remain close and continue to work together? Will they move forward with their new Karate organization and in league with Leon Majors? Word from those in the know is that the Meibukan ranks these three have are all probationary. But I am willing to bet they took those ranks and just scuttled them to another organization to get them recognized, thereby eliminating the need to go to Okinawa again and make them official. I truly hope those in the know come forward and give me that update.
I’m sure at this point if it is they will either show the evidence of their legacies or not. What is true is that the very things which Bret Gordon and Steven Hatfield have screamed were true for so long have often been the things they refuse to provide proof for. And with each organization or association they create a slew of issues seem to stem up and rise against them from very PUBLIC claims they make. They then turn and seem offended anyone would DARE vet them or confirm what they have said.
Heaven forbid you be held to prove claims in this world.
Most likely they will continue to collect ranks from their other friends in their fellowship as often as need be. I mean at one point Frank Dux was ranked in Hatfield’s own home-brew Karate system, right? And with references like those how could they ever go wrong? And with the alleged link to Jack Stern they feel they still have some links to lineage. And that would be fine if Stern himself was not a fraud as well.
A confirmed one at that.
Before We Go
Mark my words: this story isn’t over. It’s simply being rebooted. Give it time. It’s like a television show that had the same actors but they find themselves in another completely different universe as different people under different jobs, with different homes, you know the kind, right?
Gordon will try and make a comeback. He will never let go of being a headmaster of a style. I surely wish he would attempt it the legitimate way. If he did he would gain so much more, but his own pathological need to lie holds him back. He has been this way for far too long. I doubt he can let go of who he believes himself to be at this point. Greg often used to say these guys will believe something so long it literally becomes their reality. Kinda like Thomas "The Machine" Daw or Christophe "Uncle Fester" Clugston.
Hatfield will continue on with the Technician Dojo and teaching what appears to be lackluster Judo skills to students who know no better I’m sure. He will continue to toss support towards anyone who he thinks can help him get ahead. Maybe he will see this situation and the way Gordon handled it and decide to disavow his student. Who knows? And this may be why he was silent for so long. Maybe he sat back and knew whatever Gordon did inadvertently reflected upon him thereby the need to remain so silent except in the most rare of circumstances was prudent for him. He couldn’t afford for his own rank, titles and reputation to be at risk, right? I am almost sure the Machado folks would not like to know he is claiming tons upon tons of ranks in made-up styles and legitimate arts....that is, if that is the case. Right, Steve?
For people like these the ranks shall always define them. It is who they are. If they aren’t Soke, , Kaiso, Doshi, or any other number of other ridiculous names (try saying some of them seven times fast) they are nothing. They would rather be a terrible black belt than a proficient yellow belt.
Per Bret's most recent article I said on BSMA out loud in a comment there was something he said that could very well come back to haunt him now.
To give some martial advice I have taken from my own experiences over the years, I share it now with these two men. I would rather hope they would accept it as a gracious gift which seems to be something they will scoff or laugh at.
Skill is not identified by the belt you wear.
Integrity is seen even when we aren’t looking.
And honesty is all that is ever needed.