It has been a rough twenty four hours it would seem, right? I mean with all the scrutiny that began some months ago with regards to Kaiso Bret Gordon due to articles by Lordus Sapiens who posed some questions about his legitimacy to being a headmaster of a school that seems to have a non-existent teacher one would have thought Gordon and his teacher Hatfield would have kept their heads down.
But no, this was not the case. Instead in May of this year they penned an article discussing the legitimacy of Barron Shepherd. Shepherd is a bonafide Judoka from Florida who had written an article discussing how a Kodokan membership card is not proof of rank in Judo as well as discussing out of shape teachers. In true butt-hurt fashion the Dynamic Duo set out and overlooked current credentials, licensure and credentials to focus on things that were, in fact, out of date. It was here that Shepherd as I have stated reached out to us and asked us to investigate him personally as we had developed a reputation for being something the other two aren't....honest.
After that initial fallout from that scrutiny began to pile up. Through out everything it was discovered that Hatfield claimed a lineage in Judo from Jackie "Papasan" Stern. Stern was convicted in the late 1990's of Stolen Valor for using a Medal of Honor as a meal ticket. Allegedly in court documents he also admitted his Judo and Yudo credentials were fake. Further investigation shows that indeed his organization which claimed a link to the Kukkiwon and the Kodokan were falsified. Therefore it is with delight I say once more: any rank issued by Stern or one of his students are those which I would consider suspect.
Information on Stern and his conviction:
Yeah, I think you get the picture. Why all the links you ask? I want to be thorough as this has gone on long enough now. Let's get this out in the open. Stern met a lot of folks in the martial arts. He was loved by many who knew him and Steve, I don't doubt you cared about the guy. But being a huge supporter of the sacrifice the military men and women make I feel that when you stoop down to grab attention with a PURCHASED MEDAL OF HONOR you have essentially become a conman.
And Stern was nothing short of that it appears. His ranks that he both had and also issued were questionable. His organization began and ended with him. There is a reason National Governing Bodies are so important specifically in Judo. They require background checks. They require practice and demand you show improvement. There is a reason you and your top student admonish those organizations. I mean, unless you subscribe to Gordon's logic against NGB's.
They won't just hand you ranks, right? How do you explain your constant change of ranking? Gordon claims a nidan in Judo himself as Hatfield does a godan but I'm betting neither one can pull off a skill level past an orange belt. They state on social media as being part of the USATKJ, an unofficial governing body of Judo and it's practice it would appear. It is through here they claim their ranks. Even Gordon told me on the phone that the age requirements were lower in their organization but it was recognized by the Kodokan.
Well here is one major difference I'm finding across the board about their Judo affiliation and, say, one from a National Governing Body. In reference to an organization such as this the incentive to compete seems stifled, as the Kodokan standards point out a point system used to gauge a student's progress. One has to earn points through SANCTIONED competitions in a governing body. I reached out to two different Judo coaches on opposite ends of the country who were not kind in their comments about organizations like USATKJ. Both agreed while it teaches Judo techniques, there are some great practitioners in it, it makes it easier to attain rank and the quality of a student's ability is much, much lower. One of them from Arizona described to me an issue where a student came to them from such an organization and was a Rokudan (6th degree) at the ripe age of 23.
"Uh-huh," I said in response. Mind you at that age such a rank is quite an accomplishment....
...but not realistic.
Age requirements are quite a big deal in NGB's and with the Kodokan. The NGB's follow the Kodokan standards and as such this man was....well, quite a high rank indeed for such a young man. The coach told me once on the mat he found the kid to be at best a blue belt level. He offered to rank him as a brown and retrain him, polish him and get him involved in some competitions to get his score up, because due to not having been involved in a legitimate group promoting Judo he had lost all of his previous scorings.
Sadly the young man wouldn't humble himself and demote down to an appropriate rank. He left, and was never heard from again.
In this picture we see a screenshot from requirements from the USJA as sent to me by one of the coaches. In order to be promoted faster one has to compete. This leads to raw ability, experience, and standards which other organizations not recognized in the USA by the Kodokan, of which there are ONLY THREE, are not in their opinion meeting.
Let me be clear: I am not saying the USATKJ is not teaching Judo. What I am saying is based on conversations with coaches in National Governing Bodies they are not recognized and ranking from them will not transfer to one of the only three official governing bodies in the United States. Buyer beware, so to speak.
August 13th, 2020 - One Long, Emotional Day
I awoke on this particular morning to an email from Gordon regarding my latest article, "The Biggest DIC," whereas it was detailed fully how he was challenged by Dr. Dale Dugas, AP, he made demands of the challenge, then rechallenged Dugas on behalf of Hatfield, Dugas accepted and stated he would be there in three weeks, and then claimed victory this past Tuesday evening at his class with a whole new video to close out the affair akin to Ron Collins.
So I figure maybe I should just, I don't know, show the conversation we had through the day for all of you to bear witness my questions and such. Mind you with what I already knew by this point I was pretty upset. But I held myself pretty well all things considered. Please, dear friends, read along with me and see for yourselves what we discussed.
Mind you I wasn't the one releasing that part. I simply asked who he was. No, dear friends. It would be Don Roley and our newest member here at our office H.K. Hayward assisted by Cayce Lancaster who took to the internet to reveal that bit of information. For Roley it was a tool to educate the public on why you should verify credentials and backgrounds of those you have teach your children. For our guys it was an inquisitive set of three articles building to the fundamental questions of WHY they allowed this guy to stay on their website despite his standing as being an apparent convicted sex offender.
I was not in any mood for this. It appears that at some point they had appointed an alleged convicted sex offender to sit at the head of one of their organizations and never had mentioned any of this to the public. Now, mind you we will get to that part. However I want to show you the response I got from Gordon who I assume thought Tombstone references would ease my displeasure.
I want to point out something quite important here. Gordon teaches children, even waves about a Safesport certification on his social media and his website. But...there is one thing I want to really bring into focus here that honestly just floored me though I couldn't act like it did when I saw it.
What. The. Hell.
You were worried about smearing the name of a sex offender?
Oh ladies and gentlemen....I was not a happy camper.
Carefully, calmly after taking a breath of air and a sip of coffee...
I want you all to notice he is not answering anything I ask but is instead deflecting away the things I asked about. I feel that it was pretty self-explanatory. It included the fact that if Hatfield and Justice were lifelong friends as he claimed how did he explain an absence of some years while away in prison? Oh, never worry. Gordon would detail in his blog an answer for that one.
Well that's good. They removed him after at least knowing for nearly three full years that this man was at the very least accused if not convicted, correct?
Kaiso Gordon himself responded again complete with references to Tombstone.
He got his life together?? Seriously? You considered the fact that this man was accused and possibly convicted, offered no concern whatsoever, but instead of making a public declaration of the fact you instead were content to handle things internally because of the years he spent getting things back right in his life?
And no Bret I am going to say there is no true "ace in the hole" as you would have believed. At least not with regards to Justice. At that point for me he merely was a curiosity I wanted you to think about long and hard. And you didn't disappoint me given the exchange of emails that morning and throughout the day.
Oh, so you picture yourself and me as characters from Tombstone then? You're Johnny Ringo and me as Doc Holladay, standing there drunk watching you show off with a pistol while I mock you openly with my whiskey cup? Yeah, that sounds pretty accurate at this point I suppose.
I stand by my opinion. You really are Johnny Tyler at this point though you just didn't realize it.
Well Gordon answered it in his own words on that PSA he released.
Prior to running his background check in 2017, neither I or Hatfield were aware of the conviction. Although Hatfield and Justice had known each other beforehand, it was not uncommon for Justice to travel, move and lose contact for various periods of time. Therefore, his three year absense was not questioned. It was an unfortunate oversight, and having known Hatfield as deeply as I do, I can assure you that had he known prior to 2017 it would've been handled immediately. When the conviction came to light is when it was addressed. I must note that he was never employed as an instructor at Hatfield's school, and never taught classes there except as a guest under the supervision of Hatfield. Justice was never left alone with any students, nor is any guest instructor at Hatfield's school.
No, for three years they made not a peep about this situation to anyone. Now as I said earlier according to them the man had hid it from them and they dismissed him, or stepped down....something.
And when you checked they had left him at the top of the heirarchy as a figurehead.
And with this final email our conversation ended on that fine and fateful day.
Without remorse it seems, thinking only of themselves throughout this situation it appears, they handled this internally through what seems to be no less than a cover-up to keep the shame and embarrassment at bay. Does that seem right? Because it sure seemed that way to me.
You're No Daisy
No, I will argue some specific points here. You see there are some holes in all of this he has stated on his blog in recent days since this information started to come to light. I imagine it will stop at no point soon, either. Such is the case when you fight fires with gasoline.
Firstly I want to state that if they didn't know prior to 2017, fine. But they found out in 2017 by Gordon's own admission and instead of being honest they dismissed Justice quietly and never removed him from the website until now. This is a huge red flag for me to be honest. Why would you do that? Any sane and rational (moral) human being would have immediately put out a notice on their site, ensured that the accused party was known and if he was indeed failing to register as a sex offender as he should have been then he and Hatfield should have notified the authorities. This was a clear violation of his situation and should have been handled.
And in truth Gordon, I mean this truly, had you done that very thing I would have held you up and stated you had integrity. You know, that thing where you do the right thing because it's the thing to do? That's integrity.
Secondly your blog states you did a background check, you found the charges, then you gave him the choice to resign or be dismissed. Your echo chambers in the comments cry out in applause at the way you handled this, and I'm sure you're still blushing from what you feel is well-earned admiration for both you and Hatfield.
But then you state it was dismissed....odd. You even state further that "sexual battery" could range from intoxicated sexual contact to rape or something.
Ah yes, and you were nice enough to even provide a link showing a PDF where it says the case was dismissed. And you second that.
Yes, indeed. These seem to justify your position quite strongly. I bow before your research and apparent new-found integrity to show us, the detractors and haters who stem from that awful BSMA site the true path to our work. Yep, you really showed the world it was dismissed.
Well, no you didn't.
In your apparent rush to cover this mess up and ensure we all look terrible and monstrous you apparently didn't do your due diligence on research. It seems you do that a lot and despite my best tries to get you to do so you never listen
Let me enable that Sixth Amendment you apparently didn't read and explain some stuff to you. Have a seat, Bret. You will want to hear this.
Gather round everyone, I've a tale to tell!
It was dismissed from municipal court. That "Dismissed-Direct Indictment?" That means it was dismissed from one court to the criminal court. The "Direct-Indictment" means the prosecution, the judge, most likely the defense attorney and the defendant all acknowledge there is enough evidence to convict.
So I called the courthouse this day and verified a few things. Oh and they were so nice to me, too. My, my. When you're a social worker who wants to help out it seems they are most willing to allow you to. Nothing against their method of handling things internally, mind you. I understand.
That dismissal you touted? Meant it was dismissed from one court and sent to another.
And that's where it gets interesting. Seems all of us, you guys and us were off one only one thing.
He never spent three years in prison.
He spent two years in prison beginning in 2004.
Now, as for the sexual battery....as you see he entered a guilty plea. What it turns out happened was originally Mr. Justice was charged with TWO counts of 1st Degree Rape.
Oh yes, he truly was.
Well then. A plea bargain did take place as I was informed most kindly by the court. And having worked similar cases this often happens due to a number of reasons such as overcrowding in prisons, costs of court cases, but more importantly it often occurs to spare the victim, who as you see was at the time of the offense in November 2003 under the age of THIRTEEN years of age the terror, pain and anguish of testifying in open court.
Add to it for a Direct Indictment it was found to be backed with enough evidence to show that he would have been convicted no matter what. And as you see Justice entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge that took off parts of the statute.
I mean, don't take my word for it. Here are the documents I received. Don't argue with me, argue with the Criminal Courts in Ohio. The ones which picked up the case because it was dismissed with direct indictment from the municipal court. Hence the phrase "dismissed" here.
You May Go Now
I did email Bret earlier during writing this to get his final word on the topic.
Why did I write this, and in the process share all of these emails? I wanted to be transparent to you all. I have always banked on honesty as a trait and no matter what it cost me I cannot afford to lie. And that is what I have preached to Gordon all along. For all the damage control he sought to have against this situation all he had to do was acknowledge it was an embarrassment for he and his sensei. I may have understood. I wouldn't have approved but for the love man, it would have been honest. That's why I'm releasing those emails to you all to show he and I talked about this at length.
I asked some strong questions of the Kaiso of American Yoshinkan Aikijujutsu I feel. Simple, straightforward and direct. I was met with deflection to Hatfield who at this point has not even farted loudly.
As it stands it just looks like a straight out lie from beginning to end. And I am positive with this paperwork in the public eye now it will never be seen by his students....the ones who he truly lied to the most. It is debatable that they may not have known prior to 2017, but for the last three they most certainly did and said nothing to anyone publicly. They left him in full view and said not one single word.
And it is vile to think that they had this person in their sights and let him walk away from them without reporting to the proper authorities. It truly is. And it is time for that to be remedied I believe. What if another person was victimized? This is not personal towards him, his business, his training, nothing. This is about being completely open and visible to everyone so your potential students, current students, parents, everyone can know what happened. When you conceal something so horrible it only makes you appear less truthful.
This is by no means a poker game, Bret. If it was, it surely wouldn't have been your game. I want you to sit back, breathe and finally explain fully how you never understood this situation. I think we all now want to know why in 2017 you didn't handle this correctly? Don't lie anymore, be honest. There are no more spins to take. No turns or alternate paths. I put the truth out there.
You lied about Shepherd. You ally with Stern and his questionable claims. You ducked a challenge from a legitimate martial artist. You sit in an echo chamber and listen to those who I doubt mean you well.
You defend Hatfield to the end while he says nothing.
And here I was...I was your huckleberry, Bret.
But you? You're no daisy.
You're no daisy at all.