Martial Arts Business: Dealing with Sexual Abuse, Molestation, Shame, and Your Profits

If you haven’t heard the news, the man who was thought of by many as the preeminent martial arts school / industry business teacher in the world, hung himself last week, just a day before his arraignment on misdemeanor charges for unsolicited sexual advances (molestation) on a young man he accosted during a “massage” at his martial arts school.

The charge was only a misdemeanor, not high treason, but the general consensus is that it was only the tip of the iceberg of information regarding what was likely 20 or 30 years of molestation, much of it aimed at underage boys in this martial arts teachers care.

It is a tragedy of epic proportions for the man’s family, his friends, his students, the martial arts “industry,” and, of course, for all the children this man accosted under the cover of his role as “Kyoshi” (a title, mostly used by Americans, to indicate they are high ranking “masters” or “professors” of the martial arts).

There’s no two ways about it, it’s bad news. Instead of the man being recognized for 35 years of service to others, he’s going to be remembered by the general public as just another pedophile.

There’s a parallel story, not a good one, that has to accompany this man’s tragic downfall —and that’s the story of how people who knew of the molestation of children in the man’s care stood silent, for months —and, apparently, in many cases for years, essentially allowing the perpetrator to be among other children, constantly, without the parental warning label of “registered sex offender.”

Here are the rules:

When you become aware of a man or woman molesting or otherwise abusing a child, whether it happened an hour before or 20 years ago —and this man or woman lives or works in the proximity of underage children, you are obligated to act as an advocate on behalf of the children, all children, everywhere. You must report the infraction, the crime and all your knowledge of it, to the proper authorities.

You don’t hide what you know to protect your ego; you don’t hide the knowledge to protect his or her family; you don’t hide the knowledge to protect your business or the potential loss in profits you or others might suffer as a result of this person’s crime; your job number one, is to protect the boys and girls who have either been a victim of this person’s crimes —or who might become a victim if the knowledge you have isn’t reported and acted upon immediately.

This is every citizen’s responsibility —and I’d like to suggest that when the man or women or organization in question uses or involves the word “teacher,” the obligation to report molestation and/or abuse is multiplied by 10.

Teachers who are supposed to educate and mentor children are not, under any circumstances here in the 21st Century, allowed to rape, fondle, or otherwise molest a child of any age, period. Unreported crimes perpetuate other crimes.

So, victims of this man didn’t come forward, we can guess, due to the shame involved in being molested by someone they looked up to or otherwise trusted. It’s horrible to be preyed upon by an obvious sociopath, but it’s equally horrible to let the offender go on to inflict the same crimes on other children.

You HAVE TO report molestation as soon as it happens, as these people, these teachers, can’t be left to hunt for other children to abuse —without parents being able to intervene.

If you own or work for a company that has the potential to lose money or clients due to a sex offender’s behavior, you are obligated to put the welfare of young people and the protection of victims or potential victims above the protection of your assets, profits, and reputation. You do this because it’s the right thing to do, because that child, as if it were your child, is more important than your billing clients, your gross revenue, or your image.

We have to self-govern the martial arts industry by having a ZERO TOLERANCE policy with regard to children, teachers, and sexual impropriety of any kind involving either. If you have first hand knowledge of an adult molesting a child —or can get it —you report it, immediately.

If you witness an inappropriate or criminal act between a child and an adult, you report it, immediately.

The martial arts industry, like the Catholic Church, like Penn State, has been disgraced by this child molester and any number of others. We seem to be stricken with a lack of accountability and common-sense self-regulation. It looks like people and companies that were told, that had first or second-hand knowledge of children being molested, didn’t know what to do. So instead of calling for justice and accountability, when the man hung himself so that he wouldn’t have to endure arraignment, arrest, and the long hard stare of parents, students, and friends he betrayed, people and organizations just turned a blind eye.

One company in particular, who I personally told about the abuse I’d heard about first hand from a victim 4 months ago, chose to ignore the crime and actually released abundant praise for the sex offender upon his suicide. Their glowing tribute received, in just a few days, more than 1000 negative comments and one video hosting company demanded it be removed or they would delete the posters entire account. Just a PR tip: Next time a teacher/sex offender is exposed for any sexual crime against children, don’t sing his praises. People expect you/us to be horrified by the crime. When a teacher breaks that sacred trust with parents, all praise goes out the fricking window. 

Note: This is NOT OK. Next time something like this happens —and it will happen again —you get brave, you do the right thing, you think of others before you think of yourself, you put your company and your damn business aside, and REPORT IT. Your first loyalty in a business, in a world, where integrity is so essential, is to the children we are expected to “teach” and protect. Our accountability to parents and children is more important than self-protection.