GrandMaster Steve? Who qualifies as an authentic Grandmaster?

Jusroc

Orange Belt
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
85
Reaction score
40
Hello.
While reading one of the other sub forum posts, a term came up that I had never heard before.
The term was "Grand master Steve".

I was wondering if this term was referring to a particular person, or was a term that referred to a particular type of person (I.e. a person of poor martial art skill, knowledge, who was promoting himself as a Grand Master).

I also then ask, what makes a person an authentic grand master.
Does a person have to come from an authentic lineage and inherit the Grand Master title from the last Grand Master.

Does that mean Prof Helio Gracie and Prof Jigoro Kano are both "Grand Master Steve's"
Does that mean GM Edmund K. Parker is a "Grand Master Steve"
Does that mean Miyamoto Musashi is also a "Grand Master Steve" (coming from peasant and non Samurai lineage).

And if it does, then surely, if you go back far enough in any style, there has always been a "Grand Master Steve" at the very beginning of each style.

No wonder Bruce Lee / Dan Inosanto weren't into grades apart from instructor / student.
Like the old Chinese tradition.

Was it Kano that created the grading system that created monsters out of so many...

My favourite Grand Master
is Grand Master Flash.... "don't push me.... cause I'm too close to the edge..!"
Grand Master Flash & The Furious Five
 

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
14,825
Reaction score
3,021
Location
Michigan
The term comes from chess, which has rigid definitions of who is and isn't one. Likewise certain fraternal societies. I have been a Deputy Grand Master of one of the latter, although I no longer am a member.

With regard to martial arts, there are no universal standards of any sort. Anyone may call themselves anything.
 

dvcochran

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 7, 2017
Messages
6,721
Reaction score
2,086
Location
Southeast U.S.
Hello.
While reading one of the other sub forum posts, a term came up that I had never heard before.
The term was "Grand master Steve".

I was wondering if this term was referring to a particular person, or was a term that referred to a particular type of person (I.e. a person of poor martial art skill, knowledge, who was promoting himself as a Grand Master).

I also then ask, what makes a person an authentic grand master.
Does a person have to come from an authentic lineage and inherit the Grand Master title from the last Grand Master.

Does that mean Prof Helio Gracie and Prof Jigoro Kano are both "Grand Master Steve's"
Does that mean GM Edmund K. Parker is a "Grand Master Steve"
Does that mean Miyamoto Musashi is also a "Grand Master Steve" (coming from peasant and non Samurai lineage).

And if it does, then surely, if you go back far enough in any style, there has always been a "Grand Master Steve" at the verySa beginning of each style.

No wonder Bruce Lee / Dan Inosanto weren't into grades apart from instructor / student.
Like the old Chinese tradition.

Was it Kano that created the grading system that created monsters out of so many...

My favourite Grand Master
is Grand Master Flash.... "don't push me.... cause I'm too close to the edge..!"
Grand Master Flash & The Furious Five
Sadly, the video is not working.
 

dvcochran

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 7, 2017
Messages
6,721
Reaction score
2,086
Location
Southeast U.S.
The term comes from chess, which has rigid definitions of who is and isn't one. Likewise certain fraternal societies. I have been a Deputy Grand Master of one of the latter, although I no longer am a member.

With regard to martial arts, there are no universal standards of any sort. Anyone may call themselves anything.
It has been quite a while since I brought this up (I get bashed every time I do) but this is a very, very good example of why I wish there was some sort of organized criteria and certification medium to prevent this. I think it would have to be a government of representatives from the major styles as overseers and it would add a layer of bureaucracy that I would not relish but I think the ends justifies the means.
KKW-TKD comes as close as anything I know of but even they are pretty loosely regulated at times IMHO.

I am pretty deep in this lineage and feel qualified to make that statement.
 

MadMartigan

Green Belt
Joined
Apr 28, 2021
Messages
174
Reaction score
194
I was wondering if this term was referring to a particular person, or was a term that referred to a particular type of person (I.e. a person of poor martial art skill, knowledge, who was promoting himself as a Grand Master).
Here's where I land on this (not being even close to such a destination myself).

If you decide that people should be calling you grand master... then you're probably a gm steve.
If the honorific is given to you by others (your peers etc)... that's another story.
 

BrendanF

Purple Belt
Joined
Feb 26, 2017
Messages
306
Reaction score
103
As someone who participated in the thread I'm happy to offer my thoughts. I did not think it was an expression derived from Chess; I didn't think it was a common term like 'McDojo'. In fairness given the context in which it was provided I thought it pretty self explanatory:

"I am looking to get back into jujutsu... I'm not interested in Grace, or 'Grandmaster Steve' from down the road."

In Japanese and Chinese martial arts culture there is no such thing as 'Grandmaster', as other posters have noted. So by definition, any 'Grandmaster Steve' claiming to teach traditional Japanese jujutsu.. is going to be essentially a snake oil merchant.

There have been several threads on most fora over the years discussing the misuse of terminology, from the misappropriation of 'O-sensei' to mean something other than 'the older teacher here..', to 'Soke', and my particular favourite - 'Sigung' being interpreted to mean 'Grandmaster'.

So who was that term referring to? Short of an explanation from the OP, I continue to think it means someone who is claiming to be something they are not.

>What makes one an 'authentic grand master'?<
Given that I don't believe it to be an appropriate translation... I don't think there is such a thing.

>Does a person have to come from an authentic lineage and inherit the Grand Master title from the last Grand Master?<
I suppose.. if you say so? By that I mean, if you are ascribing yourself an invented title, what is to stop you from inventing your own traditions around the title?

>Does that mean Prof Helio Gracie and Prof Jigoro Kano are both "Grand Master Steve's"?<
Did they ever call themselves 'Grandmaster'? In Kano's case.. no. He was the founder and shihan of Kodokan Judo, and had earned senior licenses in Kito ryu and Tenjin Shinyo ryu... no mention of 'Grandmaster'. I'm unsure of the terminology used in BJJ, but of course they are entitled to invent their own titles, and traditions around them.. when they invented their own art.

>Does that mean GM Edmund K. Parker is a "Grand Master Steve"?<
If you think it does (I do).

>Does that mean Miyamoto Musashi is also a "Grand Master Steve" (coming from peasant and non Samurai lineage).<
He wasn't from 'peasant' or 'non samurai lineage'. His father was a famous martial artist. And again... nowhere did he call himself 'Grandmaster Musashi'.

>surely, if you go back far enough in any style, there has always been a "Grand Master Steve" at the very beginning of each style.<
Yep. But there's a difference when that individual was in fact a group of individuals who were involved in the martial context the art they created is purported to relate to. In other words, it's different when 'Grandmaster Steve' is in fact a 15th Century warrior who was documented to have participated in battles and multiple duels.

 

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
18,320
Reaction score
5,176
Location
Pueblo West, CO
MA systems that have ranks also tend to have titles of various sorts that go along with them. In our MDK system, 4th Dan is Master. 7th Dan is Grandmaster. At least that's the theory. I don't think I've ever heard anyone in our system us a title for themselves. I've certainly never introduced myself by anything other than my name.
What makes someone a legitimate Grand Master? Being awarded the corresponding rank by their organization. Pretty simple.
There are also those who self-promote. Are they legit? Maybe, but I tend to be somewhat skeptical about these ranks. But it doesn't really matter. Not my school, not my problem.
 
Last edited:

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
19,226
Reaction score
4,737
Location
Covington, WA
The term comes from chess, which has rigid definitions of who is and isn't one. Likewise certain fraternal societies. I have been a Deputy Grand Master of one of the latter, although I no longer am a member.

With regard to martial arts, there are no universal standards of any sort. Anyone may call themselves anything.
This is the first time I've heard this. I'm very curious to learn more about the connection between chess and martial arts. Can you point me to where you heard this very interesting bit of trivia?

I agree with your comments about standards. Chess has a huge advantage over non-competitive styles. If you're a Chess GrandMaster, you've earned that title based on your performance against others.
 

caped crusader

Brown Belt
Joined
Oct 2, 2021
Messages
400
Reaction score
115
There are no grandmasters in Chinese martial arts.....just teachers...anyone calling themselves grandmaster is just doing it because they decided they were or for purposes of making money
I know a guy who made up his own System. Had just thrown a few bits here and there from other Systems. Suddenly he was a Great Grandmaster. His Belt was red & black if I remember correctly. However speaking to Dan Grades from around my area at a budo Gala...they all laughed at him.
His Club or school soon lost respect and I heard some stories about the guy that were shocking.
 

Buka

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Jun 27, 2011
Messages
11,741
Reaction score
8,368
Location
Maui
I was in a martial art supply store many years ago, I was wearing a martial art sweatshirt. Another customer asked me about our school. He then introduced himself to me as Grandmaster so and so. He might have been twenty five years old.

Anytime I ever saw him again I addressed him as Young Master Much Faster.
 

Xue Sheng

All weight is underside
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
31,543
Reaction score
5,926
Location
North American Tectonic Plate
I was in a martial art supply store many years ago, I was wearing a martial art sweatshirt. Another customer asked me about our school. He then introduced himself to me as Grandmaster so and so. He might have been twenty five years old.

Anytime I ever saw him again I addressed him as Young Master Much Faster.

Once tried to correct a person in Chinese martial arts, who is on the seminar circuit, and does distance training in various styles of CMA, who calls himself Sigung.... and no I will not name him...... but h e was using Sigung as Grand Master....first I started with there are no grand masters in CMA, if you are talking to Chinese martial artists....that is, unless they have a student who is a westerner, then they might use "Grand Master" for the western audience. That of course flew over his head....then I said "But regardless of that, Sigung does not mean grand master, it means teachers teacher...so you are saying, with that title, you taught your teacher who then taught you." He responded with all sorts of nonsensical reasons for using the title and that I did not understand that at his level with his background he was using it properly.... I responded with, you can't change the meaning of a word, ion another language, just to impress those who don't know just so you can sound impressive....to which he once again responded with "Well you just don't understand how I use the Chinese"....To which I responded..."I understand you're using it wrong...Huaquan Xui Tui"....I walked away..... so if I ever see him again I will make sure to call him Sigung Huaquan Xui Tui
 
OP
J

Jusroc

Orange Belt
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
85
Reaction score
40
Hello. Thanks for replying to my post, and just to clarify, I, no way claim to be a Grand Master, or even a master. I was just asking a question that I thought was interesting.

I am what I am, an individual with experience in various areas of the martial arts. Some experiences I have had have been good (and painful at the same time), and other experiences have lead me to my own opinions and conclusions, which i will keep to myself.

Anyway, i don't think my OP gave the impression that I, myself wanted to set myself up as a GM.
I asked the question because i don't know the answer.

Anyway. I find the Grand Master term / phenomena quiet interesting. Haven met several people who were known by the Grand Master term. Later on, I now reflect on what all this means, if anything.

I read in the history of some of the Japanese Ju Jitsu Schools, that before the era people were award belts. people were instead awarded certificates to teach by their Sensei.

Later on, I believe Prof Jigoro Kano introduced the Kyu Grade idea and the black belt standard.
Which I believe was developed from his influence as an educator as a profession, introducing the kyu grade and black belt system as an incentive to help people focus on learning, as well as rewarding students who had achieved competency.

According to legend, this kyu / black belt system standard was taken from the grade system for people who were learning to swim. A system that was adopted by loads of other martial arts.

I am not sure where the idea of creating different levels of black belt came from, although I am aware that Prof Jigoro Kano did promote some to 10th Dan grade in his life time. So, perhaps that also was an invention of Prof Kano. Any one know the true story behind Dan Grades?...

GM Ed K Parker had the title Grand Master, although i do not know if others gave him this title or he gave it to himself. He was the founder of his system of karate, which explained was a hybrid martial art system and different to traditional karate systems, as it was developed from his experience as a street fighter on the streets of Honolulu.

Perhaps his title was taken from the Freemason standard. Which was and still is very popular in the US.
It would also explain why GM Parker also used the word Degree instead of Dan. Although this may also be due to GM Ed Parker being a graduate with a degree. I can not say (perhaps i will ask one of the 9th dan's i know the next time i meet them in the street).

From what I know about GM Ed Parker's lineage, he was taught by several different teachers before he formulated his own style. Interestingly enough, his lineage came from Japanese and Chinese roots.

James Mitose was one of GM Parker Snr's first teachers. James Mitose was a Japanese American who brought Kosho-Ryu Kenpo Jiu Jitsu to America from Japan.

Later on, GM Parker, also learnt Kenpo from William Chow, another student of James Mitose, who received his black belt from Mitose.

Well, I still don't really know who introduced the term Grand Master, nor know what it means.
Perhaps Head Master is its equal.

I think that GM Ed K Parker must have been elected to 10th dan gradually over time, as i have books which he has written with photo's of him on the front cover with a lower degree belt.
And I also have feint memories of the earlier seminars that i attended where his belt was not a 10th degree.

What that all means, I do not know.
 

john_newman

Orange Belt
Joined
Jan 2, 2020
Messages
65
Reaction score
17
Don't compare Bruce lee with any other.
He's the best... (still living in our hearts):kiss::kiss:
 

lklawson

Senior Master
Joined
Feb 3, 2005
Messages
4,565
Reaction score
1,261
Location
Huber Heights, OH
The term comes from chess, which has rigid definitions of who is and isn't one. Likewise certain fraternal societies. I have been a Deputy Grand Master of one of the latter, although I no longer am a member.

With regard to martial arts, there are no universal standards of any sort. Anyone may call themselves anything.
With regard to martial arts, Fencing has Maestro ranks with fairly well documented requirements and many of the modern shooting sports, including those which attempt to compete within a "self defense" context, (USPSA/IPSC, IDPA, Glock, etc.) have Master and Grand Master rankings based on competitive rankings.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

lklawson

Senior Master
Joined
Feb 3, 2005
Messages
4,565
Reaction score
1,261
Location
Huber Heights, OH
Hello. Thanks for replying to my post, and just to clarify, I, no way claim to be a Grand Master, or even a master. I was just asking a question that I thought was interesting.

I am what I am, an individual with experience in various areas of the martial arts. Some experiences I have had have been good (and painful at the same time), and other experiences have lead me to my own opinions and conclusions, which i will keep to myself.

Anyway, i don't think my OP gave the impression that I, myself wanted to set myself up as a GM.
I asked the question because i don't know the answer.

Anyway. I find the Grand Master term / phenomena quiet interesting. Haven met several people who were known by the Grand Master term. Later on, I now reflect on what all this means, if anything.

I read in the history of some of the Japanese Ju Jitsu Schools, that before the era people were award belts. people were instead awarded certificates to teach by their Sensei.

Later on, I believe Prof Jigoro Kano introduced the Kyu Grade idea and the black belt standard.
Which I believe was developed from his influence as an educator as a profession, introducing the kyu grade and black belt system as an incentive to help people focus on learning, as well as rewarding students who had achieved competency.

According to legend, this kyu / black belt system standard was taken from the grade system for people who were learning to swim. A system that was adopted by loads of other martial arts.

I am not sure where the idea of creating different levels of black belt came from, although I am aware that Prof Jigoro Kano did promote some to 10th Dan grade in his life time. So, perhaps that also was an invention of Prof Kano. Any one know the true story behind Dan Grades?...

GM Ed K Parker had the title Grand Master, although i do not know if others gave him this title or he gave it to himself. He was the founder of his system of karate, which explained was a hybrid martial art system and different to traditional karate systems, as it was developed from his experience as a street fighter on the streets of Honolulu.

Perhaps his title was taken from the Freemason standard. Which was and still is very popular in the US.
It would also explain why GM Parker also used the word Degree instead of Dan. Although this may also be due to GM Ed Parker being a graduate with a degree. I can not say (perhaps i will ask one of the 9th dan's i know the next time i meet them in the street).

From what I know about GM Ed Parker's lineage, he was taught by several different teachers before he formulated his own style. Interestingly enough, his lineage came from Japanese and Chinese roots.

James Mitose was one of GM Parker Snr's first teachers. James Mitose was a Japanese American who brought Kosho-Ryu Kenpo Jiu Jitsu to America from Japan.

Later on, GM Parker, also learnt Kenpo from William Chow, another student of James Mitose, who received his black belt from Mitose.

Well, I still don't really know who introduced the term Grand Master, nor know what it means.
Perhaps Head Master is its equal.

I think that GM Ed K Parker must have been elected to 10th dan gradually over time, as i have books which he has written with photo's of him on the front cover with a lower degree belt.
And I also have feint memories of the earlier seminars that i attended where his belt was not a 10th degree.

What that all means, I do not know.
The desire to "rank" is deep seated. In the Western Civ. tradition, progressive rankings can be easily dated back to the 1500's with England's Company of Masters, which had 4 ranks which roughly paralleled the Guild rankings (or modern Unions), ending in Master. Ranks were earned with both the equivalent of "time in grade" and a skills test, called "playing the prize," officiated by Masters of the organization. It was headed by a small set of men called the Ancient Masters, which would could be considered the equivalent of Guild Heads or "Grand Masters."

Prior to that there were martial arts "Masters" in Europe who would teach students, usually for pay.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
19,226
Reaction score
4,737
Location
Covington, WA
There are no grandmasters in Chinese martial arts.....just teachers...anyone calling themselves grandmaster is just doing it because they decided they were or for purposes of making money
That's really interesting. My mom has been doing tai chi for a while now... started in her 60s, and I can assure you she has no aspirations to be a competent fighter.

Because her interests have been entirely health related, and it genuinely seems to be really good for her, I don't spend a lot of time worrying about her instructors. But I will say her impression is that he is a legitimate grandmaster in tai chi, bagua, and a few other things. She has also commented that he's the "real deal" and goes back to China periodically. She also talks about a few others who are "masters" and has over the years explained what they have to do to get the "master" designation.

Ultimately, I don't worry about it much, because she's well into her 70s now and is very fit, both strong and flexible. My point in bringing it up is that I appreciate your comment because it has always seemed to me that the grandmaster stuff is baked into CMA in particular.
 

Xue Sheng

All weight is underside
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
31,543
Reaction score
5,926
Location
North American Tectonic Plate
That's really interesting. My mom has been doing tai chi for a while now... started in her 60s, and I can assure you she has no aspirations to be a competent fighter.

Because her interests have been entirely health related, and it genuinely seems to be really good for her, I don't spend a lot of time worrying about her instructors. But I will say her impression is that he is a legitimate grandmaster in tai chi, bagua, and a few other things. She has also commented that he's the "real deal" and goes back to China periodically. She also talks about a few others who are "masters" and has over the years explained what they have to do to get the "master" designation.

Ultimately, I don't worry about it much, because she's well into her 70s now and is very fit, both strong and flexible. My point in bringing it up is that I appreciate your comment because it has always seemed to me that the grandmaster stuff is baked into CMA in particular.

I'm glad it is helping her, and I am not surprised, and I am glad the guy is the real deal. But the fact remains, there are no Grand Masters in China. It is a term used to impress westerners and used by westerners to sound impressive. One Chinese martial artist from mainland calls another grand master to his face, the better be friend or a fight is about to happen because he just called him a fake.

However the use of "Grandmaster" by your mothers teacher, in America, does not put his skill in question, just his usage in question as to why he is using it.

My taijiquan shifu was born and raised in China. Trained in China by Tung Ying Chieh, who was a student of Yang Chengfu. My teacher will not allow anyone to call him grandmaster, because as he says, there are no Grandmasters in China (also got that from my wife so both south and north China are covered there) his teacher was not a grandmaster, he never refers to Yang Chengfu as Grandmaster, only as Sigung (Shigung, aka teacher's teacher) and he will not refer to his teacher as such. He is, as his teacher was, Shifu that is all. And to most people use his first name.

Chen Zhenglei (19th generation Chen family Taijiquan), in China is Shifu (sifu) or Chen Shifu, not Grandmaster. He may be called that in the west, I do not know his thoughts on that, but he did refer to another Chinese teacher, who was teaching all sorts of things that he learned from DVD while claiminig to have learned them in China, by saying "He must be a Grand Masters, since he teachers so many styles" It was not a compliment and it was only said in Chinese... From that point on he referred to him as a dirty businessman. He also visited this teacher, prior to this lunch I was at, and had told him to stop claiming lineage to his family since he had none, the claim was removed from the mans website.

Also trained Xingyiquan with a very skilled Taijiquan, Baguazhang, Xingyiquan shifu from China who also does not use the title of Grandmaster, even though he is now based in the USA.

There use to be a Chinese martial arts website for a teacher based in China. Interesting thing, in the English translation of his page, he was a grandmaster. On the Chinese page there was no mention of Grandmaster at all

The title of Grandmaster is not used in Chinese martial arts by natives of China, unless there are westerners involved.
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
19,226
Reaction score
4,737
Location
Covington, WA
I'm glad it is helping her, and I am not surprised, and I am glad the guy is the real deal. But the fact remains, there are no Grand Masters in China. It is a term used to impress westerners and used by westerners to sound impressive. One Chinese martial artist from mainland calls another grand master to his face, the better be friend or a fight is about to happen because he just called him a fake.

Just to be clear, I don't know if he's legit or not... though I lean toward not. My point is, I hold my tongue because I can't argue with how good it is for her.

However the use of "Grandmaster" by your mothers teacher, in America, does not put his skill in question, just his usage in question as to why he is using it.
Yes. And I hope it's clear that I wasn't disputing anything you said. I honestly had never heard this. For whatever reason, I always thought the GM stuff actually came from China and not vice versa.
 

dvcochran

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 7, 2017
Messages
6,721
Reaction score
2,086
Location
Southeast U.S.
Just to add to the argument, an experienced electrician who has been through the journeyman school is often referred to as a Master Electrician. This is a 10-12 year journey.
If a MA'ist has similar credentials (there are several metrics) and the salutation is, at the very least, proffered I see nothing wrong with it. Time is a Big factor to me.
 

Latest Discussions

Top