Without Writing

The art of writing without writing… about fighting.

The Power of Sid Sofos

Sidney Sofocleus: This is a name that strikes fear into the hearts of the bravest fighters.

Fear of catching whatever gibbering mental and/or physical illness warped this initially (presumably) human man into a grotesque parody of life and reason, that is!

Mr Sofocleus calls himself “Sid Sofos”. This is inoffensive enough. He calls himself  “Grand Master”. This is ludicrous. He calls himself “Sijo”, which is a Chinese term meaning “founder of a style”. This is flatly false, as Sofocleus has no style.

Quite honestly, Sid Sofos is the epitome of all that is wrong within the martial arts. He is in fact the epitome of everything that is wrong within society, and all that is venal and warped within the darkest recesses of the human spirit. He is wrongness distilled and pressure-packaged into the near-breaking form of an overweight, bullying egotist.

Imagine an international banking conglomerate made human. Imagine a hedge-fund or a major oil company made flesh… Imagine the act of clubbing a seal anthropomorphised; you would have something akin to Sofos.

A little background on Sofos is warranted, though the truth may be forever obscured: During the early ’80s, Sid Sofos was allegedly a student of Wing Chun Gung Fu under Simon Lau, a legitimate Wing Chun instructor, for a very brief period of time. (And possibly trained with Nino Bernardo at the well known Wing Chun club “The Basement” as well.) At some point, possibly in 1989, Sofos decided to start his own martial arts school in Tottenham, London, and named it the “Fatshan Academy”, after the province in China associated with some of the major historical figures in the history of Wing Chun.

Very quickly it became apparent that all was not un-rotten in the state of Sofos. He started making bizarre and unbelievable claims regarding his own abilities, and the capabilities of his martial art (which apparently was no longer restricted to Wing Chun, despite this being the only art Sofos was trained in). At least one former student has alleged that sharp business practices by Sofos included extorting money from his students with a threatening tone, money which was not merely spent on keeping the ludicrous excuse for a school afloat, but was also spent on producing a self-authored video and book glorifying Sofos to an utterly unbelievable degree. Certain of Sofos’ students formed a cultish gaggle of yes-men that bolstered Sofos’ already turgid ego. There were (and still are) extremely strong rumours about a cocaine habit, and indecent exposure. But Sofos continued to peddle his illegitimate wares as if nothing was wrong.

And then the clips leaked onto the internet.

Grandmaster Sid Sofos – An Introduction
More words of wisdom from Sijo
And Sofos’ own: Wing Chun: Fatshan Academy of Martial Arts

From the above videos, it is clear to any dispassionate observer that Sidney ‘s physical skill doesn’t reach the level of bad comedy. It is likewise clear that he has the charisma of a squashed rodent, and the rhetorical skill of a youthful Victorian chimney-sweep.

All the very worst things to be found in the martial arts are found in these clips: outright lies; self-aggrandizing bulls**t; no-touch knockouts; overweight and pathetic instructors; pseudo-mystical claptrap; creepy little brown-nosing cultish followers and insultingly potted philosophy.

So why did people follow this man, despite all this being in the public domain? What is it about the mentally ill that sometimes makes them magnets for a special kind of follower?

Is obvious fantasy really so palatable?

Of course the real kicker comes when one actually tries to define what is wrong with Sofos and his martial arts. Well what is wrong? Let’s list some things:

– He’s insane (and possibly drug-addled).
– He’s an egotist and a narcissist.
– He’s sold (at exorbitant prices) impractical nonsense and labelled it martial arts

So in other words, he’s an insane, egotistical faker who has given people useless made-up crap and taken their money for it.

But subtract the actual insanity, and you have a description of the majority of martial arts instructors working in both Europe and the US today. Oh sure, not all instructors will have QUITE the ego that Sofos does… but it is egotistical to practice nothing but drivel and believe yourself worthy to instruct others. This is why it’s so impossible to convince them of the deficiencies in their styles: their egos and identities are deeply invested in the methods they promote. Sadly, even competent fighters are guilty of this kind of ridiculous, pompous idiocy. The high-falluting claims of Rickson Gracie spring to mind…

The second glaring issue is: How does one stop such an individual from running a school? There is no regulation for martial arts schools. Any nutter can set one up (and clearly, at least one nutter has). There is no clear definition in law as to what skills a martial arts instructor needs to possess in order to call themselves a martial arts instructor.

Even worse, there is no clear hallmark that confirms the authenticity of an art; On his website Sid Sofos claims to teach Wing Chun. Whatever one feels about the effectiveness of Wing Chun as an art, it’s clear that Sofos does not teach anything approaching what is understood by its practitioners to be “Wing Chun”.

But just because Wong Shun Leung’s/Victor Kan’s/Etc. students know that Sofos’ ramblings have nothing to do with their art, doesn’t mean they could have stopped him from using the name of Wing Chun to describe what he does. And the uninformed public is- of course- blind as to the difference.

What’s the alternative? Well, government regulation is one alternative. But even with heavy government involvement, there’s no guarantee of effective martial arts being the norm. Take Korea for example… heavy government influences (ideologically driven) resulted in the homogenisation of Korean Martial arts into the deeply ineffective style known as Tae Kwon Do. Similar circumstances in Japan resulted in the decimation of the older Kempo styles and the formation of Karate as a national standard. So no-go there then, one can’t trust a government farther than one can osoto-gari it.

In my opinion, the only viable alternative is education and publicity. Shine the lights of open discussion, logical debate and documentary evidence on horrendous ne’er-do-wells like Sofos, and they will scurry under the nearest rotten log, like any self-respecting vermin. And of course, that’s what this blog post has been about.

Ahhh, if only all vermin were as obvious as Sid Sofos. But there’s a bit of Sid Sofos in all frauds. It’s up to you to root it out and show it to others, and yourself.


48 responses to “The Power of Sid Sofos

  1. Thom Williams 2011, July 29 at 4:46 pm

    He also used to be involved in drug dealing I heard and used to get paid by the police for being a supergrass, dropping the people he pretended to work for in it and then sharing the reward with a detective I heard.

    • withoutwriting 2011, July 31 at 3:16 pm

      We’ve all heard all sorts of rumours about Sofos… To be honest I couldn’t care less whether they’re true or not; the only truth I really want to know is the answer to this question: Why do people train under individuals so obviously unsuitable to teach as Sofos is/was? That’s a question that may never be answered to a nicety.

      But until it is, I think this answer will suffice as a placeholder: “People are gullible, and encouraged to be gullible by society”. It’s up to all of us to change that state of affairs as far as we possibly can.

  2. Peter 2011, September 2 at 11:25 pm

    I found this by chance and I’m impressed. I do train MA and some of Mr Sofos’ vids were, how does one say it? Er, hilarious. “Yeah, But, OK” was inspired by the editor. By chance Mr Sofos popped up on Bullshido. I had only passing curiousity. I’m much more informed now and shall be visiting your blog frequently from now on. Thank you.

  3. Joe 2011, September 4 at 6:10 am

    Thank you so much for posting this.

    Gullibility certainly plays a part.

    If you are a well meaning pre-teen who is getting bullied at school OR home you can see how learning a Martial Art could help you.
    As a certain number of people seeking MA instruction are already marked as victims you can see how half of Sid’s work is already done – all he has to do is offer you a false glimmer of hope and than make you HIS victim as well.

    In the Greater London area we are cursed with at least TWO of these fantasists who think themselves “gods” of the Martial Arts.
    Sid Sofos and Gary Wasniewski. They seem to find vulnerable people to exploit financially whilst teaching then nonsense Martial Arts.

    It is hard to get out of these cults once they have gotten hold of you…

    • withoutwriting 2011, September 13 at 7:23 am

      Indeed, I have watched Mr Wasniewski’s “movie trailers”, and laughed heartily at the vanity-published nature of them. I have also looked into his martial background and have decided that the evidence suggests that his franchise is the definition of a McDojo: meritless, moneymaking, impractical flat-packed bullsh*t.

      Sadly, I have encountered a great many more than two martial charlatans who live and “work” in the Greater London area. And part of the message I was going for in the original post is that even those who are less obvious about it than Sofos are still charlatans. It’s arguable that everyone teaching an Aikido syllabus who EVER suggests that anything within it is based on combat application or is practical for self-defence is a charlatan for instance. And that’s virtually all the Aikido teachers I’ve ever encountered. Same goes for the vast majority of Karate and Kung Fu teachers. Same goes for the majority of women’s self defence instructors. Sadly, there are many more crypto-sofoses around than there are legit instructors, and the esoteric arts from the east seem to be their favourite haunt.

  4. Peter 2011, September 12 at 9:51 am

    Ok, you’ve got to read this. It’s from this week’s Camden New Journal. Mr Sid Sofos, apparently, went to China when he was 16 years of age; taught Lennox Lewis and Steven Seagal; and lost 12 stone in a month. Enjoy.


    • withoutwriting 2011, September 13 at 7:24 am

      Well spotted. I feel another Sofos related post coming on.

    • Mason Freeman 2011, September 23 at 11:14 pm

      “Mr Sofos, who has a two-year-old son, Harry, said: “I saw various doctors and they couldn’t give me a diagnosis and it just got worse and worse.”

      Hold on, somebody actually procreated with this douche? I don’t know who to pity more, the boy or his mother.

      • withoutwriting 2011, September 24 at 9:00 am

        Who knows whether he really has a son or not… Such a compulsive liar can hardly be trusted, even when stating the most basic facts about himself.

        I’ve been following Sofos’ exploits for a couple of years now, but I still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that he’s probably more successful than people like Steve Morris.

  5. Peter 2011, September 25 at 7:51 pm

    Yes, extraordinary. A work colleague (and Shotokan, TKD Dan Grade) put me onto Mr Morris. I am somewhat in awe of his achievements. I have read his site avidly and – curiously, a previous next door neighbour was Floyd Brown. I am much wiser now (sadly didn’t train MA at the time. My loss to be sure).

  6. Pingback: The Power and the Story and the Lack of Recognition of Steve Morris « Without Writing

  7. Dan 2011, October 5 at 6:55 pm

    This is a depressing post, I’m not sure any of really understand martial arts.
    Kung Fu comes from a set of moves taught to monks to help with there concentration and discipline. At it’s heart it is about developing ones character, so to say someone is a bad martial artist because they’re not the toughest kid on the block, is shallow rubish.
    I also have to take exception to your description of Sid Sofos, he is a great martial artist and is recognised as such by his peers (and the American Blackbelt Hall of Fame). He isn’t rich and doesn’t even charge some of the poorer students.
    And I can confirm that his techniqes work, I live in East London and have had to defend myself more than once.
    Finally, some of you have resorted to some nasty, unfounded and libellous rumour, maybe it makes you feel clever, or it’s just a way for the weak to attack the strong. But some of the statements are nasty, and clearly illegal, be careful.

    • withoutwriting 2011, October 6 at 1:30 pm

      Ah, finally one of Sid’s students pops up. I was wondering when this would happen.

      Dan, I say this with genuine sympathy and concern: Grow up and get out of this cult-follower mindset you have gotten yourself into.

      Sid Sofos is a self-evident fraud. He’s not a “kung fu master”. The “American Blackbelt Hall of Fame”- if it exists at all- is a made-up nonsense organisation, a certificate-mill like so many hundreds of others that fake martial artists get themselves inducted to… it means nothing.

      His techniques obviously don’t work, they’re slappy-hands patty-cake nonsense. Your claims that they do work are likewise nonsense. Your claims carry as much weight as the claims of George Dillman’s followers who will swear to anyone who asks that George can indeed knock them out with one finger.

      As for your “legal” warnings; par for the course with Sofos’ followers. They deserve no response except mirth. 🙂

  8. Dan 2011, October 7 at 6:24 pm

    Ha ha! “slappy-happy patty cake”, all I can do is suggest you come down and join in 🙂
    I can assure you the Black Belt Hall of fame exists (I was there last year, in Pittsburgh), it’s surprising that you claim to know so much about martial arts and yet haven’t heard of it.
    I suppose all the Karate world champions and founders of various styles that I met there are all fakes as well? It would be a site worth seeing, little old you standing up and telling them to their faces.
    Finally, you tell me to grow up; it’s as laughable as your other comments, I’ve a head of grey hair have have been on this planet for 45 years, I’m pretty successful in most things I do, sorry to disapoint, but I’m really not the vulnerable innocent you would like to portray me as.
    As I said before, from now on we will be looking for legal redress for libellous statements, I don’t mean for childish statements about the quality of someone’s kung fu, I mean for disgusting character damaging lies, I’ve no desire to repeat them, but unless you’re a complete fool, then you’ll know what I mean.
    Good luck with your journey


    • withoutwriting 2011, October 10 at 6:17 am

      My dear fellow, taking you entirely at your word, I’m sure you are successful at most things you do… Except choosing a decent martial art to study, and choosing a decent teacher to show you the path, that is. In these two respects you’re a resounding failure. Unless, that is, you’re secretly studying BJJ under Royce Gracie on the side and returning to Sofos’ class every week just for sh*ts and giggles.

      My earlier statement that you should grow up did not refer to your physical age, but to your child-like attitude towards Sid Sofos. The man is- obviously and self-evidently from all his videos on the internet and all that he has ever been quoted as saying- devoid of martial skill or talent, and likewise devoid of any and all wisdom. His own website proves that he is a liar (he makes many wild claims like “I was in Raiders of the Lost Ark”, which he was not) and his qualifications are low-grade even for esoteric martial arts. There are- as you state- many unpleasant rumours about Sofos; too many for comfort, and yet you, and people like you (presuming you are in fact a genuine student of Sofos and not a random troll or Sofos himself) still choose to follow this oaf around on the pseudo-martial path he sets out for you, for his own benefit.

      The very fact that you parroted back the old claim that “kung fu is based on exercises taught to monks” uncritically in your earlier comment makes it totally obvious that critical thinking is foreign to you… That old claim is a legend at best. Nobody knows whether there’s any truth to it or not, and yet you squirt it out as if it’s an incontrivertable fact. For shame, sir.

      That is the reason I suggest you should grow up. You should take that part of you that is ignoring the obvious evidence in front of you, give it a slap and make it step out of childhood, into the land of taking responsibility for your own damned brain and its contents.

      As for the “American black belt association hall of fame”; as stated before, if it even exists as a genuine organisation (and your word carries no weight on this front), it is merely a certificate mill created by fake martial gurus, for fake martial gurus. There are hundreds of such “associations”, most commonly created by some tiny local karate McDojo or other in order to honour their own bloody instructors when nobody else will. Nothing further needs to be said about it.

      (However new information on it would be appreciated if anyone has it, including the names of the other people in the hall of fame besides Sofos, and the website of the body in question.)

      Sofos’ students and Sofos himself have repeatedly threatened legal action against those who discuss him honestly on the internet in the past, and nothing has come of it. These kinds of pathetic bullying tactics will not work. 🙂

  9. Dan 2011, October 26 at 6:51 pm

    Hello, I thought I give you a little bit of info on the Blackbelt Hall of fame, there are two in the US and this is the older of the two:
    Grandmaster Sid Sofos is to receive his third award from them this year, his previous awards include Grandmaster of the Year.
    I thought you might like to know about the people that nomitated him for membership.
    Master Brian Whelan

    5th Dan Black Belt in Wado Ryu Karate
    3 Times Gold Medallist Heavyweight Kata Champion: 2003 Russia Gold; 2004 Serbia Gold; 2005 Brazil Gold.
    European Kata Heavyweight Title: Italy 2004
    9th Scroll Wing Chun

    Professor John Ward (Ph.D.)
    6th Degree Black Belt of American Kempo
    6th Degree Black Belt in Aki-Jiu Jitsu
    7th Degree Honorary Black Belt in Ty-Ga International Karate
    7th Degree Black Belt in the Zen Kempo Ryu association
    8th Degree Black Belt of the Black Dragon Fighting Society
    2001 International Instructor of the Year – EUSAIMAA
    2002 Pinnacle of Success award – EUSAIMAA
    2003 – Doctorate in Advanced Martial Arts studies – Pittsburgh
    2004 – International Award of Excellence – EUSAIMAA
    2004 International Instructor of the year – Zen Kempo Ryu
    2005 Diamond Crystal Spirit of Martial Arts Award – EUSAIMAA
    2006 – Ambassador of the Martial Arts Award – EUSAIMAA
    2007 Silver life time achievement award from the Blackbelt Hall of Fame.
    2008 Shaolin Deciple-ship from Shaolin Abbott Yong di
    2008 Martial Arts Image of Awareness from the American Blackbelt Hall of Fame.
    EUSAIMAA representative for Europe
    Zen Kempo Ryu representative for Ireland
    European representative for Aki-Jiu Jitsu
    Irish representative for the Black Dragon Socient.

    Just for the record
    That’s all from me.
    I wish you the best, and hope you manage to displel the bitterness in your heart, and maybe even become a little less eager to rush to judgement.

    • withoutwriting 2011, October 30 at 4:10 pm

      So (just for the record) your proofs of your beloved teacher’s (well… alleged teacher’s) qualifications boil down to the following:

      1. A link to a mail-order-certificate website of extraordinarily poor design, where an aspiring sijo/soke/grand-pooh-bah can order the world’s most tasteless signet ring (http://www.eusaimaa.com/HOF_Induction_Ring.html) to prove their martial prowess, from an organisation founded by a man wearing the most offensive combination of mullet and wannabe samurai costume I have ever personally encountered in my life. (http://www.eusaimaa.com/About.html)

      2. An alleged personal character reference for your alleged teacher from one “Brian Whelan”, who appears to be a local Irish Karate teacher. His claim to fame according to your description is that he won titles in the performance of “Heavyweight Kata”.

      Since Kata are forms in which the white pyjama wearing Karate man repeatedly blocks and punches at thin air while shouting enthusiastically, you’ll have to forgive me when I ask: What have weight categories got to do with Kata? Such titles are absurd.

      You also state that Mr Whelan has a “Ninth Scroll” in Wing Chun; there are no “scrolls” in Wing Chun. Any half-hearted Wing Chun afficionado will be able to tell you that the traditional system of progression in Wing Chun was delineated by whether one had learned the first, second or third empty-hand sets, the wooden dummy form, and- at the highest levels- whether one had learned one or both weapons sets. This “nth scroll” drivel is- to my knowledge- only used by Sid Sofos and his brood of Manson-family followers.

      3. An alleged personal character reference for your alleged teacher from one “John Ward”, a Kenpo teacher from Ireland (again) who claims to have a “doctorate in advanced martial arts studies” from some unnamed educational establishment in Pittsburgh, USA… undoubtedly the same stupid “EUSAMAA” organisation as mentioned earlier. Most of his other “awards” are from the EUSAMAA as well. A pattern emergeth.

      Oh, and here’s a link to a thread on Bullshido discussing the fantastic EUSAMAA in more depth: http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=88950&page=1

      As predicted, a pathetic certificate mill, by fraudulent martial artists, for fraudulent martial artists. And yet, no mention on the website of who has been inducted into their “hall of fame” or when… so whether this is the organisation Sid Sofos has been referring to or not is still essentially unproven.

      Spare me the godawful drivel about “Bitterness” and “Rushing to judgement” by the way… I’m not bitter that you’ve wasted your time following this dreadful excuse for a martial artist along his non-existent path. But *you* should be.

      • anonymized at poster's request 2012, March 30 at 2:28 pm

        Brian is the chief instructor or ‘Master’ at Sid Sofos’ school and has been training with Sid since the early 90s, so I would not expect an unbiased nomination to the Blackbelt Hall of Fame from him.

        From my own recollection, Brian’s technique was probably only good (relative to our own at the time) because he was so incredibly fit and strong, and because of his karate training. So basically Sid had just one outsider/unbiased nominee, John Ward.

        From memory, Sid would always form (temporary) partnerships with those outside of the WC world, so they wouldn’t really know enough about his technique to understand it or criticise it – as did his brother Andrew. This might well be the case with John Ward, I don’t know – maybe he was impressed with Sid’s speed. It would look more convincing if Sid had been nominated by other kung fu or wing chun teachers, in a kung fu context, rather than being ranked in a Karate-based hall of fame.

        Anyway, I thought a clarification was in order.

        Interesting blog, and whilst you make many convincing arguments, I feel that the general tone could be softened to increase its impact.

  10. Mark 2011, November 4 at 2:19 pm

    Great insight from this site, with photos from Sid’s magazine:


    I came across sid’s brother, andrew, teaching WIng Chun in the university of London. At the time the internet was in its infancy, so researching things online was not common place. Since they were teaching at the university many people assumed they were bonafide. So I guess in those days it was easier for people to make claims and them not be checked.

    • withoutwriting 2011, November 6 at 11:53 am

      Great link Mark, thanks. Very interesting to get some insight from an ex-student of these jokers who was too smart to get sucked into the cult all the way.

      I agree that the internet makes it easier to check up on people, but I still find it hard to believe that *anyone* – research or not- could not get a very strong feeling (as you did) that something was seriously wrong with Sofos.

      • Mark 2011, November 7 at 11:26 am

        My expereince was that I knew no different. It was only when I went to a different school that I could actually tell that the level of instruction was poor at the sofos school. But like you rightly said, there was always something that didn’t seem quite right to me. But again it was my first exposure to martial arts and partly I thought it was the way things were supposed to be. Quality of wing chun aside, a lot of the time it was ok. However, I did feel that they liked the power trip and some instructors verged a bit too close to bullying/bossing. I also felt they were a bit too keen on collecting money. Felt it was particularly hash that some students were struggling with money and they still made people cough up when they missed a few lessons. One occasion, we apparently couldn’t train in the university and we had to go to their private studio. Felt this was a way of them trying to take us to the next level, with addition lessons. I knew one person who succumbed to this and bought the pyjama suit and the other stuff needed to train there. It didn’t feel right to me and the money was extortionate. I can see how some people fell for it. They were personally taken under the wing of someone who seemed to be a master of martial arts. Suppose it was empowering if you had a low self esteem.

        Once I saw Andrew lose his temper during a demonstration, when an instructor didn’t ‘punch him correctly’. Can’t quite remember and it happened so fast, but he ended up knocking the glasses of the instructor. The instructor was very apologetic after. This all felt very wrong and I think quite a few people started to turn at that point.

  11. Mark 2011, November 4 at 2:28 pm

    I trained with Andrew for a year and can confirm some of the odd practices already mentioned. Only came into contact with sid a view times. Thankfully I had enough wits to leave.Generally I took the positives from the experience and went on to a genuine wing chun teacher who would happily explain his lineage. My general experience of the sofoses was that something was not right. On a few occasions things happened that just felt wrong. I can totally see how people get sucked in though. You only realise what bad teachers they are when you go to a good teacher (and one that doesn’t spout mystical bullsh*t)

  12. Peter 2011, November 6 at 5:06 pm

    Mark – thanks for your posts (I shall read your earlier on in detail as it requires more attention that the quick skim. Great link, by the way).
    Not wishing to be intrusive, who do you train with now in London? I don’t train WC though I remain interested.
    Thanks in advance and Thanks again for the posts.

    • Mark 2011, November 7 at 11:10 am

      It was probably some 15 years ago that I trained under Andrew Sofos in London. I later trained with Midlands Wing Chun (Shaun Rawcliffe):


      Haven’t trained for years now, but still like to follow these things.

      The difference between the schools was immense. The latter didn’t pretend to be a martial arts school that you see in the movies. I felt they were much more friendly and didn’t operate like a pseudo military school. But more than that, the level of explanation and instruction of the techniques was far superior. It made sense and you got to apply them correctly. In Andrew’s school each instructor had a different idea of how a tan sau, or bong sau, for example, should be done. I don’t think any of them really knew and consequently I personally found I was guessing a lot of the time when I was doing stuff.

  13. Peter 2011, November 8 at 10:24 pm

    A friend of mine trained under Shaun Rawcliffe and only ceased because he (my friend) moved to London to take up a job. He remained in touch with Mr Rawcliffe in order to continue his WC training. By chance, my friend did check Andrew’s club and asked him point blank who he trained under. My friend is Chinese. When I asked him about this, he told me it was a normal thing to do – so as to check the lineage. Sadly, I can’t quite remember Andrew’s answer.

  14. James 2011, December 4 at 2:05 pm

    The Master Brian Whelan referred to by Dan is one of Sid’s students, so a recommendation by him is hardly independent.

    Dan, as a former student of Sid’s school, I would heartily recommend that you visit an another Wing Chun school (or even a good school from another martial art) so that you may see 2 things:

    1 – The Wing Chun taught at Fatshan is poor, both in terms of technique and teaching method.

    2 – That the atmosphere at Fatshan is toxic. Much of the students’ “loyalty” is in fact based on bullying. When you are being called at home and questioned as to why you missed a class, or put under a great deal of pressure to “support” the school with financial donations beyond paying your normal fees, this is not the way to run a school.

    Dan, I do genuinely hope that you do open yourself to the experience of another school, just so you can see the difference.

    • withoutwriting 2011, December 4 at 3:52 pm

      In fact, demanding “financial support” above and beyond standard membership payments is an excellent example of sinister cult-building behaviour.

      It works by making the hapless victim invest more of himself into the organization. After all, it’s hard enough to admit to oneself that one has wasted one’s time training at a useless art… it’s even harder to admit that to oneself when one has been hoodwinked into paying out wads of extra cash to boot.

      People hate to admit that they’re vulnerable to con-men. They hate it so much that sometimes they’d rather carry on being conned.

      Therefore I applaud Mark and yourself for leaving the school, and for discussing the issue.

  15. James 2012, June 8 at 4:45 am

    I just can’t get my head round that in this day and age of free flowing knowledge via Internet and Television that anyone actually believes Sid Sofos has any substance. Do Sid Sofos’ students really believe that he would last one second against any boxer or MMA fighter? Do Sid Sofos’ students really believe that he has been involved in a competitive fight against an opponent at any stage of his life (not the useless skinny 15 yr olds that he slaps round)? Do Sid Sofos’s students really believe that he is some sort of ultra-athlete following a strict training regime and diet?

    The standard response to this question from any of Sofos’ brainwashed students would be: “Well if you think you are so hard then please come to our school and try and see how’d you fair?” – the answer to that is simple – no one would waste their time. I propose the following to any student: why don’t you go to any BJJ, MMA, Boxing or Muay Thai gym and see how you would fair?

    You are all wasting your time and hard earned money – and you will never ever get it back.

    • withoutwriting 2012, July 12 at 6:25 pm

      It’s okay.

      There’s too much truth about Sofos on the internet now; his students will never be able to pop up anywhere again without someone calling them out on their lineage and their grand pooh-bah.

      • Ted 2012, July 15 at 4:27 am

        I posted this on another site:

        It is very clear what is going on here – Sid Sofos had a near death experience, and now that he is a father, wants to leave behind a legacy that does nothing to reflect all the bad that he has done.

        I trained with Sofos around 16 years ago – and I can tell you now for nothing that he is not a good person. I will not list out all the horrible things I have witnessed him do (he is a pathological liar so none of his new students will ever hear it from him) but I personally was attacked by his students after I left. This is after 3 years of paying extortionate fees for a terrible service.

        I left the school after the emergence of UFC, it was clear now what real combat was about. I stood there in total astonishment that sofos claimed that he could beat all of those fighters – I was a young impressionable boy when I trained with sofos and loved to hear how great he used to say I was – but I soon realised that what he taught me was absolute garbage and i was wasting my time and money.

        There are all sorts of websites talking about what he has done – one in particular written by an ex-student who clearly had revenge on his mind after sofos did everything he could to probably ruin his life (cults and cultish organisations)- I can confirm about 80% of it is true – hardly any of it is sensationalised

        DGoodwin – save it – sofos was telling people when he used to teach at imperial that he was in Raiders. The guy is a liar and a fraud – and it sickens me to see him teaching the same rubbish to impressionable kids that he did 20 yrs ago. Your side punch centre, dart forward dart back, chi-dan-sau etc… is all nonsense.

  16. withoutwriting 2012, July 17 at 10:21 pm

    Aieee! Another article from last October: http://www.sundayexpress.co.uk/posts/view/275334/My-heart-was-squeezing-me-to-death

    Gotta love the title. Alien heart syndrome!

    This Tim Brady chap has a lot to answer for.

  17. YoYo 2012, August 20 at 10:05 am

    on one of sid sofos’ websites fatshan.com – the fat lard claims that after a photo of him with another fat guy was shown to an Imam (islamic cleric), a ceremony was held in Mecca where his name was written and burnt onto the walls.

    The reason why the Imam felt this was necessary was because some sort of gold ring appeared around Sofos in the photo (nothing to do with the flash of the camera reflecting on the mirror behind him).

    How can any of Sofos’ students (including many who are muslim) read that and continue to train with him.

    What a low life

  18. james 2012, August 29 at 11:18 am

    I cannot believe that Dan actually posted that website for the martial arts hall of fame! It has to either be some sort of joke, or Dan thinks the world is as stupid as the all Sofos’s disciples. You never attended any Hall of Fame, you are lying through your teeth. According the website (which is Mickey Mouse), you can actually buy a HOF ring — have you heard of anyone buying an NFL HOF ring – what a joke!!!

    Brian Wheelan is a useless martial artist. Like his mate, Sofos, he has never been involved in a comptetive fight of any sort ever in his entire life. He stuck around Fatshan because it was two way relationship. The fact that Whelan can do a roundhouse kick gave the air that Sofos was capable of taking on practitioners from other forms of fighting in the eyes of his students, while Sofos was happy for Wheelan to utilise Fatshan to generate some easy money from the suckers that trained there. They are both complete frauds with no substance at all.

    All of Sofos’s lies are forever on the web – and he will never be able to live it down.

    • James 2012, November 19 at 4:34 pm

      I have sparred with Brian many of times in various karate clubs and take it from me he can fight. I seen him do a lot of damage in competions. I also saw him in fights on the street and he can take care of himself. I have neve understood why he got involved with Sid. He once sparred with andrew with the gloves on and andrew insisted no kick and he gave Anrew 2 black eyes within a min

    • Sam 2013, August 23 at 1:56 pm

      Reading through, I suspect that Dan is the same chap who arranged my meetings with Sid regarding writing his book for him. He’s part of the “inner circle”, one of Sid’s top people.

  19. Samuel Z Jones 2013, February 26 at 4:18 pm

    That was brilliant. I’ve actually met Sofos, several times. You know that self-inflating book he has out? I was one of at least six people he interviewed to ghostwrite it. I was the only martial artist of the bunch, so I got closest to the job. I’d have done it for the money, and it’d be a better book, but he wanted someone to write it purely for the honour of his company. Really.

    Everything you’ve said about him is true, you’ve got him down to a tee.

    And yes, he does have a son; I met Sid’s girlfriend. She’s very nice. Blond, cute, charming, funny, great rack… Somehow, that makes it worse, doesn’t it?

  20. lalalalal 2013, May 4 at 3:12 pm

    guys – does anyone have an update? Have all his disciples finally woken up and realised they are wasting their lives serving this fraud and his agenda?

    Have they finally managed to realise that they have absolutely no fitness, strength or ability to combat a real fighter of any stature?

    Can Sofos’ school really still be open – the place has hosted dubious activity for decades now – and its now time fatshan’s doors are closed forever.

    Has Sofos reached out to every poor soul that he terrorised through the years, some of whom are suffering from severe mental and financial trauma to this day and begged for their forgiveness?

  21. Michael 2014, April 18 at 6:55 am

    I trained with his brother Andrew on and off about 11 years ago. My experience was of a bad tempered Andrew Sofos, bullying instructors, techniques which are of little practical value and extortionate fees. I could go on, but you get the picture.

    My advice would be to not waste your money with the Sofocleus brothers.

  22. JoJo 2014, November 9 at 1:51 pm

    withoutwriting – do you or any of your readers have any update on Sofos? Is Fatshan still operating at all? Please let us know

    • A person 2016, February 20 at 7:34 pm

      Just had a look on Streetview. The front is now a barber shop, but the back is (was) still there. No idea when the front was given up, but it hardly matters. I have no idea whether he has any students or whether the back is now just a front for the taxman.

      The only searchable footage of Sofos in the last decade is here:

      … and that was uploaded seven years ago. The footage for the 2013 video above was shot no later than 2004.

      • SIDDY 2016, March 27 at 4:47 am

        Good spot. This footage is from the main area of what was formerly the studio. Its clearly been shut down and put to better use.

      • Chloe Martin-Brown 2017, February 13 at 3:40 pm

        This place still exists- I came across this post because I’m doing some background… I have the misfortune to live on Denmark St, just 4 doors down from this maniac who is currently making our lives miserable with excessively loud music from his studio whilst he waves knives around at 4am on a regular basis. The frontage is on Denmark St, and it doesn’t include the name Fatshan anywhere, it’s branded up as Wing Chun Kuen, Wing Chun Boxing Academy. When asked to turn down his ridiculous noise, I was accused of being racist because I don’t report the (non existent) reggae concerts across the road, told I ‘live to make his life difficult’ and have a serious problem- my only issue is being woken up in the early hours of the morning by someone’s music where it has no business being played at that time. The picture I’m building from forums, blogs and other reports of his distinctly shady dealings puts everything very nicely into context!

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