Without Writing

The art of writing without writing… about fighting.

The Power and the Story and the Lack of Recognition of Steve Morris

It’s about time I dedicated a whole post to Steve Morris. Not because I’m one of his fanboys, (of which there are few enough, despite his obvious ability and outgoing personality) but because the case of Mr Morris illustrates several points about the martial arts as a whole, and yes, even some points about human nature as a whole.

Some background: Mr Morris is the quintessential martial artist. By all accounts he has studied more martial arts than most people have ever heard of, in places most martial artists have never visited. (Despite the art they’re studying having originated there.)

According to Mr Morris himself, his first exposure to the martial arts was as a young boy, when his Army PT father trained him in boxing and to a high level of physical fitness… and also as a boy when the arguments he got into with his peers became physical. As the son of a serving soldier, he no doubt became the victim of local children’s bullying wherever his dad happened to be stationed. Mr Morris states further that he was beaten harshly by his mother, who was exasperated by his thrill-seeking and dangerous antics. He went into the army at a very young age, and was by his own admission known for his ability to fight by this time.

Mr Steve Morris

This is Mr Morris. Picture used without permission.

Here we have a childhood that is almost guaranteed to produce a violent person. And it undoubtedly did, but Morris was a little different than the standard roughhousing thug. For whatever reason, perhaps simply a naturally analytical mind, he was driven not merely to engage in violence, but to study it religiously. He took up Karate, traveled to Asia seeking the ultimate expression of martial skill… but that which he found he didn’t consider to be very good.

To cut a long story (which is better told by Morris himself here) short, Morris returned to England and created one of the first no-holds-barred gyms to be found in the last half of the 20th century. By this token, he is known by some in the UK as a pioneer of mixed martial arts.

Morris’ technique and theories are too detailed to be fully dissected here. One should visit his website, blog and his youtube account to look at his material by oneself.

Instead, what I wish to do in this short post is to remark on the oddest facts surrounding Morris: Despite obviously being more skilled as a martial artist and as an instructor than people like Sid Sofos, Steven Seagal, George Dillman and all the rest of the pathetic martial frauds that litter the globe… Morris appears to be less successful than any of them. He isn’t as famous as any of these conniving fools. He doesn’t have as many students. He hasn’t made as much money.

The question is: Why?

Morris wonders about this question himself, periodically. My personal conclusion is that this situation is a result of several overlapping flaws in human nature; blind spots that allow frauds to easily prey on the majority of humanity. It’s also a result of flaws in society, blind spots like media distortion and sensationalism.

Firstly, the primary reason that Morris is not as successful as the George Dillmans of the world is that he’s first and foremost a fight trainer. And like every other fight trainer, he will never ever get the same numbers of students as the local Karate McDojo sensei will. Why? Because the vast majority of karate training is easy compared to real fight training.

Think about it for a moment: In every karate school you will see: Overweight people. Infirm people. Physically inept people. Now this is fine. The problem arises when you look back at the club in six months’ time and see the same overweight, infirm and physically inept people… unchanged. Except for the colour of their belt, of course.

Now look at a typical MMA gym. What do you see? mainly fit, healthy fighting men and women. There may be a few overweight or physically untalented people… these will be beginners. Come back in six months’ time, and you’ll notice that these people will either have lost weight and become more skilled, or they won’t be there at all, having left the gym.

Some karate fans or practitioners may say “see? so-called fighting gyms are elitist. We have all sorts of people in our dojos! It’s “Inclusive”!” When the actual truth is that dojos don’t improve people’s fitness or martial skill to the same degree as a proper fight-gym… because their training is easy.

Kata are easy. no-gi grappling is hard and tough.
Kihon are easy, shootboxing is hard and tough.
And no-contact/point-contact Karate sparring is easy… Fighting in the ring/cage is hard, tough… and yes, scary.

Real fight training involves getting as close to real fighting as one safely can… and even though this is still quite a way from real fighting on the map, it’s close enough to scare people off.

How many mums and schoolkids do you see in MMA gyms? Virtually none. Because real fighting is scary, hard and tough… and fight training must also be scary, hard and tough.

The reason you DO see mums and schoolkids at Karate schools is that Karate is so far away from fight-training that it’s no longer scary. It’s watered down enough to be palatable.

Sadly, at the same time it’s utterly useless for self-defence and/or physical fitness.

The second reason Steve Morris is less successful than the fraudulent martial gurus that litter the planet like a malignant growth on the face of humanity, is that he’s simply not exciting enough for the public, or the media.

George Dillman

This is George Dillman.

George Dillman seems exciting. He claims that he can render someone unconscious with a mere poke of his digit.

In fact, Dillman’s only real power is the power to render me (and people like me) angry with his bulls**t. He’s clearly an unfit, unskilled and lying idiot. But his copy is dynamite! The headlines read: “Martial Art Master demonstrates no-touch knockout!”

And it sounds exciting. People want to learn this skill! Partly because it sounds cool and partly because they want to have the power to physically defeat an opponent without having to do all those pesky press-ups or spend all those gruelling hours on the mat and in the ring.

So the press loves Dillman, and wannabe kung-fu killers love Dillman. He can be proved wrong on TV, and nobody cares. Students flock to his misbegotten banner. Sad, but true. Meanwhile, what’s Steve Morris’ message? Essentially Steve says: train like a fighter, and you might become one. If you don’t train like a fighter, you definitely won’t.

That’s not exciting. That’s not newsworthy. The fact that the best way to learn to knock someone out is by hitting very heavy objects and very heavy sparring partners for hours and hours and days and days and weeks and years… isn’t exciting. In fact, it sounds downright tiring!

So Mr Morris’ message isn’t popular with anyone but fighters. And since he doesn’t own a gym, he hasn’t got that many students even among fighters. Frankly I don’t think he has the financial capital to start such an endeavour.

Lastly, we have the question of Mr Morris’ “attitude problem”. He has a reputation for being a fiery and uncompromising man, and despite being in his sixties, there are reports that he incapacitated a prominent british cage fighter a couple of years ago when said cage fighter became belligerent at one of Mr Morris’ seminars.

As stated earlier, Steve’s a man capable of some serious violence. But has he ever bullied his students? Has he ever started a fight while teaching, or victimised a weaker opponent? I can’t find anyone who claims that he has.

In fact, the majority of claims that Mr Morris has a bad attitude appear to originate not from people he’s beaten up, but from people within the Karate and other exotic, esoteric “martial” arts circles who don’t like what he has to say. One must regard their rants with suspicion.

This is the real clown

Only joking. This is the real George Dillman. This is also the real clown.

So there we have the sad story of Steve Morris: A man ahead of his time, an expert in his field, with belts and- more importantly- experience bursting out of his ear-holes… and he’s pipped to the post by scum like Ashida Kim, due to a combination of the sensationalism and gullibility of the media, of people in general, and- slightly more pitiably- the fear of physical conflict among those who wish to master it.

Welcome to humanity, population seven billion. It’s often a laughably stupid location. :/

NB: I have been picking on Karate and its derivatives in this article, but regular readers of this blog will be aware that I am fully cognisant of the fact that there are a tiny number of Karate schools that do train hard and well. It’s just that I’m also fully aware that virtually any MMA club trains harder and better.

28 responses to “The Power and the Story and the Lack of Recognition of Steve Morris

  1. Peter 2011, September 27 at 10:33 pm

    I liked your article. I was put onto Mr Morris about 3 years ago and was agog at his quality, understanding, knowledge and output. His experience in travelling to Okinawa to train under Yamaguchi and grade 3rd Dan is astonishing in context. He must have been ahead of every karateka in the UK. To then be called back for 4th Dan and be rewarded with 5th Dan in recognition of his ability and understanding yet interpreting the kata through the prism of its implicit Chinese root…well: What an achievement. To then be put under an Okinawan 2nd Dan…no wonder he decided to think for himself and sever his ties to Okinawa.
    He would likely scare the bejesus of me yet it crosses my Mind to seek him out to learn. Well, before I draw my pension.
    Keep going. It’s good stuff and I shall continue to visit.

    • withoutwriting 2011, September 28 at 12:14 pm

      Many thanks for the encouraging words Peter.

      I haven’t had the pleasure of training with Mr Morris as yet, but from the accounts I’ve heard and read, he’s an extremely pleasant, outgoing person when you meet him. He may not suffer fools gladly, but provided one’s intention to learn is clear, I can’t imagine he’d be anything but personable.

      Having trained in one or two karate dojos in my time, I can honestly say that I’ve encountered more egotism and bullying among higher grades and teachers of that “martial” art than I’ve ever encountered among amateur or professional ring or cage fighters. I’d be more worried about stepping into a karate dojo again than I would about stepping into one of Morris’ classes.

  2. Bill 2012, February 13 at 9:58 pm

    You sound very much like a ‘fanboy’ to me, considering you haven’t met the man yet.

    “But has he ever bullied his students? Has he ever started a fight while teaching, or victimised a weaker opponent? I can’t find anyone who claims that he has.”

    “I haven’t had the pleasure of training with Mr Morris as yet, but from the accounts I’ve heard and read, he’s an extremely pleasant, outgoing person when you meet him. He may not suffer fools gladly, but provided one’s intention to learn is clear, I can’t imagine he’d be anything but personable.”

    You make some bold and sweeping generalisations. I’m sure many people would have said the same things about Mr Cook up until recently…

    Mr Morris did actually teach at Mr Cook’s dojo once many moons ago.

    • withoutwriting 2012, February 15 at 9:32 am

      Yes, I state in my article that I haven’t met Mr Morris as yet. What’s your point? I don’t have to meet everyone I comment on in my articles. I can- instead- analyse their behaviour and their body of work, as I have Morris’ work above.

      I actually have met Mr Cook, and the experience of that single meeting merely adds to my low opinion of him, his personality, his skill level, the art he practiced and his followers.

      Cook was and is a shameless fraud, a man who taught a so-called “fighting art” which has nothing to do with fighting and isn’t much of an art either, who disparaged other arts and other instructors, who yammered moralistic rhetoric while engaging in the most disgusting sexual exploitation of his most vulnerable followers. He is a foul individual, and anyone who associated themselves with his teachings should be heartily ashamed of that association.

      And on this page:
      Steve Morris notes that he did run a seminar at a venue organised by Cook at least once. This says nothing about Cook’s skill level, or Morris’ skill level, and does not suggest any connection between them beyond the obvious. Again, what’s your point?

      To be frank, you don’t seem to have a point. Come out and say whatever it is you want to say.

      • eagle 2016, March 1 at 1:25 pm

        I’ve trained with him and you would be right in your assumptions. Personable, a fountain of knowledge, he makes sense and he still has an amazing amount of power and skill for a man in his 30’s let alone a man approaching, or already hitting, 70.
        Don’t worry about the keyboard martial artists, these guys probably teach some stupid Shotokan school somewhere, where every one of their students think they are a karate master, when infact half their students could probably beat them in a real fight.

  3. Bill 2012, February 15 at 8:53 pm

    My point. Well firstly it wasn’t to imply anything untoward regarding Steve Morris or his sexual preferences if that’s where you think I was leading.

    I think what I was trying to say is that in the (admittedly) few articles I have read on here – this one, the one about Cook and a couple of links from those, you seem to make some presumptions based on data mining and litte if any direct experience in some cases.

    Take your reply above for example: “….anyone who associated themselves with his teachings should be heartily ashamed of that association.” What an amazing statement. You seem to presume that everyone who trained with Cook must have known what was going on, and they are therefore all loathsome individuals.

    I’m also interested to know how you would define or judge a person’s ability to fight.

    If we stick with Cook, you confirmed you met hime once, but can categorically state that he can’t fight. How can you make that assertion based on one meeting ? Abhorrent his actions were, but doesn’t mean he can’t fight.

    The 7 stone middle aged housewife with her Karate green belt is unlikely to get in the ring with an experienced male cage fighter and come out on top. But if she learns enough in a Karate dojo to fend off an attacker in the street, does she not fight ?

    If the Karate black belts don’t knock seven bells out of each other every training session, does that mean they won’t or can’t fight in a ‘real’ situation ?

    No doubt you’ve seen this one before, but always makes me smile.


    • withoutwriting 2012, February 15 at 9:42 pm

      It was nigh impossible to tell where you were leading from your previous post, and I made no guesses as to where that might be. You’ve made some categorical statements in this one though. I’ll address them one by one:

      1. I try not to make assumptions at all on this blog. The things I write are based on evaluation of available evidence. You may disagree with the conclusions I come to, but that’s merely because our reasoning differs. (i.e: your reasoning is flawed. 🙂 )

      2. It appears that you didn’t quite grasp the full meaning of what you read. People should be ashamed for associating themselves with Cook, not merely for not paying more attention to what he was doing with his vulnerable underage students, but quite simply because he was a self-evident fraud throughout his life, peddling obvious crap. People should be ashamed of buying into Cook’s wares in the same way that those who bought into Steven Seagal’s wares should be ashamed.

      3. I judge a person’s ability to fight based on the physical skills they can demonstrate, and their understanding of the realities of violence. I judge a person’s ability to teach a fighting subject on the same factors, but in addition their ability to convey knowledge and encapsulate and transmit knowledge on difficult topics for students of all levels. Quite simple, and quite easy to judge, if you know what to look for.

      It’s like judging someone’s ability to bake a cake. You look at the cakes they’ve baked, and listen to them talk about how cakes should be baked. Then you use your own critical faculty to analyse this data. Fighting’s a practical topic and thus should be dealt with in this way.

      4. Why do I say that Cook can’t fight? Because I’ve seen his work. In the flesh, and on film. I’ve read his smug, self-serving articles and posts. Neither demonstrated any fighting skill, physical awareness or intellectual understanding. Pretty clear-cut, to be honest. Not based only on one meeting, although the one meeting matched the rest of the data.

      This simple statement is unconnected with the fact that he is a paedophile. You seem confused on this point.

      5. The seven stone middle aged housewife will not learn anything of use in the local McDojo, least of all how to fight off a committed attacker. People who have done a bit of Karate here or a bit of Gung Fu there sometimes succeed in fighting off an attacker. They then credit their Karate training for their own success… this is very sad. They should take credit themselves, because it certainly wasn’t the godawful robotic pantomime in pyjamas at the Dojo that helped them succeed in those cases.

      6. Karate training is by and large awful for learning how to fight, not merely because of the lack of contact in sparring, but the whole package. The movements, the “technique”, the artificial and robotic footwork, the body mechanics of the strikes and the total lack of anything approaching an understanding of the different portions of combative endeavour. (How striking differs from grappling, and why one needs to learn both, for instance.)

      Frankly I think Karate should just *go away*. It’s a pointless dance, packaged as a fighting art, and it’s increasingly irrelevant and silly.

  4. Jed 2012, May 1 at 5:37 pm

    Great video link, loved it.

    I think Bill makes a good point. Agreed Morris seems like the real deal, but I’ve never actually seen him fight.

    Bill’s saying you’re being a bit too rah-rah based on mostly Morris’s own accounts of beating up worthy opponents. I agree with him.

    Maybe Morris did win all those streetfights, maybe he didn’t –we mostly have his words to go by.

    The only way to judge someone’s fighting ability is to watch tape and there ain’t any tape of Morris (at least that I’ve been able to find) — full stop.

    One thing that jumps out about his “autobiography” is this question. If Morris was so keen to fight full contact and test himself, as he keeps saying, against the best, it seems to me that in the 70s there were plenty of venues open to doing just that.

    He could have fought professionally like, say, Benny the Jet Urdiquez or he could have fought in money cage matches like the kind, say, Lenny MacLean the Guvnor was up to (plenty of tape on those matches) or he could have boxed professionally and made millions or he could have gone to Thailand and fought with knees and elbows or he could have fought in Hong Kong where underground no-holds-barred matches were part of the culture, etc. etc etc.

    Instead what he says is that he opened a school and had random challenge matches there.

    Seems odd.

    If you really want to test against the best, if you are real prize fighter, you will find a way into a ring where you can be declared a winner and take home a purse. Because that’s what Morris says fighting is all about to him, an athletic contest. Well then, whey didn’t he ever enter one?

    • withoutwriting 2012, May 5 at 10:42 pm

      Thanks for the comment. It has been a while since I wrote this one, so I read through it again to check to make sure; I didn’t reference Morris’ alleged street fighting record. So your statement “you’re being a bit too rah-rah based on mostly Morris’s own accounts of beating up worthy opponents.” seems to be out of place… perhaps a reference to someone else’s blog?

      Nah. The thrust of the article above was that despite all people agreeing that Steve Morris has more martial arts training experience than most other instructors, and despite the fact that his focus is on training for real life fighting, he has historically been villified and ignored… while the Harry Cooks and Dillmans of the world do very well for themselves indeed. Why is that? That’s the question I attempted to answer.

      Regarding your last question, Morris does address the question of whether he competed (and why not) on his website. Make your own judgement about his answers. And lastly it’s a bit disingenuous to accuse Morris of reducing fighting to an “athletic contest”, when he winds on almost exclusively about fighting being its own animal entirely. “Train to fight” seems to me to be his message. And I find nothing to argue with in that.

      • Max Ainley 2012, May 12 at 9:22 pm

        The main theme for me is Steves lack of recognition ,these days mostly as a trainer of fighters ,obviously he knows his stuff ,plus he seems to be a straight talker ,his observations about Karate are good in many respects ,I think he knew were Karate lacked ,and were it maybe could be salvaged ,you just arn’t going to be recognised for spotting obvious defects ,unless you are say okinawan or of celebrity status .

      • withoutwriting 2012, May 13 at 7:56 pm

        Couldn’t agree more. It seems that some people are- even these days- more ready to accept an obvious lie from a man in white pyjamas than an obvious truth from a man in board shorts and a rashguard.

    • eagle 2016, March 1 at 1:26 pm

      Many of them, he has been kicked out of a lot of different styles for being too rough, or using full contact.

  5. Max Ainley 2012, June 9 at 9:59 am

    Yes a obvious truth is ,rejected in favour of a untruth, I think Steve is wordily wise on the subject ,he’s stripped it down to the bare bones ,pointed out many things that tradition will not properly address .

  6. Truthseeker 2013, March 22 at 4:09 pm

    To Jed

    The reason Morris did nt fight in those orgs in the 70’s is because he’s too damn big for ALL of them- that’s why. You can’t get a mind like his to conform to anything – he’s to good – he is pure , relentless quest for self-improvement and understanding – ON HIS TERMS – nobody elses and that’s what you dont understand.

    The other thing you dont understand is that all of those orgs of the 70’s you mention are REALLY about gambling, money making and / or other illegal / criminal activities. Plus as a fighter you would have to conform and accept a set of relationships with a promoter and audience that completly contradicts the type of man Morris is. Why the hell would somebody of Morris mind and intellect want to associate with Lenny Mclean’s cronies for ??? There is no way he could conform to boxing and kickboxing on somebody elses terms i.e as a subordinate.

    If you understand those two points then your questions answered.

  7. A guy 2013, June 7 at 8:20 pm

    Strongly disagree with your article apart from the bits about having a brutalized childhood. Morris was in karate for decades before he spit the dummy and claimed karate was useless, promoted fascism (!), etc. I found that part of his narrative very doubtful. Read all his articles and ignore the asides about how great he is (I’ve never met him so I don’t accept or deny those claims) according to himself and some named supporters he has chosen to mention. You will weed out the real story. It goes something like this:

    1) Bullied working class boy who literally idolizes his probably abusive army PT instructor dad joins the army at a young age;
    2) Lacks discipline and gets into fights with squaddies, which later become part of a mythological narrative about his being such a great fighter because of genetics, natural warrior disposition and intellect;
    3) Leaves army to work on building sites as a manual laborer: hard and unrewarding work that can make anyone bitter;
    4) Gets into fights on building sites (every one of these brawls is an epoch-making legend in its own right according to him at age 70);
    5) Gets interested in karate in a big way;
    6) Devotes his life to karate, travels to Japan and undergoes some severe hardships and poverty (poverty is now a major theme in this story) while learning karate at traditional schools;
    7) Reaches highest levels of old-school karate and returns to Britain where he opens a karate club;
    8) Karate club goes BUST and he is forced to return to building sites – probably madder than ever at the iniquities of life;
    9) Spits the dummy for the first time (that anyone would notice) by getting into conflicts with all the karate bigwigs in the UK, in magazine articles mostly;
    10) Starts his training gyms, none of which did all that well financially;
    11) Invests in some property with all his life savings;
    12) Life savings get stolen by fraudster, never to be recovered;
    13) Morris flips his lid big time, and starts up his website and posts articles with his research highlighting the fascism and war crimes connections he’s found with some karate individuals;
    14) Morris begins his MMA training career afresh, and feels a need to disavow all his part karate allegiances to sell some fresh, apparently scientific snake oil with some physio and bio terms from his scrapbook but mostly ‘qualified by experience’ – to hell with them all, he thinks;
    15) All Morris-isms become their worth in gold, because of the furore he’s whipped up in a calculated way in internet forums with his articles (he has decades of experience doing this type of controversy-publicity in the UK martial arts press), to the extent we even see some interviews with him in a squalid caravan in the middle of nowhere (his home?) on Youtube. An hourly chat with the wise man on Skype now costs £50, and a 3-hour training session something like £400. LOL

    In the end the guy figured it out. Money talks and bullshit walks. But I reckon he was a believer in karate until he realized he was getting old and had no money left. That was the real conversion on the road to Damascus. I believe he revised his story to say he ALWAYS doubted karate in the late 1990s. Very late. He is someone who really bought into karate and gave his life to training in it, making a lot of personal sacrifices.

    A shame that on the way, in his frustration at a lack of money and personal success, he probably bullied a lot of incompetent fighters and his own students.

    • withoutwriting 2013, June 8 at 3:55 pm

      This comment is goddamn FASCINATING. I mean, it’s a perfect example of how blindly defensive people can get when discussing an individual like Morris, and how they will lash out on a personal level while avoiding addressing the actual points, at all costs.

      I mean, the statements of the anonymous author of this frankly juvenile diatribe (“squalid caravan”???) can be boiled down to: “Morris is a failure; Morris is a fraud; Morris really believed in Karate until he realised he could make money slagging it off”.

      Actually, regardless of the psychological motivation for the things Morris says, Morris is correct on the following points:

      1. Karate (like Gung Fu, Taekwondo and many other pseudo-martial arts) is inefficient in the extreme as combative training.
      2. The exotic trappings of Karate seduce more people than the art deserves considering its ineffectiveness
      3. Karate (like Taekwondo in Korea and other physical arts elsewhere) was indeed used as part of an overall and far-reaching set of politically indoctrinatory tools in Japan.

      To the author of this comment: You may “strongly disagree” with my article, but the main thrust of the article was that Morris’ skills are obviously far in excess of Dillman’s skills, Sofos’ skills and Harry Cook’s skills. So why have those egregious fraudsters made money out of the martial arts while people like Morris have not?

      Answer: Because there are people like you in the world. Lots and lots and lots of you.

      • A guy 2013, June 8 at 8:28 pm

        For starters there is nothing juvenile about pointing out the man’s obvious desperation from a financial perspective. I’m not rich myself, I don’t find his predicament funny and I’m not mocking him, just the irony of his recent diatribes (funny how my comment was a ‘diatribe’ whereas none of Morris’s are). Those are worthy of a little smirk.

        Next, you claim I haven’t addressed the actual points. The actual point you actually made in your article was that, essentially, Morris doesn’t have the recognition he deserves, whereas others, who are in your opinion less deserving, not only have recognition but enduring success.

        As such your article is based on accepting the recent Morris narrative at face value. This is a failure of critical thinking, and as such, given the nature of your other articles in support of various individuals and causes (like Noam Chomsky) it’s surprising. Let me show you how mistaken your approach is.

        1) If you hadn’t read any of Morris’s articles and weren’t aware of his recent reversals but had read his old karate interviews instead, you would believe in karate today not MMA, That’s how complete the Morris U-turn has been. MMA-Morris says karate-Morris was wrong, and just playing along. What will tomorrow’s Morris say? That MMA-Morris was wrong and just playing along?
        2) You assume, as Morris would encourage us all to fervently believe, that the Steve Morris cause is one and the same as the MMA/UFC/BJJ/NHB cause. Whereas the guy doesn’t have a fighters rank in MMA or UFC or BJJ or NHB. He is someone who trained in karate and trained others in MMA.
        3) As you pointed out elsewhere, Steven Seagal isn’t really a fighter; he is an actor. Yet a MMA guy who won a few fights claims Seagal was his instructor. Does this elevate Seagal? I guess not. So why should the anecdotes of Morris’s students elevate Morris? So far Morris’s qualifications, if we accept he threw out the gi and dan grades, are a list of scraps he had with various random individuals who looked at him funny over the years.
        4) Raw fighting, real competitive ‘MMA’ was practised way back in the 60s and 70s as well. There were hardcore competitions back then, with the difference being that competitors often represented a traditional style. But karate became really popular in the 80s and 90s and the McDojos sprang up in every town. The popular karate hasn’t produced people like Chuck Norris for a long time. So this split between MMA and karate is something a bit new to be exploited by entrepreneurs like Morris, because of the 80s and 90s wave of useless karatekas, They aren’t that bad (or if they are, it’s because of them, not their style) and by extension how good is he if he compares himself only to ‘karatekas’ who are 1 hour a week schoolkids and office temps?

        I am not claiming Morris is equivalent to an Aikido instructor. I am just pointing out that for the majority of his long life, he considered it necessary to have belts and dan grades in karate. He believed in it, or said he did (and was knowingly lying, if what he now says is true). These dan grades are martial arts qualifications. Doesn’t matter whether the martial art is hopscotch, they are still ‘qualifications’. Why did he spend so much of his life trying to get these ‘qualifications’ if he thought they were useless? Would anyone really ‘play along’ with a charade that makes them poor and causes them to suffer in a foreign land? I doubt it. Much more likely, he REALLY believed in karate.

        The life and times of Steve Morris are a subject to which a considerable amount of bandwidth has been devoted. Most of it, by now, has come from him writing about himself. However the inconsistencies in this story are so glaringly serious, only a fool wouldn’t question it. Also the evidence is extremely selective on his part. Why not include the articles about him from Combat magazine in the early 90s/late 80s where he says all his power came from Sanchin? Perhaps because then it would be too confusing which Morris to trust.

        I would like to finally address yours and Morris’s point about fascism in karate. This is really a red herring in the 21st century. People are getting their kids trained in karate to be disciplined and assertive members of society. Morris is a ‘leader’ personality type. I think that’s a kind way of regarding his inability to fit into disciplined hierarchical organisational structures. If he’s not the man at the top, he’s not happy. Therefore the quasi-military structure of martial arts taught in the Japanese way isn’t for him. To tie this in with a supposed righteous indignation about Japanese treatment of PoWs in WW2 is ridiculous. He doesn’t acknowledge his own failings. In military units, cooperation is valued, and this has been the case since Ancient Greek phalanges. Rugged individualism must have limits otherwise it doesn’t work. It’s not for him, fine. But then to go on to say the ‘wild wolf’ sociopathic approach is superior to organised, collective approaches is invalid. Cooperation is a life skill taught by karate, and it reaps dividends in the lives of children and adults.

      • withoutwriting 2013, June 8 at 11:19 pm

        1. My dear fellow, I said that your initial post was a juvenile diatribe, and it was undeniably that. I didn’t say whether Morris has written any juvenile diatribes or not. It wasn’t a comparison between your text and Morris’ text, it was a judgement on your text and your text alone. I hope that clears that up for you. And of course you were mocking Morris for his supposed poverty! (“Squalid caravan”.) Don’t chicken out now!

        2. Tish and pish! If I say that Morris doesn’t have the recognition he deserves when compared to George Dillman, that has nothing to do with “accepting Morris’ narrative”, recent or otherwise! It has everything to do with the fact that- as any moron could see, if they bothered- when looking at Morris’ videos vs Dillman’s videos, it’s crystal clear who the better martial artist is.

        3. Your point 1) boils down to “Morris made a U-turn!”. But it doesn’t matter if Morris believed in the efficacy of Karate until 1965, until 1990, or until last year. The point is that what he’s saying about Karate being useless nonsense is correct. Karate is indeed, useless nonsense (with a few notable exceptions; schools that have stolen techniques and training methods from Muay Thai and Judo).

        4. Your point 2) seems to be saying that because Morris doesn’t hold a title or rank in “MMA” or MMA-related art, he’s not qualified to teach MMA, only Karate… If you are saying that, it is extremely stupid, for incredibly obvious reasons. Perhaps I’m reading you wrong here, and I would hate to knock down a straw-man.

        5. Your point 3) seems to state that Morris’ suitability to teach would depend on some form of “qualification”. But there are no qualifications worth having in fighting arts. Your suitability to teach comes from your experience in teaching technique, and your ability to convey information. Nothing more. Greg Jackson wasn’t a UFC champion, but he is regarded as one of the greatest MMA trainers, although opinions differ. Having said that, it’s not his “qualifications” that make him a good trainer. It’s his ability to train others. Now simply watching Morris move in his videos is enough to convince a critical viewer that he has some physical skill. But listening to his theories is the really convincing thing. He’s great at analysing and conveying martial ideas. Much better than most people.

        6. your point 4) “This split between MMA and Karate is something new!” Puh-leeze, what utter self-serving drivel. Karate was always predominantly a game of patty-cake in pyjamas, with the exception of Kyokushin, which stole everything that was good about it from Muay Thai. There’s nothing further from real combat than “traditional” Karate except flower arranging. MMA training is closer to real fighting, but of course not quite there, as nothing is.

        7. Your next point is… “Morris made a U-turn!”

        8. “Cooperation is a life skill taught by karate, and it reaps dividends in the lives of children and adults.” Or not. What Karate teaches you- most often- is that doing whatever some moron who can’t teach fighting to save his or her life tells you is great, as long as his/her belt is the right colour. Karate teaches you that waving your arms around in unnatural ways while shouting at thin air will make you a better fighter. “Cooperation”… pshhh, try “unquestioningly doing what you’re told”. That’s why Karate was beloved of the fascist element in Japan for a long time. A great training tool. For drones.

        Anything good that people think they learn from Karate, they really learn from other human beings, or themselves. “Karate” is a malevolent fantasy that only serves to give power to the unworthy. It has no worth, and no reality, like many esoteric non-martial arts.

    • Val Singh 2016, June 9 at 10:47 pm

      I trained at Steve’s School for 3 years in the 80’s. I have also trained at length with British and World Champions in Point Fighting, Full Contact, BJJ, MMA etc.. I have been exposed/trained in many arts. He was not financially driven in the heyday’s, however spoke his mind…. I attribute most of my skill and outlook to him. Truly a legend and a person that frightened me with his ability. The most practical and awesome Martial Artist that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I never always agreed with him, but the most lethal person that I have come across.
      There are a lot of detractors out there. Meet the Man and your view will change. He trained 3 British Champions within the PKA and WKA, all title holders at the same time. I know that, because all 5 of us trained solely together. Most proponents from other schools came to challenge. They were either quickly dispatched, or they joined the fold. For those times(and now), he was truly revolutionary. Enough said….

  8. farrell 2013, June 26 at 6:51 pm

    How many of you guys posting have actually trained with Steve Morris ?
    Even once ?
    Met the guy ?
    Lots of opinion based on not a lot of first hand knolwedge is what we seem to have here.

  9. Truthseeker 2013, June 27 at 5:26 pm

    I did – on and off 1995-2005. The amount of knowledge and understanding he crammed into those 4 hour sessions had to be experienced to believe it. Everybody benefited from the sessions – though for some it was a harsh lesson!

  10. Max Ainley 2013, June 29 at 7:53 pm

    Regardless if there are a u turns etc, Steve does require a bit more recognition for is ability and understanding ,obviously he is human and most likely will have flaws ,but strong points too ,he does talk / act in a very common sense way , he gets the thumbs up from me even though I rejected his way .i still think highly of him .

  11. Naryan67 2013, December 24 at 2:05 pm

    I have trained with Steve, & he is the best I have ever seen, & he is abell to teach you what to do but how you do it, all the best John

  12. Andy 2014, November 10 at 12:28 pm

    Steve Morris is truly awesome. I have trained with him a number of times and will do so again whenever I can. He has always been very friendly and pleasant and the classes I’ve attended have contained people with a mixed range of abilities so nobody should be put off training with him.

    The man is clearly obsessive and has a unique and uncompromising mind set, but if you want to learn how to fight, who better to teach you than a no nonsense, incredibly tough, highly intelligent man who could probably out psyche a psychopath?

    OK, I would definitely not want to be on the wrong side of him, but I’m not going to get on the wrong side of him because all he is interested in is teaching effective techniques, and all I want from him is to be taught effective techniques. It is an absolute no brainer for anybody interested in martial arts: Learn from him while you can, because he’s in his 70s and you never know when he might retire and stop teaching.

  13. ed 2016, November 18 at 11:16 am

    I trained with Morris in the Earlham street days just before he made it a MMA gym I was also training at Eneoda’s dojo.

    At Morris dojo I remember a Chinese guy training( looked like Bruce Lee) normally apart from the main training. A second Dan Jap and muscular black belt called Sam were also regulars.

    The training was intense and a bit scary but there was sense behind it all. There were set piece training and these were NHB type drills. You knew it was coming and still got hit. Although I did developed a great side step. My combination punching was also improved.

    I must admit I learnt alot there more than at Eneodas.In fact one training tip from Eneoda nearly got my head knock off by a Boxer guy. He said to keep my back and head up. In sparring a taller guy this became a great target for his jab.

    Morris himself was a very good teacher and it was encouraging. But it was tough and he obviously was very passionate about training.


    PS: I did actually get into 3 street type fights( 2 at college and one on a builkding site) after my short time at his Goju dojo and did OK.
    So money well spent.

  14. Bob 2017, August 3 at 4:29 am

    Greetings from Australia. After 40 plus years in karate (basically Kempo) I can attest to all the bullshit, some of which you have covered. When asked do I “do” Karate I’m quick to point out I’m a Kempo fella and not a “40 kata and no sparring” martial artist. Kind regards.

    • Bob 2017, August 3 at 4:31 am

      Further to my above, did you know it was George Dillman who awarded the late Muhammad Ali and HONOURARY black belt in the early 70’s?

  15. Tom Jeffries 2017, November 12 at 12:48 am

    Steve Morris is probably one of the finest all round martial artists that the planet has ever had and it’s a terrible shame that he hasn’t got the recognition

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