The “PETER URBAN SYNDROME”
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This article is one of a series focused on issues currently challenging those who have benefited from both the multitude of positive Martial Arts contributions of the late Patriarch of USA GoJu, Peter Urban, and also those who have suffered from some of the negative practices and abuses connected with those who have studied, practices, taught, or associated with this MA Pioneer and his followers. This series is not intended to defame or attack anyone personally, but is solely the opinion of the author, based on his personal experiences, observations and conclusion. BE ADVISED, Enter with a critical mind.
Today I responded to a post on the Facebook Page: “U.S.A.G.A. Urban System of America GoJu Association“. This post by a U.S.A.G.A.member stated: “It’s time for you to take over U.S.A.G.A….”. Since I take this subject very seriously, I subsequently wish to share the contents of my response to anyone interested in the subject of USA GoJu. Please read below an edited and more thoroughly revised version.
U.S.A.G.A. Urban System of America GoJu Association: Thank you for the kind compliment and expression of trust. However, USAGA is not mine to “take over”. If I was so foolish to attempt that, I would be no different than those others who seem bent of reliving the past, taking advantage of Peter Urban’s legacy, in the face and on the backs of so many other legitimate USA GoJu Masters, a few Senior to me and many Junior to me.
Peter Urban personally taught me that the first step in organization was to label everything “accurately” and the operative word here is “accurately”. No matter how much we wish to romanticize the past, we can never change reality or re-write history.
I strongly suggest that we apply this principle and apply the most “accurate label” to one of the most significant things Peter Urban dedicated his time and attention to until his death. Before anyone could even consider using U.S.A.G.A. as another martial arts organization, he must first “label it accurately“.
Let’s first examine and acknowledge the irrefutable acts we have been witness too. U.S.A.G.A. belonged to Peter Urban and Peter Urban alone. There will never be another Peter Urban. He left us a wealth of valuable information and ideas if we will have the courage to act on those ideas. He did not leave us an “organization”.
If you knew him, truly listened to him, and even read his last will and testament, you cannot miss coming to the conclusion that U.S.A.G.A. was given to us by Peter Urban as way for “Alumni” to interact in a civil and constructive manner. It was never a structure to award rank, belts, titles, or advancement.
There was no standard curriculum in U.S.A.G.A., and no organizational structure. Many of us, his senior students, tried to establish one, however you judge it, he always undercut and/or disassembled whatever we devised. In the entire history of U.S.A.G.A. Peter Urban only appointed two “Directors” other than himself (they were Shihan William Liquori (Florida) and Shihan Ric Pascetta (New Jersey)). However, even these “Directors” were given limited powers of authority and all efforts to organize U.S.A.G.A. like other martial arts organizations were resisted and/or refused by GM Urban. No one else in the entire history of U.S.A.G.A. has ever been elevated to an executive level.
So, let’s stop pretending that U.S.A.G.A. ever was a martial arts “organization” or ever could be one after the clear and definite precedents set by its creator and founder, GM Peter Urban. Let’s apply Urban’s own principle and “label it accurately”. U.S.A.G.A. was and still is a SOCIAL NETWORK of USA GoJu practitioners established by GM Urban long before “social networks” became popularized by the Internet. Nothing more, nothing less!
Any diplomas, ranks, certificates, titles, or awards have NEVER been issued under the authority of U.S.A.G.A.. They have been issued under the authority, credibility, and reputation of Grand Master Peter Urban, himself. If you have doubt, then examine the multiple names for his school, group, or “association” that he used and changed over and over through the years. It is documented, the list is exhausting, and U.S.A.G.A. was only one of them. All anyone has to do is to look at names on the various certificates and “recognition” awards he regularly sent by mail. Read he many newsletters, “Urban Speaks“. None were never consistently U.S.A.G.A. or any other “organizational” name. The only thing consistent in the formal documents issued by Peter Urban was his signature and thumb print!
The significant point here is for us to stop the abusive use of U.S.A.G.A. for the personal gain of any one individual or faction of USA GoJu. Further, to stop the abusive issuing of rank certification, titles, and appointed positions under the illusion that it is from a structured martial arts organization alleged to be in existence for 40-50 years. That is simply not the truth.
Yes, Peter Urban formed his own unique and constantly version of martial arts beginning years ago. He most consistently called it USA GoJu. Yes, he created a network of students, instructors, associates, friends, and fans that he called U.S.A.G.A., along with multiple other names that came to his imagination at any particular time. Anyone who was there to witness this activity and behavior, and is not afraid to share the truth, will confirm the validity of these statements of fact.
So any attempts to “take over” U.S.A.G.A. by me or anyone else would be to perpetuate a lie and constitute unethical practices. I further suggest that if the self appointed, so called “leaders” who are presently attempting to portray themselves as our “leaders” of U.S.A. GoJu and/or U.S.A.G.A. would form their own legitimate martial arts organization under their own names, rather than attempt to steal Urban’s legacy, we would all see somewhat quickly how adept they actually are at forming, structuring, organizing, and operating a real association.
This legacy called U.S.A.G.A. belongs to each of us who has paid our dues over the years and endured to remain active with our individual versions of what Peter Urban taught. THAT IS U.S.A.G.A., nothing more, nothing less.
I call for all USA GoJu practitioners to assert their rights and refuse to participate in action, or group, or leader that tries to make U.S.A.G.A. anything different than Peter Urban intended. Let us, instead enjoy our social interaction, exchange ideas and even training openly, and support those true USA GoJu leaders who have worked so hard to form legitimate Associations, Dojos, or groups of instructors, set solid standards, and continue to act on and develop the legacy left to us by Peter Urban.
Further, I call upon all USA GoJu Black Belts to refuse any “rank advancement” under the guise of U.S.A.G.A.. Let the value of any certification be judged upon the credibility and reputation of the Master who signed it. Don’t be fooled simply because someone started his martial arts activity many years ago. Seniority can only be a limited measure of a Master’s credibility and is often used to hide the real truth of that person’s limited activity during years of his alleged practice, or even his/her poor to mediocre accomplishments during his alleged long years in martial arts.
If any such issuer of advancement certification has compromised their standards, then let them and their followers personally reap the loss of credibility that results from such unethical activity. If issued under the banner of an organization, I caution all to be prudent, to examine if, in fact, that organization truly exists beyond a fancy facade. Examine closely what is it’s documented history and reputation, (not the solely the self serving propaganda supplied on its website or literature), and that is not simply a scheme to mask the actions of some individuals who may hide behind the facade of a grandiose names and inflated, quasi-fraudulent certifications.
In this way serious students and true “Masters” of USA GoJu may stand together and further “TRUTH, JUSTICE, and THE AMERICAN GOJU WAY!”
“…AND THAT’S THE WAY I SEE IT!” ©