You Should Never Have to tell Your own Abuse Story!

I just wanted to take the time to thank my friends who have shared my story. So far only a small handful (three people) have been kind and brave enough to do so.

Last June I was diagnosed with Suicidal Depression and Complex PTSD, after being harassed by martial artist for years. Unfortunately 100% of this harassment came via online interactions. Instead of me telling you my story (which I already have) here’s a Blog written by my friend Noah Legel last year. Noah writes…

Noah in front of the scroll I had commissioned for Richard Poage, Renshi 5th dan, when he was in the hospital.

Lately, I have been getting a lot of messages, and seeing a lot of posts, which are related to Matt Sheridan. People know that I know him, and have for quite some time, so they come to me to find out what the deal is. With that in mind, I’d like to clear some things up, and hopefully put matters to rest. This will be a long one, and I know it doesn’t apply to everyone who has had encounters with Matt, but I’m going to cover a broad spectrum.

First, I know that Matt infuriates a lot of people. He says a lot of controversial things, sometimes about people you might hold in high regard, and he often does so in a way that comes off rude and disrespectful. I know that he can get defensive quickly in conversations, and that can seem rude and disrespectful, too, although that seems from his past experiences. I get it. I’ve talked to him about it, and I’m sure it’s coming up in therapy, as well.

As upsetting as it may be, what he says is true, to the best of HIS knowledge. Key words, there, being “HIS knowledge.” Right or wrong, it’s based on the evidence he has seen, just like the rest of us. Nobody knows everything, and people can definitely have just part of the story, rather than the whole of it. If you know different, great. If you have materials to share that show a different side of the story, great. That’s not what I have seen happen, a lot of the time, though–people like to jump down his throat, instead.

Second, and building on that, is the fact that the people he upsets seem intent on continuing to rant and argue with him after the conversation should be over. This has gone to the point of people seeking out his posts on social media just to cause dissent, creating multiple social media accounts specifically to get around being blocked so they can keep pestering him. He’s still a human being, and he hasn’t hurt anybody, so that’s really unnecessary. Yes, it might be beneficial for him to work on his delivery, but it doesn’t make harassment an acceptable response.

Matt has mental health struggles, which many martial artists claim to be supportive of, and has developed PTSD symptoms because of martial artists cyber-stalking him. While he is getting help, I don’t think disagreements on the internet need to devolve into threats, wishing death on someone, and finding every avenue to comment and message him about how terrible you think he is. Therapy and medications only go so far. If you don’t like him, that’s fine–ignore him, or block him, and move on. I have recommended to him to do the same. When people feel the need to keep making new accounts to pester him, that doesn’t work so well.

Third, I have seen people call him a fraud when he points out things they don’t like, or accuse him of hiding his background. I think this partially stems from the fact that he doesn’t have a website or official resume posted online, so while he hasn’t hidden his background, there is also no single source for people to readily check against, making it easy to assume that he is hiding things. For that reason, I will address what I know of his experience, and have seen documentation of or been directly involved in, so people can stop asking.

As far as I am aware, Matt has not said anything fraudulent about himself, his experience, or his training. He was legitimately graded to 4th Dan in a Korean style called Youn Wha Ryu–you don’t have to like the style, but that’s the last grade he tested for and earned in it–and as I recall they tried to promote him to 5th Dan, but he refused it. He was the historian for the Youn Wha Ryu organization he was a part of, and was quite well-versed in the curriculum. He left the organization after they informed him that they were going to use him as a scapegoat, and blackmail him, if I recall correctly.

He has also trained off-and-on in a few different styles of karate. This includes training with us, under my Sensei, for approximately 2 years. When he joined the dojo, he asked to start at white belt, but my Sensei tended to honor advanced belts earned in other systems, and just explain to other students that the belt was from a different style, and test the person for an equivalent belt in Shorin-Ryu when they were finally ready. You could consider this an “honorary black belt,” although my Sensei didn’t give out certificates for such things, as I have seen some do. This meant that Matt was allowed to attend advanced rank classes, train in the full curriculum, and even join testing panels from time to time. He did live about an hour away, so he was typically only at the dojo once or twice a week, but he did indeed train there regularly enough that my Sensei would ask about him if he missed a week.

I know some like to point out that his kata/kihon don’t look right, or good enough for his experience and rank, but he has a learning disability, and has had to frequently change karate schools thanks to instructors moving, retiring, passing away, etc., so of course he will still look like a Korean stylist who is new to karate, because he has had to keep starting over and changing styles. Most people would. He also frequently points out that he believes his skill level to be “mediocre,” so he isn’t claiming otherwise.

Physical skills aside, Matt has studied karate history, having started with its connections to Korean martial arts, for a long time as part of his role in his old organization, and as a personal interest, and has also taken on the study of the Japanese language to aid in that. Some of his research has been published in a magazine or two, and cited in at least one book published by another author. He is technically more published than I am, if you’re going by traditional publishing standards. Even so, he’s a little fish in a big pond, and he has said as much.

I am not trying to say that everyone needs to love and forgive Matt, but how about let’s not try and drive someone to suicide for being rude and saying things we don’t like? He had himself committed for treatment, today. Take the high road, like we say martial artists should, and everybody can have some peace.

I will not be taking comments on this post.

-Noah Legel

Noah and I on my last day living in Arizona.

Thank you, Noah. Having great friends like these, is quite literally the only reason I’m still alive today.

Published by mattskaratecorner

A martial arts student and instructor. A school teacher and researcher. A curmudgeon with a lot on his mind.

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