Debunking Claims of Fraud

December 3, 2009 – 10:42 am

People from an US Sambo company claimed that I did not earn an Honorable Master of Sport diploma, incited by the President of their association, Stephen R. Koepfer. On their company forum, before I resigned from their organization, they claimed that I did not have an Honorable Master of Sport. So, I took down my picture frame and scanned it in several pieces and reassembled it as one image (the diploma is 11×14, whereas the scanner is 8×11, so scanned it in two pieces and then put them together so you could see all the nice scrolling of the original document).

After their attack, I resigned from their organization, because I was not going to support an organization which cannibalized its supporters in the same way that other Sambo organizations had done in the past, the very reason I resigned from my position as President of the first American Sombo association, Vice-President of the American Sambo federation, Chairman of the International Combat Sambo Commission for FIAS (the international governing body for Sambo) and US National Coach for our team. I don’t have time for politics, as I believe in an athletes-first approach to martial arts. And frankly, it consumed too much of my personal time that I devote to actual training!

Now, they claimed because the online image was multiple scans of the document to fit my scanner, Steve and his cohorts have started an online smear campaign, by claiming that not only my HMoS diploma was a fake, but also my certificates from the Israeli counter-terrorism base I just returned from training.

So, in the event that any innocent readers see these lies from Steve, I dismantled the picture frames in my office and scanned just the center of HMoS diploma, and uploaded it. It’s not as nice as the first online image, because the scrolling doesn’t fit on the screen. But, at least it’s a “clean” image with incontrovertible proof of the veracity of the document.

The document that had been used online from LOTAR - the Israeli counter-terrorism base - was given to me by Maor Bashan - chief instructor of Krav Maga training on the base, which he posted online. Rather than take the original signed document out of the picture frames, I just used Maor’s image.

But of course, Steve and his organization used this as a means of claiming the document was a fake, that I forged it. Only amateurs would think that anyone would be stupid enough to fake documents from the Israeli special forces. A professional knows that you would just… let’s say, not be in a position to ever make that mistake again, if you did. So, I dismantled my picture frames in my office and scanned in the originals and posted them.


Now, they’re claiming that because I posted new images, that somehow I must be a fraud because I “changed” them from the prior. This I don’t understand. Their nonsense has spilled into 3 forums across the internet so far. It’s no longer Steve “wondering” if my credentials are fake (inciting an online riot of people claiming that they are). Now, it’s across the internet of people claiming that I’m a fraud. Steve knows very well what he’s doing. This is transparent political subterfuge.

I shall never give him or his company the satisfaction of responding to their online inquisition. But for you, my friends, students and brothers in arms, I want you to know the truth, and for any claim I have made, I will provide you with proof and evidence to back it up.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt.,

Scott Sonnon

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  1. 15 Responses to “Debunking Claims of Fraud”

  2. The moment I saw you I knew you were for real… at least in the body stuff - I’m trained to see that in top athletes! and you are into spreading it! “Right LIvelihood” is in business world view, christianity, the Buddhist texts as a big part of life - you stay out there and enjoy the balance of doing right livlihood and making good money for doing so. Politics are what they are… and yep they can sink some people fast! I agree - Sink your teeth in and shine baby! Politics of business are just expressing their worst fears - You are as great as you put out there - and you do dare to share openly!!! Don’t feed their energy - Change it as you know how! I’m glad you posted your proof for integrity sake and for the record. Good for you! and We who see your authenticity - LOVE IT! ROCK ON!!!

    Not only that but you are willing to keep on growing beyond your degree’s, certifications, and abilities! That is a powerful trait of a good leader - you follow too!
    Keep up the good stuff Scott! Steady as she goes!
    Yee ha to the next stages - these can be the tough ones politically.

    By Tas Kai on Dec 3, 2009

  3. Scott - I know it’s very degrading, having your credentials torn apart like that, but i still want to leave you with this. To hell with them.

    ALL what you have put out on the market, proves that you are a very capable person, an inspiring coach and encyclopedia of functional knowledge.

    What ever they say, your name will always carry with respect

    By Del Pede on Dec 3, 2009

  4. Coach,
    I know little or nothing about the Sambo sport, but I’ve applied your methods and techniques for so many other fields. I trust your integrity completely. You have always showed you cared about those you were helping and teaching. I have greatly benefitted from all that I have learned from your material and methods.

    As a professional military serviceman, I live in a culture where integrity is paramount. I have worked with many other serviceman that have benefited from your training. We value your efforts so keep your spirits up. We’re behind you.

    By Wes Tower on Dec 3, 2009

  5. “When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.”

    Not to make your head too big or anything, Coach. ;)

    By Kevin Cooper, D.C., CSCS, RKC on Dec 4, 2009

  6. Coach,

    Like Wes, I don’t know anything about the sport of Sambo, but a year ago when I stumbled upon your programs it changed my life for the better. Health first systems are a priority for me and your programs cover all aspects of training. I am early in my CST journey, but I can already tell it will bring me longevity.

    Angry people often shout the loudest, but take heart in the ground swell of support that is out there for you. Us little people still continue to be inspired by you and those you associate with…so thank you for all the hard work you do and for sharing what you have (and are still) learned along the way!


    By Richard Manchur on Dec 4, 2009

  7. Just to say that my encounter with your methods (and then, though indirectly, with yourself) has been one of the best and most important in my life. I suppose that, if those people had someone telling them the same, they wouldn’t slander (this is the word, isn’t it?) other and probably better people around (and from behind a keyboard).

    Thanks and keep on (you needn’t my advice to do so)!

    By Nicola (Italy) on Dec 6, 2009

  8. Hello, Scott Sonnon.
    I have just read your post concerning the
    claims that you are a fraud.
    I don´t know you personally, but I´m quite
    certain that you have suffered more hardships in your life than a group of people trying to
    run a smear campaign against you, and I´m
    convinced that you will get through this as
    Please, keep up the good work.

    Christian Schyberg,

    By Christian Schyberg on Dec 6, 2009

  9. Hi Scott,

    The following lyrics are from a song by Black Sabbath which i first heard as a teenager and carried them with me through life.

    “I,ve lived a 1000 times and found out what it means to be believed”

    I was taken by surprise when i stumbled across these allegations and can only imagine the hurt they must have caused you.

    From a personal perspective you have changed my life without ever knowing who i am in distant South Africa.

    I appreciate the health first aspects of your training courses and the intelligent manner in which you approach your work.

    Very soon i will be placing an order for your Tacfit Commando course.

    Just keep doing what you are doing mate; everyone has their detractors but I imagine that you please most of the people most of the time.

    Stevie Davies

    By Stevie Davies on Jul 30, 2010

  10. Dear Mr. Sonnon,

    I’ve only very recently come across your work, so my response to this is certainly going to be belated and quite possibly redundant (hopefully not opening an old wound). I am based in the UK and am an ordinary individual with an interest in physical wellbeing and martial arts - in my case Taijutsu. Following first the free advice that I could find (the myriad clips on youtube) and then first borrowing and finally purchasing some of your DVDs I have changed my performance enormously. Most importantly I have gone from suffering quite debilitating pain to being almost entirely pain free. This is a tremendous gift to give to anyone and there is nothing to balance it.

    As for the matter of this post, I have no idea if you have achieved the level Honorable Master of Sports or trained Israeli Counter intelligence. I do know that you deserve to be an Honorable Master of Sports and that Israeli Counter intelligence would greatly benefit from your teaching, and so I choose to believe in the logic that you have achieved these credentials.

    There will always be gainsayers, as jealousy is deep rooted in many people’s psyches, but there need to be beacons that shine through the turgid and the dull so that the ordinary people, like myself, can see the right way to go.

    Thank you again.


    By MrH on Jun 6, 2011

  11. Wow I just recently started bjj/mma training and as a Tae Kwon Do guy getting into the hard training of grappling I have been Injured and I have found a great deal of Information from the many dvds you have put out there (grappler’s toolbox/ Kettlebell Foundation/ sambo for mma/ ultimate counditoining) I have no doubt that your work speaks for itself.

    “go ‘head, switch the style up / And if they hate then let ‘em hate and watch the money pile up ” 50 cent

    By J. GOMEZ on Aug 7, 2011

  12. I think that you have proven yourself time and time again. I do not need the additional proof as your methods and teachings are proof enough. Anyone can spend some time and watch the free information onyour youtube videos for a wealth of knowledge sesond to none.

    By Donald on Jan 9, 2012

  13. tengo mas de 20 años practicando artes marciales y encontre por fin el arte marcial completo el sambo una mescla especial de todas las artes buscando siempre lo mejor para el practicante ojala pronto sea deporte olimpico

    By luis wilfredo varas sanchez on Jul 11, 2012

  14. Sambo Steve is a joke. Obvious attempt at becoming the “authority” on Sombo in the U.S. This is a guy who also has the balls to discredit David Rudman ,who would tie him up in knots, as a matter of fact so would you Scott. Ignore the idiot.

    By Shane on Apr 14, 2013

  15. Keep the good fight going Scott. I’ve had the same thing done to me by him and his group. More power to you.

    By Ronald Dayley on Jul 13, 2013

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