Since I am an "expert" who has questioned other "experts" let me add I do not think any "expert" is beyond questioning. Quite honestly, experts must be questioned. Like Obama-care's experts who pushed it through, there are experts who offer their expertise (or point of fact reputation as an expert)for sale. Many such experts, associate with fellow experts who agree with them and there by use the old gang mentality of peer pressure (called peer review) to push their agenda. Here politics plays a role as well, as one will support the other for some agreed upon mutual benefit.
Many times, people allow the term expert, like the term leader, to confuse the reality of the matter. They are not totally removed from the other, however. A leader doesn't just tell people what to do but sets the example. An expert is someone who has planted their flag on the mount of knowledge and by doing so is expected to lead others to that mount. In the martial arts and self-defense world, this comes about in two main forms;
- High Rank Experts: These are people with high rank or claimed high rank in a particular martial arts system. Various martial arts corporations and cults, have added rank above 10th Dan due to the need for higher rank to draw out more claims for knowledge to be taught. Usually this is because of the high amount of 10th Dan ranked instructors running around, and to push the idea of secret knowledge. In my experience "secret knowledge" doesn't exist, its an excuse to make more money keeping people chasing after unicorns, and other fictional trophies.
- Experience Experts: Then you have those who claim expertise based on their experience, most often those are people who have a military or police back ground. The problem is making that knowledge fit into your world as a civilian. This is sometimes more creditable from those with a law enforcement background then a military background. Either way, these are people claiming to have used what they are teaching. Like the high ranks, these claims can be made up... Thus, we approach the sport fighters claim that a competition record is required.
My highest rank is a 6th Dan in Black Dragon Ninjitsu/Omoto Ryu Budo from Ashida Kim, given ceremonially for the book Army of Shadows, the only Ninjitsu manual on the subject of small teams tactics and choho no jutsu (Art of Espionage) based principles. I've fought in an underground fighting contests but they don't hand out certificates, been involved in a gang (less criminal and more protectionist) from Charlotte NC. I've taught hand-to-hand in the Army and was even awarded for it, have years of time logged in jail dealing with felons and other dangerous criminals without a luxury of a badge for protection. I don't claim to have much more then experience using what I know, and I've used it against martial artists, criminals, punks and even a few blue collar working stiffs.
At the end of the day you have to consider do I have more experience using my ninjutsu systems manipulations, tactics and strategies in the real world then academic study from a book or in a class room. I've also used principles of espionage (called Choho no jutsu in ninjutsu) to beat a corrupt legal system. At the end of the day, I'll leave you to make the choice. Does that experience make me an expert or just someone with knowledge? And, if I have that experience and knowledge am I an expert to someone who doesn't have it?
Think what you like, its your life and yu have to live it...