Peer Review

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by fangjian, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. fangjian

    fangjian Black Belt

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    So last time I mentioned peer review I was talking about 'techniques/methods'. This time I'm talking about the art itself.

    I was compelled for some reason recently to check out the ninjutsu are of MT. I looked at a few threads and had a hard time recognizing what information was factual and what was not. In CMA and FMA, I can generally figure out what's what. But everything else, that I don't have a background in, forget it. I can't tell which posters to trust.

    I took a 'Geography of China' course one time and my research paper was, you guessed it :) , 'The Geographical Evolution of Wushu'. It was a lot of fun. Back then though, I wasn't aware of the multitude of academic journals that were available to me, so I was thinking about re writing the paper for fun. I'm currently a student at UMass and was thinking about side tracking a little bit from my studies to tackle that old paper.

    There are a lot of great books out there with factual information and there's also a lot of fiction. I was thinking it would be great if there was a website that I could go to where I could read trusted material on the history/evolution/etc. of martial arts styles. Where someone could do the research in a specific area and that paper could be objectively reviewed by other experts in that field.

    I remember researching White Crane style for a bit for my paper back in the day. The only information that I could find at the time was " White crane kung fu came from Fujian province because 'there are a lot of cranes there' ". I swear that is what all the websites and books I could find, said.

    What I want to hear from you is:
    Is this already done?
    Is this a good/bad idea?


    I'm thinking it's a good idea but there is so much bias out there. I would suspect that even well known and great teachers who are considered experts in their field, are spreading disinformation about their style that may not be true.

    I could just imagine some of the interesting topics that could be published
     
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  2. ppko

    ppko Master Black Belt

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    The biggest problem with any history is that its in the eye of the holder. When it comes to JMA, CMA, etc I have found that the information has been misguided for to many years, a lot of folk lore and a lot of vital information lost over the years. Also how do you find truly good information on any history you have to take whom ever wrote the event down, at his/her word. You could always take the simularities but that still leaves some gaps.
     
  3. Bruno@MT

    Bruno@MT Senior Master

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    I've been researching ninjutsu for 2 years now. Although I have add that 'research' is probably too academic a term for what I am doing. I try to learn as much as possible, from different sources, and then correlate that info with what I already know, or assume, or doubt, etc. By now I have a reasonable idea of what is going on.

    Looking at it from a more academic point of view, one of the main problems is that there are wildly varying definitions of what constitutes 'ninjutsu'. Then there is the fact that many of the parties in the playing field have an agenda, which means not everything is factual or entirely accurate. And to top it off, there is little actual historical evidence left of that segment of Japanese history and culture. So the various 'facts' out there have to be tagged with a likelihood of correctness.

    It can be done if you are genuinely interested in getting an accurate idea of the topic (like I and many others) but it takes quite a bit of time to a) find and b) process the information. If I were to poke around in the CMA area right now and try to make sense of it, I would no doubt have the same experience I had when I first dropped by in the ninjutsu forums.
     
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  4. ppko

    ppko Master Black Belt

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    I was actually trying to ge to that point, but to be honest just didnt have the time to fully convey it. Taking the simularities are the best option when it comes to any history. Great post
     
  5. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    CMA is loaded with legends and separating legend from history is not easy. Also unless you read traditional Chinese (not just simplified) true in depth study is really REALLY difficult.


    Fist

    Simplified > 拳头
    Traditional > 拳頭


    UMass huh...Amherst, Boston or Worcester?... and I am guessing not Worcester based on what you are talking about doing
     
  6. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I think when you look through all of the Asian systems you find some legends, etc. and things that are hard to pin down. (particularly with systems older than fifty years or so)
     
  7. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    I have been fortunate in that the arts that I study are fairly well documented and have their formation in the twentieth or late ninteenth century. You still have 'legendary stories' and apocryphal accounts, but but for the most part discrepencies come down to 'who did what when' sorts of things.

    Daniel
     
  8. fangjian

    fangjian Black Belt

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    Amherst.
    I know the academic journals that I'm reading right now can be trusted, because 'peer review' is the best process to establish the 'highest likelihood of correctness'(as bruno@MT mentioned).

    Now I don't have enough time on my hands to completely research the ninjitsu threads here on MT. So I guess all of my knowledge of ninjistu must remain to Sho Kosugi movies that I watched when I was a kid :)

    I just hope, with my ignorance, I don't 'offend' any ninjas. YIKES
     
  9. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Nice (big) campus, I almost went there way back in the early 80s
     
  10. fangjian

    fangjian Black Belt

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    I've actually never been there hehe. I'm doing online classes right now and hopefully will start astronomy there in the fall.

    You live near New England, XueSheng? I like to host free FMA gatherings every year near the NY MA CT border.
     
  11. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    In my opinion, most of the "factual" information available with regards to Chinese Martial arts lies in the material that makes up the system's curriculum. That kind of information can obviously be gleaned from study with a competent and knowledgeable instructor of the system. Beyond that, certain lineage information can be readily available, but when it gets back to a certain time in history those lineages can become vague. memories fail and written records were not kept or were lost, so sometimes in an old system, those early lineage holders and just exactly what they did to contribute to the system can be subject to interpretation and may be the stuff of legend and folklore.

    I remember reading an article in one of the kung fu magazines a number of years ago, and they were discussing the origin legends of Chinese martial arts. The article raised some good points, namely that in the older systems that have been around for several hundred years, we really have no true proof that the origins of the system really were what the stories about them say. There was no written record of how they came about, and after a bunch of generations of passing a story down through word of mouth, who knows how accurate the info may be? In addition to this, there may have been a deliberate deception in the works. It may be that a famous system was actually developed by the village grave digger who was a drunk and a scandalous womanizer, but that would be an embarrassment to admit. Instead, stories get created to link famous systems with famous people in history, a famous general or a wandering monk or a mysterious Taoist. This kind of origin is much more romantic and regal, and that's where we would all like to believe our systems come from. But it's very possible that a lot of these stories are pure fabrication.

    I'm actually in the middle of writing a book about my own system of White Crane (the Tibetan method, not the Fujian method). I've not told my sifu about this yet, I'm working through the text first to see what I come up with, but I hope he receives it positively and if so I may try to publish. But that's down the road a ways. At any rate, one of the things I'm looking at is our own creation story. In short, it states that in the 15th century, a Tibetan Lama witnessed a fight between a crane and a "mountain ape". The combative interaction of these two animals gave the Lama insights on fighting techniques, and he created the root techniques that became our system. I'm looking into whether or not there is any possibility this story could be true. I'm looking at Crane habitats and what kinds live in Tibet and might have been observed by the Lamas at that time. I'm also looking at what kind of primates live in Tibet and might have been observed by a Lama at that time, and would these animals have ever encountered each other. So I'm looking at habitat and home range and whatnot, as well as behavior patterns that the animals display that might give clues as to whether there could be some grain of truth in the story. I'm also considering the role that myth and legend plays in a society and keeping that in mind as well.

    Sometimes you gotta think outside the box a bit and you can't just look at the art itself. You gotta take clues from the art and look at the surrounding reality and see how the pieces might fit together.
     
  12. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I'll recommend you read this book: http://www.amazon.com/Capoeira-Jogo...r_1_18?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1299531474&sr=1-18

    this is volume one of a two volume work on capoeira. I personally find volume one to be more interesting, as it deals with early history and development of capoeira. The reason I recommend this book is because it is a good example of how the author researched the topic by looking at the greater world elements that surrounded capoeira. There is very little record of early capoeira history so there is just very little to go on. The author examined other aspects of history that were connected to capoeira, in order to lay out a reasonable account of how the art developed and under what influences. I just thought it might be a good example of the type of research that you may need to do. The book itself is a good read as well and you may find it interesting in its own right.
     
  13. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    I could swear just I posted this but I can't find it anywhere so..... what the heck I shall post it again

    I use to live in New England many many years ago but now think Adirondacks
     
  14. fangjian

    fangjian Black Belt

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    Ahhh. yes. You must be near Mt Marcy. Well closer to it than I, at least. Hopefully I'll find time to do that one next year.
     
  15. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    You forgot Lowell! :angry: :angry:

    We engineers get no respect at all. ;)
     
  16. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    It was not that I forgot UMass Lowell... it was I forgot Lowell :D

    Sorry, you are right, UMass Lowell... but we both forgot UMass Dartmouth123
     

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