WSL...guarding the method

Discussion in 'Wing Chun' started by wckf92, Dec 20, 2016.

  1. wckf92

    wckf92 2nd Black Belt

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    Saw this in the cutting punch thread...(sorry, it's locked so can't quote it)...
    Guy posted this (see circled portion).
    What does this mean or allude to?
    20161220_114719.jpg
     
  2. gpseymour

    gpseymour Senior Master

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    The assertion (and I can't speak to whether or not it is accurate) is that some instructors (in this case WSL) purposely put errors into almost anything that was preservable (like videos) in order to obscure their teaching, keeping it hidden from those who weren't officially students.

    I'm not sure what this would possibly gain, since students would also see those videos and would likely gain some misunderstandings of their art from them. It would be like me putting together some online courses about VBA programming, and purposely putting in some bad syntax so people who didn't pay for the course wouldn't learn proper syntax. It seems unlikely to be successful (people will eventually figure out things that work), and will slow the learning of those who should be learning.

    I think it's a holdover from the days when different styles would have been in literal physical conflict (in Japanese terms, the days when one Ryu might meet another Ryu on the battlefield, if they were aligned with different shogun and daimyo). I see little justification for the practice of such deception today. Either don't have videos (so no need to obscure) or teach accurately in them.
     
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  3. LFJ

    LFJ Master of Arts

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    It means videos made for the public are "marked" with intentional errors or subtractions from what legit students learn.

    This is a very common practice in TCMAs in China. If some master put full information into public resources they'd receive major backlash from their peers.

    And legit students will know better than to use such videos as learning material, and wouldn't need to, anyway.

    An older example would be written manuals that would have missing techniques, or directions of movements in a form would be flipped, making it very hard to follow the sequence of the form from the description.
     
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  4. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Grandmaster

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    Kinda makes ya wonder why make the videos in the first place?

    Well, we all gotta pay the rent somehow...
     
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  5. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Senior Master

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    It's bad idea to put up wrong information into the public domain. After you die, people will criticize you not knowing the correct information. It will be your life time reputation that you may take the risk.

    For example, if you public a "Taiji for health" book, even if you may understand the "Taiji application", but since you didn't include Taiji application into your book, people will assume that you don't understand any "Taiji application". IMO, it's better not to put out any information instead of to put out some information that will hurt you later on.

    Another example, your teacher intentional hide some information from you. After your teacher's death, one day you find out that piece information from a book. You may lose respect to your teacher just because that.

    You may hide as much information as you may like to. After your death, people will say that you just don't know.
     
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  6. gpseymour

    gpseymour Senior Master

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    I'd argue it's more problematic than that. If that video, in fact, has purposeful errors, then following WSL's death there will be a point when students who don't realize this will attempt to learn from him as a master source in those videos. They will catch some of the inserted errors, but others, some will miss and think are refinements. They will base some bit of their learning on that misunderstanding, and will someday become instructors. Over generations of instructors, the "correct" information gets a bit diluted, while the "errors" are preserved perfectly in video. This process won't happen immediately, but at some point it probably will happen. The veneration that is common for the "old masters" nearly ensures this sort of problem with videos that contain errors. The same probably happened, though perhaps to a lesser extent, with the manuals LFJ mentioned.

    This process is an issue even when there aren't purposely-created errors. People try to read too much into the "old ways", rather than moving forward with the information they already have. Even if the old source is perfect, it was perfect for the art as it was at that time and may be imperfect for the art as it evolves.
     
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  7. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Senior Master

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    I'll call that "cheating".

    My teacher won't teach me any counters for his favor technique "leg twisting". At least he would be honest to let me know. He won't teach me any wrong counter that won't work.

    It's better to be "honest" IMO. There is nothing wrong for a teacher to honestly tell his students that there are some information that he just won't teach. If you have spent all your life time to develop some "door guarding" skill, you just don't want to teach your students how to counter it.

    If you want to teach, you should teach 100%. Otherwise, you can take all your secret into your grave. This "intentional error video" idea is wrong, wrong, and still wrong.
     
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  8. gpseymour

    gpseymour Senior Master

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    I agree, except that I'll teach everything I have once students are ready. I'm there to give them the best chance I can, and won't hold back anything I think could help them.
     
  9. Juany118

    Juany118 Senior Master

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    Regarding the OP. It came about in a series of threads when people would point to a video of WSL, say demonstrating a form, to make a point or counter a claim by a couple of people who study WSLVT via PB's method. Basically "oh I can explain that because the video has WSL adding an error intentionally to 'guard the method'.". The same was applied to interviews. It could be raised when someone tries to show that there is little apparent practical difference between say WSL's method and Yip Ching's. As an example, I recall a WSL video mentioning that part of chi sau was to develop touch sensitivity. This was dismissed as an intentional error and if you use videos to suggest that what PB teaches is based on the documented fact WSL worked to refine VT to better function with PB's amputation...

    The thing is it's a bit illogical for a few reasons.

    First the claim is almost entirely justified by using Chinese Tradition as an excuse. What makes that even more odd other Chinese traditions are dismissed (such as lineages passing through in one's oldest son.) There is old saying that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    Second WSL, unlike the Chinese Masters who would conceal things from the uninitiated, went on a massive self-promotion run giving seminars and helping promote the schools of his students in Europe, Oceania and SE Asia and eventually Mainland China. Promoting one's art so openly and globally while at the same time engaging in obfuscation of what you demonstrate is contradictory. It would make more sense to simply not address certain methods in the seminar.

    Third WSL would not ignore his legacy. He was a smart man and not ignorant of the impact of technology as evidenced by not simply allowing his seminars to be filled but having professionally produced videos of him demonstrating the forms etc. One consequence of technology is that it is saved for posterity. If there are errors there, intentional or not, the legacy is damaged. This is something else the Chinese Masters of the past did not have to deal with.

    Sent from my SM-G920P using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
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  10. gpseymour

    gpseymour Senior Master

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    Since some of those videos appeared to be from seminars, that is odd. It would seem counter-productive in the extreme to say and demonstrate intentional errors during a seminar, then leave the local instructor to deal with students saying, "But at the seminar...."
     
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  11. Juany118

    Juany118 Senior Master

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    Pretty much. Also problematic when one of your filmed seminars was instructing the PLA. Something tells me Bejing would have been upset with that.
     
  12. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Grandmaster

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    One might ask of those who say the video had intentional errors, how do they know that to be the case?
     
  13. Juany118

    Juany118 Senior Master

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    They answered that before and the short answer is "because that isn't what is passed down by PB. Then you raise the fact that PB's own biography says...

    As a possible reason for a difference in what PB teaches than what WSL taught in seminars elsewhere and the conversation disintegrates even faster.
     
  14. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Grandmaster

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    Ah. Well. Some things perhaps are not worth discussing.
     
  15. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Senior Master

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    There is possibility that the instructor didn't know his stuff. When proved to be wrong, he just said that he had shown the wrong information in order to hide his secret.

    Student: In your workshop, why did you always move back your front leg before you move it forward?
    Teacher: The shortest distance between 2 points is the straight line, but why do you want to let the public to know that "secret"?

    The truth is that instructor had developed some bad habit through his basic training that he didn't even realize.
     
  16. geezer

    geezer Senior Master

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    You guys know I can be quick to disagree with LFJ, but I believe his basic point is right. A lot of Chinese Sifus of that period did conceal portions of their system from outsiders and casual students, and did deliberately insert errors into their public presentations, books, and later, videos as a means of controlling who got the "real stuff".

    I agree that it is a foolish and even dishonest for the many reasons stated above, but it absolutely did (and still does) happen. I discovered this myself after doing "bai-si" and becoming a disciple of my old Chinese sifu. It is unfortunate, especially, because many who never trained closely with him have a very wrong idea of his skill and knowledge, and his many cheesy books and videos just perpetrate these errors and misconceptions!

    WSL was said to be a man of (hopefully) greater integrity, but I have no reason to doubt that he may also have engaged in such practices.
     
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  17. Juany118

    Juany118 Senior Master

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    I don't think anyone denies that it COULD happen but there is more than a little circumstantial evidence that leans towards WSL not having done this and less conspiratorial reasons for some differences.

    If we were just talking about the teaching methods of Traditional Chinese Masters it would be one thing, but the idea WSL guarded the "true" teachings has been used more than once to dismiss documented evidence. Should not an argument used to dismiss verifiable and documented evidence be equally verifiable and documented, vs a fiat statement that is founded only in a generality?

    This is my main issue. In short anytime a video or interview with either WSL or one of his students appears to contradict what PB teaches they can simply say "oh well WSL carefully guarded the true nature of the art" without even producing a quote from a WSL version of you, a direct student who was told such first hand. Making such a claim without some sort of independent support just seems intellectually disingenuous.
     
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  18. drop bear

    drop bear Grandmaster

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    Of course you could test it and if it is silly change it.
     
  19. gpseymour

    gpseymour Senior Master

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    It happened (and possibly still does) in some Japanese arts, as well, though from what I've heard not as ubiquitously. Your second paragraph is the key to me. There was a time in the past when there was a good reason for this. Now, especially with the media that preserves these inaccuracies, the "errors" can (and often will) eventually become canon in many arts.
     
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  20. gpseymour

    gpseymour Senior Master

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    If it is silly, it will be easy to spot. The issue is that these don't have to be silly. They can simply be leaving out better methods, or even giving answers that seem to make sense but don't actually help anyone comprehend the principles of a technique. And when people get into venerating some old master, they often accept everything that person says or does as being "the answer". No one person ever has "the answer", and that attitude is problematic for the growth and evolution of any art or style.
     
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