Are you bound by tradition?

Kung Fu Wang

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Do you get in a lot of street fights?
When I was 7, I threw a rock from 20 yards away and hit a boy's forehead. His father brought him to my house and argued with my father. I hid myself in my next-door neighbor's house.

In my high school informal long fist class, the teacher didn't teach us how to dodge rock throwing. After the class, we drew a circle on the ground. 1 person stay in that circle, 3 persons threw tennis balls at him.

How many people still train this skill today? May be not that many.
 

isshinryuronin

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"Tradition" seems to have a negative connotation to many. I'll define it simply as something that has been generationally handed do own. "Old" is bad and "new" is good seems a short-sighted way of looking at things.

Is an e-mail or texting better than actually speaking in real time, or a letter written in cursive just because it's a newer method of communication? Or how about navigating a customer service phone menu requiring listening to five or six options only to arrive where a similar choice is called for, and then still another list of possible options? I remember when a live person always answered and immediately put you through to the person you needed. I like traditional ethnic food better than the more expensive "fusion" versions. New ways are not necessarily better than old.

Traditional music (classical, Japanese folk, the sixties - among my favorites) can be said by many to be superior to most modern music. Does the fact that DaVinci, Monet, or Rembrandt painted centuries ago mean their art has less technique or less emotive power than recent artists? Others may say that contemporary styles can do the same, but does that make them better, or just different?

Doing something in a traditional way just because it's traditional is not effective (though it may bring comfort). But many traditions persist because they work or offer something useful. That's why they have survived over the years. If they don't seem to be beneficial, perhaps over time some of their principles have been lost or altered.

Tradition is a link to the past and understanding that has value for the present. My conclusion: Be open minded and objective after the tradition is fully understood. Don't be bound by it, but also, don't be dismissive of it. Changes to it may make it better, and sometimes not.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Do you really think this happened, or do you understand that this is just one of those nonsense stories?
This happened to the long fist master Fu Jia-Bin. His son Fu Song-Nan published a book that included his father's story.

Video of Fu Song-Nan (passed away last year 2022 at age 89). Don't have his father's video.



 
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Xue Sheng

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Always referred to myself as a traditionalist. But there is a lot more to that than most think.

Look into what was "Traditionally" trained in Xingyiquan or Taijiquan.... most don't train it to that much depth these days and most don't understand what the styles really are or really capable of..... and most don't know what it is to really train a traditional style.

This does not preclude training another style... just look at them, research them and train them traditionally as well
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Do you really think this happened, or do you understand that this is just one of those nonsense stories?
The one on the right is Fu Jia-Bin that some people threw rocks at him and sent him to hospital. The one on the left is his son Fu Song-Nan.

Fu_Jia_Bin.jpg
 

_Simon_

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I really feel that Shu-Ha-Ri is important to understand when it comes to traditional arts, and this avoids it turning into merely some thing you're trying to reproduce. When the focus is just on becoming a carbon copy of your teacher (and their teacher, and their teacher etc etc), you miss the point of the tradition and to what it's pointing to. Patience is super important, as is attuning to your own body and development in a very unique and intimately connected way.

You learn the style and the principles to ultimately become free from the confines of shapes and techniques, therefore finding freedom in the art.

All just IMO haha
 
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Some great responses here, thanks for sharing your thoughts

The question is neither for, nor against tradition in martial arts. Therefore, it is unnecessary to make a definition for tradition. This is just a friendly discussion to stimulate thinking and learn from one another. There appears to be a number of people in this world who like to fight their corner, and the number is probably higher here as this is martial arts forum :)

Training in one particular style is certainly beneficial because it gives you a great foundation, and if you have a great teacher who inspires you to think independently then your understandings will go much deeper.

For the most part, we need to take the learnings we are given and run with them - spending our time outside the training-hall to work on the teachings brings greater progress than only practising during classes.

Aikido has been my main art, but beforehand I had studied kyokushin and a lot of western boxing. Dan Inosanto is a good role model. Very respectful of others, happy to strap on the white-belt, train in new systems and more importantly retain the beginner's mind.

Being bound into a certain style is a good tradition to follow. To always be seeking the new and searching for missing parts is indicative of a less than settled mind. There is much to learn by staying bound to one style and I love the idea of holding those teachings close in respect of our teachers wisdom - and being able to pass those lessons onto new generations is a wonderful position to find oneself in.

Long live the martial traditions!
 
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Gyakuto

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I really feel that Shu-Ha-Ri is important to understand when it comes to traditional arts, and this avoids it turning into merely some thing you're trying to reproduce. When the focus is just on becoming a carbon copy of your teacher (and their teacher, and their teacher etc etc), you miss the point of the tradition and to what it's pointing to. Patience is super important, as is attuning to your own body and development in a very unique and intimately connected way.

You learn the style and the principles to ultimately become free from the confines of shapes and techniques, therefore finding freedom in the art.

All just IMO haha
But in the shu phase you are supposed to slavishly copy an ideal example of the art. It becomes internalised and second nature and then one is able to move on to the ha phase and adapt things a bit and so forth. Very feel people move on from the shu phase and only a handful to the ri phase. One cant really carbon copy ones teacher because of differences in the morphology, neural wiring etc but the intent is there.

The shu phases is, in my opinion, is greatly underrated and people often want to shake it off and then progress as they see it. Voltaire said, Rote learning is the trellis upon which free thinking grows. I think this is apt.
 
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The shu phases is, in my opinion, is greatly underrated and people often want to shake it off and then progress as they see it. Voltaire said, Rote learning is the trellis upon which free thinking grows. I think this is apt.
Teachers vary in how they apply their thinking. Sometimes the rules are better understood by copying to the letter, and this is certainly the Japanese way. Most of the systems were designed to serve military ends. Those amongst us who have served know how that goes. Institutional thinking maintains the status quo and attracts the rule abiders of the world. Voltaire uses a trellis to guide, but the natural world is a little more chaotic :D
 

_Simon_

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But in the shu phase you are supposed to slavishly copy an ideal example of the art. It becomes internalised and second nature and then one is able to move on to the ha phase and adapt things a bit and so forth. Very feel people move on from the shu phase and only a handful to the ri phase. One cant really carbon copy ones teacher because of differences in the morphology, neural wiring etc but the intent is there.

The shu phases is, in my opinion, is greatly underrated and people often want to shake it off and then progress as they see it. Voltaire said, Rote learning is the trellis upon which free thinking grows. I think this is apt.
Yep totally agree. Shu is crucial but many people do stay there and think that's all there is. Then people confuse the word "tradition" with the shu stage, and therefore disparage traditional martial artists saying they're "stuck in a dead ritual/art" or that "traditional arts aren't willing to evolve", but they've made the association that traditional means shu, not realising that's not the full spectrum and picture.

But yes I do agree that many (out of perhaps impatience or ego) too readily skip the important shu stage and decide too prematurely they wanna do their own thing.

I guess I was however saying there's so much more to explore in a tradition than simply trying to mimic, but embracing the whole and finding your own path. But it is a fine and delicate balance isn't it!
 

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If it worked in 1923, I don't see why it wouldn't in 2023. Unless there are weapons involved, because technology improves weapons. If the attacker is an unarmed guy with an ego problem, the human body hasn't changed since then. Well, other than obesity. Which would actually make self-defense even easier.
 
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Tony Dismukes

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"Tradition" seems to have a negative connotation to many. I'll define it simply as something that has been generationally handed do own. "Old" is bad and "new" is good seems a short-sighted way of looking at things.

Is an e-mail or texting better than actually speaking in real time, or a letter written in cursive just because it's a newer method of communication? Or how about navigating a customer service phone menu requiring listening to five or six options only to arrive where a similar choice is called for, and then still another list of possible options? I remember when a live person always answered and immediately put you through to the person you needed. I like traditional ethnic food better than the more expensive "fusion" versions. New ways are not necessarily better than old.

Traditional music (classical, Japanese folk, the sixties - among my favorites) can be said by many to be superior to most modern music. Does the fact that DaVinci, Monet, or Rembrandt painted centuries ago mean their art has less technique or less emotive power than recent artists? Others may say that contemporary styles can do the same, but does that make them better, or just different?

Doing something in a traditional way just because it's traditional is not effective (though it may bring comfort). But many traditions persist because they work or offer something useful. That's why they have survived over the years. If they don't seem to be beneficial, perhaps over time some of their principles have been lost or altered.

Tradition is a link to the past and understanding that has value for the present. My conclusion: Be open minded and objective after the tradition is fully understood. Don't be bound by it, but also, don't be dismissive of it. Changes to it may make it better, and sometimes not.
"There are two kinds of fools. One says, This is old, and therefore good. And one says, This is new, and therefore better."

-John Brunner
 

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