Considerations?

Hand Sword

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I don't really know how to word this to match my feelings and thoughts, so I ask for forgiveness beforehand and an attempt to get it. Thanks.

I just have a feeling about this subject, though I sincerely hope that it's just pessimism on my part. My feeling and question for all is this : Are the martial arts and practitioners actually dumbing down?

I fear this might be the case. My reasons? Well, the founders came up, worked tirelessly, and made what was, what it was through out time. A quick fast forward to now has many more practitioners and many with knowledge and incredible skills. But, what are they doing really? Sure they are doing that particular style or art, but are you really doing it? Or, is it the modern version of it?

I ask all to think about the biggest picture of what I'm getting at. Currently, there are many who have the stripes on the belt, the chain of schools, the eyes and ears of the MA public, and the accreditation. But, somehow, they seem less of experts or masters of what is than what used to be. Those people have passed and took the answers and knowledge with them for ever. In their place are the "currents" who are representations of particular styles. Do they have the same thorough knowledge? My feeling and apparently many posters here and people that I talk with seem to feel not.

If this is true, is what's going on really ok? I mean cross training, MMA, expansion of systems, techniques, philosophies (which HAVE changed!), Just everything, and every day practices of it. Do these changes take away from what was? As an example Kem/npo was like "whatever" then; It is like "whatever" now.

So many of the greats have gone, they had very little, to no footage, writings, etc.. In their place is widespread commercialism, organizations, independents, etc.. I see the light and inspiration in the eyes by "discovering" something in a form, "verified" by a higher up. In the end it is shown that might not be the actual application. Argument go on, and everyone is correct in the end. Ultimately, no one can say for sure that they really are.... sure! About anything! My fear is that they take this "truth" and spread like wild fire. As time continues more of the old goes, and is replaced by the new. If their version is all that will be left, has it all dumbed down? Changed? Is less than what was or was supposed to be, in spite of tremendous gains? What has been lost? gained? does it matter?

I dunno. I don't even know if it was explained right on my part.
 

Ironcrane

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I think I get what you're trying to say. One of Musashi's qoutes was "Not all great teachers are great fighters. And not all great fighters are great teachers, but beware of those who say they are both."
This leads me to believe that this has always been the case in Martial Arts. And as far as replacing the old, with the new? I don't think it's really as bad as it is sometimes made out to be. There are only so many ways to do a certain move, or technique, so the wheel is just being reinvented, but not disappearing.
The bottom line is, are you getting what you're looking for, out of your Martial Arts? And has it's intended purpose proven to to deliver on that? If yes, then you having nothing to fear.
 
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Hand Sword

Hand Sword

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I agree on that point at a reasonable, common sense level. However, given that today's major forces have the stripes, etc... they still lack the knowledge of, say, an Ed Parker. another example, the interpretations of katas by very accomplished artists after many years of training and study. They come up with more than a few possibilities for a technique's application. The point is, at one time there were those that KNEW, now we make a best guess.
Lastly, though the masses are enjoying the arts and paying ridiculous prices to do it, I don't feel that should be a measure. If those are the authorities, and they are ALL "correct" in THEIR applications and reasoning. Who's right really? Is there a way to REALLY know? or has it all gone to the graves, and in need of rediscovery, made more difficult with the economic ways of dealing? Off a base like that, can there be a rediscovery? A true knowledge?
 
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Hand Sword

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A further point that strikes me about the idea of so many ways to do something. That is true, and has been shown brilliantly. It amazes me to see or hear the applications found. The point about this bigger picture is that this thinking is also false. False simply because at the time of it's creation/implementation, there was only ONE way, or one thought that the particular person had at the time.

Has all of that been lost? Is it needed? Is what you like good enough?
 

Ironcrane

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We take what the founders have given us, and we expand, and improve on those ideas. The late greats, Like Ed Parker, and Mas Oyama, and so on, may no longer be with us, but I"m highly doubtful that we don't have people with us now, that have ideas that are just as good, and are just as able as they were.
Have things changed? Yes. Have things been lost? Maybe, but even if they are lost, they'll be found again. And we wont notice, if we're to busy worrying about "the lost" part.
This is a rather general, and doesn't apply to everything all the time. What I"m trying to get at, is be confident in what you have learned, and in your own ability.
 
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Hand Sword

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We take what the founders have given us, and we expand, and improve on those ideas. The late greats, Like Ed Parker, and Mas Oyama, and so on, may no longer be with us, but I"m highly doubtful that we don't have people with us now, that have ideas that are just as good, and are just as able as they were.
Have things changed? Yes. Have things been lost? Maybe, but even if they are lost, they'll be found again. And we wont notice, if we're to busy worrying about "the lost" part.
This is a rather general, and doesn't apply to everything all the time. What I"m trying to get at, is be confident in what you have learned, and in your own ability.


That's part of the bigger problem I'm thinking of. It's like saying to hell with it all, just do what you want and be happy. If the now givers are less than what was and many are, they become the "source" when the old are gone. If they did what you say and ran with their own ideas, adding ("expanding") and passed it on, then the truth has been lost and no one will know any better. For me that's bothersome. I see it all the time, as in here, "This is what this move is" "This is what that move is" and more arguing and counter arguing. More and more variations etc.. Now it's about a best guess as opposed to something definite. Now, you and others might be ok with that and say since it works and makes sense in your eyes--good enough. I too am ok with that. Each to their own. I am going for the collective, bigger picture as opposed to an individual level. You say we have some that are as capable. Maybe so. However, since the old schoolers left things unfinished, but had ideas to implement, that knowledge is gone. Their followers only run with what was given to them, and that was different for each. All your getting is an interpretation that is now the holy grail so to speak, but, even with the stripes, they still lack a level that the founders had. It's been too quick to make a buck and now I feel what was is going if not gone forever. If no one knows any better, they won't notice. If they don't notice, it will never be looked for or found. Enhanced? Expanded upon? More has been added to it, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's been enhanced. We have more now, but is it better?

Confidence comes with really knowing something intimately. From there, you can expand, and only then. Since we don't know for sure anymore with all of the mixing and matching, breaking off etc.. we'll never be in that position truly. That bothers me.
 

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A very deep post in my view here, but understandable also.

People seem to think that expansion or creating new is always good, I like the old saying to some extent, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it".

We like the rest of society have deemed it necessary to change everything, it's the way of the world, bigger, better, newer, just like in society itself, better cars, modern technology, but when something goes wrong with it, were in a serious hurt from it. I look at the MAs the same way, improving, expanding, organizations, everyone going to the buck (some for living, others for greed), bigger is not better, newer doesn't mean, better.

I'll stick with my old ways, at least in it's simplest form, I know if something goes wrong, I can correct it without needing a dictionary to figure it out or a Masters Degree in WTH do I do now. Don't get me wrong, adding is not wrong, allot of things can be tweeked here and there, but the overhaul is not always necessary in my view.
 
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Hand Sword

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That's kinda what I was getting at. The overhauling has gone on for awhile now. People are asking what WAS. Many answers come as absolutes, which shows that no one or very few really know the answers, even though all are "correct."

Overhauling makes everything similar, and changes what was. I don't mind adapting, but I also like KNOWING for sure too. Again, everyone don't get me wrong, I like the findings and views. I'm also sure that the olds would too, being dedicated artists. I also can't help to wonder if they would say it's all great, but not quite what I was getting at. Maybe it's something as simple as blocking and hitting back, as opposed to that shoulder throw etc..

My big thing is that there used to be people that DID KNOW! Now, everyone has a definition and the truth. That worries me the further we go along and the new replace the old and become the source!
 

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I think the Truth is as subjective as the interpretation we see now. As posited, a particular GM laid out his system, technique by technique. All very solidly thought out, perfected and canonized. But what makes those techniques work, universal Truth?, or a uniquely biological quirk that his body could capitalize on?

I think that innovation and finding/exploring new applications for a given technique is a wonderful thing. It may lead to a new understanding of a core principle/theory, or a revolution of the core concept behind a certain movement.

I certainly will never demonize someone for trying to find many different ways to get to apply Thundering Hammers for instance. If its particular technique they prefer and consider it a go to move, then by all means explore as many different variations as necessary to get there.

I can tell for certain, that while a particular technique (whatever it may be) works exactly as planned for person A, it will not work the exact same for person B, simply because they cannot have the exact same physiology, ergo cannot move in the exact same ways.

I have probably a good hundred pounds on the guy who taught me Jujitsu. The throws that worked for him because of his diminutive stature absolutely do not work as prescribed for me at 6'3 and 300 pounds. Great changes had to be made to make them work most efficiently for my physiology. And conversely I could easily perform some moves that he could not, again because of the disparity of size.

So I think that the origins of a particular style serve as a foundation on which the fortress of the art is built. I don't think that things are lost from an art per se, just occluded by the particular requirements of the ever changing physiology of the constituent practicing body.

I guess I am less concerned with preserving the "purity and Truth" of an art, rather to see the practitioners survive be safe. So if changes should be made to achieve that, then so be it.

YMMV, just my take.
 
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Hand Sword

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I thank all who replied. This statement is to none of you specific, but is meant in all generality. Thanks again.

Apparently, these are irrelevant considerations. Once again, it shows how out of touch I am or have always been. Also, how my presence here on Martial talk is really pointless for all involved, including myself, as I have nothing worthy to offer, or think about. It's all just paranoia on my part. So, I guess the overall consensus, even from the many that I've talked with personally, is that it doesn't matter. Just be happy and make whatever work for you. In the end that's what matters. Whatever used to be or is, but hidden, so long. The current is bigger and better. Just keep moving forward!

Thanks again all.
:asian:
 

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I thank all who replied. This statement is to none of you specific, but is meant in all generality. Thanks again.

Apparently, these are irrelevant considerations. Once again, it shows how out of touch I am or have always been. Also, how my presence here on Martial talk is really pointless for all involved, including myself, as I have nothing worthy to offer, or think about. It's all just paranoia on my part. So, I guess the overall consensus, even from the many that I've talked with personally, is that it doesn't matter. Just be happy and make whatever work for you. In the end that's what matters. Whatever used to be or is, but hidden, so long. The current is bigger and better. Just keep moving forward!

Thanks again all.
:asian:

I know what you are saying, but it is hard to put into words. The mind of the masters past, lay within the kata. Plain and simple. In Okinawa, the lineage is 3 generations deep from the time of Chojun Miyagi, and there are many people within this forum, the silent, lurking majority that have keep that connection alive. They travel every few years back to the mother land and train. They have taken the time to break the barrier that existed between two nations, that were once involved in a war. A lot of the information, secrets you speak of, plus a lot of the lineage was simply lost to WW2, and the invasion of Okinawa. Notes, writings, and masters were either destroyed or killed. For the most part, what was left, after the war, was an occupying army of servicemen, to help pick up the pieces. There were many emotional, as well as physical wounds that needed healing. During that invasion, much of Okinawa was devastated, and the people had to survive, and they did. How you ask? By selling a national treasure, the only tangible asset they had, and the servicemen wanted. Karate, Okinawan GoJu. This was all the Okinawan people had, all they could offer, because they had to eat and care for their families. So many of them ran classes, some in their homes, or in open areas. Some, who lost loved ones, in the invasion, could not deal with it, and had animosity. It was through these servicemen, upon discharge from the military, who came back home, and brought with them this knowledge they learned. Many opened up DoJos and did very well for themselves. Some became Masters, but never returned to Okinawa, others that bonded with the people of Okinawa, and gained their, trust were invited back, and mutual friendships were formed. So my answer to you is this, yes a lot has been lost, but there is a lot hidden amongst us, in the form of traditional Dojo. There are Sensei, who are willing to pass down what they know, but who really cares. Simply put, the kata are just to old, the drills are to antiquated, and the customs of bowing, and the wearing of an all white Gi are just to intrusive. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. My first statement above was to look within the kata, there are some very old and traditional ones that were the one and only true means of passing down the art. Once these are lost, then yes, the art we love, and some cherish, will be lost and gone forever.
 

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Handsword, let's remember one thing in this discussion, in my opinion: It is not so much the arts have dissipated or been commercialize, which they have to an extent, but in my mind it is a difference of purpose. The old masters trained to survive in real combat, and thus had to develop arts that, while not inpenetrable, still had to be efficient, quick, and effective. Today, other than the occasional self-defense, most people train for basic self-defense but for many other reasons as well. Thus, both the purpose and the focus have changed. In addition, an art like tai chi, which is a FIGHTING art, has been watered down tremendously over the years. One other influence is martial arts as entertainment. People like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Alexander Fu Cheng, etc. set the bar so high that what is publicized as real martial arts fighting are really cinematic techniques glorified for public entertainment. This, added to the access to martial arts videos (a whole other topic previously covered in this site ad nauseum), has made the study of martial arts both more available and more democratic.

I have been fortunate to have three great masters, who have enforced varying degrees of tradition and old training. My rankings came at the expense of alot of time, pain, mental/physical stress, and doubt. At the same time, I had to work, go to school, support a family, and basically live in the "real" world. This too tends to water down or hinder true martial arts study. See the attempts by people like Dr Yang Jwing Ming to create a retreat and have10 close door disciples train for 10 years 9 months a year to attain the "true" art he is teaching. Very few would be willing or able to do this, and the 5 he has so far are between 20 and 26. On the opposite end are McDojos, who attempt to give belts at a moments notice.

Lastly, the internal and mental facet of teaching has been relatively lost in general. On another thread, I discuss the effects of aging on one's training as one gets older, and almost every answer there speaks of evolution into more efficient, internal, and mental training as one gets older. The concepts of honor, discipline, piety to one's teacher (father) etc. have been lost to the ages. Again, due to both the commercial world we live in and the fault of teachers of my generation to perpetuate what we learned due to recent restrictions on how we train our students vs. the abuse and training we went through.

On another thread recently created, a question was asked if the economy would affect enrollment? In the old days, if we could not afford to pay our teacher, we did other things for him to pay him back for his wisdom and knowledge. In the Ying Jow school in the 80s, our teacher wanted for nothing. Someone had the talents he required, whether accounting, legal advice, etc. That was a way to pay him back. That does not exist today in general.

Soooo...this has been a long winded way to say that martial arts today are not nearly as martial as they are art, with a selected few, but that is a result of both societal and martial arts norms shaped to reach today's students, who do not stay long anywhere and whose attention span is short....hence, the advent of MMA and other arts that do not take long to attain some relative level of skill.
 

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Also, how my presence here on Martial talk is really pointless for all involved, including myself, as I have nothing worthy to offer, or think about. It's all just paranoia on my part.
:asian:

I don't see how you come to this conclusion from this thread. I think everyone here has welcomed your discussion.

This is exactly the kind of discussion I love. And I have spent alot of time thinking about this topic. But after alot of time thinking, talking, asking and going in circles, I would tell you alot of the same things others have said. It seems they have probably done the same. :)

Like life, no one can control everything. Everything cannot be controlled. There are infinite variables. There is no answer. I think there is a truth, but I cannot know the truth. I can only seek. Having to tolerate mystery is a pain that just comes with this existence, but it is also very exciting, depending on how you define it.

The above quote from you I find worrisome. I hope you are well and I hear more from you in the future. Thanks for asking this question. I look forward to your replies and the replies of others in this forum.

Steph
 

Ironcrane

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I don't see how you come to this conclusion from this thread. I think everyone here has welcomed your discussion.

This is exactly the kind of discussion I love. And I have spent alot of time thinking about this topic. But after alot of time thinking, talking, asking and going in circles, I would tell you alot of the same things others have said. It seems they have probably done the same. :)

Like life, no one can control everything. Everything cannot be controlled. There are infinite variables. There is no answer. I think there is a truth, but I cannot know the truth. I can only seek. Having to tolerate mystery is a pain that just comes with this existence, but it is also very exciting, depending on how you define it.

The above quote from you I find worrisome. I hope you are well and I hear more from you in the future. Thanks for asking this question. I look forward to your replies and the replies of others in this forum.

Steph

I agree with this completely. I really don't get to talk Martial Arts like this with anyone but my sifu. So I liked this thread.
 
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Hand Sword

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I thank you all for taking the time to post back. Being around the arts for a long time I do see and understand the things that you all have expressed and do acknowledge them. However, as I said in the beginning, I don't feel that I worded anything right or touched what I was thinking or feeling. For that I apologize to you all. The fault is mine and not with you. This is just one of those times that I experience when I post not knowing how to put it. I always post from real feelings, so it gets in the way from time time. Oh well! On to more issues I guess!

Thanks again.
 

hkfuie

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The most important things are hard to put into words. Something is always lost.
 

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