Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
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MTS Alumni
Aug 29, 2001
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Athol, Ma. USA
Some of the instructors I have studied with or have just know had little knowledge of their lineage. They could tell me their instructors name, maybe his instructor, then name master so-in-so, then grandmaster who-ever. At this point one, two or three generations of instructors may have been skiped. After the grandmaster some could give his lineage some could not or where very unsure of styles systems etc. from this point on.
I was once told by one instuctor that it just was never disscussed, unless his instructor said " I learned this from" so-in so. It seems that in the early days of the Westerner studing in the east so things where skiped in the oral history.
Am I the only one to run into this ?
I can tell you how my art evolved. Who went where and who is who for the most part. My own lineage is pretty messed up though. I never worry too much about it. But I am aware of how my art progressed and where it is and might be going.

Which is more important. The lineage of the art or of the person?
If a person stays with a system/style long enough to become a instructor I think he/she should know where his knowledge game from. Maybe he dosent know every name but they should knw the major high points .and the who is who.
Sometimes its just interesting to see the common links between systems and where they break from one another.
Like I said some of my former instructors where only trained in technique and not given much of the history of their art.May also hae been a lanquge problem . they spoke little of the regional languge and the instructor refused to speak in any English
Interesting point, personaly I have never really looked into the lineage of my arts it never mattered to me. I know my teacher, and his teacher who is above him? I have no idea, I coudl find out but that has never been important to me to look into. Mabey I should...........

Despaire Bear
Never studied an art because of the lineage involved. Studied because of what I saw being done or because I just wanted to know something about the system.
It may be a small point untill someone asks you for that sort of thing. I would hate to be in a system -10 years and not know much about its history. Like I said befor sometimes that part of the training may not have been passed down or is lost in the jungles maybe it only goes so far and hits a wall.
I been with a TKD-ish school for about 13 years. The knowledge of the actual school and the instructor and his instructor is actually required as part of a written test add on to the Black Belt test, but I can tell you that most of the TKD "history" that most of the BBs believe is largely to fun mythology stuff. History is barely ever even referenced. Of course there are all the, "All these ancient weapons were farm tools used by peasants to defend against the Samurai" myths. I hear the "occassional, these basic forms date back many centuries" thing, with no knowledge of the Taikyoku forms, or even the Kicho Hyung, and we're a TKD SCHOOL! Also, "TKD is an ancient art."

That said, some of the older teachers actually know their stuff. It just doesn't get passed on. Doesn't bother me at all, to be honest, allthough i make sure to mention *cough cough* post WWII *cough cough* when I hear about "ancient TKD" and so on.

For me, and for most of the students in my school, Martial Arts is about finding out what works, testing stuff, trying out new things, playing with students from other schools, other disciplines, experimenting. Tradition doesn't play into it much. Sure, we do the Pinans/pyong ahn/pions/all the other names, but we're not averse to adapting a stance here, debating about a hand position or weight distribution there...

I agree with some others, when you mention that it depends on what you want from a school.
If what you want is traditional art preservation, than it's a big deal. if what you want is something else, than I can forgive the incredibly bad history for a couple hours of trying to adapt a takedown just so. It'd be nice to have some accuracy, but I look at it more as humorous than anything else. For me. Personally.
Holy thread resurrections!

While I think knowing your system lineage is important (I tend to love history) in the end it comes down to the practical applications of the system as the most important.

Sometimes people have a tendency to get to caught up with which art is older, comes this renown province, was learned by some guy that stared at a cave wall for 30 years, etc.
WOW, thought this thread was dead a long time ago.
I have of late run into a few people claiming lineage in this or that art. Some even had certs on their walls. Unfortunately they where unable to give me any lineage past the name on the cert. After trying many sources (web based and personal contacts) I have yet to find any record of the systems say nothing of instructors. This tends to give me a bad feeling about how much the art really exists
That being aside, I do fell a person should know at least a few generations back in the history of the art they study if they stay with the system very long.
On one hand, it's not you you studied under but what you can do that matters. On the other hand, knowing your lineage is a way of giving credit to those whose knowledge helped you. Both have their merits.

My lineage: Ng Mui -- Yim Wing Tsun -- Leung Bok Chau -- Leung Lan Kwai -- Wong Wah Bo -- Leung Jan -- Chan Wah Shun (and Leung Bic) -- Yip Man -- Leung Ting -- me.

All those before Leung Jan (mid 1800's) are probably more folkore than real, and there are a number of other intermediary figures who have been left out.
Oh wow, I didn't realize I was thread reviving so badly... 11 years old? Woops. thought I was in the "new thread" area of the forum!

It all depends, though. For me it depends on the art, too. When I'm practicing my main style, I care more about "does it work" than "where is it from" although I find both fascinating. A couple years back, an older teacher was showing me some very basic Baguazhang circle-walking stuff for a while. I view Bagua, mostly as art, more than martial, and in that case, I'm much more interested in the history and the exactness than in the practical applications...
As long as the conversation is productive, there's no real concern about reviving threads that are rather... ancient...

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