I think it is a good idea. We are not messing with his life. That statement is an exaggeration. Was it not Yang Lu Chan who leant taichi by initially spying on a master?
Z, worry not about reputations, they are not important. Who cares what others think of wing chun? No one owns wing chun so why the need to feel so possessive? It was here before us and will most certainly be here once we are gone. I don't think there is a worst way to learn but a worst way to be instructed might be a more suitable way to think about it.
With reference to the auto mechanic, how people love engines fix them without any formal training? Loads. He does not to do it as a job but for himself.
As I said, no one owns wing chun and there should be no knowledge filter. Just because in the olden days the instruction was slow in terms of what you got does not mean that is the best way to teach. My belief is that this model is down right ridiculous. And just because someone has reached a certain level in any martial arts does not equate to teaching ability.
I don't know who Lang Yu Chan is and whether he learned tai chi from spying or not. That's not my concern. I teach Wing Chun and that s what I'm concerned about. And spying from the bushes, or through a window, or whatever, is not the same as learning from videos or online.
We don't know why Haris Lamboo Faisal wants to study Wing Chun. Or whether one day he may have to use it to protect himself. But as people who care for our fellow human beings, we owe it to him to make sure if he does have to do something to protect himself, the Wing Chun he tries to use doesn't fail him because he learned or practiced it incorrectly.
As for the comment about reputations not being important, I have to disagree. As a business professional in the IT/IS and martial arts world, reputation is important. Sometimes your reputation speaks for you when you can't. Also, a lot of people, companies, law enforcement, and the government, select or don't select companies and individuals because of their reputations or lack of.
In the 1990's, the US government selected my Sifu to help the U.S. Army update their close quarter hand to hand combat manuals. Learning stuff that our military personnel's lives may depend on when in the field of close quarter combat. And he was chosen first because of his reputation and then when they saw him, his skills. (See bio http://www.francisfongacademy.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=33&Itemid=78)
Locally, I have had several of the county sheriff partrol officers come to me for training in Wing Chun because of my and the arts reputation. I have spoke to these officers on many occasions and they tell me about how they use the Wing Chun they've been trained in, in their jobs when dealing with criminals. Their lives depend on the training they get from the government and whatever or whomever they seek out for on their own training (mainly someone like me or other martial artists they may contact).
Many of my students have come to me because of my reputation as an instructor and practitioner in Wing Chun. I have been an instructor in Wing Chun for over 22 years, and my reputation is important to me. People know when they come to me for training, they will get the best training they can for their hard earned money. As a professional, I am concerned that what people learn from me will aid them when they have to use it.
Why do you chose to go to this company for service over that company? A lot of times it's because of reputation. Why do some people choose this martial art over that martial art when there are a number to choose from? A lot of times it's because they've heard of the reputation of this art over that art. After all this that I have stated, don't tell me reputation is not important and nobody cares. Yes they do.
You're right about nobody owning Wing Chun. But it is our duty as practitioners to teach it in the best way possible and pass it on correctly so that it won't disappear in the next few generations.
And as for auto mechanics, to be a professional mechanic (who cares about some backyard wrench turner. When you can't fix it, who do you go to, a professional), you have to have education and certification through authorized, accredited, certified, and recognized mechanic schools to work for a dealership or legitimate repair shops. If you aren't, your business won't last too long, especially in the U.S. You can be the best back yard mechanic, but with out certification, nobody with hire you or takes you serious.