Martial Frankensteins...why the hate?

stone_dragone

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I've had the pleasure of seeing a lot of great input on this forum over the years. A lot of it constructive, some of it complimentary and some just helpful. I've learned a lot about history, philosophy, and technique from a wide range of arts that has often led me to ask better questions of myself, my instructors, and my students.

One thing that I see occasionally that has distressed me in the past, and has recently reared it's head, is the derogatory attitude demonstrated by some folks towards anything that doesn't fit their mental mold... Just one of those things recently is a new curriculum designed around a particular theme that has elements from several arts being pejoratively called "Frankensteinish".

This isn't the first event, only a most recent one. There seems to be an overt attitude of implied Superiority over a teacher who teaches a blend, mix, combination, fusion, or damn tossed salad of various techniques by those who stay in their own semi-well defined lane.

I've seen it elsewhere as well, so it's not just here. Discussions on the structure of a stance or validity of a technique sequence should be constantly sought out to make everyone involved better...but to imply that a teachers chosen path is somehow lower than yours because they elected to fuze/toss together pieces that fits their goals, plans, and path is pure ego-driven bs.

Many of those we as a MA community hold in high esteem did exactly that... Liked something, incorporated it, claimed it. The way that the arts continue to evolve is by doing just that - get exposure to other elements, incorporate and adapt, and promulgate. If the "new" art or package is of value, then it lasts. If not, it goes away with the instructor.

In our world of instant media, there is honestly a LOT of crap out there. But it has a right to be shared and evaluated on its merits, not its origins. Recycling or repackaging is entirely natural when someone moves on into a new focus, area, philosophy, or all of the above. Some folks, like Ed Parker, repackaged several times in their relatively short careers (I say short because now his students have studied the arts longer than he was alive).

I guess that I take more interest than some in this because I am a Frankenstein Martial Artist. My original studies were in a mix of Shotokan, Goju Ryu, jujutsu and wrestling all lumped in under a honestly misleading banner of Nahate Goju Ryu Karate Do. Over the years, I've had the opportunities to train with pure Shotokan folks, pure Goju Ryu folks, pure aikido folks, as well as several semi-Frankensteinish folks, and currently I train in what some call a bastardized version of Kenpo.

Since I've got about 8-10 more years of moving around in the Army, I'm not settling down anytime soon. But when I do, I plan on hanging out my shingle and teaching my own Frankenstein Martial Art. I'm not going to be famous, but I'll be teaching what I know, under a newly packaged name... And I'm sure that it will evolve even then.
 

celtic_crippler

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One must accept that the majority will never attain that highest level of Maslow's heirarchy, self actualization. As such, the ability to think in the abstract is absent and anything that does not fit into a nice, neat, little box makes folks like that a little uncomfortable. The tendency is to react negatively so as to not appear to be inferior due to a lack of understanding. Just accept it. I wouldn't even call it "their loss" because they must first posess the ability to understand in the first place. It would only be a loss if they had the ability and then decided not to use it. Walk your own path, mature and grow along the way. Other's will stop along the path because they can not go any further, don't allow them to become an anchor impeding your growth. That is my advice, for what it's worth.
 

Flying Crane

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I see a couple of problems with the Frankenstein approach, and the degree that these issues exist will vary from sample to sample. There could be some Frankenstein approaches that yield a good result and a good method, but in my opinion many (most?) do not.

First, there is a difference between cross training, or having trained in several systems, and having a frankenstein approach. Cross training or training in several systems is fine, it's even fine to practice several systems together simultaneously, and to even blend it in some way. The problems arise when people try to formalize a blended curriculum into a "new" "system" or method. Firstly, I believe that most people who try to do this do not have the experience needed to do it well. They just haven't put in the time and effort to have some really high level skills, and it shows in the results. The new system is just sort of cobbled together, there is no Systematic method that makes it all cohesive, makes it all work as a SYSTEM. Rather, it is usually just a collection of techniques thrown together into a curriculum. A collection of techniques does not make for a good system. A good system must have a cohesive thread that holds it all together, a fundamental method for how everything is done, and when you pull techniques from different systems, there is often no commonality.

Different techniques, as done by different systems, are designed to be done off a specific fundamental method, a foundation. If you try to do those techniques off the wrong foundation, they DO NOT WORK. So when you frankenstein two systems together that have a different foundation, which foundation do you use, and do you try to do all your techs off that foundation, even tho the foundation is wrong for all the techs that came from other systems?

Here's an example: the punch. On the surface it looks all the same. But lets take the Wing Chun punch and the Tibetan White Crane punch. They both use the punch, but HOW that punch is developed is very different. If you try to use the Crane method of punching on top of the Wing Chun foundation, that punch will SUCK, even tho when done properly with the Crane foundation it is frighteningly effective. But if you try to pound a square peg into a round hole it doesn't work. It doesn't make sense to try to adopt the foundations from BOTH methods to make the techs work properly. The foundations are different enough that you will end up confusing both of them, then ALL your techs suck. It really is better to focus on one systematic method so that you don't confuse your body, and you understand how all of your techs work from that foundation and method.

If you are going to practice more than one system, as I said that is fine. But to do so you need to learn each system on its own merits, and understand how that system works. Some people are very capable with practicing more than one system, and doing them well (tho I also believe that most people cannot do it well but they convince themselves that they do). If that capable person decides to blend his multiple systems into one new system, usually what happens is that the foundations get blended and the students never get the opportunity to learn each system on its own merits, as the instructor did. That first instructor/founder may be very skilled, but it's because he did the work and learned each system properly. His students are robbed of that opportunity, they never learn and develop the full systems, they only learn the new blended system that has an abbreviated version of the foundation, and that isn't enough. The founder may be very skilled, but his students will never match him, and every generation will be worse.

I believe the skepticism that is shown to frankensteinian methods is actually evaluating the method on its merits. In most cases, the result is not good. There are some exceptions, but they are not the rule.
 

Flying Crane

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guess I'm on a role here, got a few more thoughts on this...

too many people are too eager to become a teacher, a master, a founder, an empire builder. There's a whole lot of people teaching martial arts who simply should not be. They are poor martial artists and they are poor teachers. But it seems like everyone has convinced themselves that they are good at it. Most are not. They want to be a teacher, they want to open up a school, they want to open up a bunch of schools and be in charge of something big. Most people should never try to do any of this, it's simply not their calling.

I see this as being part of the same issue. People dabble in a bit of this, a bit of that, earn a modest rank in something and they think that gives them some authority and legitimacy, and then they want to create something new. Simply put: they should not. In most cases they are not creating something worth a pile of beans. they would be far better off being a student, training to the best of their ability, and leave the teaching to others.

When people come here and post their ideas about this, they are inviting comments and criticism. The readership owes it to them to be honest. Nobody needs to be cruel or make personal attacks, but honesty is absolutely appropriate and should be considered demanded. Giving someone a pat on the back and telling them how great they are, how they have created something wonderful when you know full well it's not true, is a shameful lie. Be honest, even when the news is bad. Then it's their decision to take the criticisms to heart, re-examine and re-evaluate what they are doing, and decide to continue on, or change things, or dump it altogether. But at least we have been honest. We owe it to each other here to be honest about these things.
 

Zoran

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Some want to be Dr. Frankenstein except when they try to create Frankenstein's Monster, they come up with what looks like a multicolored Play-Doh project done by a 5 year old.
 

Touch Of Death

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Frankenstein Kenpo, has always been a joke I made about the kenpoists that never seem to bend their elbows, and attempt to fight at great distances away from the body at hand. Unless you are trying this, you are not doing Frankenstein Kenpo. :)
Sean
 

Zoran

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Frankenstein Kenpo, has always been a joke I made about the kenpoists that never seem to bend their elbows, and attempt to fight at great distances away from the body at hand. Unless you are trying this, you are not doing Frankenstein Kenpo. :)
Sean

Same here. Especially when doing attacks, like club attack.
 

WC_lun

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The issue I have usually is not with cross-trained, MMA, or anything like that. What I usually take exception to, if I take the time to, is people who say they are doing a thing, when they are not in fact doing that thing. It is misleading, but usually not purposeful, rather from ignorance. For instance, if a TKD artist takes what he believes is chain punching from Wing Chun, he is not then teaching a blend of TKD and Wing Chun, niether is he now teaching JKD. It is still TKD that he knows and not anything else. I've not seen anyone here claim this, just using it as an example.
 

Jenna

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I think if you can make it work you can make it work.. after all, this is no more than what the Ueshibas and Parkers and Gracies of the world have done already, yes?

We say their art is a "pure" style, though what is a pure style really cept a "Frankensteinish" one that has gained the acceptance and tempering and proving of time?? I know AC you would have a modesty not to set yourself above Ed Parker or whomever are your influences and I think it is exactly that modicum of openness, self-criticism and reality-checking that is lacking from many that would purvey a "Frankensteinish" art and proclaim it as the Greatest.. or The One and The Only!.. I do not imagine for a second there is a thing wrong with new combinations of styles and influences.. only me I personally object to those (and we have seen them here) who come to preach that they are the new Messiahs of MA.. And anyway I have no issue with a new Messiah of MA so long as they do not expect me to take any of their teachings on faith alone!!

I send you hopes of fortune with your plans AC and with your place right now.. Kind wishes, Jenna
 

Never_A_Reflection

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Everyone is going to have their own personal system for training martial arts, and if it works well for them then they should teach it when they are experienced enough to do so--this is what martial artists have done since the first cavemen hit each other. The idea that we need to maintain the purity of a style and preserve it because it is a perfect system is an idea that only came about in the 20th century, and I can't think of any of the old masters of karate who advocated such a thing--they wanted their students to seek out other arts and systems that would compliment and enhance their karate, and why would they advocate such a thing if they did not want those additional aspects to be passed on to others? Did they really expect their students to go out and train in another style of karate, or train in judo or Japanese jujutsu and just forget it all when they are teaching? Of course not! Martial arts were always intended to evolve and adapt and you simply cannot do that without either real world fighting experience or training in other systems to incorporate valuable aspects from them into what you do.

If I were to start teaching my personal system (and I'm not saying that I am capable of doing such a thing at this point in time, because I know that I am not) I could not call it Shuri-Ryu, because it would not BE Shuri-Ryu even though it has many aspects of that style. I also could not call it Shorin-Ryu, because it would not BE Shorin-Ryu even though it has many aspects of that style. I also could not call it judo, because it simply is not judo despite having aspects of that art. What should I call it, then? It doesn't really matter that much, but I'm certainly not going to call it Noah-Ryu and appoint myself Soke Judan Grandmaster and brand it as the greatest style ever. I would likely just say that I teach martial arts and make it clear what styles I have trained in and for how long, and what ranks I achieved under which teachers, and explain how all of that influenced what I do. I think that those who believe such a thing can't be done today do not give modern martial artists enough credit, and I think that is largely because of the people who DO give their personal system a style name and appoint themselves Soke Judan Grandmaster--they give the very idea of developing and teaching a personal system of martial arts a terrible reputation and it makes martial artists who would otherwise do a very good job of it avoid it in order to maintain their reputation.

tl;dr - Blending arts/style/systems is good, naming things is stupid, inflating your rank is bad.
 

MJS

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I've had the pleasure of seeing a lot of great input on this forum over the years. A lot of it constructive, some of it complimentary and some just helpful. I've learned a lot about history, philosophy, and technique from a wide range of arts that has often led me to ask better questions of myself, my instructors, and my students.

One thing that I see occasionally that has distressed me in the past, and has recently reared it's head, is the derogatory attitude demonstrated by some folks towards anything that doesn't fit their mental mold... Just one of those things recently is a new curriculum designed around a particular theme that has elements from several arts being pejoratively called "Frankensteinish".

This isn't the first event, only a most recent one. There seems to be an overt attitude of implied Superiority over a teacher who teaches a blend, mix, combination, fusion, or damn tossed salad of various techniques by those who stay in their own semi-well defined lane.

I've seen it elsewhere as well, so it's not just here. Discussions on the structure of a stance or validity of a technique sequence should be constantly sought out to make everyone involved better...but to imply that a teachers chosen path is somehow lower than yours because they elected to fuze/toss together pieces that fits their goals, plans, and path is pure ego-driven bs.

Many of those we as a MA community hold in high esteem did exactly that... Liked something, incorporated it, claimed it. The way that the arts continue to evolve is by doing just that - get exposure to other elements, incorporate and adapt, and promulgate. If the "new" art or package is of value, then it lasts. If not, it goes away with the instructor.

In our world of instant media, there is honestly a LOT of crap out there. But it has a right to be shared and evaluated on its merits, not its origins. Recycling or repackaging is entirely natural when someone moves on into a new focus, area, philosophy, or all of the above. Some folks, like Ed Parker, repackaged several times in their relatively short careers (I say short because now his students have studied the arts longer than he was alive).

I guess that I take more interest than some in this because I am a Frankenstein Martial Artist. My original studies were in a mix of Shotokan, Goju Ryu, jujutsu and wrestling all lumped in under a honestly misleading banner of Nahate Goju Ryu Karate Do. Over the years, I've had the opportunities to train with pure Shotokan folks, pure Goju Ryu folks, pure aikido folks, as well as several semi-Frankensteinish folks, and currently I train in what some call a bastardized version of Kenpo.

Since I've got about 8-10 more years of moving around in the Army, I'm not settling down anytime soon. But when I do, I plan on hanging out my shingle and teaching my own Frankenstein Martial Art. I'm not going to be famous, but I'll be teaching what I know, under a newly packaged name... And I'm sure that it will evolve even then.

I cross train. I enjoy it, I think its very beneficial. I've taught some Arnis material in a Kenpo class. Those things, in and of themselves, are perfectly fine to do. :) What I don't do: When I teach something that isn't Kenpo, in a Kenpo class, I make sure that everyone understands that what I'm showing is not Kenpo. I like to give credit where its due. :) Why should I lead someone to believe that the club disarm I did is Kenpo, when its really Arnis? Thats dishonest. I also don't mix the arts that I do into 1, come up with some fancy name, slap a 10th degree around my waist, and call myself GM Soke Uber Duber bad ***. LMFAO!! That, IMO, is also dishonest.

IMHO, if someone is going to craft their own thing, I suppose the first thing we should ask, is why? When there are numerous arts already out there, why do people find the need to craft their own thing? Do they feel they're the next Bruce Lee? Do they wanna impress others with fancy titles and belts? Personally, I'm not impressed, nor will I ever be. Those jokers may impress others, others that havent done their homework, others that're easily impressed by the fancy wine dressing, and sadly those people will do nothing more than help line the pockets of those people.

But, thats just my opinion. :) Like I said, I could be considered a Frankenstein, but then again, I've devoted numerous years into the arts that I do, with the exception of the one I started last Aug. :) I don't jump from one place to the next, training 3mos here, 2mos there, 1 year here, 2 there, and then feel that I've done enough to call my own and start my own system. Theres a distinct difference, a right and wrong. Its the way that these things are presented, IMO, that makes the difference. :)
 

Carol

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It might be dishonest but GM Soke Über Duber Badass has got to be one of the best names ever :D


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
 
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Bill Mattocks

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In what little experience I have, it seems to me as though many arts have levels of depth that remain unplumbed by most practitioners. Certainly that appears to be true of mine.

It also seems to me that it takes a lifetime to unravel, learn, and become truly proficient in one art.

I have also noticed that many practitioners believe themselves to be proficient in their art long before I feel it is possible for most, if not all. Those same artists then go on to other arts. Having achieved a somewhat superficial level of proficiency in several arts, they combine those skills and declare themselves teachers of a new art, which they give a name to.

I do not hate such people, nor do I denigrate their abilities or their desires. I have no doubt that many of their skills are vastly superior to mine; but that's not the point. I am as entitled to my opinion as they are to theirs, and my opinion is that having trained under people who really have spent a lifetime exploring the depths of one art, I do not believe that anyone with less than that sort of commitment to a single art has that insight, so they cannot therefore teach it.

In other words, the world is full of dojos that teach some form of martial arts, but few of them teach the real deal. Make-um-up arts are seldom that. Just my opinion.

Cross-training? I have no problem with it. But that's not the same.

I also have no problem with incorporating good techniques from other arts into one's own art. Why not? But again, that's not the same thing.
 

Carol

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I think some martial artists are in a spot where they cannot win.

There have been plenty of Kenpoists that have been slammed with the "that's not the way Mr. Parker did it" line, and some have been accused of prostituting Mr. Parker's name in an attempt to market/promote their school.

The ones that don't do this, including the ones take more of the approach of focusing a theme (Family Kenpo) or a more distinct/independent name ("my name is Gupta, so I'll call my school Gupta's Kenpo") get maligned as having some sort of "soke lust" and doing such a thing for rank -- even if the person giving the name never uses such a title, or even increases their rank.

I don't think this means that everyone should automatically like everything that another martial artist does, nor do I think any martial artist is beyond reproach. But I can't help but wondering if overly broad brushes are being used when they are not warranted.
 

K-man

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Most systems as they have been developed were designed as 'complete' systems. My primary arts are Goju karate and Aikido so i am here just referring to what i am directly involved with, although I believe it is probably true for most other karate as well. Unfortunately, as these are taught, a huge amount of the original system is missing. Once a person teaching a system finds there is something missing there are two choices. You can find the missing bits and replace them or you can create your own Frankenstein. Fortunately, few of the Frankensteins survive.

You could argue that Bruce Lee created a Frankenstein and it is extremely successful, mainly because he had the base knowledge to begin and the ability to develop his style from that base.

Along the other path, I believe that if you add material to your training that fits the principles of your style, then you haven't changed the base style. As an example, I started out in Goju Kai. That is an offshoot of Okinawan Goju Ryu with a great deal of focus on tournament type sparring and kata. As it was taught, there is very little grappling and no real 'soft' in a style that is meant to be 'hard' and 'soft'. A better name for what we practised would be Gogo Kai.

In the Goju that I teach I believe I have only added back bits that probably were present before karate went into the schools and universities. Therefore I maintain that my style is 'traditional Goju' even though it is markedly different from the 'traditional Goju' across town. As we had recently discussed in the Iain Abernethy thread, karate kata contain locks, holds takedowns and throws that are often missing from karate schools that claim to teach 'traditional' karate.

Once a teacher realises that he is missing some of these things he might go off and grab some grappling techniques from BJJ and some throws from judo. Now because he is teaching three things in one, he is short on time, so he looks to see what he can do without. Most times that is kata. So now we have a freestyle Frankenstein that has discarded the base of the original style that was the kata.

Do we really 'hate' the new style? Not really, unless it claims to be something it is not. If I claim to be one of the world's greatest martial artists with the best self defence system the world has ever seen, then I can expect a lot of flack. There are many great systems out there and many accomplished martial artists, but there are also a lot of 'try hards'. :asian:
 
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stone_dragone

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But when I do, I plan on hanging out my shingle and teaching my own Frankenstein Martial Art. I'm not going to be famous, but I'll be teaching what I know, under a newly packaged name... And I'm sure that it will evolve even then.

I'm glad to have started such an involved discussion! As a point of note, I can be relatively certain that there is no Soke in my future, and absolutely certain that there will be no claims of assumed rank for teaching and naming whatever previously unnamed art mix I do.
 

rickster

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Martial arts have been a melting pot for centuries.

Could there have always been a Frankenstein approach because there became a variety and all past masters had merged with previous?
 

Rich Parsons

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...but to imply that a teachers chosen path is somehow lower than yours because they elected to fuze/toss together pieces that fits their goals, plans, and path is pure ego-driven bs.

To be honest, I was reading and thinking it was going to be a good discussion. Then I read the above. My reaction, was, negative. Anything I have to say has already been thrown to side as an ego-driven bs comment.

So why comment at all. Why try to have a discussion? I am dealing with a closed mind. This is how I read it. Note: I did not even bother to read the rest. Why? Because this negative comment was confrontational and I could either react confrontationally or just ignore you and the comments.

Yet, this is an excellant point of why Smerged systems are not always the best thing. Yes there are people who are good and understand and even at a young age. Yet many who are in Martial Arts are in it for thier ego. They want to be part of a following or they want people to follow them. They want people to bow to them. To show them the respect. So thay have the POWER. This is why Most from my experience have created their own system or style.

Another problem is that having 10 first degree black belts does not make a 10th degree black belt in understanding. Heck it might not even make a 3rd degree in understanding. Of course this goes for those using rank, those that do not it is even harder to describe.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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I think we can all agree on a few things.

A. Some people probably shouldn't train in the Martial Sciences (ie. criminals, etc)

B. Some people should never be a teacher (ie. they just do not have the skill or simply are not a good teacher)

C. Some people should never be a leader of an organization or develop their own system (they simply are no good or do not know enough)

However, I think we all can also agree that there are some people who:

A. Should train in the Martial Sciences

B. Should be a teacher

C. Should lead organizations and or develop their own system.

Why, because if no one trained, taught or developed you would not be practicing in the system of your choice. There are simply some very talented people out there who really go the extra distance to be good at training, teaching and developing. However, not everyone fit's into that mix. Nor should we expect everyone to fit in that mix. I have many students and a few are really, really good. Yet, not everyone is or has the desire to be really, really good! Some train so that if they are ever attacked they will have a chance to defend themselves or their loved ones. Others train for fitness, while still other people train for competition or other reasons. A few train to be teachers and hopefully innovators!

Where we run into the problem is that to many people want to go to the top but do not want to put in the time, training and simply the dues that are required. Or they just wish to cash in and make some money on a system. We cannot stop them but..... really in the end they will just go away so I would not worry at all about it! ;)
 
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