Mis-Understanding of Kung Fu

7starmantis

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Lately I have been in contact with several different schools in our general area and what I found has really amazed me. Its mostly TKD and Karate schools and I found that even the instructor has absolutely no comprehension of what kung fu is. Some where just sad, thinking kung fu was basically tai chi or a "standing yoga" is one response I got. It bothered me enough to start thinking about it. Why is it so many people do not know about, or understand kung fu in general? Even the ones who had some exposure to it didn't truly understand it. They would imply that it wasn't practicle or usefull in any situation. Now, that alone doesn't bother me, I don't mind people thinking what I do is not worth the effort, but one guy had been in contact with my sigung many years ago. He had challeneged him and my sigung had walked into his school sparred with all of his top students, was asked to please not use sweeps as they were not used to them, then sparred the instructor and completely embarrased him. This guy still didn't think kung fu was able to be used in fighting. What is that about?

I guess my question is, have any of you run across this? If so, what do you think is responsible for this mindset? Is it that people turn their backs to what they don't understand? Is it that they are intimidated by the "hype" it has? What makes a martial artist who is at an instructor level laugh at kung fu and write it off, not knowing anything about it?

7sm
 
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RHD

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7starmantis said:
I don't mind people thinking what I do is not worth the effort, but one guy had been in contact with my sigung many years ago. He had challeneged him and my sigung had walked into his school sparred with all of his top students, was asked to please not use sweeps as they were not used to them, then sparred the instructor and completely embarrased him. This guy still didn't think kung fu was able to be used in fighting. What is that about?

I guess my question is, have any of you run across this? If so, what do you think is responsible for this mindset? Is it that people turn their backs to what they don't understand? Is it that they are intimidated by the "hype" it has? What makes a martial artist who is at an instructor level laugh at kung fu and write it off, not knowing anything about it?

7sm


7*, Man I can totally relate to what you are saying. In fact, I've had an encounter similar to what your sigung experienced. I think the problem is that few people outside of a city with a well populated chinatown (NY, or San Fran, etc...) have much of any exposure to real Chinese martial arts. They see Jet Li, Bruce Lee, and Jackie Chan and think that's what they're all about.
In the experience that I had, the instructor informed me that I couldn't grab onto or trap thier hands...anything below the waist was definately not allowed, and the idea of fighting from anything other than long (kicking) range was absurd to them. My system (Hung Gar) is close range...at least the way I do it, and they really had no idea how to deal with what I could do within thier limited rules. I basically beat the snot out of the instructor and his students, at their invitiation mind you. But after all was said and done, they still didn't think that what I did was "real" LOL!!!
Mike
 
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7starmantis

7starmantis

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RHD said:
7*, Man I can totally relate to what you are saying. In fact, I've had an encounter similar to what your sigung experienced. I think the problem is that few people outside of a city with a well populated chinatown (NY, or San Fran, etc...) have much of any exposure to real Chinese martial arts. They see Jet Li, Bruce Lee, and Jackie Chan and think that's what they're all about.
In the experience that I had, the instructor informed me that I couldn't grab onto or trap thier hands...anything below the waist was definately not allowed, and the idea of fighting from anything other than long (kicking) range was absurd to them. My system (Hung Gar) is close range...at least the way I do it, and they really had no idea how to deal with what I could do within thier limited rules. I basically beat the snot out of the instructor and his students, at their invitiation mind you. But after all was said and done, they still didn't think that what I did was "real" LOL!!!
Mike
Man, my sifu's sihing teaches hung gar, I love training with him from time to time. Its so weird that people just ignore the straight facts staring them in the face. I don't understand it at all. Its not all just people who get beat by it either, its people who have never even seen any of it, they laugh and write it off as chinese "dance". Man are they wrong.

I had some guys from a local school come in the other day to "invite" us to one of Their tournements. They were almost past the line of disrespectful, laughing at our weapons, making jokes about our mantis logo and such. They asked to see a form so I said we would trade, I'll do one if they do one. They were aksing what was this stuff, and what were you doing here? Completely passed them by, it was amazing.

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Some people are just blind to anything that they themselfs do not do.
Others are just idiots,and egomaniacs who have not the knowledge of what is involved in many of the arts, so they make fun of that which is strange to them. Others seem to listen to the advise and comments of their instructors without ever really looking at things for themselfs.
Watching a class and asking what was that move or why do you do such and such is one thing, thats how we learn. Being rude is another.
 
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RHD

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7starmantis said:
I had some guys from a local school come in the other day to "invite" us to one of Their tournements. They were almost past the line of disrespectful, laughing at our weapons, making jokes about our mantis logo and such. .

7sm

Hmmm, I don't think that'd fly around here...I'm not much into tradition compared to some kung fu schools, but that's a sure way to get an "introductory lesson" in the realities of Chinese martial arts!
Mike
 

Thesemindz

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I think the biggest reason people feel this way about Kung-Fu is the same reason they feel this way about Kenpo, or Tae-Kwon-Do, or Boxing, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or any other martial art they've seen or heard of, but never trained in. It's easy to stand back and point out all the things that aren't covered in any martial art. It's easy to stop someone at any point in their technique and point to them saying, "well, you aren't covering your groin, I could hit you there." Or, "see, they don't train to fight six guys at once, so why should I waste my time?" And these people are probably right, they shouldn't waste their time. If they can't "empty their cup" then they won't gain anything from the art, regardless of what it has to offer. There are probably alot of people who could tell you about the strengths of any Kung-Fu style. There are probably alot of people who could tell you about the time their Kung-Fu saved their life. But you're alot more likely to hear from the whiners who spend more time telling you why somebody else sucks than worrying about how to improve themselves. Are there some people out there practicing some lousy Kung-Fu? Almost definently. So what. There are people out their sucking at everything that someone else is good at. That doesn't make the art any less useful if it's useful to you. There are probably people who have disarmed knife wielding opponents with their Tai-Chi technique. In the end, I haven't decided to spend my life doing martial arts in the hopes that if I'm ever attacked I'll bust out my super technique and be victorious, that's just a nice fringe benefit. If Kung-Fu had so little to offer, it wouldn't have survived so long.


-Rob
 
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Thesemindz said:
I think the biggest reason people feel this way about Kung-Fu is the same reason they feel this way about Kenpo, or Tae-Kwon-Do, or Boxing, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or any other martial art they've seen or heard of, but never trained in. It's easy to stand back and point out all the things that aren't covered in any martial art. It's easy to stop someone at any point in their technique and point to them saying, "well, you aren't covering your groin, I could hit you there." Or, "see, they don't train to fight six guys at once, so why should I waste my time?" And these people are probably right, they shouldn't waste their time. If they can't "empty their cup" then they won't gain anything from the art, regardless of what it has to offer. There are probably alot of people who could tell you about the strengths of any Kung-Fu style. There are probably alot of people who could tell you about the time their Kung-Fu saved their life. But you're alot more likely to hear from the whiners who spend more time telling you why somebody else sucks than worrying about how to improve themselves. Are there some people out there practicing some lousy Kung-Fu? Almost definently. So what. There are people out their sucking at everything that someone else is good at. That doesn't make the art any less useful if it's useful to you. There are probably people who have disarmed knife wielding opponents with their Tai-Chi technique. In the end, I haven't decided to spend my life doing martial arts in the hopes that if I'm ever attacked I'll bust out my super technique and be victorious, that's just a nice fringe benefit. If Kung-Fu had so little to offer, it wouldn't have survived so long.


-Rob

Thesemindz, you make a valid point about it being easy to be an "arm chair" martial artist and find what is wrong with any system. Anyone can do this, and it is a common occurence among martial arts practitioners across the board. Shameful, but all to easy when you see some of the silliness that passes off for martial arts these days.
However, I disagree with the indiference to people practicing bad kung fu, or any poor quality martial arts. Here's why... Most people are stunningly naive when they begin thier martial arts training. They have no clue what is quality and what is not quality training. For some it doesn't matter, but others are relying on the fact that they will be learning effective self defense. It can be down right dangerous to pass off crap as self defense. It breeds false confidence, and can lead to injury or worse.

If one "crap-fu" teacher has 100 students, and out of that number 10 go on to teach, and out of thier students 10 more, and on and on.... Pretty soon what you have is more crap than real kung fu, real arts are lost or largely unavailable. Chinese martial arts were developed for self defense and fighting period. The health benefits, the philosophy, and the culture are all available through other venues. Unfortunately it is far too easy for a Kung Fu teacher to cover thier own lack of skill and understanding with mysticism, psuedo-philosophy, and traditions of secrets and exaggeration. So what's my point?...
My point is that if quality is not scrutinized, then it easliy slips away, leaving us with (fill in the blank).
Mike
 
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markulous

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I remember my Sifu telling me that he was talking to this Karate teacher. And the dude was like "What do you study?". My Sifu said "Boxing, Aikido, and a lot of Kung Fu also." The dude says, "Oh I know all about you 'Kung Fu guys'. I have beaten one of you guys up before." I don't know even where to begin on how wrong and how much of a stereotype that is!
 

Thesemindz

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RHD said:
However, I disagree with the indiference to people practicing bad kung fu, or any poor quality martial arts. Here's why...

Mike


Mike, I don't really think there's anything you can do about that. Sure, people would like to be able to "quality check" the industry, but how are you going to do that? Who decides? Even at what you might consider a "crap" school, there are probably people who feel like they are getting exactly what they came there for. I can only be concerned with whether or not I'm getting what I want at my school, and whether or not my students feel that they are. I feel like I am learning and teaching good, logical, effective self defense technique. I know many students and instructors in my system who have used it successfully. And I also know other martial artists, some whom I've met in person, who would state without a doubt that we teach crap martial arts. They are exactly the kind of "arm chair" martial artists that say the same thing about Kung-Fu. How are you going to convince them that you're right and their wrong? Challenge them all to a fight? That won't work, because we all know that martial arts doesn't make you unbeatable. I agree with your sentiment on how important passing on quality instruction is, I just can't worry about whether or not the guy down the street feels the same way.

I think the best weapon we have in this battle is to teach the absolute best martial arts we can, leaving no student behind, and encouraging the growth of every martial artist we meet. In the end, the schools that teach something powerful and memorable will remain after the years have left us behind, and the schools that teach the flavor of the month to make a buck will disappear as the public moves on to something new.


Goldendragon7's quote sums it up nicely I think.

"Time will either promote you or expose you."


-Rob
 

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I was thinking as I was reading the last several posts that GD7s sig line was right on the mark. I'm an aikido-ka and have to deal with a lot of the same stereo types. A great deal of the problem is simply people buying in to what they see in the media. You see enough of the old Hong Kong wire action and ya start thinking that kung fu guys can't fight because no one can really fly. The same type of thing goes for aikido. So many people really push the meditative, spiritual side of the art that people begin to believe all aikido-ka sit around meditating about fighting instead of learning how to do it. I think the best we can do is educate others about our arts on a one to one basis. I'm not all that conscerned with folks not really understanding my art though. I've said it before.... I prefer to be underestimated. :)
 
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Thesemindz said:
Mike, I don't really think there's anything you can do about that. Sure, people would like to be able to "quality check" the industry, but how are you going to do that? -Rob

Hey Rob, it's a tough situation. I confront garbage whenever I see it, and this has made me at times...unpopular with certain peers. This is not to say that I am the best, nor a certified judge of martial quality (who is?), but when I see obvious B.S. being billed as "real world, or effective" I will speak my mind and demonstrate to the best of my ability if called on. Does this mean I go around challenging others to fights? No. It's not a legal or ethical stance I prefer to take. But confront I will do, fully realizing that this means I am open to such scrutiny as well.
I don't expect to change the world, but I can't stand by idlely and watch others be ripped off or scammed.
Mike
 

Thesemindz

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RHD said:
Hey Rob, it's a tough situation. I confront garbage whenever I see it, and this has made me at times...unpopular with certain peers. This is not to say that I am the best, nor a certified judge of martial quality (who is?), but when I see obvious B.S. being billed as "real world, or effective" I will speak my mind and demonstrate to the best of my ability if called on. Does this mean I go around challenging others to fights? No. It's not a legal or ethical stance I prefer to take. But confront I will do, fully realizing that this means I am open to such scrutiny as well.
I don't expect to change the world, but I can't stand by idlely and watch others be ripped off or scammed.
Mike


I agree with you here. For instance, if I was in the room and someone tried to say that Tae-Bo was "real life self defense" I would feel compelled to point out that while many of the movements used in Tae-Bo could be adapted to self-defense, the system in and of itself is for fitness, not fighting. However, I'm not going to go down to the gym and interupt the Tae-Bo class to point out to everyone there that they aren't really learning how to fight. I'm not against confronting things that I feel are wrong, and I do feel that the kind of "B.S." that's being pushed off on an unsuspecting public is dangerous and detrimental to the martial arts in general, I just feel that the best thing I can do to combat the negative effect of this kind of thing is teach the best martial arts I can. I think the general public doesn't really know the difference and doesn't care to know, but you will always have those who seek out the good stuff, and it will always be there for them to find.


-Rob
 

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theletch1 said:
I was thinking as I was reading the last several posts that GD7s sig line was right on the mark.

I think the best we can do is educate others about our arts on a one to one basis. I'm not all that conscerned with folks not really understanding my art though. I've said it before.... I prefer to be underestimated. :)

I feel the same way. I think it is on this one on one basis that this battle must be fought and won. The truly gifted teachers will pass on what they have learned, and it will change and grow. The majority of people I've met aren't concerned with whether I do Tae-Kwon-Do, Karate, or Kenpo. They don't understand the difference and don't really care to have it explained to them. If they want martial arts, it's usually to lose weight or lose fear. Either way, it seems to me that people rarely join the martial arts to gain something. Once they realize that it's actually hard work, most people lose interest. Only those who have a real desire to learn stick around, and they aren't usually the kind of people who have this dismissive attitude.

When I see a BJJ student or a Kenpo student look at another art and go, "that would never work, what a waste of time," I can't help but feel sorry for that person. In my mind I'm usually thinking, "oh, you're still that guy, I hope you grow out of it someday."

-Rob
 
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CloudChaser

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i can understand why ppl would be unclear as to what kung fu is since the term is used to broadly categorize the wide array of chinese styles... TKD, judo, karate, and the like are more clearly defined and easier to identify with though i have yet to encounter any personal experiences where CMA are less respected than any other MA...
 

Thesemindz

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CloudChaser said:
i can understand why ppl would be unclear as to what kung fu is since the term is used to broadly categorize the wide array of chinese styles... TKD, judo, karate, and the like are more clearly defined and easier to identify with though i have yet to encounter any personal experiences where CMA are less respected than any other MA...


I think this is another good point. These days, you could take ten random instructors who all say they teach Kung-Fu and see ten completely different things. I would argue that Karate, TKD, and Kenpo have become the same way though. Although you might see similar techniques from school to school or be able to tell that they have roughly the same origin, the details are different almost anywhere you go. I think this is probably generally true of almost all martial arts though. Even if two instructors are teaching the exact same curriculum, they will teach it differently, and over time, the differences will grow until they become "style."


-Rob
 
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7starmantis

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Thesemindz said:
I think this is another good point. These days, you could take ten random instructors who all say they teach Kung-Fu and see ten completely different things. I would argue that Karate, TKD, and Kenpo have become the same way though. Although you might see similar techniques from school to school or be able to tell that they have roughly the same origin, the details are different almost anywhere you go. I think this is probably generally true of almost all martial arts though. Even if two instructors are teaching the exact same curriculum, they will teach it differently, and over time, the differences will grow until they become "style."
This is a good point. Its also hard for one person to say something is junk while another person says it works. Who has the standard? What proves the effectivness? Fighting? We all know that anyone can be beat at anytime by any given person, so what does that prove? However, someone extremely skilled should be able to overcome what obsticles lay in the way and be victorious regularly I guess.

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arnisador

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Not completely related, but...

...in the 15 March 2004 issue of Newsweek, pg. 33, is a brief article on the prison that Martha Stewart is likely to end up at. Quote:

For recreation, there are two TV lounges, a law library, a track, and a gymnasium used for Pilates, yoga, dancersize or aerobics (but not Tai Chi, which the Feds have deemed a martial art).
As though there was a question about it!
 
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7starmantis

7starmantis

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Thats very interesting, I can see why they wouldn't want to teach it.

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Hi 7*

I understand this probelm all too well! I have friends and other people who constantly forget I study Kung Fu and say " oh you got Karate tonight?"
I went a long to another Martial Arts class, which I won't name. However there were only 2 people there. I mentioned Wing Chun as something I was interested in and this person said " weren't they a pop band" to which I offered no response but merely laughed! This Ignorance in people is incredible.
But keep in mind that Karate and Taekwondo have been Marketed so well and people in the west have been learning since the 40s and 50s. Thats when The allies had occupied Japan and later the Korean War where the Americans began to show interest in thoses country's Martial Arts.
However China seems to have been more reluctant in teaching its Martial arts to outsiders, something which has slowly began to do. It wasn't until the Bruce Lee craze that we first became aware of Kung Fu and that was in the 1970s! I doubt many people globally had even known that China had Martial Arts.
I have a friend who is much older than me and has been studying Taekwondo for about 2 years, because I think he must feel it is the ultimate Martial Art, because of the way he talks about it. He knows I study Kung Fu and has commented that he was told by someone else, that "kung fu was used for fighting on Horses". Little does he know he as Kung fu to thank for being able to study Taekwondo, because that along with many Japanese and Korean Martial Arts are greatly influenced by Chinese Martial Arts, especially Karate known as Empty hand or Chinese Hand, Tang Soo do which is a mixture of Shotokan and some Kung Fu. Tang is a Chinese word for hand.
I have been ridiculed soemtimes for studying Kung Fu, as if it wasn't effective as any other Martial Art, or just flashy dancing. On these occasions people have said to me "why don't you do Taekwondo?" I answered " because I prefer Kung Fu" And my friend said " Taekwondo is too fierce for you". I laughed and left him with his ignorance. He has no knowledge of the dangerous techniques that exist in Kung Fu, the harsh training which is very hard on the legs! and all the body conditioning.
 
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7starmantis

7starmantis

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Yes, people who have confidence in thier own training tend to see it as the "end-all be-all" of training. They find it hard to validate anything anyone else does, even without knowledge of thier training. Its kind of strange.

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