Secrecy in Kung Fu Today/ arrogance in MA's

knuckleheader

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It seems to me Kung Fu schools and teachers still cloak themselves in secrecy.
Also, my experience with one School in the Poconos, Pa. Came off as cocky.
Why after many years involvement with martial arts, is this so?
 

Flying Crane

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Care to describe the behavior you have seen?

My experience has been that my teachers have been very open and not secretive, although one of them keeps a low profile and only teaches a small number of students now. But if you are his student, he gives you the goods.

I think Western society expects everything to be handed to us on a silver platter, if we are willing to hand over some money. We expect to be allowed to see and do everything and anything that our impulse dictates. But that aint always so. A lot of people dont feel their martial arts are meant to be performance art or something to be put on display. So they dont want to show it to every fellow who just wants to gawk for a moment. We arent performing monkeys.

But for someone who is truly interested and might genuinely wish to train the method, we are very open. Nothing is kept secret just for the sake of secrecy, although you wont be taught certain things until you are ready, meaning that you have put in the work to build the proper foundation skills and you have some context for it.

There is no point in trying to impress you with Calculus when you are still working on your Pre-Algebra.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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It seems to me Kung Fu schools and teachers still cloak themselves in secrecy.
A: Dad! What's the proper procedure to devoice my wife?
B: Son! You have to find a wife first. You should not worry about it when you are only 6 years old.

A: Dear sir! Could you teach me how to counter a take down?
B: I'll teach you the take down counter after you have learned the take down and be able to use it on the mat.
 

Koryuhoka

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My experience has been that the ones who are the most secretive, are the ones who have the least knowledge and understanding or their art.

I am not one to let the public see my art, but I endeavor to transmit all to anyone who would want to study my art from me.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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There is no point in trying to impress you with Calculus when you are still working on your Pre-Algebra.
The secret is not how to develop a certain technique. The secret is how to enhance it. Most of the technique enhancement is hard and boring training that the general public don't want to get into it.

A: Dear master! I want to learn the sword skill from you.
B: You need to go into the woods, use your sword to chop down 1000 tree branches before I can teach you the sword skill.
 

Xue Sheng

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Care to describe the behavior you have seen?

My experience has been that my teachers have been very open and not secretive, although one of them keeps a low profile and only teaches a small number of students now. But if you are his student, he gives you the goods.

I think Western society expects everything to be handed to us on a silver platter, if we are willing to hand over some money. We expect to be allowed to see and do everything and anything that our impulse dictates. But that aint always so. A lot of people dont feel their martial arts are meant to be performance art or something to be put on display. So they dont want to show it to every fellow who just wants to gawk for a moment. We arent performing monkeys.

But for someone who is truly interested and might genuinely wish to train the method, we are very open. Nothing is kept secret just for the sake of secrecy, although you wont be taught certain things until you are ready, meaning that you have put in the work to build the proper foundation skills and you have some context for it.

There is no point in trying to impress you with Calculus when you are still working on your Pre-Algebra.

yup

took me a few years to figure out my Yang Shifu had a better understanding of what I was ready to learn that I did. Just because I thought I wanted to learn something specific did not mean I was ready to learn it, or understand it
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Just because I thought I wanted to learn something specific did not mean I was ready to learn it, or understand it
The day you start to look at every MA move as principle instead of technique, the day that you truly start learning.

The striking art can be as simple as to guide your opponent's arms away from your entering path, you then attack the opening you have just created. The term "secret" will have no meaning after that.
 

letsplaygames

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My experience has been that the ones who are the most secretive, are the ones who have the least knowledge and understanding or their art.

I am not one to let the public see my art, but I endeavor to transmit all to anyone who would want to study my art from me.
Nailed it.

These are the people that say I only teach the "real" stuff to my disciples.. They stay "indoors" and never test what they teach outdoors.

That said... there is something about TCMA that are communal, unassuming, almost "back yard'ish" (if that's a term) Often it's a bunch of people for health, occasional self defense, cultural immersion, no ranking etc...just practicing... training.

Nothing wrong with this.

Not to beat a dead horse... that said, Xu Xiaodong (and others) have demonstrated over and over .. much of TCMA as far as martial prowess goes is pure fantasy.
 

Gerry Seymour

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The secret is not how to develop a certain technique. The secret is how to enhance it. Most of the technique enhancement is hard and boring training that the general public don't want to get into it.

A: Dear master! I want to learn the sword skill from you.
B: You need to go into the woods, use your sword to chop down 1000 tree branches before I can teach you the sword skill.
I've never liked that example. That kind of approach (go do something a bunch before I train you) means they're developing something rather randomly. I'm pretty good with an axe, so I'd almost certainly use some variation of my axe-oriented chopping skill for that. Then that master would have to work against that habit as he teaches me a proper cutting motion for the sword.
 

bill miller

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There was an instructor around here, who had been part of our TKD system, and was bat-crap crazy ! He opened a small school of his own, and without any experience, started teaching Mauy Tai . He then went to California for a week long JKD seminar. When he returned, he told everyone that he had channeled the spirit of Bruce Lee, and knew all of the "secret teachings" that Lee withheld form all a chosen few. The sad thing is, he actually developed a student base.

As a side note, he was later arrested for attempted child molestation. As my mom use to say,:that boy aint right"
 

Kung Fu Wang

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The secret is not how to develop a certain technique. The secret is how to enhance it. Most of the technique enhancement is hard and boring training that the general public don't want to get into it.

A: Dear master! I want to learn the sword skill from you.
B: You need to go into the woods, use your sword to chop down 1000 tree branches before I can teach you the sword skill.

I've never liked that example. That kind of approach (go do something a bunch before I train you) means they're developing something rather randomly.
You can teach someone how to punch. But you can't force him to spend time on his heavy bag.

Of course if someone just wants to learn sword skill for dancing, that ability training will be meaningless for him.
 
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isshinryuronin

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The day you start to look at every MA move as principle instead of technique, the day that you truly start learning.

The striking art can be as simple as to guide your opponent's arms away from your entering path, you then attack the opening you have just created. The term "secret" will have no meaning after that.
The principle (theory) does not include the technique. However, the technique, when done properly, includes the principle.

So if the technique is taught properly, the principle is automatically imbedded within. The practitioner is already incorporating the principle, even if he is not aware of it. IMO, the "secret" is how to perform the technique to fully realize the principle.

You can teach the body directly.

This is where I place the emphasis in teaching. It's the subtle moves that allow the principle to be employed: How and when to adjust weight distribution; how to move using the hips; how to add a tight circle in a multi-directional move to maintain momentum. Interestingly, these are all "body feel" things. As Ed Parker liked to say, "to feel is to know."

IMO, it's these finer points that are the critical bridges between principle with execution. I see them as being akin to pressure points - a slight touch yields big results. Recognizing these fine points is the key to teaching the intermediate/advanced student how to get to the next level. Knowing the principles allows the instructor to do this; to know the subtleties that allow maximum execution. So I think principles are more important for the teacher than the student from a learning standpoint.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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The principle (theory) does not include the technique.
The first principle of the Zimen system is the "畾 cruelty". Even today, I still don't know how to map that principle into techniques.

Some principle is very abstract. It may just represent a "faith". The "cruelty" principle can be translated as, "If you don't intend to hurt your opponent badly, you should not fight him".
 

Gerry Seymour

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You can teach someone how to punch. But you can't force him to spend time on his heavy bag.

Of course if someone just wants to learn sword skill for dancing, that ability training will be meaningless for him.
Asking someone to do meaningless things isn't testing to see if they are committed enough. An intelligent student may wonder whether there's anything to be taught, since the most basic stuff is apparently something they can learn by doing something entirely on their own.

A better approach - of one feels the need to gauge determination - would be to give some preliminary lessons, then give that student something to go off and practice, based upon what they have been taught.

I'm just not at all a fan of the idea that someone must prove their worthiness by doing something that doesn't really make sense from a learning standpoint.
 

Gerry Seymour

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The principle (theory) does not include the technique. However, the technique, when done properly, includes the principle.

So if the technique is taught properly, the principle is automatically imbedded within. The practitioner is already incorporating the principle, even if he is not aware of it. IMO, the "secret" is how to perform the technique to fully realize the principle.

You can teach the body directly.

This is where I place the emphasis in teaching. It's the subtle moves that allow the principle to be employed: How and when to adjust weight distribution; how to move using the hips; how to add a tight circle in a multi-directional move to maintain momentum. Interestingly, these are all "body feel" things. As Ed Parker liked to say, "to feel is to know."

IMO, it's these finer points that are the critical bridges between principle with execution. I see them as being akin to pressure points - a slight touch yields big results. Recognizing these fine points is the key to teaching the intermediate/advanced student how to get to the next level. Knowing the principles allows the instructor to do this; to know the subtleties that allow maximum execution. So I think principles are more important for the teacher than the student from a learning standpoint.
I also think some of this is in how teaching is done. I've seen instructors correct position of a limb, without ever getting into how the limb got there (principles of movement, and the answer to how it should be corrected) or why it should be in that position. Without those ever being discussed, a lot of students will misunderstand principles. I've seen people struggle with the same technique over and over, getting the same rote correction. Then another instructor gives them a little bit of the principle explicitly, and they are quickly able to make the correction.

Of course, it's possible to err in the opposite direction. I sometimes explain too much, which can confuse some (not all) students.
 

Gerry Seymour

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The first principle of the Zimen system is the "畾 cruelty". Even today, I still don't know how to map that principle into techniques.

Some principle is very abstract. It may just represent a "faith". The "cruelty" principle can be translated as, "If you don't intend to hurt your opponent badly, you should not fight him".
I think he's talking about physical principles, not strategic or philosophical ones (which may be represented by something in a technique, but I don't think can ever be contained with it.
 

Oily Dragon

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Not to beat a dead horse... that said, Xu Xiaodong (and others) have demonstrated over and over .. much of TCMA as far as martial prowess goes is pure fantasy.
If anything he's showing what real kung fu fighting actually is, and always has been, but he's not the first guy.

There's a whole history of fighters in China doing the same thing. Beating up tired old masters.

Dead horse? More like phoenix reborn from its own ashes, over and over. This is the way.
 

isshinryuronin

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I also think some of this is in how teaching is done. I've seen instructors correct position of a limb, without ever getting into how the limb got there (principles of movement, and the answer to how it should be corrected) or why it should be in that position. Without those ever being discussed, a lot of students will misunderstand principles. I've seen people struggle with the same technique over and over, getting the same rote correction. Then another instructor gives them a little bit of the principle explicitly, and they are quickly able to make the correction.

Of course, it's possible to err in the opposite direction. I sometimes explain too much, which can confuse some (not all) students.
For a beginner, learning to control position of their limb is a priority. To be able to do just this is sufficient reason to simply correct - principle behind it not needed. You are right in that how the limb gets there is important. In fact, the path the limb takes is just as important, if not more, as the end position. This is what gives the move function.

As for the instructor repeating the same ineffective rote correction to the struggling student - the instructor is simply unskilled. In this situation, it seems he is unable to recognize the problem's cause and/or teach that critical bridge that allows the technique to be done correctly (in accordance with principles). But knowing the principle without that bridge allowing it to be utilized is useless. They need to know how to move and what that feels like more than the underlying principle. Their body will understand the principle, even if the mind does not at this stage.

I hope I am expressing well enough to make this perhaps abstract, but IMO, important and valid point. Consider an eight year old gymnastics student doing a technique. Do they mentally understand the biophysical principles involved? They learn by doing, their coach refining their dismount technique, not with explanation of the various forces at work, but with suggestions like, "Cross your arms sooner" or, "Raise your right hand like you're scratching your head as you twist." The coach recognizing these more subtle points being the key, fulcrum or "pressure point" of the technique will allow the student to better execute. Of course, the coach's corrections are based on physical principles, but the eight year old doesn't know that, doesn't care and doesn't need to know them. They just enjoy the feeling of spinning correctly and sticking the landing. They feel how to do it correctly.

To more fully quote Parker, "To hear is to misunderstand, to feel is to know."
 

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