State of the MA Union

Matt Stone

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Originally posted in the thread "Belt Order" by Yiliquan1

This is one of those things that displays a major problem for martial arts in the United States, if not worldwide...

I am not criticizing anyone involved in this thread, nor any one school or association in particular - this is a general purpose rant...

Rant Begins... :soapbox:

Those of us involved in MA for reasons known only to ourselves and our Creator(s) (don't want to offend anyone on this point... :D) hold our respective arts in high esteem, valuing them and their lessons greatly. One of the things that "sold" me on my system early on was the fact that we were required to learn things about other systems. Later, I found out that we were required to know other forms of the arts included in our style (Xingyi, Bagua, Taiji) from outside of our style for promotion to senior grades...

However, knowing much about the truth behind martial arts in general, much less about the arts many people study, doesn't seem to get much attention at all...

For example -

Myths:
- All Chinese martial arts come from Shaolin.
- All karate came from Japan OR all karate is the same.
- Belt ranks have always been used in asian martial arts.
- All Korean martial arts were created in Korea and are ancient and historical in nature.
- All martial arts came from asia.

Et cetera.

Truths:
- All Chinese martial arts did not come from Shaolin, and many predate Shaolin by centuries.
- Karate did not arrive in Japan until the 1920s. Samurai did not practice karate. Karate was not practiced by farmers in Okinawa.
- Belt ranking was pioneered by the founder of Judo, Jigaro Kano, as a way to prevent heavier, more experienced judoka from outclassing smaller, less experienced judoka during competition. Colors were added later to more readily identify a person's grade. Prior to this, there were simply students and teachers (the latter identified solely by their license to teach, issued to them by their instructor, though sometimes even that was absent...) After time, colored belts were adopted by many schools and styles throughout the world as an easy way to identify different skill levels.
- Many Korean martial arts were imported in the last century to century and a half from other countries. Tae Kwon Do was originally a bastardized form of Shotokan, brought over in the early part of the 1900s (since Funakoshi didn't bring Shotokan to Japan until the 1920s, TKD couldn't have been created until after that, contrary to the popular beliefs...).
- Every country in the world has had a martial tradition of some sort, and ancient cultures had their forms of martial arts just as did the asian countries - due to the age of said ancient cultures, most forms of these ancient arts died with the cultures in question (e.g. Pankration is not an ancient Greek martial art, but rather the modern recreation of the ancient art based on research done by a man interested in such things - he was already instructor level in another art, and used that training as the framework for recreating Pankration based on what he found out about the ancient practices).

Et cetera.

People study for years under misconceptions and errors, become instructors, and propagate the myths and inaccuracies. Then, because schools of this nature are far more numerous than schools which try to maintain the "truth" of the history behind MA, the bulk of MAists begin to buy the myths as reality, and it becomes those who know the "truth" (not sure that is an accurate word, given the shady nature of MA history in the first place, but it'll have to do) that are the fringe weirdoes...

Go figure.

People everywhere rant and rave about frauds and shysters like Oom Yung Doe and the Chung Moo Quan, Temple Kung Fu, etc. But there are many schools who tread very close to the boundaries that separate legitimate schools and con artists, and they don't even know it!

Folks need to educate themselves on the histories of their styles. If they are going to use the native language terms of their style, they need to familiarize themselves with that language. They need to ask questions, and not stop until they get the right answers. Only then will we be able to re-invigorate MA overall and help to stomp out the ignorance that is out there...

I'm not ranting about an innocent beginner that simply doesn't know any better... How could they? Rather, I am pointing an accusatory finger at the instructors who know their info is lacking and don't care to better themselves (they do a disservice to their students at best by failing to better educate themselves), or who deliberately sell myths and lies in order to safeguard their meal ticket.

Rant Ends... :soapbox:

Sorry to get so picky, but attention to small things is a mark of professionalism. One saying I like to remind myself of when I get lazy is "Mastery grows from little things." If we allow ourselves to be complacent as instructors, satisfied with our knowledge, then we stop growing and begin to creep up to the edge of the abyss of our own ego. We owe it to our students to be better than that...

Gambarimasu.

:samurai: :tank: :samurai:
 
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Matt Stone

Matt Stone

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There is also the issue of the use of titles, legitimate and imaginary, in English or other languages, that helps in supporting or denying the authenticity and professionalism of a teacher.

I have trained and taught in the US (Nebraska and Kansas, going to Washington state next...) and overseas (Korea and Japan), and I have run into what is termed "Bad Budo" on other forums every single place I have been. I have gone in search of training, and spent time only at schools or with people who seemed to be informed, legitimate, skilled practitioners.

I have found misuse of titles and language everywhere I have gone. I am not a native Korean, Japanese nor Chinese speaker, but I am familiar enough with the terms involved to know garbage when I see it. My biggest pet peeve is, in the US, the arrogant attitude displayed when people say "well, that is just how we use the term, and that's okay with us." Perhaps, but if I walked in and said we were going to use the word "booger" as the new term for students, and "flicker" as the term for teachers, people would look cross-eyed at me and think I was out of my mind.

For the folks that use imaginary or incorrect titles:
Guess what... When you run into folks who are native speakers, or at least know the difference, people look cross-eyed at you and think you are out of your mind...

It isn't that much to ask, really. If you are using a foreign language, use it properly. We Americans are famous overseas for being both incapable and unwilling to learn languages other than our version of English, and we somehow justify to ourselves that the misuse of foreign terms is somehow okay, as long as we all agree on what we are using them for...

Anyway.

I challenge everyone to educate themselves beyond their style, beyond their own little chunk of the MA community. Use the internet to broaden your knowledge. Win by losing, gain through loss. Give up your attachments to what you think you know, research what you thought you understood, play with it, and grow.

I'm done now... :asian:

Gambarimasu.

:samurai: :tank: :samurai:
 
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Danny

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- Many Korean martial arts were imported in the last century to century and a half from other countries. Tae Kwon Do was originally a bastardized form of Shotokan, brought over in the early part of the 1900s (since Funakoshi didn't bring Shotokan to Japan until the 1920s, TKD couldn't have been created until after that, contrary to the popular beliefs...).

I find "bastardized" in that sentence a very poor choice of words. Taekwon-Do was an attemp by General Choi Hong Hi starting in the latter years of WWII to bring Taekyon (sp?) and Shotokan amoung others together into a modern scientific matial art. So although Taekyon which Taekwon-Do is based on may be anicent (not that I now for sure), modern Taekown-Do didn't really exist until the 1950's when it was officially named.
 
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chufeng

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The bringing together of the older arts of Korea occurred after the government sanctioned TaeKwonDo as the National Art of Korea.

General Choi was a Nidan in Shotokan (a Nidan by Japanese standards in the 1940s) who began teaching THAT art in Korea after WWII. The Korean government forbade him from teaching a Japanese art...so, he "modified" (and this is where Matt Stone gets the term bastardized) and applied an old name to it...

During WWII the (South) Korean government recognized the potential cash cow that this art represented when American soldiers were willing to part with some of the meager pay they received every month...THAT is when TaeKwonDo was declared a national art...that is when the government "asked" many of the more ancient arts to come under the umbrella of the TaeKwonDo name...of course, some schools refused (I.E. TangSooDo)...but it is the "borrowed" histories from the older systems that TaeKwonDo now lays claim to as its legitimate history (very few Korean teachers will acknowledge the real history)...BUT, the base forms and techniques of TaeKwonDo are essentially techniques derived from Shotokan Karate (which is actually an Okinawan based martial art).

In fact, General Choi left Korea because he spilled the beans on its actual history...

Does this make TKD illegitimate? NO...unless the lies surrounding its history are taken as fact...Can the practitioners of TKD be proud of the ancient arts represented in TKD...YES, and they should learn more about those arts, if they can find anything on them...The emphasis on kicking in TaeKwonDo is a Korean addition, no doubt about it...and some of the kicks may have been added after the absorption of the other styles....but that does not change its core.

As Matt Stone stated, YiLi practitioners are REQUIRED to learn the histories of many other systems in order to be promoted and to practice in another system to be promoted to senior rank...we do our homework.

:asian:
chufeng
 
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Matt Stone

Matt Stone

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Originally posted by Danny

I find "bastardized" in that sentence a very poor choice of words.[/i]

I did a thesaurus check, and maybe Danny has a point. Perhaps "bastardized" was a bad choice. However, what I intended to imply was that the TKD that was "created" by General Choi was in fact not, but rather that he simply plagarized another art, renamed it, and voila! Tae Kwon Do.

Whether Taekyon and older arts had any influence on TKD is debatable. When I was in Korea, I had the chance to discuss the older arts with some Korean TKD practitioners, and it was their comment that the older arts were completely dead, unknown to anyone, that causes me to have some doubts about the influence they may have had on the development of modern TKD.

Ultimately, I could care less. What I do care about is that people are fully aware of the "truth" that is out there, as opposed to being conned by the frauds propagating myths as fact.

My current favorite is the claim of Oom Yung Doe and the Chung Do Quan folks that they teach "Bagwa" and the "Bagwa Walk," which to the uninitiated would sound a whole lot like the OYD folks teach Baguazhang... I plan on investigating this a bit more later on...

Anyway.

I have thusfar been able to study, in addition to Yiliquan, Shuri-te Ha Karate-do, Aikikai Aikido, Modern Arnis, Pekiti-Tirsia Arnis/Kali and RyuTe Karate. I look forward to continuing my Yiliquan training, my Modern Arnis training, possibly my Pekiti-Tirsia training, and beginning training in Shinto Muso-ryu Jojutsu and Katori Shinto-ryu Iaijutsu. Not trying to "supplement" my mother art, nor to "incorporate" techniques into my arsenal...

I am just doing my homework.

Gambarimasu.

:samurai: :tank: :samurai:
 
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Danny

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However, what I intended to imply was that the TKD that was "created" by General Choi was in fact not, but rather that he simply plagarized another art, renamed it, and voila! Tae Kwon Do.

We seem to agree on the history but interpret it in different ways. True, Taekwon-Do at the start was basically other arts renamed. However I maintain General Choi developed that base to the point were it is in fact a completely new art, and therefore he did create Taekwon-Do. He did not just take techniques from other arts and leave it at that. He further developed them, and added things like sine wave. He developed the 24 patterns, and the encyclopaedia. He dedicated the better part of a century to developing and teaching his art of Taekwon-Do. Even while fighting cancer in the last days of his life he taught at a seminar in Denver that I was very fortunate enough to attend. To me all this adds up to more then just plagiarizing other arts. Oh course thats just IMHO.
 

Cthulhu

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Originally posted by Danny


We seem to agree on the history but interpret it in different ways. True, Taekwon-Do at the start was basically other arts renamed. However I maintain General Choi developed that base to the point were it is in fact a completely new art, and therefore he did create Taekwon-Do. He did not just take techniques from other arts and leave it at that. He further developed them, and added things like sine wave. He developed the 24 patterns, and the encyclopaedia. He dedicated the better part of a century to developing and teaching his art of Taekwon-Do. Even while fighting cancer in the last days of his life he taught at a seminar in Denver that I was very fortunate enough to attend. To me all this adds up to more then just plagiarizing other arts. Oh course thats just IMHO.

I would point out that there are many 'old school' TKD people who practice Shotokan kata under Korean names (pinan, naihanchi, chinte, etc.) in addition to original forms like Koryo. Nowadays, very few TKD schools teach the Okinawan forms, relying on the 'purely' Korean forms. This lends support to the claim that TKD at least borrowed heavily from Okinawan karate.

Cthulhu
 
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chufeng

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Danny,

Truth be known, EVERY art borrowed from someone...and, yes, new systems were developed...

I won't argue that General Choi took TaeKwonDo in a different direction and incorporated HIS own ideas into the training...
I will concede that TaeKwonDo, in its present form, bears little resemblence to the art from which it sprang...and I agree with you that it should be classified separately as its own style.

I simply wanted to point out that the "history" espoused by so many "traditional" TaeKwonDo people is less than accurate.

I salute your willingness to step forward and set the record straight.

:asian:
chufeng
 
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Danny

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I don't disagree. Watching any Karate practioner you can see that the basic movements are very similar. I just think TKD (ITF style at least) has been changed enough from those origins as to qualify as a new art, which the General did develop.
 
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Matt Stone

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Let's turn the pages of history back to 1988...

At that time, all the TKD forms were identical to Shotokan forms with a few exceptions - they were done from much higher stances, the kicks were aimed too high, and the punches were much weaker (viewed from a Shotokan perspective, mind you).

Black Belt magazine ran an article or two "exposing" this similarity to the world... Shortly thereafter, the Kuk Ki Won and all the TKD world organizations began dumping the old forms in favor of the new versions that are taught in schools today.

Why?

Most likely to develop a significant distinction between TKD and other forms of similar martial arts, as well as to further erase the Japanese/Okinawan connection to their "national martial art."

He further developed them, and added things like sine wave. He developed the 24 patterns, and the encyclopaedia.

I don't do TKD, so some of what you mention here eludes me. I have read discussions about this "sine wave" thing, and I would love to know more about it to better educate myself since from what I have read it sounds like what I have been taught not to do while performing techniques - namely, allowing the hips to move up and down while doing forms or combinations. I hope I am incorrect in my understanding of it, but I distinctly remember reading a discussion in another forum where the participants described doing forms and when transitioning from one stance to another stance in sequence while performing multiple techniques, rather than keeping their hips at an even level, they allow their hips to bob up and down throughout the movement.

If you are talking about the forms of TKD when you mention the 24 patterns, I have to go with Cthulu's comment on this supported by my own above - the original forms of TKD were nothing more than renamed Shotokan forms. The modern forms in use in most schools today are less than 20 years old.

Ultimately, I don't care who made the forms, or when they were made. As long as the history is open and the truth is understood, the validity of a martial art will be based on how well it functions, not necessarily how long it has been around. While time is a good way to mark the strength and staying power of a style, it doesn't necessarily mean that art is still growing or developing. And I will never underestimate the power of a good solid sliding side kick when you aren't prepared for it! :asian:

But my entire reason for starting this thread was not to denigrate another art, whatever art that may be, but to instead point the challenging finger at those who teach their wide eyed pupils complete and utter fantasy under the guise of historical fact.

So far we are having a good, polite (thoug admittedly controversial) discussion. Thanks for the input.

Gambarimasu.

:samurai: :tank: :samurai:
 
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chufeng

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Well here I go...

Let the TaeKwonDo folks have their sine wave stuff...it still needs to be proven "over time"...no need to dismiss it out of hand.

I recall, when training with Sifu Arthur Lee, that he showed me a way of developing power that was completely foreign to my way of training...But, as it turns out, the method WORKS...very well for those who understand it.

As you said, we are discussing myth vs reality...

Let's focus on the stories and less on the methodology...

Methodology will prove to be useful, or not, over time...history, on the other hand, will be twisted by those who want legitimacy but have no root.

So, the basis of TaeKwonDo is established and verified...recent historical events probably stem more from the recent introduction of TaeKwonDo into the Olympic games...

Judo, back in the 1960s, was affected by the competitive nature of the Olympics...in fact, that was the first year a non-Japanese won in major competition (Anton Geesink...Holland)...

So, rather than pick apart a system, let's look at the original intent of this post...what is real history, and what is fantasy...

Our system, YiLiQuan, was born in 1982...a new system based on old systems...a lineage that goes back to Shaolin...but with new emphasis on certain principles...is this any different than General Choi's attempt at creating a new art that was solely a Korean art?

As you said, this is a thread not intended to "dis" any specific art...but to dispel myths...so let's get on with it...

:asian:
chufeng
 

arnisador

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See this thread for a discussion o fthe since wave.

I must agree that at this point in time TKD qualifies as its own art, a derivative but not merely a variant of Shotokan.

By the same token I consider Shotokan to be Japanese Karate, not Okinawan. It has been changed enough that despite its origin in Okinawa I do not consider it to be Okinawan.
 
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sweeper

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but would you consider it japanese or okinawan when gen. choi learned it?
 
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sweeper

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chufeng said 1940s I seem to recal 41 or 42 but I'm not 100% sure on that.
 

Cthulhu

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Good point, arnisador! Something I neglected to consider.

If Choi learned Shotokan in the early 40's, I would consider it to be more Japanese by that time.

Cthulhu
 

arnisador

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I guess I don't know then. Perhaps it was still Okinawan then, though I thought he had changed Shotokan pretty early on.
 
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Danny

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According to my Legacy CD he went to study in Japan in 1936 which is when he took up Shotokan. He was imprisoned in 1944 so he stopped his Shotokan training on or before then. And the encyclopedia came out in 1983, so the current patterns were developed before then.
 
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chufeng

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Certainly, the Japanization of Okinawan Karate occurred, as did the variations within Okinawa itself.

In Okinawa, the difference between Naha Te and Shuri Te was Naha Te was practiced in Naha...Shuri te was practiced in Shuri...both arts had the same root....both villages were separated by a foothill...each teacher emphasized a slightly different aspect of the art.

The art that Funakoshi Sensei took to Japan was an Okinawan/Chinese (Fujien Shaolin) art...but, yes, it became its own art over time...

The differences really stem from what the different teachers liked and decided to emphasize within the art...

The Japanese systems that developed from Okinawan Karate emphasized other qualities...

There is so much overlap and cross cultural exchange in the martial arts that it is difficult to say "this art is really this, and that art is really that" ....but, certainly, major differences have occurred over time....TaeKwonDo does NOT look like Okinawan Karate....Okinawan Karate does NOT look like modern day ShaolinQuan...etc...

But still, most arts have a common root...

The Chinese arts are different in that the roots are NOT necessarily found in the Shaolin tradition...(for more information on that, go to Chinese martial arts within Martial talk)...

Anyways, to try and put a specific art in a specific niche is probably wasted effort...the exchange of ideas and techniques has gone on as long as martial arts have been around...and will continue to do so..............................

:asian:
chufeng
 
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Matt Stone

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Originally posted by chufeng

Certainly, the Japanization of Okinawan Karate occurred, as did the variations within Okinawa itself.

In Okinawa, the difference between Naha Te and Shuri Te was Naha Te was practiced in Naha...Shuri te was practiced in Shuri...both arts had the same root....both villages were separated by a foothill...each teacher emphasized a slightly different aspect of the art.

My favorite note of Okinawan karate history is the fact that all the teachers trained with nearly everybody else at some point, and sent their students around to other teachers to learn from them... Interesting concept - try to do that now a days, and folks'll look at you like you just grew an extra eye in the middle of your forehead...

The art that Funakoshi Sensei took to Japan was an Okinawan/Chinese (Fujien Shaolin) art...but, yes, it became its own art over time...

It is interesting to see how different arts with nearly identical origins can be... Shotokan looks absolutely nothing like RyuTe, which looks absolutely nothing like the karate I remember from the old days at Sifu's school (we had folks that would come up and train in our school due to a lack of their own training facility).

The differences really stem from what the different teachers liked and decided to emphasize within the art...

And that is what provides growth potential in martial arts - the stagnation of growth becomes systemized, robotic adherence to the movement for the sake of the movement or it's history, as opposed to the sake of what that movement communicates... The whole "finger and the moon" analogy, y'know?

There is so much overlap and cross cultural exchange in the martial arts that it is difficult to say "this art is really this, and that art is really that" ....but, certainly, major differences have occurred over time....TaeKwonDo does NOT look like Okinawan Karate....Okinawan Karate does NOT look like modern day ShaolinQuan...etc...

And while I have some issues with the methods of some teachers and styles, I wouldn't really want it any other way... As a big city kid, I can't imagine living in a town that had only one or two martial arts schools - the absence of info would kill me!

But still, most arts have a common root...

Well, once upon a time, one bipedal hominid decided that the food/female/flower/whatever that another bipedal hominid had was better/more desirable/cooler looking/whatever than what he had to begin with, so he picked up a rock/stick/fist/whatever and clocked the other bipedal hominid really hard. The one that just got hit, hit back, and so began our love affair with violence... :D

The Chinese arts are different in that the roots are NOT necessarily found in the Shaolin tradition...(for more information on that, go to Chinese martial arts within Martial talk)...

But the cool thing about CMA is the fact that their roots are so incredibly blurry and indistinct, full of legend and allegorical stories, that it provides those interested in sorting out the truth ample study material for years to come!

Anyways, to try and put a specific art in a specific niche is probably wasted effort...the exchange of ideas and techniques has gone on as long as martial arts have been around...and will continue to do so...

Interestingly enough, and maybe this is just in the little Mayberry-esque community I live in, I have noticed that most martial arts folks that train across style boundaries and borders end up looking somewhat similar to each other in time... The kung fu guy that learns Okinawan karate begins to look like the silat guy that trains in shoot fighting, who looks like the jujutsu guy that trains in muay Thai... eventually, a homogenous appearance begins to develop.

That is bad and good... Good because we begin to see the universality of some methods, as well as the common nature of our own physical limitations. Bad because I really don't want to ever be accused of doing Oom Yung Doe... :p

Gambarimasu.

:samurai: :tank: :samurai:
 

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