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Local Martial Arts Humour

June 10, 2013

Besides Bujinkan Taijutsu, I have a fascination with Chinese martial arts too. Associating with people from the local scene has always been educational. Recently, for example, I heard of a few jokers who have single-handedly managed to offend almost everyone in the Chinese martial arts scene.

They call themselves Articient and they claim is that they are doing the REAL Wing Chun, a scientific, natural and effective art. ALL the other Wing Chun groups and practitioners in Singapore have got it wrong. And that is why the others cannot get Wing Chun to work.

*shrug*

Not being a Wing Chun practitioner myself, I won’t go into whatever is wrong with the “Wing Chun” they display on videos. I am not at all qualified to do that. What pisses me off, however, is the arrogance they display against other Wing Chun groups. They refuse to speak of their lineage (because they have none to speak of, their teacher probably disowned them a long time ago)and they have no accreditation. They try to dismiss that by saying lineage is not important and no other group would accredit them as the other groups are following commercialized training materials.

I almost choked when I saw them put that up on their webpage. With that they are implying that no one else amongst the Singaporean practitioners is interested in whether REAL practical applications, or they were too lousy to recognize martial truth even if it chain-punched them in the face. The implication is that other Wing Chun teachers and groups only want to make money, and will teach their students crap because of that? Sorry, I find that hard to believe.

And that claim is even more ironic is when you see what kind of prices Articient is charging for their products. $35-50 for a few pages of notes, $100-200 for training videos of 3-5 mins duration. And they took also mentioned that their videos will be in the style of their usual lessons. Odds are, that will mean the videos will look like they are shot at a HDB void deck from a simple camera. Maybe they need to charge that kind of prices to raise money for the scientific tests they keep promising to release?

Teaching Authority

When it comes to teaching a martial art, there are 3 sources of teaching authority.

1) Certification by an organisation. That is MY source of teaching authority. I am a yondan in the Bujinkan, and that means that by the standards of that organization (for what that is worth) I am authorised to teach, subject to the rules and decisions of that organization.

2) Lineage – being taught by a recognized teacher, who was in turn taught by another recognized teacher, and so on until you trace it back to the founder of that art or martial style. Chinese martial arts do things this way, so when you open your own school you have to be able to recite your lineage (who is your teacher, his/her teacher and the teacher before that). And this recognition MUST extend both ways. The teacher must be willing to acknowledge you as his student/disciple before you can use the name of that teacher as your authority to teach. This is things are done in traditional Chinese martial arts, Brazilian Jiujitsu and how I foresee things will be in the Bujinkan in another 10-20 years down the road.

3) Recognized personal skills – My good friend Benjamin Liu would be this sort. He has done a number of martial arts and has put in serious time and effort into them. I can see that in his movement. In terms of official rank he is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu (which is just a basic teaching rank within that art) but he is honest about his rank and he teaches well. I recognize his skill (as a teacher and practitioner) and will be more than happy to pay him money to teach me, or even do a class for my students some day. That is how much I believe in him.

As for these Articient guys, there is no governing organization that certifies them. No teacher recognizes them as his or her students. And they have refused to meet up with angry Wing Chun practitioners who want to spar with them and test their claims to have REAL skill. So in effect, these people have no authority to teach Wing Chun.

In the scheme of things I expect this whole thing to fizzle out. After some time even the gullible will catch on to how lame these guys are, and that will be the end of it. But the whole thing has made me think through my responsibility as a Bujinkan instructor.

Because my teaching authority is derived from the organization, I am obligated to not bite the hand that feeds me, as well as make sure that my students and I display skill that reflects the Bujinkan accurately. It is not for me to create my own funky chicken dance and call it Bujinkan, or even worse teach that to my students as the REAL art.

I don’t want Hatsumi Soke face-palming himself when he sees me or my students move!

There is a wide range of movement that can be considered acceptable Bujinkan movement, but there comes a point when it is just wrong. You can know for certain only if you train in Japan with the senior teachers regularly, or if you are training under someone who makes regular trips for such training. And that is especially important for me, because I will experiment and innovate, not in techniques but in teaching method. I don’t want to call myself a Bujinkan instructor but go off track in what I teach my students.

So Karl, my senior, is the one I listen to. He makes regular trips to Japan for training. Since I am not 5th dan yet, he is the one who answers to the Honbu Dojo regarding my teaching and my training. On my part that means I have make time to attend the training he conducts and learn what I can from him. Tough, given my schedule, but I owe it to the organization and to my students to do so.

Putting it simply, in my martial arts journey, I make sure there are people who have the right to tell me if they think I am going wrong. The Articient guys don’t.

Or even if they do they will not give such teachers proper credit. On one of their blog posts they accused a former teacher of expelling one of them because of jealousy or low self-esteem. I am not saying that all teachers are always in the right, but being so keen to make the former teacher look bad reflects very badly on their character. No teacher in his or her right mind will ever want to teach such people. If they can diss that teacher so openly, what will they do to their other teachers later?

OK, this rant has gone on long enough. Whatever happens in the Singapore Wing Chun community is amusing thanks to those guys, but I need to get back to my own training. See you at class!

 

 

Junjie
俊傑 (Shunketsu)
Singapore

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