The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Style Wars

Before getting to the point of this post, I'd like to point out to all of those taking part in the 2009 Lenten Challenge, that there is only 1 week to go! If you've been with us since the beginning, the finish line is in sight. If you've been on the fence about joining us, or have fallen off the wagon and haven't rejoined, how about one week dedicated to practicing every day? Please join us. We'd be happy to have you.

Next, my younget daughter bought a MacBook for school this fall, and will be buying the student version of Microsoft Office (Mac) for it. My older daughter is starting grad school and is thinking of buying a MacBook as well. She's wondering if there are compatibility issues between using Office on the Mac and Office on a PC. Will she have trouble giving other people files that she's created on a MacBook? If anyone is familiar with the two version, please let me know.

Ok. Over a Wu Source there is an interesting blog entry by GrahamB entitled "Your Shit is Fake." It's about the unnecessary and often endless style wars that takes place in the study of martial arts (among other things). It's a good read. Please pay a visit. I've excerpted a bit below.

Your shit is fake

To badly misquote Tim Cartmell in Neijia Quan, Jess O'Brien's book of interviews with internal martial arts teachers, "People are just about ready to kill each other over styles. It’s ridiculous. There's no such thing as styles, there are only practitioners."

(I don't have the book with me, so if you know the exact quote then please post it in the comments section and I'll get it updated).

It's a very good point. A lot of the stupid Internet flame wars on forums are because somebody used the name of a style to describe a video or something, and that causes offense to other practitioners of that style who don't recognise what's in the video as being an "authentic" or "orthodox" presentation of their style. The weight isn't 50/50 between the legs like it should be, or their back heel is up when it should be down, they have the wrong "Shen Fai", they lean when they should be upright, etc.... You know the sort of thing. They're all essentially different versions of, "You're not doing it like my teacher does it, and I know he's right because he does it like a picture I have of Master XYZ doing it in a book published in 1934, which means I'm right and your shit is fake".

Largely it’s pathetic. Totally pathetic. In fact the phrase "your shit is fake" has become something of a martial arts forum joke because of it. People use it ironically now all the time. But still these sorts of arguments happen so often it’s worth looking at closely.

You see it across all styles. Practitioners of Japanese Daito-ryu are as equally likely to engage in this kind of bitching as practitioners of Chinese XingYi Quan. In fact, it's not limited to martial arts. You see the same thing in large, organised religions. The splits in the Christian church are variations of "Your shit is fake and only I, and my followers, have the true faith". People who fly planes into buildings for religious reasons also believe your shit is fake, and they're prepared to die for it. In fact, as soon as you "believe" in anything there must be a counter position that you now think is false. But this is taking this post off into other realms. Let's get back to martial arts.


walt said...

I've been working at my stuff for several decades. Never have I gotten even close to mastering it. Given that fact -- which is glaringly obvious -- there is just no time worry about what others are doing.

But folks fall into bickering. "I know and you don't know" is a common sentiment, no matter what field is being discussed.

Thanks for the link!

Rick said...

There's a great line from the movie, Miracle:

You work on your own game. Plenty there to keep you busy.

ms_lili said...

Sounds like "your shit is fake" needs to be submitted to the Urban Dictionary (if it isn't already there!)

When the tai chi wheel spins, it all becomes a blur....