Take a Favorite Student, Pt II

I was reflecting on this subject, and how I came to be a martial arts teacher, and how my children have no choice but to train (including my younger siblings). I realized that a lifelong Martial Arts teacher will make his children “favorite students”.

Besides love, knowledge of family history, and religion, what can we bequeath to our children, but a skill or trade we learned in our lifetime? How many times have you seen the child of a great singer and expected that kid to be a chip off the old block? Or a great athlete’s child? Or a scholar?  We actually expect the children of great men and women to learn from their parents–whether by genetics or by osmosis–and to excel as they had been around their parents and their parents’ craft all their lives. This is not an absurd idea:  parents who love their children and love their children will want to share their gifts with them.

For the martial arts Master, this is a subject closer to home. We have no control over our students’ lives, but we certainly have control over our children’s lives. If ever we were to develop the perfect martial arts fighter, what better guinea pig to do this with but our own children? I am not talking about Wu Bin-style cruelty that does not fit in the western idea of martial arts training, but is guaranteed to produce only the best martial artists in the world… but then again, I am.  In my own upbringing, I was not allowed to date, join school sports, or run the streets and instead only had the martial arts and boxing to occupy my time. By the time I was in high school, I was old enough to cut school and communicate with kids who thought my family was wierd, but I chose to continue on the path I was raised on. There were definitely struggles, but in the end my mother was right on the money, and I am glad she and my grandparents stayed on me to stick with my martial arts.

You will find that the offspring of great men and women who live up to their parents’ greatness and onlookers’ expectations lived this same life.

At the same time, I have seen the children of great martial artists who couldn’t hold their father’s jock straps. I have also seen feuds where the son was nowhere around when Dad was training his students, and now that Dad is dead and gone, the son resurfaces to call himself the “New Grandmaster”, by birthright. WRONG. You see, birthright is bestowed upon birth, but your place must still be earned. You cannot expect others to respect you just because you share facial features and the same last name. You must pay your dues when you are young, and work your way up through the ranks like everyone else did. Even when you are in a system that passes father to son, as a son, you must earn your stripes among your father’s generals when you are young. And when it’s your turn to take the reins, they will be behind you 100%.

As the Master, you must make sure your children AND your students understand this. I would hope that if I died tomorrow, my students will continue the training I am giving my children and make sure they walk in my footsteps. I believe by genetics my kids will excel in the martial arts and remain in this life. But I want them to earn their knowledge as I did. Your generals must be humble enough to handle this and see it through. Your kids must have the name, the respect and the skills to stand alone as you have when you are gone.

Just some thoughts. Thank you for visiting my blog.

PS

Just remembered something. As teachers, we must get our children out into the community so that they will know people and so that people will know them. This includes fighting in tournaments and accompanying you to events. They must be with you in the classroom when you are teaching, and when they are old enough, teach as well. As children, they must train every day, and you must ensure that they become better than you were (as you should for all of your students). This is how you raise children in the martial arts.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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The “Myth” of the “SUPER Technique”

Martial artists kill me. They remind me of the story of the Fox and the Grapes. Have I ever told you that story? I learned it as a boy:

There was once a fox who came across a gravevine full of delicious-looking grapes. “I sure would like to have some of those grapes,” the fox thought to himself.

He jumped to reach the lowest-hanging grapes, and no matter how high he jumped, the grapes escaped his reach.

After jumping, and jumping, and jumping, and failing… the fox was exhausted.

So he walked away, saying to himself, “who wants those grapes anyway? They are probably sour…”

 

So, when a martial arts teacher (like me) speaks of secrets and “super” techniques, those with low self esteem and questions about his or her own knowledge will rush to debunk the existence of these things as myths.

  • There are no secrets in the martial arts
  • The secret to skill in the martial arts is practice
  • If you have any secrets in your art, they aren’t worth anything
  • Keep them, I wouldn’t want to learn them

But let some popular martial artist talk of secrets, then people will acknowledge or lend credibility to them, rather than argue. Hopefully Master so-in-so will have these great-sounding techniques available on DVD, right?

I am not going to get into my definitions of martial arts “Secrets” again. I’ve done it thousands of times, and I would like for you to do a little research of my posts and articles and find it. Hopefully you will discover many useful bits of advice and information in my writings.  But I’d like to describe what is called the “super technique”.

THE SUPER TECHNIQUE

When people talk of martial arts secrets, what comes to mind is some technique that will enable the fighter to whip all comers once he learns this technique. Not true. While it may be true that a super technique is often held close to the heart, the two are not the same. The Super technique is a technique that is well-thought through and designed to be a counterless fighting technique, often a counter to an attack. It is not just a hit or kick, but a combination that is designed to counter any possible counters to it. This is not easy to create, but they’re out there. And those teachers who know them did not just pick them up in passing. Often they are the last of a system learned, a teacher’s most valuable techniques or favored techniques. These are essentially trade secrets, and treated as so. But learning them is not enough. A teacher who teaches it will demand thousands and thousands of repetitions of practice. I have encountered some Masters who held such techniques and befriended them, ultimately learning a few. I can tell you, after experiencing such a technique, you develop a sense of awe and respect for them and trust me… you will treat them with the same amount of secrecy yourself.

One of the characteristics of such a technique–although not in all of them–is the amount of damage that can be inflicted upon an opponent with it. There are some techniques that really “too deadly/damaging” to use in sparring or demonstration. Yes, it is a joke in the martial arts, but there are many techniques that cannot be simulated. These are the techniques that you will practice in the air and on targets, and use only when the time calls for it. With this kind of technique, most who know them will not even demonstrate them to prove they exist and you will absorb ridicule for doing so. If you are a teacher of the art, a very small number of your students will ever get to learn them. This is the knowledge that is earned by a student’s dedication and loyalty.

If this post seemed pretty vague, then good. That’s what it was meant to be. Thank you for visiting my blog!