dwai

Is internal Kungfu knowledge deliberately hidden?

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One western internal kungfu teacher claims, and I’ve heard/seen many claim that traditional senior masters have deliberately hidden  the secrets of internal martial arts from western/modern students for reasons such as —

  • xenophobia (or borderline version of it thereof) 
  • Greed (lead you on so you pay more money) 
  • Testing the sincerity of the student

and the list goes on and on.

 

My experience has been the opposite. The “secret” is not a secret at all. Just that we as modern people have a tendency to overcomplicate things, expecting complexity and looking for it every where.  My teachers have all given me the straight scoop, but initially I couldn’t believe that things are as simple as they have described. Instead of looking for physics, biology, anatomy, etc etc in the internal arts, if students simply listen to what the teachers say, the knowledge is directly and experientially available.

 

what do you all think?

 

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21 minutes ago, dwai said:

One western internal kungfu teacher claims, and I’ve heard/seen many claim that traditional senior masters have deliberately hidden  the secrets of internal martial arts from western/modern students for reasons such as —

  • xenophobia (or borderline version of it thereof) 
  • Greed (lead you on so you pay more money) 
  • Testing the sincerity of the student

and the list goes on and on.

 

My experience has been the opposite. The “secret” is not a secret at all. Just that we as modern people have a tendency to overcomplicate things, expecting complexity and looking for it every where.  My teachers have all given me the straight scoop, but initially I couldn’t believe that things are as simple as they have described. Instead of looking for physics, biology, anatomy, etc etc in the internal arts, if students simply listen to what the teachers say, the knowledge is directly and experientially available.

 

what do you all think?

 

 

I agree, but coming to this conclusion for me was kind of like learning that Santa Claus wasn't real when I was a kid.

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23 minutes ago, dwai said:

My experience has been the opposite. The “secret” is not a secret at all. Just that we as modern people have a tendency to overcomplicate things, expecting complexity and looking for it every where.  My teachers have all given me the straight scoop, but initially I couldn’t believe that things are as simple as they have described.

Only a few years in, but this has been my experience as well.

 

Maybe the argument of teachers hiding information came from a misunderstanding:

 

If you want a student to develop, you'll only divulge information that's useful at their current level.  This could be perceived as 'holding back' information when the intention is totally genuine.

 

If there are deeply hidden secrets, I certainly haven't uncovered any!  And I'm lucky enough to also have teachers who (as far as I can tell!) give it to me straight. 

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I think MMA did a lot to peel away the mythos and bs of supposed "deep stuff" and showed the mechanics of fighting are rather straight forward.

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I have experienced what Wilhem mentioned....teachers "holding back" knowledge because it is not appropriate for the students current level....does more harm than good to share sometimes.  Most often though....you can find the root of many secrets in the basics....just takes a tremendous time/effort to uncover.....which the overwhelming majority of people are not willing to do. 

 

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5 hours ago, dwai said:

 

  • xenophobia (or borderline version of it thereof) 

 

I used to have a picture of one teacher from a branch of the method I practice, a teacher active in North America. 

He was surrounded by his six advanced students, one caucasian and five obviously descended from southeast asia. 

As I understood it, it didn't reflect the student body at large. 

It used to annoy me, and then I let it go. 😁 

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4 hours ago, RiverSnake said:

I have experienced what Wilhem mentioned....teachers "holding back" knowledge because it is not appropriate for the students current level....does more harm than good to share sometimes.  

 

 

Most often though....you can find the root of many secrets in the basics....just takes a tremendous time/effort to uncover.....which the overwhelming majority of people are not willing to do. 

 

The second part is what I was taught, and my limited experience has not done anything to disprove it.

 

The first part I disagree with.  What good would it do me now to know where I'll be in 5 years if I continue as I'm currently developing?  Wouldn't it become natural for me to practice as if I'm already at that stage?  It kind of assumes the possibility of 'jumping levels', which I've never seen work in these arts.

 

@dmattwads 

Sorry for '@'ing you, I hadn't learned how to quote two people in one post until now.

 

You said:

 

"I think MMA did a lot to peel away the mythos and bs of supposed "deep stuff" and showed the mechanics of fighting are rather straight forward."

 

That seems to assume the goal of classical Chinese martial arts is fighting, doesn't it?  I would argue that this isn't the case.

Edited by Wilhelm
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8 hours ago, dmattwads said:

I think MMA did a lot to peel away the mythos and bs of supposed "deep stuff" and showed the mechanics of fighting are rather straight forward.

Thanks to mma scammers have it a little more difficult to sell their "magic secret techniques" from some hidden chinese mountain. But there are always deluded people eager to fall in whatever big promise

Edited by Toni
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Depends on the teacher :)

 

Many teachers are very secretive.

 

Many teachers purposely give incorrect info just to have an upper hand.

 

These things are common in Asia - these people are generally best to steer clear of...

 

2 hours ago, Wilhelm said:

"I think MMA did a lot to peel away the mythos and bs of supposed "deep stuff" and showed the mechanics of fighting are rather straight forward."

 

That seems to assume the goal of classical Chinese martial arts is fighting, doesn't it?  I would argue that this isn't the case.

 

Precisely. Seeing these arts as just a means to beat people up is a seriously misunderstood point of view. If you take the logic of wanting to win fights a step further you could just get yourself a spear (or a gun for the american bums) and the overcomplicated 'BS' of MMA will be solved immediately.

 

8 hours ago, dwai said:

Just that we as modern people have a tendency to overcomplicate things, expecting complexity and looking for it every where.

 

I completely disagree with that in general. I'm glad a surgeon sees complexity when he looks at me - and not just a dude with two arms and two legs...

 

8 hours ago, dwai said:

My teachers have all given me the straight scoop, but initially I couldn’t believe that things are as simple as they have described.

 

(just to be the devils advocate - how would you know if you got the full scoop?)

 

What happens is people look outside of the instructions to 'boost', 'accelerate' 'improve upon' whatever they've been taught.

 

This in my opinion isn't a tendency of looking for complexity - it's more just a case of a scattered mind and trying to find a shortcut (which in essence is a case of looking for simplicity)...

 

The reality is that the methods and techniques are that way because they're the most efficient way to develop the skill required.

 

What's needed is continued, dedicated effort put in. Not 20 minutes twice a week - and then 3 months later 'this doesn't work'...

 

For modern people it's easier and far more fun to 'shop' for improvements and upgrades instead of to put in the effort and delve into a simple instruction and find the nuance, depth and complexity within it and effectiveness within it.

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1 hour ago, freeform said:

Depends on the teacher :)

 

Many teachers are very secretive.

 

Many teachers purposely give incorrect info just to have an upper hand.

 

These things are common in Asia - these people are generally best to steer clear of...

usually one can spot a scamster after being bitten once or twice :) 

1 hour ago, freeform said:

 

 

Precisely. Seeing these arts as just a means to beat people up is a seriously misunderstood point of view. If you take the logic of wanting to win fights a step further you could just get yourself a spear (or a gun for the american bums) and the overcomplicated 'BS' of MMA will be solved immediately.

yes traditional Martial arts is not just for fighting, but to cultivate something far more significant. 

1 hour ago, freeform said:

 

 

I completely disagree with that in general. I'm glad a surgeon sees complexity when he looks at me - and not just a dude with two arms and two legs...

is it really as complex as you suggest? Once your ailment is identified, 8 times out of 10, the solution is simple and direct. One just needs to have the right knowledge :) 

 

I’m a software engineer by profession, and many would say that writing software is a really complex thing. But even in that, once you know the rules, it is really very simple. And with experience we can do away with more and more complexity, and progressively simple and elegant options arise for what a novice would consider a complex problem. 

1 hour ago, freeform said:

(just to be the devils advocate - how would you know if you got the full scoop?)


What happens is people look outside of the instructions to 'boost', 'accelerate' 'improve upon' whatever they've been taught.

I know the full scoop is there because I can do what they told me I can do, by doing what they say. There is an internal knowledge that arises when the correct teachings are provided, which is really simple...even those teachings that are provided via parables etc (more esoteric stuff).
As an example, In the case of my teacher, I know many who get frustrated (and have left him for what they think as greener pastures) because he doesn’t use flowery language and high falutin’ jargon — whatever he says, he means it without any poetic license or sophistry. It is the same way with his teacher too. 
 

Long ago, a bunch of indignant students pressed his teacher to ask why they can’t get as good as either the grandmaster or my own teacher. To that, the answer was — “he (my teacher) really listens to and follows what I say. The rest of you have your own ideas about what I mean..he practices diligently and is able to do what I show” (paraphrasing what I heard).

 

One day, my teacher pulled me aside during a visit to his home and said that myself and another brother are the only ones who seem to get what he’s teaching us. Why I wondered? And asked around. Everyone tries to find hidden secrets while the truth is directly being revealed. 

1 hour ago, freeform said:

This in my opinion isn't a tendency of looking for complexity - it's more just a case of a scattered mind and trying to find a shortcut (which in essence is a case of looking for simplicity)...

That too is a possibility. Good point :) 

1 hour ago, freeform said:

 

The reality is that the methods and techniques are that way because they're the most efficient way to develop the skill required.

 

What's needed is continued, dedicated effort put in. Not 20 minutes twice a week - and then 3 months later 'this doesn't work'...

Absolutely. Consistent work and a dedicated practice partner to experiment with. 

1 hour ago, freeform said:

 

For modern people it's easier and far more fun to 'shop' for improvements and upgrades instead of to put in the effort and delve into a simple instruction and find the nuance, depth and complexity within it and effectiveness within it.

That’s a valid point. But I still think that the tendency is to overcomplicate things. 

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10 hours ago, dmattwads said:

I think MMA did a lot to peel away the mythos and bs of supposed "deep stuff" and showed the mechanics of fighting are rather straight forward.

I actually think that MMA has a lot to learn from traditional martial arts. Most of what we see in the “MMA versus this or that” genre is with low level TMA folks. Just because there are no “secrets” per se, doesn’t eliminate the deep stuff.
 

The IMA use different principles to be functional, stuff that is counterintuitive to the way the EMA work. Maybe that is another reason why students are overcomplicating things in their mind. Instead of developing the ability to feel and sink Qi, develop Jin and use it, they try to see biomechanics and trickery where there is none. 

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5 minutes ago, dwai said:

I actually think that MMA has a lot to learn from traditional martial arts. Most of what we see in the “MMA versus this or that” genre is with low level TMA folks. 

I agree with the second sentence and want to check your meaning on the first.

 

Did you mean that the primary disciplines of MMA are missing aspects of self cultivation?  

 

In which case I'd agree, though I think their purpose of pure 'sport/rule-based' combat is already being expressed efficiently.

 

Or did you mean that internal martial arts could improve the fighting ability of MMA fighters?

 

While I wouldn't discount the possibility, it seems to me that by the time an internal martial artist develops enough skill in the classical principles to compete against MMA fighters, they're usually too old to do so (just because it takes so much work to get there)

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13 minutes ago, Wilhelm said:

I agree with the second sentence and want to check your meaning on the first.

 

Did you mean that the primary disciplines of MMA are missing aspects of self cultivation?  

That’s part of it. 

13 minutes ago, Wilhelm said:

In which case I'd agree, though I think their purpose of pure 'sport/rule-based' combat is already being expressed efficiently.

 

Or did you mean that internal martial arts could improve the fighting ability of MMA fighters?

 

While I wouldn't discount the possibility, it seems to me that by the time an internal martial artist develops enough skill in the classical principles to compete against MMA fighters, they're usually too old to do so (just because it takes so much work to get there)

I think so, especially since there are more and more people who consider MMA to be a viable self defense practice. 

I think collaborations between TMA/IMA and MMA worlds such as these would be very productive. 

Spoiler

 

 

 

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I had a feeling there would be something to be said about my assessment of MMA compared to TMA, but I do think TMA has its uses especially for developing the person like Mr. Miyagi. The average MMA fighter might be better at fighting, but I am pretty sure I'd rather hang out with the TMA person.

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1 hour ago, dwai said:

I actually think that MMA has a lot to learn from traditional martial arts.

If you go in to forums where mma people hang, many seems to have traditional martial arts background, and left... 

1 hour ago, dwai said:

Most of what we see in the “MMA versus this or that” genre is with low level TMA folks. 

And with low level mma fighters as well. 

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7 minutes ago, Cleansox said:

If you go in to forums where mma people hang, many seems to have traditional martial arts background, and left... 

I believe that, but I wouldn't use that fact to imply overall superiority of one approach versus another - because their goals don't overlap.

 

If I were looking to become an efficient fighter quickly for self defence or combat I'd choose some variant of a popular MMA style.

 

We spoke above about why people would be drawn to IMAs.  And dmattwads alluded to a good point:

12 hours ago, dmattwads said:

I think MMA did a lot to peel away the mythos and bs of supposed "deep stuff" and showed the mechanics of fighting are rather straight forward.

A lot of external-based traditional martial arts proved to be inefficient in the early UFCs, so most of the styles lost popularity.  Some of these guys on the forums might have started with karate or something similar that was more prevalent in the early days of UFC (Tai Bo?  :D), found a more efficient system and left.

 

Keep in mind that I'm discussing external-based TMAs vs modern MMA on a pure combat basis.  If someone's goal was self-development, I'd argue that a combative mindset would be counterproductive.

 

14 minutes ago, Cleansox said:

And with low level mma fighters as well. 

Yeah, my style vs your style is fun to rewatch in the early UFC days, but pretty cringeworthy now and doesn't tend to draw the best sort of people.

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Just now, Wilhelm said:

Keep in mind that I'm discussing external-based TMAs vs modern MMA on a pure combat basis.  If someone's goal was self-development, I'd argue that a combative mindset would be counterproductive.

 

strongly agree

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17 minutes ago, Wilhelm said:

A lot of external-based traditional martial arts proved to be inefficient in the early UFCs, so most of the styles lost popularity.  Some of these guys on the forums might have started with karate or something similar that was more prevalent in the early days of UFC (Tai Bo?  :D), found a more efficient system and left.

The UFC was started to promote BJJ and/by the Gracie family. It’s true that the western martial artists of that time were unused to fighting on the ground. That’s why fighters like Dan Severn or the Gracies kept winning.


I’ve known many street tough guys to train in traditional karate and they’d fight on the streets (win and also carry scars from those encounters).  

 

Similarly, my teacher, his teacher and several of his fellow students (from the seventies) were formidable taiji fighters — many a challenger (from various styles of MA) would come to fight them (sometimes ambush them) and go back in ambulances. 

But fighting is not the main point of TMA (as many of you have indicated) — it is to cultivate the martial spirit — Wu de/ Budo. IMA goals can be even deeper — with the goal being spiritual cultivation. 

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28 minutes ago, Wilhelm said:

 

If someone's goal was self-development, I'd argue that a combative mindset would be counterproductive.

Yes, and if one has a goal of self-development through the daoist arts, IMA is a useful tool. 

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I started learning martial arts for two reasons: I wanted to learn more about using internal energy, and I wanted to learn how to protect myself without using weapons or magic. After starting in Traditional Wing Chun, the first three or so years were completely physical only. Sifu would actively deny that chi was more than breathing, and would purposefully steer us to only focus on learning how to fight and defend ourselves efficiently. I kept with it, as I've had to use self-defense stuff we'd been taught already, and knew that it worked well. Eventually, Sifu invited me to a neigong seminar, which is when he started acknowledging the more internal aspects of our system. Now, as I've done a bit more research, I see TWC as an interesting combination of a health-boosting qigong system and a pragmatic combat martial art. Yes, there are internal aspects. Yes, there are external aspects. Some things are kept from lower level practitioners due to their current development level (which includes your mental state!), and some things are truly as simple as they say. If you were to look through my posts on this forum, I think it would be pretty easy to see that I'm fairly new to this rodeo still, so I've clearly not learned all there is in the art I actively practice; but I still learn things from every class I take, and I practice outside of class often to help reinforce the things I learn.

 

As for MMA, I think it is important to remember the meaning of "MMA". "Mixed Martial Arts" is what it stands for. It's supposed to be a melting pot of various systems, and I think that's a beautiful thing, but if you start learning MMA without having a foundation in a single martial art, you won't get very far. The thing that sets professional fighters apart is their sheer athleticism, as well as their consistency, rather than their technique (though, oftentimes, their technique is still quite decent!). I recall a retired professional wrestler coming into class one day, and showing us his "warmup" routine. None of the advanced students could even get halfway through it! It was quite simple too, as he went from a squat to a bridge to a handstand and back to a squat (like a flip, almost), but the entire movement took him around five minutes to complete one rep. He took a simple exercise and did it extremely slow, which made it extremely challenging. 

 

Sifu has always told us "An amateur will learn a technique until he can do it right, but a professional will learn a technique until he can do it right at any time, at all times, no matter the situation."

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Our greatest enemy is ourselves and to gain skill to defeat a lazy, unfit body, preconceived thought and develop our higher self takes a great amount of effort and determination.

 

Great martial skill is a by product of defeating our greatest enemy that is not part of other to be concord. The ambition of defeating others is a grave mistake. Great skill turns the enemy into your disciple and also turn their lives around.

 

3 years of hard work and good character is a min. to receive the beginning of the great teaching. A great teacher will constantly test you and make you want to give up after that its smooth sailing." Difficulty in the beginning"

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3 hours ago, Paradoxal said:

I started learning martial arts for two reasons: I wanted to learn more about using internal energy, and I wanted to learn how to protect myself without using weapons or magic.


That's the problem with MA, especially IMA. People only touch the surface of what these arts are capable of...especially Ba Gua.

 

And they remain in that state for most of their lives.

 
Personally if I were to teach I'd select only specific students who are ready to go deep, very deep...to the SPIRIT level. :)

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