Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants - Respect in the Martial Arts
The language that we use is important, If I open my own martial arts school, I haven't made a new martial art. I haven't 'created' it. What I've done is use existing techniques from existing martial arts systems and formed a teaching methodology. The manner in which those techniques are taught and applied is what I've brought to the table. That's the part that's new, that's mine. In this way, I've created my own style, or mode of martial arts. Well, sort of.
Style is defined as:
Mode is defined as:
"manner of acting or doing; method; way:"
It bothers me that people out there tout themselves as the creators of a new martial art. I find it disrespectful to their teachers and the system they were taught and practiced. There are no new 'discoveries' to be made, no previously undiscovered techniques. The human body can only move so many ways, there are only so many strikes, kicks, locks etc.
There is a saying dating back to the 12th century and a variation of it used by Isaac Newton. The gist is that if you can see or reach higher or further, it is because you are standing on the shoulders of giants. Not an exact quote, but I hope you get the meaning.
The giants are those that came before us, our teachers, training partners and the founders and teachers of martial arts systems dating back many generations. It is on their shoulders that we all stand.
I'm not suggesting you market yourself as a master or teacher of another person's martial art, or style, but I am saying to give credit where credit is due. Assuming you are in good standing with your previous teachers, I would suggest you at least make it very clear that your teachings are based on, or influenced by, another school or system. Then you can call your style whatever you want.
I guess it all boils down to respect and honouring those that have been kind enough to pass down the gift of martial arts knowledge to you.
Food for thought, I hope.