Thursday, March 15, 2012
When I first began studying Shito-Ryu, my instructor had made passing mention that when I began to teach (my own) students, that I should always refrain from telling them everything, I should keep something in reserve for myself.
I would hope, that this comes across as being as freaking paranoid to everyone else, as it did to me. I understood his intention (at the time), but I still didn't agree with it. If anything, it prompted me to do the opposite! I attempt to show my student's everything that I know (as soon as their able to understand it anyway, LOL).
I have to presume that he had constant concerns over his student's “challenging” him? (who knows). He taught in Kansas City at a time when Martial Arts was a big business (early-mid “70's”). It was common for competing schools to (physically) Beat an instructor out-of-business.
Somehow the whole idea that a student, would be able (or would even want) to challenge their instructor just seems, ...childish? To me, it sounds (more) like the instructor had some really poor judgment skills when accepting students, and frankly, Who wins that argument? If the instructor wins a confrontation (as you would presume them to), so what? (they defeated a student, LOL). Their judgment in students is now in question. If the student wins, does that imply that the teacher must Really be good? Or that the instructor sucks? (uh, but he taught the student?). In any event, not something I concern myself with.
The (only recent) revival in the study/research of kata, has placed the spotlight upon the fact that many (if not most) systems don't really know what their kata motions represent. Could this (in fact) be a result of this withholding information attitude?
The idea that withholding knowledge should even be considered, is (to myself) an idea that guarantees a martial art system to become terminal. With that sort of mentality, there's no other option for the system. Given only a dozen generations of student's, the system would have numerous “gaps” in it's instruction (hmm...sound familiar?).
Not to be confusing, but not withholding information, doesn't mean that a student is told everything (all at once). That would actually prove to be a counter-productive gesture. Too much detail/information (very) often will only be seen (by the student) as being confusing.
In hind-site, I believe my Shito-Ryu instructor was lacking (in many regards, LOL) in his instructional knowledge. When I began my study with Taika, I would ask numerous questions. He answered a great many of them until (I believe) he got sick of hearing me, LOL, and told me to study the kata (to find my own answers).
When I would believe that I had discovered some tid-bit of knowledge, I would present it to Taika, who would either confirm it or turn and shake his head in disgust while walking away from me (yes, that happened a LOT, LOL).
I was watching the “I am Bruce Lee” movie recently, and I was listening to these various people comment about him, and the things that he said and did. Some I agreed with (a lot I didn't), but the majority of what he (Mr. Lee) attempted to do, was erase the self-imposed barrier's between systems/styles (he was fervently against “styles”).
When I first began my training with Taika, one thing he always emphasized, was that all systems were the same. He preferred that you had studied an Okinawan or Japanese (same thing) style when you started with him (less changes to be made in what/how you did things).
In Taika's viewpoint, it didn't matter what system you studied. You were a human being. Your body could only move in a specific manor. Regardless of what system you trained in, you still could only move in that manner. Your bodies weaknesses were the same as anybody else.
In many ways, what Taika taught, was exactly what Bruce Lee was always talking about. I've also been present when Taika was asked about Bruce Lee. Taika kind of shrugged his shoulder's and said “he was an actor, I see nothing special”. I have also seen Taika perform (his own version of?) the 1” punch, and explain how it's done (he used to do it regularly at seminars, LOL).
Of the multitudes of people that I have watched come and go from Taika's tutelage, the trait that has proven most successful, is that of patients. Taika has never been one to get in a hurry (with much of anything, LOL). His claim, is that we (westerner's) are too slow to pick-up on what he is trying to convey to us.
From my own exposure (to him), I would have to (reluctantly) agree. Every single time that he has revealed some earth-changing parcel of information, his claim has been that he has always done it that way (but we never picked up on it). There's always those who wish to claim that it's just not so, that he has just kept it secret, that he doesn't want anyone else to figure it out.........Bullshit.
I have copies of Video shot in the mid-late 70's (and yes, I've specifically looked), he DID always do those things, and NO we just didn't pick-up on it. Taika doesn't restrict information from what he's teaching, he just doesn't shove it up your ass (like you'd like him to) in order for you to understand it.
I truly believe that Taika does some of it on purpose to weed-out a number of the dingle-berry's that aren't quite up to snuff! (which was proven by the exodus of the last group of thieves who were purged). He's been forced (by those individual's actions) to empty the association of those whom don't wish to learn what (and how) he has chosen to convey his knowledge unto his student's.
Taika teaches by example, this is a concept that is only moderately understood today. The practitioner's of today, are too involved with obtaining their next “Dan-Rank” so they can rename themselves SUPREME ROOSTER VACUME/SWALLOWER (or something).
Westerner's have (once again, sigh...) proven that they are Lazy. We want it all handed to us (on a silver plate, with a side of wine). When I tell my own students, to work on something for a week, you'd of thought I just proclaimed a life-sentence upon them, LOL.
The really sad part (IMO), is that it isn't that Taika makes anybody do anything (too outrageous) out of the ordinary. Very often, simple observation, and consideration of the presented situation/problem can lead one to the answer that they seek (then on to the next conundrum, LOL).