Loyalty in Martial Arts
The Martial Arts comes from the East. The foundational teachings of Buddha, Tao, and Zen is what makes Martial Arts. The spiritual teachings of the East is what turns something basic like self-defense training into Martial Arts. In the West, Martial Arts does not exist within the commercial industry. The west only knows about sport, but not Art. Anybody who lives in America can only claim Martial Arts when they are grounded in the Martial Arts teachings of the East.
A Chinese-American can claim the Chinese Martial Arts such as Tai Chi, Gung Fu, Wushu, because that is where is foundational roots come from. A Japanese-American can claim the Japanese Martial Arts such as Karate, Judo, and Aikido, because that is where his foundational roots come from. A Korean-American can claim the Korean Martial Arts such as Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido because that is where his foundational roots come from. A Chinese American who promotes the Chinese Martial Arts is essentially promoting his own culture through the Martial Arts.
It makes no sense for a Chinese-American to claim the Korean Martial Arts and represent Korea over his own Chinese heritage. It is a like a Chinese-American who can speak Korean fluently but yet he cannot speak Chinese at all. It does not make sense; he is not grounded in his roots. Many Chinese-Americans can be so Americanized that they only know how to speak English and they cannot speak Chinese at all. This is common because if they are Chinese-American, and they are American born, then their language has adapted to their environment and surroundings.
It would make sense for a Chinese-Korean to possibly promote the Korean Martial Arts. His roots could have originated in China but he was born and raised in Korea. While assimilating to his environment, there is a likelihood that he would promote the Korean culture. This to me is understandable.
Where your roots come from will dictate which culture you wish to promote. But an American who has no roots in the East, has no loyalty towards any culture. One week he can promote the Chinese Martial Arts, another week he can promote the Japanese Martial Arts, and the week after he can promote the Korean Martial Arts. Because his blood is not grounded in any Eastern culture, he is easily susceptible of being disloyal towards any Martial Art “style” he wishes to represent. He can just be guided by profit, rather than being grounded in his being. He is more likely to exploit the Martial Arts for profit, rather than being a representation of a specific culture and its Ways.
When you come from the East, you cannot deny your roots. The Martial Arts is in your blood, it is in your heritage. But when you are a Caucasian American, you have no roots in the Martial Arts. You must study the ways of the East to gain that knowledge. But simply studying the ways of the East does not create any sort of loyalty towards any specific way. You may begin to feel that you study all ways, that you are a “Jack of All Trades.” But that provides no stability in your teachings; you will forever be a student that is constantly learning, never having mastered anything in order to be truly qualified in teaching.
You cannot enter into college with the intension of majoring in every course of study imaginable and then expect to graduate in which to teach everything. If someone is going to claim “no style” and that they teach “all styles” then you would have to go under the broad category of “Martial Arts” and that you are an instructor of the Martial Arts, you have your own personal expression to teach that is not grounded upon any specific culture or way.
But if you plan to approach it from this direction then you should not be claiming titles and labels from the East in which to exploit the reputation of those labels when you have not earned the right to use those labels rightfully or at least be grounded in the culture of which the labels have derived from by being a part of your blood family history. So if you are to claim your own expression of the Martial Arts then you should not be using labels such as Kung Fu, Karate, or Tae Kwon Do, unless those labels are grounded in the roots of where you come from.
Essentially “Wushu” is the same meaning as “Martial Arts”. If you are an American, it would be right to say that you teach the Martial Arts, but it would not be right to say you teach Wushu, when you have no grounding in the Chinese culture. As next week you can easily also claim that you also teach Karate, and Tae Kwon Do, and Tai Chi. You end up being loyal to no specific culture and its ways, you end up not truly promoting any culture and its ways, you end up just promoting yourself, to make profit off of the labels and ways of the East of which you do not even understand or may not even have respect towards.
If you claim yourself to be a “human being” that you are free from all races, that you have no race, ok that makes sense, that is understandable. But don’t claim the Chinese Martial Arts, the Japanese Martial Arts, the Korean Martial Arts, and so on and so forth, when you have absolutely no grounding in any of the cultures and its ways. Don’t believe that you are a Master of “Jeet Kune Do” because you have seen one of Bruce Lee’s films. Don’t believe that you have achieved a Ph.D out of a certain university simply because you have seen a TV commercial of that University.
How many residencies can you possibly claim? You cannot claim that you are a citizen of America, Russia, China, Japan, Canada, Korea, Africa, France, etc. all at the same time. If you wish to claim yourself as a human being that is free from all citizenship, ok that is fine, but either way, the law, will still impose it’s rules upon you and label you as a human being that is a citizen to a certain country. You may not believe in countries, citizenship, and social security numbers. But regardless of what you believe, you will be born into a certain country and you will be issued a social security number.
If you are born in America, it is not proper to tell people that you were born in China. If you wish to say that you were not born in America, but you were born into this world, ok, I understand that. But if you end up choosing one country to represent and acknowledge as your birthplace, then you should be specific and honest with where your roots are. You might be a Japanese-American and you have your Martial Art roots from Japan but you do not wish to claim these roots because you are ashamed of the history. You might wish to just say that you practice the Martial Arts as a whole and that is what you teach.
But if you are going to choose a country and label to represent, then it should be the Japanese ways and culture because that is where you were grounded in. You may not be happy with its history, but that does not mean you cannot create your own personal expression that is a better representation of the Martial Arts of which you envision. Just as the founder of Aikido had done. He did not just promote Karate and it’s ways, he created his own way with his own Japanese label, he didn’t choose a Chinese label, he chose a Japanese label.
If you are born with a Chinese history in your blood, that cannot be denied, it is factual, you can deny it, but the truth remains, there comes a forced loyalty to your roots. But when it comes to a Caucasian American, he has no roots to any country to the East, he chooses what type of Martial Art style he wishes to claim as if he is choosing which book or movie he wishes to watch, he has no intrinsic loyalty. His loyalty and preference towards any Martial Art style can change at any time.
One year he is a Tae Kwon Do Master, another year he is a Tai Chi Master, the year after he is a Aikido Master. He is not grounded in any Martial Art; everything that he claims to represent is false. It is a like a person who watches 30 commercials for 30 different college Universities and then because he watched these 30 commercials, now he thinks he can claim to the public that he has graduated from 30 different college Universities, but the fact of the matter is that he has not even graduated from one of the Universities.
Somebody can claim 30 different styles but has not mastered any of them. It is like somebody who boasts that he practices 30 different sports but yet he is not proficient in even one of these sports. Another thing is that Martial Arts is not just a sport, Martial Art comes with a history, culture, philosophy, and way of living. It is all encompassing. You cannot just learn any Martial Art at anytime; you need to have special access to that specialized training. Not anybody can study to be a lawyer or doctor, that knowledge is restricted from publicly shared knowledge, that knowledge and information is controlled and regulated to be taught in privately controlled settings.
The Chinese Martial Arts come from the Chinese. It is a different way. It is a different language, different techniques, different philosophy, different way of seeing the world. Just as here in America, we speak English, in China they speak Chinese. In America we practice combat for entertainment, in China their techniques are for survival. In America, most people practice Christianity, in China people are guided by the teachings of Buddha. In America, we teach to have a strong ego, in China they teach to be strong in Meditation.
Not every Chinese person knows about the Chinese ways, some Chinese people have become so Americanized that they are no longer Chinese. But it goes back to where your roots are. If a Chinese American has become Americanized, he is denying his Chinese roots; this can be seen before your eyes. It is a self-denial, but you cannot deny the roots. Just like your blood type. If you are born with Type A blood, you can deny this and say that you are Type B and not type A, but no matter how hard you try to deny, the truth still remains, you are Type A.
A Chinese American can believe he is American, but his roots are from China. You can believe you are American, you can deny your roots come from China, but the reality is that your roots, your blood, come from China. If you are Chinese, the Chinese Martial Arts is in you, waiting to be expressed through your body. If you are Japanese, the Japanese Martial Arts is in you, waiting to be expressed. Now if you wish to deny yourself of being Chinese and you wish to deny yourself of being Japanese, ok then you can be a self-expressive real human being. But even in doing so, you will still have to use some sort of language to express your way, and if you choose the English language, that means you have chosen one over another, you have chosen the English language over the Chinese language as your form of expression.
You have still not chosen silence, which is beyond all language; you have chosen one over another. Although you may claim that you practice the Martial Arts in its entirety, you are still grounded in the roots of which you cannot deny. And as I stated, all Martial Art Ways are grounded from the East. There is no such thing as Martial Arts in the West. The only way Martial Arts can exist in the West is if you bring that experience over to the West from the East. It is like a Mercedes Benz that is made in Germany and then imported to America. There are no Mercedes Benz that are made in America, the Mercedes Benz are made in Germany and imported from Germany to America.
Any person of any race can watch a Chinese Martial Arts movie that has been imported from China to America. Now just because this person has watched this movie, it does not give him the total experience of what it means to be a real Martial Artist from the East. Watching a movie from China is one thing but actually meeting a Chinese person that is grounded in his culture and ways and learning from this person directly is another thing. A Chinese person makes a Chinese movie from China. Meeting a Chinese person and learning directly from this Chinese person is a direct transmission of the wisdom from the East.
In America, it is not too often that you will encounter a real Chinese person, a real Japanese person, a real Filipino person, a real Korean person. These people from the countries of the East have a beautiful culture, tradition, wisdom, and way of life to share. A Filipino person can potentially teach you the Filipino expression of the Martial Arts, just as how a Chinese person can teach you the beauty of cooking Chinese cuisines.
A Caucasian American has no solid foundation in any of these cultures and ways. A Caucasian American is simply a consumer of the Eastern Arts and Ways. He is not rooted in any of these Eastern Ways, he is simply a consumer. The ways of just one country is already so vast that it will take a lifetime of learning, you can never master all the ways of the country of where you originate. Yes it is important to learn from many countries and many people, but still you are rooted in your own country. You will learn from other countries and other people to benefit your own country. You can be caught between two countries but you are still rooted in one over the other.
You can only live in one country at a time. You can travel the world your entire life, you can visit a different country every week of the year, but you will never be able to truly learn from any one country and gain the real experiences of that country and its ways if you are always traveling. If anything you will know deeply about the ways of the airport and how to go from one place to another, you may become deeply affiliated with the hotels and tourist locations of each country, but you will never deeply know any country when you are so busy moving from one place to the next.
Living in a country for 33 years is not the same as reading a few books or watching a few movies about the country of which you wish to live. Direct experience is not the same as multimedia. Practicing the Martial Arts yourself for over 20 years every single day is not the same as watching hundreds of Martial Art movies throughout the course of 20 years. Certain things exist in the East that do not exist in the West. And Martial Arts is one of them. You can only learn the real Martial Arts from somebody that is grounded in the East.
A Chinese American cannot deny his own race and culture, doing so is a disrespect to himself, it is an embarrassment. A Chinese American who claims himself to be Japanese when he has no Japanese roots, is a disrespect to himself and his family. It is a sign of great ignorance. If a Chinese American wishes to deny the Chinese within him, then he should also certainly deny the Japanese as well, because the Japanese is not within him at all. If a Chinese American wishes to only claim America, because he is American born, then that is his decision, but he certainly should not claim that he is Japanese when he has absolutely no roots to Japan, he is outright lying, he is deceiving himself and the public around him.
But when it comes to a Caucasian American who wishes to practice the Martial Arts, he has no roots in any country. He does not understand that you cannot claim the Martial Arts of other countries as if it is just like a sport, like football, basketball, tennis, or ping-pong. Martial Arts is not sport, Martial Arts is a unique individual expression, and when this unique individual expression becomes widely practiced, it can become a style, and when it becomes so widely practiced that it becomes a style, it can then even start to represent the way of an entire country. You cannot just claim yourself to be a practitioner of a certain Martial Art of which you really know nothing about, or in an even worse case scenario, claiming yourself to be a teacher of a Martial Art of which you clearly have been given no permission to do.
In big name prestigious college Universities, you can only obtain the degree if you go and study at the physical location of the University. Online degrees are not available. A very famous restaurant that serves great food, you have to go to the actual restaurant to experience the food, visiting their website and looking at the menu is not sufficient.
Martial Arts is a direct experience. Similar to enlightenment, it happens from within you, it cannot be mass-produced and consumed like a product. Millions can watch a great Artist but to become a great Artist is a different story. It is easy to sell products to consumers but it is not easy to assist the consumer to develop into a fully expressive creative human being. Authentic Martial Arts can only be expressed by an authentic human being.