Exploitation of Eastern Labels and Corrupted Martial Arts
What got me to think of this is when Steve emailed me to ask if it would be ok if he used the Yin/Yang label to title his musical piece. I did not expect this at all. I guess the posts I have made have gotten him and some others to reevaluate the use of the labels that we use in our everyday lives. For him to send an email to ask in that way, I see as a great sign of respect for the Chinese culture and language. But in the same token, am I in a position to give others permission on what labels can and cannot be used? I guess in a way I am because I am trying my hardest to share the beauties of the Chinese culture and way of life or more broadly, the Eastern cultures and way of life.
I know that Steve speaks French very fluently, more fluently than he speaks English, whereas for myself, I know nothing of the language or culture, I would not ever think of using French labels in my language, but if I did, I see him to be someone to have as a source of reference.
I see that some or many of us are so lost in the understanding of where our roots come from. There is no way that we can speak every language available in the world. And some of us may speak multiple languages, but it always boils down to which language is our foundational language? Which is our primary language and which is our secondary language?
By blood, my natural language is Chinese, but by circumstances, my primary language is the English language. I am one of the few who has been truly caught in between 2 cultures. The East and the West. By nature, I understand the ways of the East but due to circumstances, I have been forced to adapt to the ways of the West.
There are certain labels of which I feel comfortable using and expressing. Through study and life experiences, I have gained a greater understanding of certain labels that others have yet to understand or experience themselves. When people freely use labels of which they do not truly understand, that is how miscommunication occurs.
A person who speaks English as their only language and has not done any study or had any experiences with cultures of the East can very easily misuse labels in which to create confusion, misunderstanding, or even willfully exploit certain labels for profit.
For example, an American, rather than saying that he enjoys stretching for fitness, can tell everybody that he practices Yoga, but does he truly understand what Yoga is? An American, rather than saying that he enjoys practicing a light exercise, can tell everybody that he practices Tai Chi, but does he truly understand what Tai Chi is? An American, rather than saying that he enjoys intimacy with his partner, can tell everybody that he practices the Kama Sutra, but does he truly understand what the Kama Sutra is? An American, rather than saying that he enjoys practicing Martial Arts, can tell everybody that he practices Wushu, but does he truly understand what Wushu is?
It just doesn’t really make sense if a person is speaking English every single day to all of a sudden throw in a foreign label to somehow give themselves a certain kind of feeling of prestige or recognition. Rather than saying they practice Martial Arts, they want to say they practice “Karate” “Wushu” “Tai Chi” or “Tae Kwon Do.”
You can speak English the entire day but then when you feel a need to sit down, rather than saying to your friend “I need to sit down.” You end up saying “I need to sit ‘diye’” You’re friend will be like, “what are you talking about?” Then you explain that ‘diye’ means “down” in Chinese. Well what was the use of saying ‘diye’ when you could have very easily said “down?”
I see that a lot of these Eastern labels are being exploited and taken advantage of, used as a way to profit, without giving respect to the cultures of where they have originated from. I see that only a Japanese person can give you the permission to use the word “Karate.” Or a Chinese person to use the word “Wushu” or “Tai Chi”. And a Korean person to use the word “Tae Kwon Do.” If you do not have permission from the person of that culture, then you should use the language of your own culture, the language of which you truly understand, not to borrow labels from other cultures of which you really know nothing about.
But I see a lot of times labels from the East are stolen and exploited for profit. I see a big problem with these big commercial gyms gathering up a bunch of people in a sweaty room to stretch and then just say that everybody is practicing “Yoga” just because they happen to be inside of that room. Then you have thousands of people who know absolutely nothing about the Indian culture claiming that they practice Yoga.
That is like walking on the campus of Purdue University and then all of a sudden telling everybody that you study at Purdue University. You do not study at Purdue University just because you took a step onto their campus.
You have all these white Americans that claim themselves as a “Sensei.” But my question is, where is the Japanese Sensei that gave you permission to use this label “Sensei?” And also, is this Japanese person truly a “Sensei” himself, because if this Japanese person is a false “Sensei”, even if he gave you permission to use the title “Sensei”, then you are false yourself and everybody of whom you certify to be “Sensei’s” are false, because the foundation is false. It is like a fake online University giving away bachelor degrees for profit, all based on a lie. Every certificate that is issued is false.
If you have not received permission from an authentic Japanese “Sensei” to use that title, then you should not be using that title, you should use your own title, may it be “Mr.” “Instructor”, or even “Master.” I see that to be the only right way to do it.
In America, you can’t just go around telling people you are a Professor, when you are not really a Professor, that label is protected by law. You can’t just around telling people you are a Doctor, Dentist, Lawyer, when you are not properly certified, that label is protected by law. You can’t just go around telling people you are a Police Officer, that label is protected by law.
But people want the label of Professor without putting in the work to earn that title. So what they do, is they want to steal titles from the East and use them for profit purposes, so you will see thousands of Americans who are claiming themselves as “Sensei’s.” I disagree with all of this. Labels and titles from the East should not be exploited for profit. I see this as wrong. If there is a real Japanese person who claims himself to be a “Sensei,” then I see this to be the right way to use this title. It is like a real college Professor from Harvard, he really is a Professor at Harvard, no lying, no deceit.
Finding a real Japanese person in America is already hard, to find a real Japanese “Sensei” is even harder. Finding a real Indian person in America is already hard, to find a real Indian Yoga Master is even harder. Why is it that in all the Yoga places in America, almost none of them have Indian teachers, when Yoga originated from India? So many Yoga studios in America are controlled by non Indians. Why is it that in so many Karate schools in America, almost none of them are run by Japanese teachers, when Karate originated in Japan? So many Karate places in America are controlled by non Japanese persons.
It’s like stepping into a Chinatown in Chicago where all the business owners and workers are all people who are non-Chinese. How the heck can this be considered a Chinatown when there are no Chinese people around? That is how I feel about the Martial Arts, it is all being controlled and dictated by non-Asians. When the Martial Arts belongs to the Asians, not the Caucasians, but the Asians. The Caucasians need to learn from the Asians when it comes to the Martial Arts, not the other way around.
But Americans think they can master something in 1 year when it really should take over 20 years of study and experience. They want to study for 1 year and then start making money right away. They want to start making money right away by promoting a lie. “Turn me into a Sensei in one year and I will promise you that your business with succeed!” Once you turn this non Asian American into a “Sensei,” now he wants to turn all his buddies and friends into Sensei’s as well in not just 1 year but now in 6 months! Now before you know it, everybody thinks they are Sensei’s, or Masters of the Martial Arts. All of this is a based on a lie; all of it is an extreme exploitation of the Martial Arts. Other than the Police Departments, there is probably nothing more corrupted in America than the so-called “Martial Arts” industry.