I think Neijia Boxer makes some good, valid points. But I also don't doubt Mr Fish's sincerity in writing his post on Jinengong, so that leaves me somewhere in the middle.
I don't really have an axe to grind, I just like reading this thread and have got some interesting information out of it.
I have to admit to not buying into his idea that there is a common set of exercises called "Jibengong" that are universally known to an older generation of martial arts practitioners and not being passed on. China being vast and martial arts springing from various unconnected lineages, I don't see how such a statement can be made. Sure there will be some crossover, but the idea of a unified and 'known' system like this I find a bit incredulous.
I'm trying to think of recognised masters of the arts:
Did Dai Long Bang of XinYi and Gou Yun Shen of XingYi fame know the same "Jibengong" as Ku Yu Chang of Northern Shaolin fame? Did they have the same set of exercises as Tam Sam of Choy Lee Fut? Did they have the same set as Dong HaiChuan of Bagua? As Yang Cheng Fu of Yang style Tai Chi?
This idea just doesn't logically make sense. But that's not to say that these exercises aren't everything Mr Fish says they are - I'm sure they are. I'm sure they give you an amazing conditioning of the body - they sound gruelling, and I'm sure they'd improve whatever else you were doing.
Personally I was trained/am trained by two very traditional martial arts teachers, (both of whom are the dreaded "Westerners trained by Chiense"!), but who are both the 'real deal' without doubt. (Perhaps the best proof that they are real traditional teachers is that money has never been part of the equation with either of them, just a desire to pass on their knowledge and skill freely to those that took it seriously enough to train it hard). Neither of them uses the word "Jibengong", and neither of them have asked me to stand with my leg parallel to the ground and raise and lower it two inches. Does that mean that their kung fu is not real? Hell no. It's as real as it gets. Anybody I've seen who has met them has realised it instantly - you just have to get a touch or be on the end of something and you can feel it (normally it involves pain and realising you're looking up at the sky
). Did they ask me to do lots of other very difficult stuff? Yes.
Do I feel I cannot practice my arts by following my teacher's instructions and without knowing Mr Fish's exercises? Hell yes.
Anyway, interesting discussion.
P.S. Duck walking - Sifu used to make my teacher do Duck Walking as part of his Tai Chi warm up - it was a traditional warm up/conditioning exercises ('Jibengong' I guess...) he hated it and thought it was very bad for his knees. He stopped doing it as soon as he was able to without his teacher objecting too much, and hasn't regretted it and never done it since. He doesn't make me do it - some things get dropped for a reason
None of you understand. I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me.