The almighty founder of your system

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

The almighty founder of your system

Postby C.J.W. on Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:27 pm

In the world of TCMA, we often read and hear stories about the exploits of the founders of the systems we practice, which often lead to one common conclusion -- no one in the subsequent generations has ever been able to duplicate, let alone surpass, the skill levels of those almighty and seemingly superhuman great-grand maestros that came before us.

Veracity of the stories aside, this phenomenon does beg the question of why is it that -- even in a popular system with tens of thousands of practitioners worldwide -- not a single individual has been able to come close to what the system's founder achieved. While many might say that it's due to the relative lack of effort in training on our part, I believe it's more than just that.

The main reason, in my opinion, is that we are practicing SOMEONE ELSE'S art as opposed to OURS.

Therefore, to truly excel in TCMA, one should innovate as opposed to simply copy and imitate in an ancestor-worship manner.

Just my two cents.
Last edited by C.J.W. on Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The almighty founder of your system

Postby windwalker on Sun Nov 26, 2017 7:13 pm

C.J.W. wrote:
The main reason, in my opinion, is that we are practicing SOMEONE ELSE'S art as opposed to OURS.

Therefore, to truly excel in TCMA, one should innovate as opposed to simply copy and imitate in an ancestor-worship manner.

Just my two cents.


totally agree, which is why with those I work with I no longer call what I do taiji.
“Tsang-Lu” 蒼 鷺 a name I use to describe my work now, for those I work with.

As to the founders, I have met some who've made me see and feel what the stories of the founders did was real and plausible
just not needed in today's time. With much of the baggage still surrounding the knowledge base of the past it may take
awhile for one sifting through what they seek to find the the hidden gold.
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Re: The almighty founder of your system

Postby Trick on Sun Nov 26, 2017 9:45 pm

In ancient times the air was fresh the water was clean the food was healthy, compared with today men where super humans back then :)..... I believe that most of those stories of masters of the past where written by non trained martial artists based on non trained in martial arts eyewitness stories, and I believe the writers where we'll versed in poetry so the stories became more "colorful". But as Windwalker writes, I too have met some practitioner that displayed some skill that was "special", but those skills could most probably be explained by someone versed in physiology and psychology.
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Re: The almighty founder of your system

Postby chenyaolong on Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:05 am

I think us humans have a tendency to venerate people of the past. I think the skill of each generation has probably got progressively better up until around the modern era when people dont need MA for survival anymore.
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Re: The almighty founder of your system

Postby windwalker on Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:32 am

chenyaolong wrote:I think us humans have a tendency to venerate people of the past. I think the skill of each generation has probably got progressively better up until around the modern era when people dont need MA for survival anymore.



As you know tradition plays a large part associated with the culture.

A question that one might ask themselves
are the past traditions still relevant in today's age.
For my own answer I found no and had to make some changes
freeing myself from it, and yet also following many of the past traditions
of the founders for the systems people practice today.

I would say that the skill sets are different and take advantage of todays tech.
If anyone gets a chance to work with SF types in the military one would see and understand
skill sets put to use in real time were life and death issues are involved.

I do find it interesting in that European MA seems to be looked quite differently
then the arts that most practice here originating from Asia. They are recognized as past
practices practiced in the past for the past...

One can argue that Taijiquan was originally created as a fighting art - and only a fighting art - and work to restore it to its former glory and its one true focus. To do so, ignores that for the vast majority of practitioners, in modern times, in a modern world, that simply isn't what Taijiquan is about. But, that doesn't prevent anyone from pursuing it for whatever are his or her personal goals, be they martial or something else.
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=26592&start=15


Seems to echo some of thoughts here, very much does echo my own.
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Re: The almighty founder of your system

Postby Ian C. Kuzushi on Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:37 am

chenyaolong wrote:I think us humans have a tendency to venerate people of the past. I think the skill of each generation has probably got progressively better up until around the modern era when people dont need MA for survival anymore.


Absolutely. This has been pointed out throughout history. In some of my own work on the dangers of an imagined past, I quoted the opening to this passage from the Discourses of Livy:

Men ever praise the olden time, and find fault with the present, though often without reason. They are such partisans of the past that they extol not only the times which they know only by the accounts left of them by historians, but, having grown old, they also laud all they remember to have seen in their youth. Their opinion is generally erroneous in that respect, and I think the reasons which cause this illusion are various. The first I believe to be the fact that we never know the whole truth about the past, and very frequently writers conceal such events as would reflect disgrace upon their century, whilst they magnify and amplify those that lend lustre to it. The majority of authors obey the fortune of conquerors to that degree that, by way of rendering their victories more glorious, they exaggerate not only the valiant deeds of the victor, but also of the vanquished; so that future generations of the countries of both will have cause to wonder at those men and times, and are obliged to praise and admire them to the utmost. Another reason is that men’s hatreds generally spring from fear or envy. Now, these two powerful reasons of hatred do not exist for us with regard to the past, which can no longer inspire either apprehension or envy. But it is very different with the affairs of the present, in which we ourselves are either actors or spectators, and of which we have a complete knowledge, nothing being concealed from us; and knowing the good together with many other things that are displeasing to us, we are forced to conclude that the present is inferior to the past, though in reality it may be much more worthy of glory and fame. I do not speak of matters pertaining to the arts, which shine by their intrinsic merits, which time can neither add to nor diminish; but I speak of such things as pertain to the actions and manners of men, of which we do not possess such manifest evidence.
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Re: The almighty founder of your system

Postby chenyaolong on Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:43 am

Because of Confucian values, you would never have somebody claim they outdid their teacher. However, as the art develops over the years, can it not be infered that each generation got better than the last?

The reason I say "up until the modern era" is that who uses CMA and for what purpose has changed a lot. A hundred years ago or so, many CMA practitioners worked as armed escort agents, bodyguards for important people, or were in some other way affiliated with the military. However, due to various reasons, CMA shifted its focus.

So I dont believe the founder of a style would be as good as a practitioner from, say late Qing-early KMT, but I do believe people from that time were probably better than the majority around today.
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Re: The almighty founder of your system

Postby windwalker on Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:57 am

"Because of Confucian values, you would never have somebody claim they outdid their teacher. However, as the art develops over the years, can it not be inferred that each generation got better than the last?"


Understand and agree, but also point out that much of what people do today is one of preservation of past practices, because they'er past practices.
In many cases they have yet to be proven to be better practices depending on usage.

In some cases they've lost the functionality due to lack of testing by practitioners
looking for what ever they find through or in their practices.

I think the most one can do is look at the context of the practice and the what and why some skill sets
are developed and how they'er tested...reality check...

I do agree with the preservation and respect of traditions
but also caution those that I work with to really understand what the practice is about.
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Re: The almighty founder of your system

Postby Strange on Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:12 am

hur hur
my understanding is that the 2 meridians, Ren and Du, is opened or close makes a big difference
天官指星 单对月 风摆荷叶 影成双

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Re: The almighty founder of your system

Postby oragami_itto on Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:20 am

chenyaolong wrote:Because of Confucian values, you would never have somebody claim they outdid their teacher. However, as the art develops over the years, can it not be infered that each generation got better than the last?

The reason I say "up until the modern era" is that who uses CMA and for what purpose has changed a lot. A hundred years ago or so, many CMA practitioners worked as armed escort agents, bodyguards for important people, or were in some other way affiliated with the military. However, due to various reasons, CMA shifted its focus.

So I dont believe the founder of a style would be as good as a practitioner from, say late Qing-early KMT, but I do believe people from that time were probably better than the majority around today.


The master I try to emulate is it liang.

He believed we should take what is good, leave what is bad, make our own expression. Changes that keep with the principles are innovation. The student should surpass the teacher.

"Green comes from blue." "If you rely too much on teachers best not to have teachers, if you rely too much on books better to not read books"
"This principle is very obvious and requires no further elaboration."
-Yang Cheng Fu
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Re: The almighty founder of your system

Postby C.J.W. on Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:16 am

I used style founders for the sake of discussion, but the same line of reasoning also extends to any famous masters of the past from many CMA styles. The point I was trying to get across is that there appears to be a tendency for CMA practitioners -- at least the ones I've come across over the years -- to cling on to tradition too much and to the point where it becomes a preoccupation, even an obsession.

They are the sort who like to ramble on and on about how they are training in the most "old-school" way that has remained unchanged for generations, and worry about whether their fingers are an inch lower in a posture compared to the still black-and-white photo of some dead grandmaster performing the same move. I've also heard stories where senior students were ostracized or shunned by his peers or teachers because they'd modified (and in many cases improved) their arts and weren't doing things EXACTLY the same way as they'd been taught.

If you think about this, it's actually quite ironic for some to be so insistent on preserving tradition -- considering how all great CMA masters and founders of yore were actually the ones who had the foresight to modify, synthesize, and create something new based on the materials they had learned elsewhere.
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Re: The almighty founder of your system

Postby everything on Tue Nov 28, 2017 7:57 am

Usually if you do a sport-based art, it's easier to test to see if something can work for you in some way under those sport pressure conditions, and how some small modification helps. In a non-pressure art, it's a little more difficult and unfortunately can be too theoretical. :-/
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Re: The almighty founder of your system

Postby middleway on Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:37 am

used style founders for the sake of discussion, but the same line of reasoning also extends to any famous masters of the past from many CMA styles. The point I was trying to get across is that there appears to be a tendency for CMA practitioners -- at least the ones I've come across over the years -- to cling on to tradition too much and to the point where it becomes a preoccupation, even an obsession.

They are the sort who like to ramble on and on about how they are training in the most "old-school" way that has remained unchanged for generations, and worry about whether their fingers are an inch lower in a posture compared to the still black-and-white photo of some dead grandmaster performing the same move. I've also heard stories where senior students were ostracized or shunned by his peers or teachers because they'd modified (and in many cases improved) their arts and weren't doing things EXACTLY the same way as they'd been taught.

If you think about this, it's actually quite ironic for some to be so insistent on preserving tradition -- considering how all great CMA masters and founders of yore were actually the ones who had the foresight to modify, synthesize, and create something new based on the materials they had learned elsewhere.


Very well said!

Couple of my opinions ref this topic.

1) The older the martial art, and the closer to that old style it remains - the less effective it is today.
2) Modern fighters would whipe the floor with the many of the big name founders ... and it wouldnt even be close. Throw Guo Yun Shen or Yang Lu Chan in the ring with a prime time Crocop ... I honestly dont believe they would stand a chance.
3) These two opinions dont diminish my enjoyment of practicing traditional martial arts.

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Re: The almighty founder of your system

Postby Bao on Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:41 am

Every CMA teacher seems to have done things differently than the teachers before him or her. A style or a system of TCMA is not as solid as people would like to believe. There's no general rules of how styles or lineages should be presented or taught. Everyone adds things and takes away other things. As long as the fundamental principles remain intact and are clear.y understood, it doesn't matter how they are presented.
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Re: The almighty founder of your system

Postby Bao on Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:45 am

middleway wrote: . Throw Guo Yun Shen or Yang Lu Chan in the ring with a prime time Crocop ... I honestly dont believe they would stand a chance..


Why do everyone believe that a modern rule-set is the ultimate proof of fighting skills? :-\

You need to put them outside of the ring without any kind of rule-set. That would be much more interestinfg and much more fair. ;)
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