And A Proper Practice

Grand Master Nam Anh, 2014

Proper practice requires an essential condition : that it be supervised by a master who’s competence is attested to by a diploma earned from a recognised lineage.  Following the Kung Fu tradition, a master’s training ends with a Ceremony of Coming Down the Mountain at the end of which the young master is given a sword of command and a diploma granting the power and the mission to teach and propagate his art. However, among those who call themselves masters and who have usurped the right to teach, few have had the chance, and above all, the tenacity required to end their training fair and square. Indeed, the Path in Kung Fu demands, right from the start, a remarkable courage, perseverance and loyalty, which few practitioners can maintain for long. Some are vanquished by their own weakness; others give up for dubious motives. A large majority falls somewhere along their training, having been tempted by power, money or vice. They reject their traditional teachings, renounce their master and betray the Path. The sprouting of their schools goes against the code of honour, raises serious moral dilemmas within society and sets the Masters frowning as they watch fungus and weeds creep up in their beautiful garden after the rain. As their professional incompetence stems from a gross lack of knowledge in philosophy and techniques, their teachings can only be wobbly, whimsical and misleading, thus tarnishing the beautiful science of martial arts.

Many an allegedly traditional school of Kung Fu actually displays the Yin Yang upside down, others take pride in their «masters» sporting scatterbrained titles pushing the limits of sanity. Some may hide their belt under the uniform out of pure whim, thus displaying their ignorance of how the belt may be worn by legitimate masters of the lineage ! Indeed, in the world of martial arts, the belt represents a given level of competence or merit, a position in the hierarchy of the School.

This distinction is similar to what one sees in the army, where soldiers or officers are forbidden to wear their stripes or medals hidden inside their uniform.

The recent apparition of Super-Masters and Great-Grand Masters in the USA has raised the spectre of idiocy and sent the world of martial arts into disarray. Would it be acceptable for an Occidental MD to prescribe medications he doesn’t understand ? Would we grant the title «Professor» to a student barely out of high school ? Can you imagine a nurse practicing brain surgery ?

Our science possesses and demands the same requirements as any other. To bolster this argument, I would propose that all practitioners of the Wing Chun branches ask of their instructor this elementary and fundamental question : What constitutes proper practice ? How may one ascertain that a given practice is valid and pertinent ? In other words, how can a practitioner benefit from an optimal energetic output while taking in all the social, philosophical and scientific dimensions that make up the richness of our Art ?

On this note, I shall leave you free to choose your Path, while reiterating that this was written out of a professional conscience and sense of responsibility that has haunted me since the spring last, when young leaves yellowed prematurely and fell under the weight of their bad Karma.

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