Importance of History and Lineage

Tim's Discussion Board: Ba Gua Zhang : Importance of History and Lineage
   By History Buff (Unregistered Guest) on Thursday, March 31, 2005 - 10:15 am: Edit Post

What do you guys think of this article?

Does the History Matter?

The question is one that is often asked. The answer is; it depends on who you are and what you want.

A history buff: If you are a history buff then perhaps practice and training
is less important to you than feeling as if you have some imagined connection
(lineage) to the distant past. You may content yourself with thinking you know
what happened and often say things like, Those who do not study history are
doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

History buffs like the archaeologists are rummaging around as Lao Zi told Confucius in the moldering bones of the ancestors. It is a fascinating hobby. If this is your thing then yes, history is important. However there is one saying that I gravitate towards in dealing with history. History is written by the conquerors. This is true not only of the past but of the present as well. Everyone puts their spin on writing down or passing down their version of the truth. Those who have the power of the press or today the internet write their own histories and versions of the truth. Donít believe me. Go to a used book shop and find history books from thirty years ago and compare them to those written today. Look at how the stories have changed. Look in America at how black history, American Indian history and other cultures was completely ignored and see how that has changed. The information was always there it was just printed the way the authors wanted to depict their version of history.

The fact is, and get this clearly please. You and I cannot know the truth! We
cannot know the truth unless we were present at the time and observed the
event taking place. Even then and even if we had a video camera to record it we
may interpret what we saw through the eyes of our experience which will color
out retelling of it to others. So history is not truth it is just one persons
version of an event that may or may not have actually occurred. Yes, some
history is made up, the farther back one goes in time the more likely that fact and fantasy are intertwined.

The soldier or SWAT team member does not question how old or historical a
tactic is. He evaluates it by how well it can protect him when he is attacked. He
asks only, will this work, can I do it and will it save my life in battle.
Ancient tactics can work, but they may also not be passed down clearly and be
only half correct. If you want to see examples of this look what has happened to
Baguazhang in the tournament arena. Now it is presented as if walking the
circle is all there is to training. Memorizing endless circle walking routines
with wide sliding steps is the only way to do Baguazhang. What rubbish! There is
a place for such theatrics but some people believe that these lame watered
down demonstration forms are going to teach them how to fight.

Some think that if they can claim a lineage to Dong Hai-Chuan this makes
their art a guaranteed success. I say there is no substitute for hard work and
personal experience. Being ancient may be fine for a historian but I would much
rather go into a battle with opponents armed with auto pistols and rifles with
my own modern weapons than a bow and arrow. This is true not just of martial
tactics but of the practice of health arts and Qigong as well.

Today there is a glut of information on Qigong most of which is pure bunk. A
large portion of it is written by modern authors all claiming some lineage to
ancient Daoist practices. Few if any of these so called lineage holders can
even name the important sects of Daoist practice, have never researched the
writings in English and Chinese by respected scholastic historians writings which
are them selves more historically accurate but still are but pale shadows
under the moon of reality. Instead they put forth their half baked theories
after having read the confusing hodge podge of drivel, history mixed with myth
from Chinese dime store novels, blended with modern Chinese communist medical propaganda written by so called qigong or martial historians.

Looking and reading what others have done can be helpful. However one should
take it with a grain of salt. As my teacher said, When attacked, do not wave
flag with my name. This means that it wonít do you any good to spout your
lineage when the fists and feet are flying. If you canít use the method, you canít
use the method, no matter how much history you can recite.

There is an illness in the Neijia arts I call the Lineage cancer. It is
comprised of being infected with the erroneous belief that being associated with
some ancient heritage will in some way guarantee success and skill in the
internal martial arts.

I leave you with this thought
Author Unknown

In Life You Get What You Pay For
Whatever you want in life,
You must give up something to get it.
The greater the value, the greater the sacrifice required.
Everything has a price.

There's a price to pay if you want to make things better,
A price to pay for just leaving things they way they are.

Nothing worthwhile comes easily.
Work, continuous work and hard work,
is the only way to accomplish results that last.
You'll find there is no success at bargain basement prices.‚ÄĚ

Indeed this is the very definition of Gong Fu and this is why I think it is
fine to know your roots but not to be trapped by them. It is more important to
train in a method that supplies what it promises than spending endless hours
talking history or doing exercises that promise but never bring results. The
Jiulong system brings results and only those that understand the real meaning of
Gong Fu through first hand experience will truly understand this!

John P. Painter

   By stan (Unregistered Guest) on Thursday, March 31, 2005 - 01:37 pm: Edit Post

welcome to the world.

association with a big name does somewhat guarantee success so that is why it is done. spiritualism materialism as long as you get paid.
go wushu go....

   By Richard Shepard on Thursday, March 31, 2005 - 05:21 pm: Edit Post

I kind of like the article. I think it would be too dismissive to ignore completely the history of the art and the lineage of your teacher, but it is certainly not as important as some people make it out to be.

Though I do practice qigong, I readily admit that I don't know that much about it and only stick to the basics. I know Kumar Frantzis is not the most popular guy in this forum, but I think his book "Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body" is a really good introduction to sensible qigong and neigong.

   By Rich on Thursday, March 31, 2005 - 06:19 pm: Edit Post

I have always felt that lineage is not important. I have seen many people that are lineage holders, they do their demo, and wow... they are not much better than me sometimes.

So I either stink or I am a superb martial artist.

   By Observer (Unregistered Guest) on Friday, April 01, 2005 - 03:57 am: Edit Post

Wow, an interesting rebuttal of the importance of lineage by a man who has spent years promoting a lineage he just made up.

   By Qui chu ji (Unregistered Guest) on Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - 06:11 am: Edit Post

I think it is an important message and people should take note and train hard in their arts. However like a lot of articles writen by american authors on MA practice. technique is emphisised, strategy is promoted. A SWAT guy is taught what can be done by joe bloggs and usually involves external aids, knife, batton etc. Training to generate power is the most important thing, then positioning, then sensitivity, then technique and after that you can start to talk about strategy, because you are working on autopilot and have the time to 'weigh up odds' etc. I have seen karate blackbelts who may practice daily 100's of techniques all looking very deadly yet when they fight they resort to swinging widly because for all those techniques they can not apply them.

   By T. Rex (Unregistered Guest) on Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - 11:38 pm: Edit Post

So why do some people feel it necessary to create false histories and misrepresent their lineage?

   By Tim on Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - 02:12 pm: Edit Post


Add a Message

This is a private posting area. Only registered users and moderators may post messages here.