I think it is extremely important to be watchful in the martial arts world. After all, there are many people who are unable to determine combat movements from high level circus tricks. In every occupation there are those who would seek to take advantage of the curious, swindling their money over a long period of time while giving them techniques that are not only questionable, but dangerous in a real situation. Phonies and conman of all sorts have almost lead the charge on spreading martial arts, seeing an opportunity to make quick money while the real practitioners have remained so secretive that they have almost disappeared entirely from the modern day map.
As the world continues to get "smarter" we weed out these conman through making blogs and videos exposing these cheap parlor tricks. But at the same time there remain many older martial arts techniques that have also been deemed as ineffective in the eyes of modern martial artists. Movements that may be a bit more complex or difficult to learn have easily been disregarded and seen as performance while everyone continues to adopt a simplistic form of boxing. In short anything that doesn't look like what we've already seen is in question.
Myself growing up in an area that martial arts was purely for survival has made me a purist in many aspects. In my personal opinion, if it is not usable in a combat situation, then it's not martial arts. To me martial arts is the use of a combination of physics, science and the understanding of anatomy to preserve life in the presence of danger. This means that everything will have to be studied, researched and trained thoroughly in order to deal with all of the possible outcomes in a real fray.
While I was growing up, the only martial art I knew anything about was Taekwondo. My father continually made me and my two brothers practice kicks sometimes a thousand times a day for every type of situation. When I got picked on by skin heads at school, kicking them in the face became a family pass time. Experience was the greatest teacher and I quickly adapted to slippery floors, clothing restrictions and other dangers of combat. I had to learn to use set ups and fakes and of course hand combinations in order to plant my foot on the sweet part of the jaw. In my mind for the first 7 years of my martial arts career, Taekwondo was as realistic as it got.
When I got into high school, I began training with many different martial arts stylists that believed that high kicks were completely unrealistic in a fight. This was not only surprising, but also a bit infuriating. Something that I had used to save my life so many times was a joke in the eyes of many martial artists. After a few rounds, they learned that I was able to tag them in the face with a kick quite easily. At the same time, I learned that it's much harder to kick someone in the face if they know you are a kicker. Therefore, I found the greatest advantage of kicking was the element of surprise. In fact, I learned many other styles just so it would be easier to kick people in the face.
After learning that the most effective way to kick people was deception, I stopped advertising my ability to kick. The most realistic way to use any technique is to keep it hidden from your opponent until the right moment. I continued training as I watched the world of martial arts become popular in the media. In the beginning years they also felt that high kicks were fancy moves that couldn't be used in a real situation. As the sport grew in maturity, fighters began to see the devastation that a high kick had to offer and now many people have added it into their repertoire.
At the same time, I had made my transition into the internal arts, finding that it is obviously the most logical step to becoming a better martial artist. My experience had given me a deeper understanding of the physics of combat and when I saw Bagua, it was clearly the most effective form of self-defense for my future. Over the years I've had to use it on several occasions in the club, on the street or even training temples throughout Asia. I would never call myself a great fighter, but I believe that I have pretty good training habits. Through research and continual practice, I've found that the possibilities that can be done with my art are endless.
Still many people of the martial arts world, would see my art and tell me that it's not realistic. The exotic movements and footwork appear to be too beautiful to be effective to some. Now my situation isn't much different than it was back when I was doing Taekwondo: I have a secret that no one believes is real. If I was still in high school, I would find myself in a situation of frustration, but now that I've gained wisdom, I honestly would rather people not know what I am capable of. Even with a simple understanding of physics, fighters are able to do great damage. As the fighters get better, the brutality increases and for a while I began to fear that maybe one day they would also discover the power of the internals.
Then I took a deeper look into my style and many other traditional arts and began to notice a pattern that separated the men from the masters. I suddenly understood why so many Taekwondo practitioners were so incapable of fighting and why so many fighters were so incapable of martial arts: the filter. It was as if the designer of martial arts itself created a filter that would hold the irresponsible at bay, eliminating the arrogant, skeptical and the aggressive.
The arrogant believe that they can come up with something more effective than what has been practiced for thousands of years. Even though in ancient times, these arts were only used to prevent or inflict lethal damage, the arrogant assume their generation is the only one with the capability to think freely. He subconsciously calls the people of the past idiots while creating his own system, based on the roots of a tradition that he feels is obsolete. He will live in his world feeling both superior and unfulfilled. He is always trying to prove he is best, but never finds the appropriate outlet. He will win many battles against weaker opponents, but will never win the battle of self.
The skeptic feels that he must take a more scientific approach to everything and uses caution as he practices. In a small dose, this could be wisdom, but doubt is often times far too addictive to control. The skeptic can not imagine what is outside of his own experience and he will only learn what he already believes is realistic. He will spend most of his time trying to disprove what is possible instead of trying to take on the impossible. He feels that he is being realistic, but fails to acknowledge that we have no true understanding of reality. You must believe in what you have never seen before it can possibly be achieved.
The aggressive is in a hurry to be effective, discounting anything that seems overly complex. He will remove anything that he does not understand immediately, assuring that he will spend the majority of his martial arts career relying on a more effective form of brute force. He is in a hurry to get good, which generally causes him to retire early.
It's not surprising that in most traditional arts they have the opposite traits of these individuals hanging on the doorway of the practice room: humility, faith and patience. These are traits that actually contradict our modern culture and will almost certainly ensure that true martial arts remains in the shadows. The world will debate, argue and mock the traditional artists, but his training should give him the understanding that these shadows are for our own protection. If power is not properly balanced it will only lead to destruction. If someone with the wrong attitude comes looking for the secrets within the internal arts, he will be repelled by the training or changed by the time he attains them.
Humility is the most important step to achieving true power. You must acknowledge that you do not control your own heartbeat, that you did not choose your birthday and that everything around you is a gift. No matter what you have learned, you must be willing to accept that information may possibly be inaccurate. It is not learning that it is progress, but many times re-learning that molds us. Everything that is taught to us is contaminated by some form of corruption. Everything from science, politics, religion, finance, history etc. are manipulated for reasons of control. The truth is no matter how cautious we are, we have all ingested a form of deception. People who feel they know the completely truth are likely to be the most deceived. Most everything that seems real will mean very little in the long run. What matters most is how we live and that our beliefs fill us with a joy that makes life worth living.
Faith is what we all operate on. We can not even prove our own existence so why spend so much time trying to disprove what can and can not be done. Everything great happens in the mind before it can be manifested and in a culture of people who doubt everything, we are only teaching ourselves restrictions. It's easy to prove something doesn't work, but just as easy to prove something does work when we believe in it. A person who is hopeful, is filled with joy even when his ideas are wrong because they will be replaced with new ideas backed by experience. A person who doubts all things will eventually surround himself in the darkness and void of limitations. A joyful skeptic is often an oxymoron.
Patience combined with perseverance is the only way to make it to your goal. There will be obstacles and many things that you do not understand at first. Spend time with the things you don't understand in order to expand the borders of your imagination. We are only children compared to a world that so drastically out dates us. When we are in a hurry, we are only creating discomfort because of our inability to accept the current reality. All good things will take longer than you expect, but will also be more fulfilling than you thought.