On raffi’s message board Matt Stampe said:

Currently in America, anyone can virtually start a wushu school, and the consumer wouldnt know the difference unless they are well educated and well informed on the instructors’ lineage and level of education. In china the process is very difficult. Not anyone in a country of a billion can become a wushu team member or a instructor. It is run by a system that licenses and tests instructors and there knowledge and skills in demonstrations, theory and history. Here in America we can have a immigrating chinese master of high level with no wushu school struggling in the american life, while an american person with a few years can start a school with low level skill and questionable ability. The compulsory forms that are required for International wushu competition have few teachers and many people have to rely on videos and books. There are also not many wushu instructors to go around so it causes much problems as to how to get the ‘right’ details out to everyone. Because the ‘New’ compulsories are now out, virtually everyone who has learned them from a QUALIFIED instructor basically is now a instructor already. This causes a problem with passing bad habits, skipping levels, and losing vital points of intention. The final result is often sloppy, flavorless, stale, and ghastly looking forms. A true master knows how to break down a form from the inside out and make it alive, bold and powerful. That is kung fu. It is even more important to have a strong relationship with this type of master. So many times the teacher-student relationship is short lived. In actuality, kung fu only comes from the grace and blessings of your lineage teacher through trust and hard work that is part you and part your teacher. In time you see growth and progression because of the teachers scrutiny at catching mistakes, bad habits dissolve and you come closer to self-perfection. Wushu is the same as, “off by one inch, gone by a mile.”

i welcome feedback!


And I replied with:

Actually I find your commentary very interesting. Personally it is vary valid as I hope to one day become a coach and that is the career that I am actively working towards. But I would change the word order around in your title. I think Integrity and honesty are pretty much one in the same in the context you use them — and are critical for a coach. Lack of honesty and integrity is a much more damaging blow that wushu related ignorance in a coach. I see much more damage potential in a coach that has great talent in wushu, and teaching wushu, than in a coach that has integrity but teaches bad wushu.

Lineage. I don’t place so much importance on this — a few years ago I would have never considered studying under anyone unless they could drop the right names. Coaches had to be former something-important-sounding in order for me to consider them as valid. Now I am not so sure — while often people who have good credentials turn out to be fine coaches it is not always that case. People often say good athletes don?t necessarily make the best coaches. This is trite, and rather one-dimensional statement in this situation, but the jist is pretty accurate.

I agree 100% that the blessing of studying wushu comes from hard work and determination of the student, and the insights of a good coach are priceless; but I think the best growth comes from personal insight and refinement. Perhaps the good coaches promote that, but it is not something that can be corrected during a wushu class — it requires more than who your teacher’s teacher was. People have to seriously think and carefully study, make their own refinements and improvements in order to progress.

Perhaps this linage thing might help the inept wushu coaches from starting up schools, but I think that is not the best way to judge knowledge and ability. I love the idea of more formal education or other certification for coaches (and judges for that matter), but we lack the infrastructure for providing that. I seriously doubt that any country in the world could provide said training, except for china — where they have the government’s blessing, support and funding.

Now we need to start a non-profit organization for the education of martial arts students so they can learn if their coach is legit. It’s too easy for a person to drop names or claim a few lofty credentials; we need to judge them by their skills. Not exactly easy to do ? but worth the effort it takes.

Not the best or even a very well thought out response (shoulda and coulda done a better job writing what I feel), but I wanted to post it here for safe keeping.