Traditional vs. Modern
I attended a fundraiser and award ceremony at the Martial Arts History Museum in honor of Actor, Movie Producer and Traditional Martial Artist Ewart Chin.
Ewart Chin's study in Traditional Hung-Gar Kung Fu began with a Master from the KwangTung province, China. He has also studied Qi-Gong in Los Angeles from a Monk from The Wu Dang Monastery, China. Ewart has been inducted into the World Martial Arts Council, the USA Martial Arts Hall Of Fame, and The Martial Arts History Museum.
Many of his friends and Martial Arts family in June 2016 came together at the Martial Arts History Museum to honor him with Ewart Chin Day. I graciously was invited to attend.
This was the first time I had visited the Martial Arts History Museum or had met someone that studied a traditional form of martial arts. In my system of Kenpo, I appreciated that tended to be somewhat progressive; that over time it evolves with the student’s needs. It had me questioning why someone would want to study a traditional form of martial arts.
I researched Hung Gar Kung Fu and found the style was known for deep, low stances and strong hand techniques. Training techniques varied but traditionally the student could spend months up to years perfecting just their stance training. Sometimes the students could be sitting in only a horse stance for several hours at a time. Perfection of the stance would lead to learning a kata. Traditionally it might take a full year for a Hung Gar student to learn just one kata.
In other words, Hung Gar Kung Fu students must develop the patience of saints. Some of the modern instructors still follow tradition and make stance training a priority for beginners.
I felt myself have a moment of nostalgia and Tradition was on my mind as I walked through the museum and saw all the traditional systems and styles on display from antique Samurai swords and armor to ancient Polynesian weapons.
Ewart (Master in Hung Gar Kung Fu) couldn’t stress enough...
“It is essential that if you are studying a traditional style you should know the roots of that style and history. These styles were developed by families going way back in history and it only makes sense to know the lineage.”
I wondered how many traditional arts had been lost over the generations?
A contributing factor we probably could blame is the Martial Arts hastening our systems to please students. Martial Arts is no doubt a way of life but in most instances it can be business as well. Many Dojo owners have to cater to their students to ensure their doors stay open, giving the students a sense of continuous gratification with each promotion.
Yet we also live in a fast paced world, few people might have the time let alone the patience to dedicate to a traditional art such as Hung Gar Kung Fu. Today so much knowledge is available at the tips of our fingers, but what knowledge and lessons are we possibly missing out on by cramming so much into our little brains?
I asked Ewart if he felt some modern day students were missing because of not studying a traditional system.
He explained, “I do believe that they are most definitely missing out on traditional systems. Most modern schools and teachers do not grasp these traditional styles and as a result are not able to effectively pass on to their students.”
“My advice to a new student wanting to study traditional forms or traditional styles is that they have to be open to rigorous hard training and learn from someone who truly knows the style. Be humble for it will change your life for the better. Study for the right reasons.”
“Study for the right reasons,” it doesn’t get truer than that.
In the end the Traditional vs. Modern debate is pointless because the Modern was at one point of time the traditional and the traditional at another point of time was the Modern. There isn’t a competition between the two because they are in themselves the same. The only difference is the training and teaching styles.
Knowing that, when a new student is looking for a Dojo to start with they need to be mindful of not just what system they want to study but how would they like to train? My advice is to check to see what local Dojo’s are available in your area. Research their systems and training styles and make sure it fits your needs. As always, never be afraid to ask questions.
As for current students I leave you with an English Proverb…
“You don't know where you're going until you know where you've been.”
Jesalyn Mae Harper
Hello my name is Jesalyn. I'm a divorced single mom and a karate addict...