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Red Belt
Red Belt

Joined: 23 Apr 2002
Posts: 771
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:43 am    Post subject: The Cult of Kung-Fu Reply with quote

The cult of Kung Fu

So you want to study Kung Fu? After, watching your first Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan Kung Fu movie you found yourself inspired and you like to be the next Van Damme. You've caught the Kung Fu craze and now you just need to find the right school and master to send you on that long journey to acquire the ancient secrets of Kung Fu passed down from master to student in an unbroken chain reaching back to the founder of the style. Well, you might want to think about that first before signing on the dotted line. In the world of Kung Fu, all may not seem to appear what it appears. There are politics, scams, and snake oil salesmen at every corner that wants to sell you their secret Kung Fu going back to the mystical sacred mountain of the ancient temple of Kung Fu. Well master Po may grant you what you want, but are you willing to pay the price?, and that price cost sometimes more than blood,sweat and tears.

As a potential student, looking for the master killer. You need to question everything. You have to use your own judgement to determine to find a legitimate teacher, and who is willing to teach you what he knows.

In the world of Kung Fu, Kung Fu families are sometimes very similar to religious cults. Each sect proclaims to have the one true knowledge, and all others have some watered down incomplete version. And unless you follow them you'll never receive the one true secret knowledge passed down from the ancients. Well this is great marketing and a tool for the salesman to use to get to your money, so is this really any different from the late night preacher on TV asking you “ if you only plant a seed” Jesus well take away your debt,or your pain etc. Well, why does Jesus need my money? Short of cash perhaps?
I mean, if he can take away my pain why can't he print his own money…

The dark side of Kung Fu is no different. You must pay, and sometimes pay through the nose to get what you’re looking for and even then you’ll be lucky to get it. Years of hard work, dedication, loyalty, and sweat won't guarantee you get to the finish line. You see, I’m not trying to stop you from following your dreams of training with a real legitimate teacher,but only to worn you and to get you to use your critical thinking before investing in a lot of time and money. For the novice student it can be very difficult to know a legitimate teacher from someone who is just looking to take your money. In general, the bigger the claim the more skeptical you should be. Don't just take the Sifu at his word. Make sure you check out his credentials. Know who he trained with and for how long. What did he learn? Did he complete the system under one teacher or many?,and is he certified by his Sifu to teach. If you can't get clear answers to these questions then be weary as it's possible the Sifu may be hiding something and may not be completely honest with you. If what he claims check out,then the next step is to evaluate the Sifu skill,knowledge and
quality of his senior students. In general, a good teacher will produce good students,and a poor sifu will produce poor students. Without prior experience ,it may be difficult to evaluate these quantities by yourself, so if you can bring someone with you who has martial art experience to watch a class his input could be very insightful and save you a lot of time and money.

After all said and done, You will have to be the one to make your final decision. My advice is don't necessarily pick a school based solely on price,how big or small the school is, or how convenient it is to train there. To find a good school is worth the extra money,and travel. You're not likely going to find a great school down the block from your house. Having said all this, if you really want to learn Kung Fu I say go for it! even if you happen pick a school, that later was not for you,that is also part of the learning process and will help you in the future to know the difference between a really good school and a poor one. And that can only come from years of hard training and experience. Which requires an investment in your time and money, but in long run, in my opinion, a well worth education.

So even though there are many pitfalls to look out for, dont let that stand in your way to finding a Good teacher.There are many good teachers,so Dont be afraid to take a chance. So,Good luck, and train hard!!!

"When the student is ready the master will appear"
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KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14334
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Solid post!!

Interesting how you choose the word "Cult"...very interesting!! I personally have never thought of the MA as a possible cult, albeit, it very well could be, as I might've had my head in the sand, refusing to think of the MA as a cult.

The MA, depending on the individual, can be construed as a cult...aka...a group. Is it positive or is it not? Outsiders can only assume from afar, whereas an insider is in the thick of it!! Some of those insiders, at first don't imagine that they're in a cult, whether it be good or bad. However, as time rolls on by, those same insiders start, for whatever reason(s), to realize that they're in a cult.

In my 52 years in the MA, I've never thought of my MA journey as it being a cult. A group? Yes!! To me the word cult has negative overtones that I don't want in my life. Whereas the word group has positive overtones that I do want in my life.

I don't view Shindokan Saitou-ryu as a cult; not even close, as I understand the word cult to be. The cult of Shindokan?!? Makes me shiver in its overall content as I imagine that possibility, as I ask myself...however, I refuse, of my own accord, to embrace that possibility because of my believe in the negative overtones of that word...CULT!! The cult of Shindokan!! Having those two exclamation points at the end of that statement causes me to run away from it because I fear that word...cult!!

All of my years in Shindokan, I've considered my being that positive proponent of Shindokan, but only as a infinite cog of the Shindokan wheel. Shindokan as a cult...NO!! Shindokan as a group...YES!!

Group...Cult...are they one in the same?? I suppose that it's how ones been raised in and out of the MA.

**Proof is on the floor!!!
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Alan Armstrong
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 28 Feb 2016
Posts: 2146

PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

People inside a cult are viewing from the inside out and don't recognize that they belong to a cult or sub culture.

While one cult views the other group as a cult and don't recognize it of themselves.

Idols are cult figures for the rest of us to look up to and admire or worship.

Martial arts can be a way to look through all of the moneymaking hype surrounding us if we choose, for most we buy in to it willingly.

Martial artists with recognized credentials as mentioned earlier are no guarantee to be good teachers but what else is there to help make good choices? Not much!

Usally a student walks in to and joins a martial art club on blind faith, sounds like becoming a cult member to me.

Cults Clubs or Clans what's the difference?

Time usually helps to reveal all for the good and bad.
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White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 25 Jun 2018
Posts: 10
Location: Apeldoorn
Styles: Ng Ying Kungfu, Kempo, Karate

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well i practise 5 Animal Kungfu and the teacher is very open minded.
He encourages us to also look and train elsewhere for other skills, like bjj groundwork or whatever. Do you considder that also a cult form? Or whats your opinion?
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Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 15 Aug 2016
Posts: 1423
Location: Kentucky
Styles: Machimura Suidi Rokudan, Ryukyu Kenpo, Kobudo, Judo

PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2018 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A cult? Now there’s a new way to look at the martial arts.

I guess we all do look alike in our uniforms, and we do have a leader that we follow of sorts.

Hmm... I guess you could make that analogy but without the koolaid and end of the world apocalypse.

Oh and I’ve never heard my Shinshii proclaim to be the Messiah or to know little men on spaceships that will take us all to a new world. Soooo... Not sure I would call it a cult.
The person who succeeds is not the one who holds back, fearing failure, nor the one who never fails-but the one who moves on in spite of failure.
Charles R. Swindoll
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Spartacus Maximus
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 1717

Styles: Shorin ryu

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The common accepted definition of a cult has the central concept of being a toxic group that propagates a set of ideas and behaviours which are harmful to members, to others and perhaps to the surrounding society . Their ideology or beliefs are not necessarily unbelievable. There is also the universal trait of gradually isolating and controlling the members in one way or another.

With this in mind, it is easy to see how some martial arts schools or organizations certainly do fit this description. The martial arts are also a perfect tool for a manipulative person seeking to take advantage of others to exploit by its very nature.
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