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View Full Version : What do to when your Kwoon is becoming Bullshido? My dilemma.



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Ronin.74
2/17/2007 6:16pm,
Okay it's not officially a Kwoon, my instructor rents space at a communtiy center and that's where we train. So let me give some background about the situation and then I would appreciate to hear some suggestions.

My Baji instructor is An Tian Rong and according to my sources in China he is a very well respected master of the art who can trace his lineage to Li Shu Wen. Master An is not just a forms instructor, in his youth he fought SanDa in China, and has on occassion recalled some of his bouts against Russian athletes. (It was the 1940s and 50s afterall) Master An has been teaching in the U.S. for almost a decade now in several different locations. Unfortunately he has been taken advantage of many times by other CMA school owners over the years which finally resulted in him deciding to stay in Columbus, Ohio. Basically some rather successful school owner on the West and East coasts would practically beg him to come teach, promising to pay him a set monthly fee and then not pay him or only pay him a portion of what was promised. This has happened at least 2 or 3 times that I am aware of. He finally got so sick of it that he moved back to Ohio where he knew some people and had a few students.

At one time he had a small school of his own in Columbus with about 10 children students and several adult students. In a matter of a few months he had no children left, he is a very old school CMA instructor, which means he would yell at the children when they did not do things properly or pay attention in class, resulting in the students leaving and his school closing. He did teach for a time at Dublin Elite Martial Arts, but when it appeared that that school may be closing due to financial difficulties he cut ties and left. Now we're at the community center.

Suffice it to say he has had very bad luck here in the U.S. and has been taken advantage of, I think part of it has to do with his stubborn attitude in regards to how he feels things should be done and part of it is due to his inability to speak the Engrish. There are other Baji instructors in the U.S. that are considered "authorities" on the art of Baji that do not even know 1/4 of what Master An knows about the art. I won't mention names but I know of an instructor in Canton, Ohio who is regarded as a Baji authority but does not even have anything resembling a complete knowledge of the system. I know the school owner in Canton has had Master An come in and teach Baji basics (which the school owner had not seen up to that point) and then, it is rumored, that the Canton school owner took this new information and published it as his own for his students to buy. As a student of Master An's it upsets me that such a valuable instructor of, in my opinion, a rare system has been unable to achieve recognition here in the U.S. while others who are far less knowledgeable have been recognized as authorities on the subject.

Now on to my dilemma. I think Master An has given up trying to teach students in a manner that offers some kind of quality control. I think he just doesn't care anymore and has decided to give the students what they want so that they do not quit. (Teaching is his only source of income.) For example, myself and his most senior student easliy spent 3 months on one basic set of 8 techniques. Personally I could have learned all 8 of the basics in about 2 weeks, they are relatively simple. We spent 3 months on them because Master An wanted to make sure that we knew the techniques before we moved on. I have been training with Master An (albeit less frequently since I moved an hour and half away from Columbus) for over 2 years. In that time I have learned 3 training sets, 2 forms, and 1 two man set. My training partner has been with Master An for almost 5 years and has learned everything I have as well as several other forms not related to Baji.

Master An's new students have almost learned everything I have in a matter of 6-8 months. Their form is horrible and Master An has remarked quite frequently that these students do not understand the time that is needed to learn the techniques properly, resulting in them not understanding how to perform the techniques. Since I am not able to train with Master An on a regular basis I don't see what's going on. The most senior student on the other hand does and it makes him very angry (It seems that the new students have been flaunting the fact that they "know" almost as much Baji as he does).

This has caused me some concern. I am worried that as soon as Master An returns to China permanently that it will result in 3-5 new Baji "masters" in Columbus, this problem has already reared it's ugly head once and was finally smashed by an independent investigation done by someone in Columbus.

see thread here-
http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=30173

At this point quality control has now fallen into the hands of myself and the senior student. We have to take steps in our own training to keep our skills on par. We are planning on doing more contact drills and training to improve, things that I am sure will put a spring in Master An's step (anytime we gear up to do contact he gets excited).

I would like some suggestions on how I can try to improve the situation as it currently is, as well as some suggestions on how I should handle things after Master An returns to China permanently. I.E. when all these new so called Baji "Masters" start popping up, should I do anything about them? My training partner has already stated more than once, in his anger filled rants, that he will openly challenge any and all of these new Baji "masters" should they open schools after Master An's departure.

I look forward to your response my CMA brothers.

Regards,
Ronin74

"Trying to save CMA one kwoon at a time"

taichi64pakua
2/17/2007 7:22pm,
if you have received good training then continue and enjoy.

if other students "progress" faster and do not get the basics that is their problem not yours.

the students who think they "know" as much as the senior student are young and still need to practice. the senior students skill is not diminished just because some new students give poor understanding of the material.

make sure you dont fall into that trap:-)

it is up to your teacher how he wants to teach.

Ronin.74
2/17/2007 8:07pm,
if you have received good training then continue and enjoy.

if other students "progress" faster and do not get the basics that is their problem not yours.

the students who think they "know" as much as the senior student are young and still need to practice. the senior students skill is not diminished just because some new students give poor understanding of the material.

make sure you dont fall into that trap:-)

it is up to your teacher how he wants to teach.

This is exactly what I've been doing. I try not to concern myself with the progress of the newer students becuase I know that quality is more important than quantity. (I say newer, because they are not younger, in fact they are older than I am, I think they are top quality larping Masters in the making, more concerned with having the title of "Shifu"for themselves than they are in actually putting in the time and effort to earn the skills associated with the title)

I have also been trying to enforce this idea with the senior student, and it does help to calm him down in regards to this situation. But the senior student is very hot blooded and has spent many years not only as Master An's student but as his friend as well. I think that is why it upsets him so much, he really cares about the well being of Master An and is worried that people will judge Master An based on the skills demonstrated by the newer students, especially if they try to open their own kwoons after he leaves.

As for falling into the "trap", I have no worries about that. After many years of training in many schools both here and in Asia, I know that it's the quality of your techniques that is important, not how many forms you've learned. Thanks for the post!

dwhomp
2/17/2007 9:12pm,
I agree do not worry about the other students...if the relationship with your instructor is still good and you feel like he cares about how you progress, dont give a second thought to what others are doing.

This will take thick skin and no ego as they may "progress" faster than you. They could even say something like that. Let it roll off your back.

A million years ago the same thing happened to me. In this case, I actually asked my instructor about it. I was young, dumb and full of.....spirit. I couldnt figure out why I worked harder then everyone else and I got crap and they got belts and etc. He sat me down and explained rationally to me:

"Most students pay the bills and keep the lights on. I give them enough to make them coming back. For the students that i see working, training outside of class, and want to get better, I teach them the way they should be taught"

If this is the only means of income, dont sweat it at all. We all have to pay the bills and sometimes we do things that we dont love to make that happen.

All that really matters is what he is giving you. However you will HAVE to be honest with yourself. It is easy to get into a mind set of "he is giving me goos stuff while he is giving you crap" when really, he is giving you crap as well. If he starts giving you crap, depending on the relationship, talk to him. If you dont feel you can do that, leave.

Goju - Joe
2/17/2007 10:14pm,
Does Baji Spar, from what little I gave seen it's an "alive" style.

I ask because sparring and competition seems to be an important tool to quality control in that you getting your ass kicked is usually a sign that you're not progressing as well as you think you are.

Just curious

It is Fake
2/17/2007 10:25pm,
Politics suck. Stay out of it and enjoy your training. I had a similar situation in my Mickey D place.

I became an instructor saw all of the politics and quit. Enjoy what you do and don't worry about their quality worry about yours.

My forms were never beautiful so people had problems with me. I whooped the crap out of them so I had a problem with them.

Take what you want out of your training and let the rest go.

Ronin.74
2/18/2007 2:11pm,
Does Baji Spar, from what little I gave seen it's an "alive" style.

I ask because sparring and competition seems to be an important tool to quality control in that you getting your ass kicked is usually a sign that you're not progressing as well as you think you are.

Just curious

To answer your question, yes traditionally Baji did sparring. I, on the other hand, have seen schools recently that did not do sparring. Before I came to train with Master An there was no contact of any kind. Only one other student (the senior student) has shown interest in doing contact drills and sparring but since I am only in town training with them twice a month the senior student does not get to put in the kind of time he would like to. To my knowledge most of the other Baji students are only interested in accumulating forms and thinking that they are th3 d34dly because of it.

The senior student and myself have taken it upon ourselves to do contact drills and sparring for our own benefit, Master An greatly approves of this and has always encouraged us to do this. Unfortunately for him at the age of 69 or 70 he is unable to participate in sparring drills like he did in his youth, which I believe this is the reason no contact of any kind was taking place before I arrived.

exodus66667
2/21/2007 6:22am,
Think of it like this they aren't truly progressing because they are rushing and not getting the true meaning and skill from this great martail art. If all they are practicing are incomplete forms due to their incompetence not yours and your master you have nothing to worry about. Just keep training the real way and if the other so called "Baji" masters come around and start trouble show them the real baji ( without getting yourself into too much trouble).

Mei Hua
2/25/2007 6:15pm,
An interesting conundrum, as stated already, focus more on your training and perfecting your technique, skill and knowledge. When the times comes open a school with your KF brother and teach the real Baji, if these others open their own schools and teach crap to people let the information out into the community, offer a challenge to test their skills, if they fail people will see that they do not posess what you do. Or while training in class challenge them to a sparring match, after you whoop them let them know their skill is weak and they lack knowledge, hopefully open their eyes to reality.

antman
2/25/2007 8:43pm,
What are the opinions of the junior students specifically, I can''t see too many people not wanting to do sparing. Is he catering to the wants of the juniors, you mentioned.

By the way if a group of three to 5 new masters pop up when he leaves, you and the senior should beat them down.

dwhomp
2/25/2007 8:48pm,
I can''t see too many people not wanting to do sparing. Is he catering to the wants of the juniors, you mentioned.



I would disagree, in the "internal" side of the house it is all to common to NOT spar, but in 20 years you will be a fighting God. Many many times the instructors dont know how. Crazy? Yep.

(BTW this is in no reflection of the OP, school, or teaching)

MaartenSFS
2/25/2007 9:01pm,
I have had similar experiences, though not exactly the same. I was in a McDojang before and got to 2 Dan and almost became an instructor. When I first joined I trained hard, using my sweat and blood to improve. I improved and improved and improved... And then I got my blackbelt. After that my teacher almost completely ignored me. He had nothing left to teach me - at least nothing that he was willing to teach me. Then I "went on" to useless weapon forms. God, what a waste of time. I quit.

If you feel that your teacher ever reaches that point, quit before the situation heats up. Better to leave on more or less good terms.

But it doesn't sound like that is happening. You can never ensure the quality of what other people teach or learn. The only thing that you can do is make sure that what you train and teach is quality. Maybe it's better that your Shifu is going back to China. At least he will be more comfortable there. If you want to learn more, go visit him there. Good luck.

And I agree with the others. If "Masters" start popping up, beat them down.

- Maarten Sebastiaan Franks Spijker

Ronin.74
2/25/2007 9:11pm,
An interesting conundrum, as stated already, focus more on your training and perfecting your technique, skill and knowledge. When the times comes open a school with your KF brother and teach the real Baji, if these others open their own schools and teach crap to people let the information out into the community, offer a challenge to test their skills, if they fail people will see that they do not posess what you do. Or while training in class challenge them to a sparring match, after you whoop them let them know their skill is weak and they lack knowledge, hopefully open their eyes to reality.

At present my KF brother and I both feel, that even though our skill and understanding of the material far exceeds the other students, that we are not skilled enough to open our own school at this time. Of course we compare our skills to our Shifu, and since his skills are near perfect we feel that we are not in any position to consider running a school once he leaves. That could change with time.

Our shifu does not plan to permanently return to China for another 3 years, this is his tentative plan and of course it could suddenly change. Hopefully by that time at least one of us will feel comfortable enough in our understanding of the system to run classes in his place and with his permission. My KF brother and I have discussed this problem and are hopeful that our shifu will name one of us as head instructor in his place (not shifu), or worst case scenario endorse no one as his successor, then at least none of his students can try to claim the title once he's gone.

My brother has been the more adamant of the two of us when it comes to openly challenging anyone who claims the title of Baji Master once our shifu leaves. Although the old master can be frustrating to deal with and down right hurtful at times in the way he treats us personally, my KF brother and I care greatly about his reputation as a CMA master and are worried about seeing it dragged through the mud by false "masters" once he leaves.

Fortunately for now it is a problem that we may not have to deal with for a few years yet.

Thanks for the advice everyone.

Ronin.74
2/25/2007 9:17pm,
I have had similar experiences, though not exactly the same. I was in a McDojang before and got to 2 Dan and almost became an instructor. When I first joined I trained hard, using my sweat and blood to improve. I improved and improved and improved... And then I got my blackbelt. After that my teacher almost completely ignored me. He had nothing left to teach me - at least nothing that he was willing to teach me. Then I "went on" to useless weapon forms. God, what a waste of time. I quit.

If you feel that your teacher ever reaches that point, quit before the situation heats up. Better to leave on more or less good terms.

But it doesn't sound like that is happening. You can never ensure the quality of what other people teach or learn. The only thing that you can do is make sure that what you train and teach is quality. Maybe it's better that your Shifu is going back to China. At least he will be more comfortable there. If you want to learn more, go visit him there. Good luck.

And I agree with the others. If "Masters" start popping up, beat them down.

- Maarten Sebastiaan Franks Spijker

It is definitely not a case of the teacher having nothing left to teach. If anything it's the complete opposite. He sometimes tries to give me way more information than I can remember, I generally resolve this problem by asking him to stop at about half of what he is trying to teach me and my KF brother. The result is that we may spend more time on a set of techniques but are able to execute them much better. The other students just fly through the routines with little care as to if they understand them or not. They are interested in quantity not quality, my KF brother and I are more interested in quality.

MaartenSFS
2/25/2007 9:27pm,
It is definitely not a case of the teacher having nothing left to teach. If anything it's the complete opposite. He sometimes tries to give me way more information than I can remember, I generally resolve this problem by asking him to stop at about half of what he is trying to teach me and my KF brother. The result is that we may spend more time on a set of techniques but are able to execute them much better. The other students just fly through the routines with little care as to if they understand them or not. They are interested in quantity not quality, my KF brother and I are more interested in quality.

Hm... Try to learn as much as you can from him before he leaves. You can learn everything your Master teaches you now and refine it with your "brother" after he leaves. If there are still gaps in the future you can always go visit him to fill them. ;)

At first, when I began to study Sanda over here I didn't understand the local dialect very well and I was struggling to keep up. Also, my conditioning wasn't at 100%. But out of class I trained almost every day and worked on what we did in class. The stretches, the drills, the techniques, everything. Because I worked so hard, after a month and a half I even began to surpass my "brothers". Then I came back and asked Shifu if I was doing it right and he made some small adjustments, but it was well worth it. Try that and I think it will help. Also, training near mirrors helps if you know what what you are doing should look and feel like.

- Maarten Sebastiaan Franks Spijker

Ronin.74
2/25/2007 10:42pm,
Preaching to the choir :smile: