The “PETER URBAN SYNDROME” 2

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This is the second in a series of articles titled, “The Peter Urban Syndrome”.

The late GrandMaster Peter Urban was not only a Pioneer originating one of the 1st Martial Arts schools in the USA in 1959 but he was an innovator and somewhat eccentric, eclectic propagator of newer and more modern approaches to the Martial Arts.

GrandMaster Peter Urban, ICMA Convention, NYC

 

During a period when most martial arts teachers were enamored with “tradition” and committed to following established “traditions” of their oriental  predecessors, Master Urban initiated what many considered a “Sacrilege” as he began to openly deviate from much of the “traditional” mindset and practices that where at the heart of oriental culture, society, and previously had formed a major part of the foundation of oriental martial arts.

To this day, the results of this “Rebellion” are still lauded by some, lamented and criticized by others. However, this PARADIGM CHANGE began a transition in martial arts that is still in progress today; reflected later in many  of the “radical” anti-tradition concepts presented by the late Bruce Lee in the 70’s, exemplified in the multiple variations of the USA GoJu style initiated by GM Urban and further advanced by  his most prominent students, and has become part of the mantra that helps fuel the present “Mixed Martial Arts” phenomenon currently popular today. In contrast, many of Urban’s more radical practices have served to set problematic precedents that have resulted in serious questions concerning credibility in the MA belt ranking system.

As with any prominent figure in history, Grand Master Urban had his remarkable accomplishments along with his “demons”.  With the greatest respect for his many accomplishments, and as one of his closest, long term Senior Students, I have no illusion that this man was a Saint or was without fault.  It is the opinion of this author that only through candid, honest, and critical examination of history will we best move  our martial arts forward. As Winston Churchill stated, “Those who do not learn from the history are destined to repeat it.”

It is not my intention to dwell on the past whether by romanticizing “war stories” and/or “heroes” or by condemning questionable past actions and activities. It is, however, our responsibility as adults, as Senior Masters, and present leaders of the martial arts to view all with a “critical mind”, a mind open to all possibilities but cognizant that not everything is probable, and/or profitable.  Ultimately, I wish to honor one of the valuable principles taught to me by this great martial artist, “KEEP THE GOOD and DISGARD THE BAD”. It is in this spirit that I continue to examine and share, in humility and truth, “THE PETER URBAN SYNDROME”.

 

Shihan Ric Pascetta & GrandMaster Peter Urban, circa 1977

INTRODUCTION

During a recent online discussion, one of the Master instructors with years of MA experience made a valid and important point when asserting that the Okinawans and Japanese founded their own “styles” and have no monopoly on creativity. To paraphrase his opinion, based on this precedent there is no reason why westerners could not do the same.

The following discourse is an edited version of my response to this current and relevant subject. Please consider my perspective and feel free to submit your personal findings, opinions, and/or share the facts of your own experiences via the interactive “Comments” at the end of this article.

Historical Precedents

First, I agree with my MA brother in acknowledging that no country, culture, or race has a monopoly on intelligence, creativity, talent, and/or the potential for advancing any area of the human experience including the Martial Arts. Beyond that, let’s examine this in the context of the PAST (history), the PRESENT (activity and interaction), and the FUTURE (vision, achievable goals, and inspiration).

A common observance is the fact that in each system (new or old), begins with very similar basics. The differences come with how each “Master” prioritizes, emphasizes, varies, and/or interprets these basics within their martial arts experience and then transmits those interpretations to their students. What follows in that process is simply further progression along the direction set by following those tenants selected and preferred by that particular “Master” teacher. It is significant to remember that William Shakespeare began with the same 26 letters of the alphabet as you and I.  However, no one would argue about what a profound difference there was in his understanding, use and interpretation of their application.

This phenomenon of individual interpretation is not limited to new “style” or any one “Master”, regardless of how prominent he is or is not. It is something that occurs with every serious teacher of the MA.  In my opinion by observation, the potential confusion and sometimes abuse seems to happen when any one of these “interpretations” identifies itself as a “new system” of “unique style”. Therefore, it is prudent for all of us serious students of the MA to clearly define the parameters that distinguish between fact and fantasy, reality and illusion.

Well document in the history of the martial arts is prominent evidence that those “styles/systems” that have definitively been verified as unique, “new systems” are those which have stood the “test of time”, not simply those instructors who proclaimed themselves to be unique and/or chose another name for their MA.

The Test of Time

What I specifically mean by the phrase, “test of time” is not merely counting the number of years any “Master” has spent from the day of his first White belt lesson to the present. Although the total time passed during these two dates can be relevant, this can also create an illusion. This is because the reality of “experience” is not the number of years that have passed but is best verified by how any individual has filled those years! In this manner one examines the QUANTITY, QUALITY, and CONSISTENCY of one’s MA “experience”.

 

Please let us recognize and agree that “experience” is not realistically measured in “years” but in moments, minutes, hours, and occasionally, days. Abraham Lincoln once said, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

 

Twenty to thirty years, two-three nights weekly in your garage practicing the techniques you learned in a 6 weeks summer course at the YMCA is distinctly different from 20-30 years impregnated with regular, consistent, and serious training under the direction of a seasoned and credible Master teacher before we even begin to measure other MA activities.

Test of Verifiable MA Activities

Further yet, years of activity teaching, leading, inspiring, mentoring students through multiple levels of MA skills, competitive interaction with other martial artists, social interaction with juniors, peers, and seniors through martial organizations, administrative responsibilities within a credible martial organizational structure and with guidance from senior accomplished leaders, and personal contributions such as written and published material, audio and video productions, martial arts demonstrations, presentations, shows, and/or productions are all indications of a full range of “experiences” that are indicative of a career Martial Arts Master. The participation in the full range of these activities, the consistency of such participation, and the verifiable quality of the same are the only valid criteria that justify any of the mid and higher levels of Black Belt status.

The common error and rather widespread illusion is that one’s advancement in status to the higher Dan levels is merely a matter of counting the years since one began MA training and/or perhaps if he/she knows the moves to more kata or the “accepted” kata list and/or technique list commonly taught within that system. I’m not certain if this discouraging trend has been caused by deliberate “inflation” of the belt rank system or simply because of the ignorance of those who have inherited or independently proclaimed themselves as the present “leaders” of MA.

“Dumbing Down” of MA Standards

It is clear to me that anyone who has not walked the path described above is already  handicapped when attempting to use teaching methods and or standards that he/she has never been taught himself/herself. Subsequently, one might not be surprised at the “dumbing down” of quality in some of the present day martial arts schools. It brings to mind the phrase, “The blind leading the  blind.” Also, the “dumb” don’t always know they are “dumb”. “The knife cuts, but it cannot cut  itself. The eye sees, but it cannot see itself.” (Click the link referencing the previous article on this BLOG site.) Oops, I forgot that it’s not “politically correct” to refer to someone as “dumb”. Perhaps, “rationally challenged” may be a kinder term.

When looking around I don’t see any lack of talent in the now generation. And wherever there is active interaction we see skills increase simply by such interaction, however, there is a distinct difference between what is learned “by accident” and what is learned by design. The only legitimate justification and value of Senior Master instructor status is in our ability to create an environment that allows the now generation to move beyond our own quality levels. In essence, they learn from us so as not to have to redo the same research, reinvent the wheel, repeat the same errors.

 

Regardless of the cause of this “dumbing down”, it is my sincere belief that a greater benefit to the MA in general is better served by sharing this valuable information and perhaps offering a “hand up’ to those who are less aware for whatever reason, than in acting pomp and superior or degrading anyone who seriously wishes to grow in their MA experience. It is for this reason I take my time and effort to share these views and values. All at the risk that these long monologues may bore some of my MA brothers and sisters and/or offend the enemies of truth.

To continue further, if one has “created” his own “style/system” without the benefit of such “experience” it is likely that such a “style” would potentially be more limited than one formed after such a broad and rich career described above. This is common sense and not intended to take away from any serious creative effort. The result is not greater than the sum of all the parts, this is one of the laws of reality. In modern techno speak, they say of computers, “Garage in, garbage out.”

Subsequently, to be realistic, we must acknowledge that the “credibility” of any “new system” does not begin by that “Master” proclaiming himself “Soke”, Grandmaster” or any other title, nor does it begin with him proclaiming a style name independent of his former teachers. If he has done much of the previously mention activity under the direction and supervision of his seniors and then chooses to separate, forming a new entity, the scrutiny legitimately begins anew. If he has initiated such a bold step but hasn’t experienced and/or accomplished with those seminal activities listed previously, then there is likely to exist a serious “credibility gap” from the inception of any such “new style”.

 

Politics or Accountability?

 

GrandMaster Peter Urban @ Ric Pascetta's AMERICA CUP TOURNAMENT circa 1978

One somewhat common observation has been that many of those who have not done their “homework” and/or established the broad foundation necessary for success prior to any independent move have often times been the ones who attempt to cover any scrutiny of their deficiencies by crying “politics” or portraying themselves as “victims” that the established Masters or Organizations are trying to “keep down”. Although “politics” is a part of the “human condition” and exists in every walk of life, any ethical individual must bring the focus on his “real time” actions, activities, and accomplishments rather than affiliations. Actions speak louder than words.

Only after the amount of time and work necessary to establish that someone, in fact, has a uniquely new system of performing and teaching his martial art, will this then be recognized as a new “style/system”. Until then credibility and recognition of MA social status rightly should remain in question. Legitimate proof and verification is not attained merely by any diploma whether issued by a credible teacher or even a group who wish to acknowledge the new “founder’s” rank or status. Unfortunately, as much as these types of “recognitions” give us a “warm and fuzzy” feeling toward our MA brothers, they represent little more than “mutual admiration societies”.

The proof of credibility is in the actual performance, skills, character, and subsequent activity of this “Founder’s” students, his assistants, the instructors he develops, the Master teachers that originate from his teaching and leadership, the organizational structure he creates, inspires, and administers, the quantity and quality of the interaction between him, his students, his representatives with the rest of the MA community, the caliber and character of those martial artists that represent his “new style”, etc.

A Rome Built in one Day, Falls in one Day

This is something that is impossible to accomplish overnight and/or behind closed doors. Therefore, any credible claim to the status/titles such as Soke, GrandMaster, Hanshi, Shihan, Renshi, ad infinitum, comes only after the time necessary to accomplish such things, CERTAINLY NOT AT THE BEGINNING! And the clock measuring this credibility does not start at the beginning of the “Founder’s” MA career, but at the beginning declaration of his alleged, “NEW STYLE”. Still further, as explained above, the passage of time although a necessary factor must be measured relative to actual activity and verifiable accomplishment. The fact that one may have accomplished the foundations needed to likely accomplish these standards now performed independently, only opens the door, but is not a final indication of having fulfilled the ongoing qualifying tasks.

With this said, I admire anyone who is sincere and has the talent, insight, creativity, and courage to embark on such a path. However, please don’t expect to receive the acknowledgement of legitimate achievement until those milestones have been accomplished. Just as we would certainly admire anyone entering college to begin the education and experience to become a “brain surgeon. However, no one would expect to acknowledge that he was a World Class Brain Surgeon while he was a premed student simply because he declared that one day he would arrive at that point and had begun his “research” on finding “new methods” of brain surgery.

It is discouraging, embarrassing, and delusional that some of our MA brothers believe that they can appoint themselves the head of some imagined “NEW STYLE” and immediately identify themselves as “Professor”, “Doctor”, “Reverend”, “Most Supreme POOH PAH”, blah, blah, blah, blah. Let’s get real here.  Are they “Founders”? Perhaps yes. The obvious question remains, “founders of what?”  Do they have a “New Style? Perhaps yes, or perhaps they simply have a variation. Only the test of time as described in part above will determine that. Until then, it must prudently remain questionable.

CONCLUSIONS

I hope this long dissertation helps to clarify this subject and to more thoroughly explain that the questions posed concerning credibility are not personal or political, but are primarily legitimate and reasonable questions regarding understanding, defining, and qualifying specifics and then applying the appropriate ethics and integrity.

When trying to understand why these issues continue to be a such challenge within the MA community I keep being reminded and am drawn to repeat again the quote from William Shakespeare, THERE IS NOTHING MORE COMMON THAN THE WISH TO BE REMARKABLE.” If, in fact, we wish to truly accomplish something “remarkable”, let us not be known or remembered that what was “remarkable” about our activities and accomplishments was how “remarkably” we exaggerated, distorted, inflated, conned, and/or defrauded others with the description of our MA activities and accomplishments.

Let us be known and remembered for how “remarkable” was our commitment to the developing and maintaining the substance of our skills, the quality of our character, and the integrity of our values. To achieve this goal, we must walk the walk, not just talk the talk; we must be wary of the differences between those around us, and in our industry, of who are the Champions of Integrity and those who are the Enemies of Truth, Transparency, and Accountability.

 

“…AND THAT’S THE WAY I SEE IT!”  ©

Copyright © 2010  R.V. PASCETTA, All rights reserved

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  • Jim Mather says:

    Great exposition on a major problem, as you always give us. Thanks for taking the time to share this with us. You are, of course, right on the money. And the Shakespeare quote hits the nail perfectly. My first black belt was awarded in name only. I was verbally promoted. When I asked about a certificate – liking the image playing in my mind of a promotion certificate framed in a beautiful frame hanging in a prominent spot in the dojo I was going to open when I got back to the states – Dr. Lee essentially told me "If you ever get so bad that you need a piece of paper to prove your rank, then you will no longer deserve it." Your insights are greatly valued. Keep them coming, my friend, Jim

    • rpascetta says:

      Thank you Jim. Your real life experience, formed at a time when most in the western world hardly had an awareness of the elements of real Karate, is yet another example that reminds us that "diplomas" are merely symbols of achievement not the substance. When such symbols match the real time efforts, activity, and accomplishments that they are alleged to represent, then they can serve as invaluable tools for organization of curriculum and standards while they also serve as tools for the student to set milestones in his quest and progress toward mastery. Since the use of these symbols have been inflated, exaggerated, and even counterfeited in an alarmingly widespread manner, it is only reasonable for responsible, sincere, and ethical Senior Martial Arts Leaders and established MA organizations to call for greater scrutiny and accountability of all certifications, titles, and other symbols of status until the credibility of such symbols is restored.

      I further suggest the need for education of the general, non-martial arts population with descriptions and explanations in "layman's terms so that an informed public can make informed decisions to support such nonsense or not. If we cannot clean up our own industry, then at some point we might expect the government may step in and to do so. If we cannot police our own industry then it is only logical that we all will share a greater and greater loss of credibility for all martial artists. Subsequently, and the groups of martial artist likely to be viewed as most "legitimate" and "credible" by the public will be those who regularly and openly display the more blatantly violent effects of their martial skills. Although most of know that this element is also not representative of the full benefits of the MA experience, particularly the non-physical benefits of the MA training, the abusive exaggeration of the same has lead to a more skeptic public and downturn in Martial "ARTS" participation as contrasted with Martial "TECHNIQUE" training. I beleive that a symptom of this shift has already begun to occur in part and evidenced by of the current MMA phenomenon gaining popularity in the last 10 years.

      • Jim Mather says:

        Agree. 15 or 20 years ago, I was asked by a state senator and a state assemblyman to create a course for certifying instructors, as we had had some molesters caught teaching young people. I created the support materials – instruction manual, exam, methods for implementaton, etc. But I recommended they approach it as an option to instructors, like of like a sort of state seal of approval, something the public could be educated to look for when selecting a school for their children. Those certified would have passed a course, had a background check, etc. I knew if they tried to require certification, there would be legal battles for many many years. But if we offered it as an option, it would be far easier to implement. In order to help implement it, I was appointed to the California State Boxing Commission, which oversaw combative sports, in addition to boxing. But the senator died and the assemblyman left office and things died on the vine. I structured it under what I called the IPMAA, the International Professional Martial Artists Association. Take good care of yourself, my friend. Too bad we didn't meet when we were younger. If we had, perhaps we could have done some great things together, Jim

        • rpascetta says:

          Great wisdom in your idea of limiting government intervention in private matters. The older I get the more I question what is the worse of the two evils, the private scoundrels or the government scoundrels. I appreciate again the vote of confidence, but would add that "age" has given us an advantage and that perhaps we can still do some significant and relevant things together, LORD willing. Whether they become accepted as "great" of not, only history will provide the proof and only if our humble contributions withstand the test of time. Ric

  • Dave Smith says:

    Very Nice Ric we have discussed this in the past and both agree on the ranking system . I started with you when I was 12 yrs old, have gone on to other styles and achieved 2nd dan. Can you belive 38 yrs ago. How time flies. It is the personal ethics that keep things in perspective and if rank was all that mattered, anyone can buy a belt.. It is about the person wearing the belt and their credibility that is the major point and I think you hit your mark
    Thanks
    Dave

    • rpascetta says:

      Thank you Dave. You have always been a "practical tactical" guy, unimpressed by nonsense. Best wishes to you on your continued training. Thanks for sharing.

  • FRANKLIN PUELLO says:

    THIS IS AN ARTICLE OF FACTS THAT IS FOUND VERY INSIGHTFUL AND TRUE. I FEEL SO STRONGLY ABOUT THE CONTENTS THAT I HAVE TO WRITE THIS POST ALL IN CAPITAL LETTER FOR EMPHASIS.
    I WILL ALSO RECOMMEND IT AS A "MUST" READ FOR ALL WHO CONSIDER THEMSELVES MARTIAL ARTISTS, AND THE TEACHERS TO MAKE IT AVAILABLE FOR A MANDATORY READ AND AS PART OF THE KNOWLEDGE NEEDED FOR ANY AUDITION FOR PROMOTION. THIS TYPE OF KNOWLEDGE WILL HELP IN THE PERPETUATION OF GOOD TEACHING AND THE ESSENCE OF THE MARTIAL ARTS. TRADITIONAL KARATE DOES NOT MEAN THAT THINGS HAVE TO REMAIN THE SAME AS THE ORIGINAL, EVOLUTION IS THE KEY. ILLUSTRATED BY THE WORDS OF THE SON OF O'SENSEI YAMGUCHI, GOGEN, G.M. GOSEI YAMAGUCHI, " KARATE IS CONSTANTLY IN FLUX. CHANGE, BROUGHT ON BY SEPARATE PEOPLE, PLACES, AND TIME, IT'S THE ARTS MOST CHARACTERISTIC FEATURE. NO SINGLE MAN CAN COMPREHEND THE ENTIRETY OF KARATE"

    FRANKLIN PUELLO, L.I, NEW YORK
    FRANKLIN3321@AOL.COM
    631-764-8152

  • Abe says:

    Nice article, I strongly agree, especially when it comes to the ranking system.

    I often wonder if it truely possible to create a "new style" maybe a "new variation," but as the saying goes "there is nothing new under the sun" Concepts are concepts principles are principles, I have done some cross training and what I discovered is that most styles (if not all) study the same concepts and principles what varies is the way they apply it.

    For example, jujitsu and judo practioners apply the same principles standup fighters only they tend to do apply it while on the ground. Take for example an universal principle always keep your elbows in and lower your center of gravity. Goju, shotokan, wado ryu all do that that and so does jujitsu. Its the same only jujitsu applies a different variation of the same principle and vice versa with the other "styles". I dont care what you call it or how you wrap it up in a neat bow. Its the same! Where is the new style?

    • rpascetta says:

      Thanks for your input, Abe.

      Your comments certainly are logical and have merit. You point out what is sometimes overlooked or even missed when comparing the various approaches to martial arts in general. My observation is that there are those principles and concepts that are more specific to a particular type of martial art and then there are which I call "Universal" principles. By that term I am not simply referring to principles that are applicable to only physical techniques and/or physical application. I am referring to principles that transcend the physical into the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects of human development. In that sense, they are "universal" and thus we find various methods applying those principles in the development of students that study that method. I tend to agree with you that all methods of practice, "style". and/or "system" are obviously subsets of the larger concept, "martial arts". However, there are some very different perspectives on where the emphasis is best placed in terms of priority of techniques taught, variety of techniques taught, along with sometimes distinct variations on HOW those techniques are taught. Therefore, the term "system" implies that a particular instructor and/or organization of instructors follow a systematic approach in organizing their curriculum and that there is some overall common emphasis on certain principles, concepts, and technical practice that is shared by those who identify with that particular system.

      In that sense, there are numerous "styles" and "systems" of martial arts, some that are very similar to others and some that are distinctly different. What is also interesting when observing the martial arts in general is that not all instructors and alleged "organizations" actually have codified and/or clearly distinguished what the specifics that make their approach/variation unique. As a result, there is much room for speculation and also potential abuse. It is, however, my belief that the instructors, masters, and/or organizational groups that have the most credibility are those who have done the hard work to clarify those specifics.

      Regardless, any systematic approach that attempts to cover such a broad area of human development (physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual) would likely be more effective when there is room left for some flexibility in teaching and applying that system of teaching. The challenge is to reach some balance between a very strict adherence to the formal practices of that system and the freedom to vary in emphasis or training practices. If the variance is too great, then it would be logical to conclude that the particular instructor is not truly teaching that system. If there is no variance permitted then there is less room for the opportunity for innovation that naturally occurs when some "new"" revelation is discovered during the process.

      It has been my observation that unless the instructor also remains a "student" to his own instructor while he is working towards some legitimate level of "mastery" of his teacher's method/system, then that student/Master never really is able to pass on the full benefit of the system of his own teacher. How can you teach something that you never learned yourself? Whether the result is good, bad, or ugly is a matter of opinion that can vary drastically from case to case. Subsequently, martial arts is always in a flux and credibility can be illusive since it comes only after much time and is impacted by such a large variety of factors. In today's modern society (especially the Western culture) there is such a focus on ego, the self, and individualism that the door is wide open for abuse. Most people (even martial artists themselves) do not step back and view these activities from a broader, more objective and rational perspective. Rather, they form biased conclusions after choosing to limit the scope of their evaluation to those specific parts of this process that support what they are presently doing or chose to begin doing.

      I sincerely beleive that this is something that will never change. It is part of the human experience in any area of human interaction. However, that is no excuse not to strive for integrity and ethical standards. With all that said, the bottom line is that we each need to comfortable in our own skin and be aware that whatever we do and however we act with each other will carry its own consequences, both good and bad.

  • Abe says:

    When someone invents a style where you can catch bullet with your teeth (like bruce leroy) or dodge them like in the movie REMO WILLIAMS, then i would say he or she has something new here. lol I would love the know the concept and the universal principle behind that, but unitil then "there is nothing new under the sun"
    In my humble opinion, nobody invented a new style just a new way to apply that which almost all Martial Artist already knows, not Bruce Lee, not Morihei Ueshiba , and not even Peter Urban, etc, etc. Truely all were great in their own way, but what they offered was a more of a "new variation" not a new style!

    Nevertheless, great article im a avid fan of your writings nice to see someone feels the way I do especilly as I said in the above text when comes to the ranking system! Take care and God Bless!!

    • rpascetta says:

      Abe, perhaps it is useful for me to point out what you are referring to is not whether there is a new "style" of not, but instead concerns "credibility".

      Let's face it, any human being can announce tomorrow they are the "founder" of their own "style" of martial arts or anything else they can imagine. If you like to be entertained, check out the YouTube videos of "Hillbilly Ninja" and you will see a very funny example of that type of logic. One of the reasons that GM Peter Urban became so popular to some was less about his prowess as a martial artist and more about the way he challenged the structure of traditional oriental martial arts. In several interviews he took the "I think, so therefore, I exist" approach when asked to defend his claim to 10th Dan. He stated quite equivocally that his proof of his new "style" of USA GoJu was when he incorporated his business in NYC. Of course that would result in him becoming a Pop culture figure. His credibility as a competent martial artist and talented teacher were already established and also at a time when there was little else to compare with.

      This radical departure from the established standards of his credible oriental teachers, if and when accepted by any aspiring individual, opened the door for anyone and everyone to have the illusion they were already at the pinnacle of martial arts by the simple proclamation of their own mouth! How novel, how tempting even to the most ethical, especially since after over 4 decades this specious logic has become more common than the practices of those who hold themselves to a much higher standard. In reality, it has never been before many years of work and effort that any system/style of martial arts has arrived at any significant level of credibility. Please note that none of the founders/GrandMasters of the commonly accepted "styles" of martial arts today ever started their systems proclaiming themselves "10th Dan" or "GrandMaster, Soke, Seiko Shihan, blah.blah.blah. Most of these "founders" of an earlier generation were acknowledged with such high accolades and social titles for their earlier work near the end of their lives and some not until after they had died.

      The initial "proof" that someone "created" his own style is self evident from his own proclamation. The actual credibility and validation of its existence and progress as a legitimate new/unique "system" is played out through the life activities of that founder and through the lives of the students he has taught, Black Belts he has developed, Master teachers he has mentored. This process can not be replaced by merely sending a certificate or any other such proclamation. It is for this reason that a larger and larger segment of the martial arts community today is having a crisis of credibility. Some individuals are taking an unethical advantage while others are stepping up to the plate to do the work necessary to gain greater verifiable credibility step by step, day by day, student by student, school by school, MA activity by MA activity, etc.

      Further, as we have already discussed, most "new styles" are merely variations of prior systems or even limited versions simply because that student never stayed with his teacher long enough or trained directly with him consistently enough to even capture the full essence and approach that made his teachers "style" unique to begin with. We subsequently end up with new "systems; that would more accurately identified as "GoJu-Lite" or "Shotokan-Lite" etc., or perhaps "mixed up GoJu" or even "half cooked Ninjitsu, Kung-fu, my uncle's bad boxing combo". The best that can be done by those who have chosen a more ethical and credible path is to educate the public (and other less aware sincere martial artists) concerning the elements and process necessary to reach a more accurate evaluation of what they see and/or practice. The second (and probably more important action) is to simply keep your own practice at the highest standard possible and let your own actions and performance be the best example and contrast to the other.

      People are generally not stupid and eventually will get the clearer picture over time. The ones who don't get it, probably don't want to anyway. <div style="display: block; margin: 6px 0pt 0pt;"><a class="a2a_dd" href="http://www.addtoany.com/share_save#url=http%3A%2F%2Fintensedebate.com%2FcommentPopup.php%3Facct%3D89f34ca946d1aa11ac49a3e6120e3bb0%26postid%3D1683%26posttitle%3DThe%2520%26quot%3BPETER%2520URBAN%2520SYNDROME%26quot%3B%25202%26posturl%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fricpascetta.com%2F2011%2F03%2F03%2Fthe-peter-urban-syndrome-2%2F%23IDCommentIDComment143905599&title=Intense%20Debate%20Comments&description="><img src="http://static.addtoany.com/buttons/share_save_171_16.png&quot; alt="Share/Save/Bookmark" border="0" height="16" width="171">

  • Jeremiah says:

    The situation you shared reminds me of our own situation here in the Philippines when it comes to Filipino Martial Arts. Originally there really was no belt system. You’re good if you’re good. Prove it in live combat. But it’s the economic pressures, and the struggle for escrima styles to be recognized in public which has led others to “institutionalize” the art. And now it’s a little ironic, FMA imitating other martial arts systems, though it was orginally averse to such superficial forms of recognition.

  • I agree 100% with Jeremiah and the belt system for FMA. I train Jeet Kune Do, and belts are supposed to be "for holding up your pants." But alas, it seems that students crave materialistic recognition instead of the honest truth that they are getting better so we too use belts.

  • franklin Puello says:

    There is No problem, in my view, for the establishment of a Ranking Order and need for Color Belts in between the generally established Ranking Colors; The Problem arises when We Start Selling the Advancement. As many Colors as we want to implement, there should be Strict Adherence to the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities needed to demonstrate some level of "mastery" before Advancement, and as I emphasize The Knowledge and/or Psychological growth plays a very important part in your advancement and how far you are to advance in a given period of time.

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