I sometimes get asked about my martial arts “lineage”, i.e. who my teachers were and who in turn taught them, all in a seemingly pointless effort to see if it leads back to some known or even obscure oriental gentleman, as if that would make the fact that what I know and teach of my martial arts skills any more real or “authentic”.
IMHO, this myth is especially interesting as it is not only plain racist and offensive to many masters who have devoted their lives to the fighting arts, but is equally widely spread and accepted. If applied to any other endeavour it would become immediately farcical that simply because one is of a particular ethnic origin or extraction it would therefore genetically predispose you to kicking and punching people or a ball. The fact that someone is either Chinese, Philipino or Irish does not make them therefore better (or useless) at Kung Fu or Karate. However, this myth has been exploited for decades by many an unscrupulous “oriental master” sometime for pure monetary gains. Much of this, like many of these myths can be traced to TV shows and movies. Although it was a lot more prevalent at the time when Bruce Lee and with him the mass appeal of martial arts hit the early 70’s. With the great variety of martial arts available today it is surprising just how wide spread this idea still is. Don’t get me wrong, I think that it is important to acknowledge the fact that indeed many martial arts systems have had their origins in the Far East, but there’s really no point of raving on about it as it doesn’t make it any more or less authentic if you do.