To dive into the root of honorable masters we must first look to the context of Traditional Chinese Martial Art (TCMA) history. This is a topic that has always been very controversial! Chinese history, aside from TCMA, is so seamlessly knit together with legends and mystical stories alongside of historical events that it is extremely difficult to separate the two.
For example many Chinese scholars find it impossible to authenticate various authors of classical Chinese texts! Many historians debate the existence of Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, and even the famous Yellow Emperor, Huang Di. As if this problem isn't daunting enough, in other parts of Chinese history it is further compounded by the Chinese' cultural bias to name an originator of a technique, writing, or w/e under a previous master or another person altogether. 'In Chinese culture it is more desirable to have antiquity instead of personal merit.'
To take a serious look at TCMA, and the various masters that make up its history without keeping all this in mind and applying critical thinking is to be terribly naive. In keeping this in mind let's dive into what makes the root of honorable masters by first exploring some major problems in TCMA...
In TCMA circles embellished stories run rampant, students worshiping their masters add fuel to the fire. Egos fueled by impossible claims are epidemic in TCMA communities. It destroys the face of TCMA and is like a sickness that takes good Kung Fu to an undeserved end detering growth.
When potential students look into the TCMA community it doesn't take long to see the confusion, lack of concrete focus, and symbolic expiation many teachers pass on as truth. With these many problems it makes perfect sense why TCMA is suffering and it's practitioners dwindling. The destruction of honest practices comes about by blindly accepting your teacher without constructive criticism.
Knowing that all this goes on, how can we look to traditional martial arts or the masters of old and gain value?
The answer is simple, seek the truth by cross-examination and deeper practice. Regardless of the embellishment, seek the principles that are meant by the movement or story. For this reason many Chinese classics have been signed in the name of an older author. Out of respect for the knowledge of the past and also, to put it bluntly, because the author is not important. Rather the material and its usefulness is the important thing!
Master Feeman Ong, (the originator of the Kwan Yin Do [Qun Ying Dao] system) is a topic of great controversy in Chinese Martial Arts circles around the Ohio area. People have issues with some of the ways he taught and marketed himself. Although one thing is always clear, his martial and healing skill is always said to be of very high esteem! Regardless of his uncertain history or explanations of techniques, I personally have always benefited greatly from the practice of Kwan Yin Do, and my students have as well.
Something else I find ironic is the controversy surrounding its founder and various teachers within the lineage of Kwan Yin Do. 群英道 The name means "Way of the honorable masters". The controversy surrounding it urges me to think very much about the true meaning of the art... A way of honor.
All of us have faults, we are human after all. It is important in training and learning from a teacher to learn ALL the lessons! This doesn't mean practice something you disagree with, however it means, seek within yourself and the practice by exploring it objectively and testing it with clear observations. In practicing this way it's easier to find the good, PRACTICE it HARD, and whatever you find tainted don't propagate it! Don't make your teacher into an infallible master, grand master, or God. Respect him as your teacher yet also an equal in life. Learn from him, trust his experience while coming to your own conclusions. In short as Jim Rohn says, "Be a good student, not a follower, but a student."
Keeping purity in your practice should be done within reason. Should you want to benefit in health, practice health. If you want to benefit in martial application then drills, application and sparing must be practiced. If you seek spiritual enlightenment or personal development carve deep into the root of yourself!
To practice a Way of Honor is to constantly uncover the essence of a thing. Seek the honorable 'masters' who've uncovered themselves, and honor them, as well as yourself through your deep and dedicated practice of returning. More so seek to emulate the principles of honor found in them. In this way we practice Kwan Ying Do.
The impact of history on your martial practice should be the same in all of life... Find the warnings and guidance of the past, then put it to good use in your practice.
This is the root of honorable masters...
"See through the red dust."
"When you drink a glass of water remember where it came from."
-Grandmaster Feeman Ong
Here's the link to the article that the photo was taken from. good article.
Daniel R. Hyde
Licensed Massage Therapist
OIF, OEF Veteran
U.S. Marine Corps
Kwan Ying Do Kung Fu
Tai Chi Chuan
Tui Na, Chinese Massage
Shiatsu, Japanese Massage