Secrecy

Discussion in 'Dog Brothers Martial Arts' started by Crafty Dog, Sep 30, 2009.

  1. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Woof All:

    Our soon-to-be-released DVD "The Bolo Game" is one that I have held "secret" for 5 years now-- more if we count the years before I shot this as a "DBMA instructors only" Vid-lesson.

    As evinced by the fact that I am releasing "The Bolo Game" at all, I have been thinking about secrecy recently.

    To kick off the conversation here, I cut and paste something I posted elsewhere.

    The Adventure continues,
    Guro Crafty/Marc

    ========

    Woof _______ et al:

    That may be so where you live but IMHO it is not necessarily so simple as that.

    To cite one of my experiences, I had some wonderful training one day with a Manong Kalimba (my spelling of his name could be wrong-- the introduction was via Grand Tuhon Gaje) in Negros but it was upon the condition that I not share it while he lived.

    His staff system was unlike anything I had seen before.

    He passed away a few years ago.

    (Those of you who have our "DBMA: Kali Tudo (c) 2: The Running Dog Game" DVD will have seen footage of Manong Kalimba demonstrating some of his empty hand game)

    I am now considering whether to release a DBMA Ass'n Vid-lesson containing what we have come to call the Kalimba game. The Kalimba Game is something we use not only in staff, but also in single stick, and empty hand.

    Here are some comments from a student concerning its efficacy in the context of a discussion on the DBMAA forum concerning my decision to release the previously available only to instructors DVD "The Bolo Game":

    ===========

    For those that haven't seen the Bolo Game VL it is an awesome dvd, for me it brough together my understanding of the different 'Games' presented in DBMA. I'd heard whispered mentions of the 'Trident Game' and that is covered here as well, the interplay between the Bolo and Los Triques structures (as applied using the Trident Game) is well covered and left me slapping my forehead in a 'Why didn't I realise that!' gesture (in my defence, I think very few people have figured it out on their own).

    If you have the Los Triques dvd, the Bolo dvd is an excellent companian in terms of accompanying technique and in applying strategy. There were a few moments in the BG VL where I realised some things I'd been doing wrong.

    Shortly after watching this dvd I was invited to go spar limited armour (WEKAF helmets) with another Stickfighting group in my area. Using some of the strategies presented I was immediately aware of how unpredicated they were, it was with a certain sadness that I forced myself to stop using them before they figured it out (I was dominating some pretty well respected UK fighters!)!

    Guro C, does this mean that you'll also be releasing the Kalimba VL as a dvd? Because I have another story about using that material.
    ----------
    Pray tell!
    ----------

    At the same sparring meet (with the WEKAF helmets), I dominated in staff sparring the same people with a combination of drift shots, uppercut diagonals and a few Kalimba Dodgers. On the last Kalimba-Dodger I broke the staff over the other guys head! This brought the total damage I did that evening to 3 sparring sticks, one WEKAF helmet (I cracked a chunk off of the grill at the same time as breaking one of the sticks) and a staff (a total value of about £110, so about $170, the __ stuff is overpriced ).

    Bearing in mind that these guys are very experienced and the idea was 'anything goes' ... I was told to 'Calm down' and never invited back.

    I extended an invite to them for all of our sparring days but they don't even return my calls these days....
    ============

    IMHO most people have no idea just how seriously some of the Filipino masters take secrecy-- and just how possible it is for things to exist of which we are not aware.

    Is secrecy sometimes used as a smokescreen to cover untested fantasty? Of course. Indeed I suspect that most of the time that such is the case!

    That said, I have been in the past and sometimes continue to be a secretive teacher-- though this seems to lessen the further I get from my fighting days. ;-)

    Something that is causing me to re-consider my thinking is my experience with Manong Kalimba who taught only a few people. In one day I received things from him of great value.

    I wonder how much was lost when he passed , , ,

    The Adventure continues,
    Crafty Dog/Marc
     
  2. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

  3. Epa

    Epa Member

    This is a long read, but hopefully useful.

    In general, I am against secrecy in teaching and training martial arts because it slows down your improvement as a practitioner. In my experience, you make the most progress when you are in an open training environment where people are comfortable to ask questions and experiment with new approaches. Secrecy hampers this kind of training environment and in my opinion slows down the improvement of the group.

    There are several arguments for secrecy that have some validity, but they need to be understood in context. For example, the argument that secrecy gives a competitive advantage so you need to maintain secrecy in order to keep your techniques, tactics, and training methods from spreading to others. This way you have an advantage when you compete against other practitioners or a student who turns against you.

    I don't think this is a valid argument in most cases in the modern world. If you compete in some kind of organized competition (mma, boxing...) or in events like the gathering you are performing in front of others. They will watch your movements and figure out your strategy and begin game planning against it. Your moves will only remain secret for a little while, especially if people can video and study that. Obviously it makes sense to keep the new trick hidden before the first time you use it in open competition, but after that it's out.

    In the case of a student and teacher, secrecy seems really pointless because students in the modern world are less likely to turn on an instructor and challenge them to a duel (at least to my knowledge). By keeping secrets from students, teachers are depriving themselves of potential training partners in the long term and if they're teaching commercially they will probably get a bad reputation if they hold back important stuff.

    The one case where I can kind of buy this argument is when teaching law enforcement because as I understand it there are cases of criminals actively learning law enforcement tactics to counter them. In that case, it makes sense to keep law enforcement curricula more restricted to attempt to give them an advantage. It still won't always work because of the ease of passing along information in the modern world, but that's a worthy goal.

    The other big argument I've seen is the ethical one where a teacher has a responsibility to keep dangerous material more closely hidden so it does not get out into the wrong hands. Honestly, I don't think this argument works because people are perfectly capable of hurting other people without martial arts training. The basic elements of hurting someone, hitting them really hard, choking them, hitting them with an impact weapon, or stabbing them with a knife are not rocket science.

    Applying those skills well against another trained opponent is another matter which can get extremely technical. Instead of holding back knowledge, I think the ethical responsiblity of an instructor is more about who and how you teach than what you teach. There are some people I would be comfortable teaching knife work too and there are others that I wouldn't want to teach any weapons work too. Also, you can teach something like knife and glorify its darker aspects or teach it in a way that presents the legal, ethical, and historical dimensions of the training
     
  4. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Woof Epa:

    Thank you for joining the conversation with a thoughtful post.

    You write:

    "There are several arguments for secrecy that have some validity, but they need to be understood in context. For example, the argument that secrecy gives a competitive advantage so you need to maintain secrecy in order to keep your techniques, tactics, and training methods from spreading to others. This way you have an advantage when you compete against other practitioners or a student who turns against you.

    "I don't think this is a valid argument in most cases in the modern world. If you compete in some kind of organized competition (mma, boxing...) or in events like the gathering you are performing in front of others. They will watch your movements and figure out your strategy and begin game planning against it. Your moves will only remain secret for a little while, especially if people can video and study that. Obviously it makes sense to keep the new trick hidden before the first time you use it in open competition, but after that it's out."

    Although I would quibble with the notion that a new trick is out once it has been used once, for me the larger question presented concerns situations that are reality and not young male ritual hierarchical combat.
    Although we may test our Kali/FMA in the ritual hierarchical context, it ultimate application is outside of that context. As we say in DBMA "In search of the totality of ritual and reality" (tm). Should not one be careful with knowledge concerning one's personal practices concerning knife, gun, and street empty hand?
     
  5. babuzabu

    babuzabu New Member

    Hi there,

    First off, I must say its an honor and privilage to have the Craftiest of Dogs here in the forum live and barking. I am a big fan of your work Sir and am very much inspired by your hands-on way of exploring the art.

    Now about secrecy - warning: long post !
    One more thing - I am not a teacher myself and have only been practicing FMA for less then 2 years now so forgive the sin of saying some things here out of logic and not actual experience.

    I think this question can be taken under several different perspectives which will give different answers:
    1. If its a question of relationship between oneself and others than secrecy might be a problem, since unequal powers makes for an inbalanced relationship. This of course sounds very generalized and superfecial at first glance but look at the big picture of martial arts today - the sharing of information has only bettered and benefited each art in ways that were not possible in the past, where there were geograpical and comunicational barriers. Today two masters of different martial arts can meet and discuss with a known jargon and cross over information. In a way they might be giving away secrets or private information but they gain a fresh perspective that oltimately benefits them both. Same of course for people who share the same art. Plus there is a limit for what you can test and take as real within the limits of your own group - where certain assumptions (and goals) are held to be real. This of course includes secret techniques. I personaly belive that an art as an art has more to gain out of exposure of information than not.

    From the perspective of one-self - it makes perfect sense to keep relationships unequal to a certain degree (in a competitive sense). But I believe that much like the art itself, eventually when the person feels confident with his knoledge and ability he will have interest in exposing it, teaching and therefore owning it in a much deeper sense (some people say "you don't really know something untill you can teach someone else to get the same results").

    2. From the perspective of security / dengerouse techniques: in my opinion the most dangerouse techniques if we consider danger as risk of losing life are the ones that create the most unequal situation. And to do that you realy dont have to learn anything special. you just have to make sure the person you take out doesnt even know you are taking him out - setting his house on fire when he is sleeping is just an example. People dont become dangerouse because they know how to fight well face to face, but becasue they are ill intentioned.
    As for prisoners vs. prison cops - what the prisonners are learning is the RUTINE of the cops, their standart procedures and ways to overcome it. It doesnt rerally matter what specific techniques are being used, and if anything, the more effective the techniques the harder it is to counter it.
    One more thing that I believe to be true about FMA in paticular - people who are attracted to FMA or spend real time in it tend to align themselves with the attitude of it - rational, itelligent, honest (as in learning denial keeps you from advancing), and realistic. And I believe I have met people who paradoxically through learning how to efficiantly kill another person became less dangerouse to themselves and others.
    One more point that has to do with the above - specific techniques (even if its simple mind tricks and manipulations like using a "frame" around your face to fixate your apponent gaze then stepping out of it in attack) must be incorporated into a good base of practice and knoledge to be useful. There is a limit to what can be taught through electronic media.

    4. Human behavior - here I agree secrecy is natural. When you have a student that truely appreciates the art and spit blood and sweat - or maybe you just grew to love him as a practitioner of the art, it makes perfect sense that he will be given something extra. This might no even be a conscious decision of the teacher. It just makes sense and in my opinion its fine. And I wouldn't consider it secretive but just - pushing a student forward.

    In conclusion - I think secrecy makes sense in a personal-sportive/competitve context till you want to reach a higher level of profeciancy, and in other respects you might benefit more out not keeping secrets at all.

    Dani.
     
  6. gagimilo

    gagimilo Member

    I'd like to add just a couple more distinctions, in order to make the topic clearer.

    First, in relation to MA training, we should have in mind the difference between holding secrets and simply not letting a student dive into the stuff that he or she is still not ready for.

    This is in a way connected with what I believe might be the general look at this issue - the very motive behind keeping a secret. Of course, the validity of motives will probably differ among various people, even in the same case, but I think there is a quastion one might ask himslef in order to understand whether the reasons are "good" or "bad". Namely, ask yourself "am I holding this thing secret for any selfish reason?" If you can truly and honsetly say for yourself that there are other reasons at issue when keeping something secret, than it is OK. Otherwise, if there is even a shadow of a doubt that it might be for selfish reasons, than it is probably true, and once you let it go, you should be feeling better about it.
     
  7. billc

    billc New Member

    only skill level

    I have seen secrecy in the Japanese arts that I believe is causing the loss of some really wonderful knowledge that once lost cannot be rediscovered in our modern age. If we were living in a world where these techniques were the primary weapon of survival, secrecy would be absolutely necassary. Now, not really so much. True, the techniques are dangerous in the wrong hands, but those wrong hands can do just as much damage without putting in the hours of training to learn the secret techniques. I think if you have a dangerous person coming to your school you could hold back but otherwise, for regular law abiding citizens, the only reason you should hold material back is the experience level of the student.
     
  8. Carol

    Carol <font color = blue><b>Technical Administrator</b><

    Personally I'm not too crazy about secrecy in general.

    I can understand that not everyone wants their material on video, or written down....my instructor made it clear when I started training with him that he didn't want any of the material he taught me on the internet. I respect that.

    But among people that a teacher takes on...I have a tough time with a teacher that wants to teach some students X but not all students, or an instructor that holds back information. Just my thoughts though.
     
  9. billc

    billc New Member

    secrecy and morale

    I agree with Carol Kaur. I have been in schools where some students were getting material outside of their rank or experience because they were a favorite of the instructors. It was not a visible thing but this undermined the morale of the other students. If you start teaching something to one student that you are holding back from everyone else, you are setting the ground work for wrecking your school. As I stated before, hold back from the nut jobs who come to your school, but teach everything to the students who are ready for it. Don't let this material disapear. Once it is gone, it could be gone forever. Please, keep these arts alive.
     
  10. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Additional variables are presented for teachers such as me who teach DVDs and or approached for private training by people not well known to us.

    To give one example of many I could give I was once approached by a "Syrian Kickboxing Club" to teach them knife. Obvious to say, this one I passed on. Sometimes though it is not so obvious.
     
  11. Fan the Madman

    Fan the Madman Circles with Knives

    Crafty et. al,

    I think one critical thing to remember is whether one's focus (as a practitioner and/or as a teacher) is preservationist or evolutionary.
    By preservationist I refer to someone who is vested in a specific body of knowledge and has taken on the commitment to embody this knowledge and pass it on in it's entirety (albeit perhaps not to all comers).
    By evolutionary I refer to someone who is primarily focused on effectiveness and personal development, who will take on new bodies of information and can or will discard the old if convinced such a move is practical and prudent.

    The DBMA folks seem to be very much on the "evolutionary" track. So are the sport MMA types.

    I would think that for the "evolutionary" folks secrecy is pretty much purely a matter of pragmatic assessment (i.e. will this get me/loved ones killed/hurt to show X material to a person).

    For "preservationists" secrecy usually revolves around attempts to keep the traditional body of knowledge pure (or "static" if you will).

    I don't have much need for secrecy myself.. my "deadly" skillsets are pretty common in the FMA world (this is how to "Shiv" someone etc.), and I'm not teaching groups in seminars.

    But for someone (like Mr. Crafty)with higher level weapons skills and a teaching practice that extends to seminars, strangers and such.. I can see how some level of secrecy might be prudent and ethical.
     
  12. wes tasker

    wes tasker New Member

    I can understand Guro Marc's reluctance to teach the Kickboxing club... We all know how shifty kickboxers can be........... Hiding in the shadows just waiting for the resurrection of the PKA...

    -wes tasker
     
  13. geezer

    geezer Member

    As a rule, I find excessive secrecy contrary to both objectives. For those interested in seeing their art and skills evolve, their knowlege must be shared and tested. Only then can you really develop and expand on a given skill set, while also charting its weeknesses and limitations.

    As far as the "preservationist" approach is concerned, secrecy often allows the finest flowers of an art die out or worse, get badly copied and corrupted. If the "authentic" versions of a skill set are concealed, then inauthentic and ineffective versions will emerge. I've seen this in Wing Chun, for example. Some of the advanced sets, such as the Bart Cham Dao (eight-cutting swords) were taught to so few, that most of what you see out there is far from "authentic". I have good reason to believe that even some of the presumed "inheritors" of the system have fabricated many of the sections of this form. I was in and out of one branch of that art for going on 30 years before I was able to learn their version. It is probably one of the more accurate and authentic versions, but thirty years? Come on! And because of this secrecy, some really useless versions of this set are being widely taught. IMHO I wouldn't be able to use the stuff practically at all if I hadn't already been training FMAs!
     
  14. I made this point (about WC weapons being so drawn out) on the discussion of the Wing Chun knife defense video recently.

    It reminds me that another reason for secrecy is money. In some lineages of WC you have to pay extra money to get certain things - pole, knives, etc, etc. Open teaching would erode this "Stored Capital". Like the proverb about the guy hoarding salt because it was valuable. One day a rain came and washed all the salt away.

    I like the point made above about having things out in the open to test and evolve. Nothing is valid unless it stands up to rigorous scrutiny.

    I also heard about a Ba Gua master desperately putting his videos up on you-tube. He was coming to the end of his life and didn't pass his techniques on. He then realized that when he died his art died.
     
  15. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Fan the Madman articulates an interesting distinction with preservationist vs. evolutionary.

    I would offer for consideration that DBMA has a strong preservationist strand to it.

    Sorry for my brevity, I am on the road.
     
  16. wes tasker

    wes tasker New Member

    Guro Marc-

    Would you say that DBMA's preservationist ideas are in application / results and pedagogy rather than the curriculum(s) of the various arts that have influenced it through the years?

    -wes tasker
     
  17. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Hmmm , , , interesting question.

    Off the top of my head I would say that I am the wrong person for preserving the complete knowledge/curriculum of other systems. There are MANY people who are FAR more suitable for that than I am.

    That said, I would also say that I believe that I can and do contribute to the preservation of these systems by giving credit and respect to the fighting usefulness that they have had for me both as a fighter and as a teacher.

    Does that make sense?

    Anyway, I just stumbled across two things that I wrote that may be tangentially related:

    -----------------------

    Forever Young
    by Crafty Dog


    At the core of the attraction that the FMA hold for me is that they produce men who "walk as warriors for all their days".

    Of all the stories of Guro Inosanto, in one of the ones that has touched me the most, he tells of watching old manongs hobble out to demonstrate their art. Amongst his many skills Guro I. is an extraordinary mimic (of accents as well as movement BTW) and as he mimics their movement one can see the effects of time. But then!-- they pick up their sticks and begin to move and it is as though they were young again: the movement live, dynamic and full of grace. And then they finish and become old men again, and hobble off.

    The thought I apply to myself for my personal mission (and that of DBMA) of "walking as a warrior for all my days" is to train so that there is a place in myself that is forever young-- a place that I can access should I ever need to. If I remember my readings in NLP correctly, this may be called an anchor. In FMA perhaps this may be considered an anting-anting.

    Regardless the name, it is the place that is forever young. If one has done little in youth, it seems reasonable to me to think that it will be of less value than if one has done more-- without having done "too much".. Perhaps some of the training that is derided by some today may be better seen as what those who "did more" in their youth use to keep the rust off their skills? Of course this interpretation implies that these methods may not suffice in the absence of seasoning experiences.
    =================

    Written in 2003:


    Woof All:

    At the core of the attraction that the FMA hold for me is that they produce men who "walk as warriors for all their days".

    Of all the stories of Guro Inosanto, in one of the ones that has touched me the most, he tells of watching old manongs hobble out to demonstrate their art. Amongst his many skills Guro I. is an extraordinary mimic (of accents as well as movement BTW) and as he mimics their movement one can see the effects of time. But then!-- they pick up their sticks and begin to move and it is as though they were young again: the movement live, dynamic and full of grace. And then they finish and become old men again, and hobble off.

    The thought I apply to myself for my personal mission (and that of DBMA) of "walking as a warrior for all my days" is to train so that there is a place in myself that is forever young-- a place that I can access should I ever need to. If I remember my readings in NLP correctly, this may be called an anchor. In FMA perhaps this may be considered an anting-anting.

    Regardless the name, it is the place that is forever young. If one has done little in youth, it seems reasonable to me to think that it will be of less value than if one has done more-- without having done "too much".. Perhaps some of the training that is derided by some today may be better seen as what those who "did more" in their youth use to keep the rust off their skills? Of course this interpretation implies that these methods may not suffice in the absence of seasoning experiences.

    Just a rambling rumination.

    Woof,
    Crafty Dog
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2009
  18. Epa

    Epa Member

    This is a fair quibble because a new trick is not necessarily out after one use. I think a fair analogy is Lyoto Machida because he used the same karate based style for several fights before people started to develop a viable counter strategy (as Shogun did). I guess my real point is that after enough iterations others will adapt to a given trick/tactic.

    I agree with your statement that one should be careful with their knowledge, but the issue is less directly relevant for me. I am not currently teaching at a commercial martial arts school or selling instructional DVDs so I have a lot more control over who I teach my skills to, even if they're not very good. Right now, I am not teaching at all so it is irrelevant, but I can see how the issue is much more relevant to someone like yourself.

    You teach martial arts for a living and produce instructional vidoes so people can access your teaching even if you do not know them well. In that case, I think a certain degree of secrecy is appropriate because you don't know who is using your instruction. For myself, this is less of an issue because everyone I teach my skills to I know. Either way, thanks for bringing up an interesting issue.
     
  19. wes tasker

    wes tasker New Member

    Very well and aptly put....

    Thank you.

    -wes tasker
     

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