As much as it pains me to do this, I have to admit defeat. There’s an insurmountable obstacle in my way, & it’s clearly impossible for me to overcome. One of my attempts to transmit the Way of Kung Fu has failed miserably.
To be fair, it was never going to succeed, in the end. There are some people who are essentially “anti-geniuses” in the sense that they have an astonishing lack of athleticism & martial talent. They are the most difficult people to teach, having an enormous natural failure rate, in comparison to others. They often love the martial arts to a greater degree than their more talented peers, but passion isn’t enough to forge a sword out of raw ore.
There’s someone in my life, someone I’ve known for quite some time, who is just such an anti-genius. He loves martial arts, though for mostly “wrong” reasons. He is full of good intentions, & religious teaching. He does not have highly developed reading comprehension. But he’s my friend, & he always respected my “Don’t Push Your Religion On Me” rule; so I took him on as a student.
Of course, that was after nearly two years of completely lopsided, unfair sparring matches between us. He would use a combination of Chung Moo Doe, Bruce Lee Movie Martial Arts™, & what little he could remember of a style he flatly called “Mantis.” He’d learned that last one from a mentally ill drug addict a year or so out of high school. These matches did not go well for him for a variety of reasons, ranging from extremely poor health in the beginning, to lack of actual self defense technique (How do you defend the face? How do you defend the crotch? etc), to just plain being physically outclassed.
I decided to show him some of what could be done with Internal Power. It knocked him on his ass. Literally.
Much to my surprise, he not only admitted defeat on the spot, but he did it magnanimously. It had been my experience that beating a friend in a “No Eyes, No Throat, & No Crotch” sparring match usually resulted in one less friend. But, to his credit, he “Clasped Hands” & asked me to teach him Baguazhang. I agreed, but it proved difficult.
For the last eight years I’ve tried to teach this person various styles. Baguazhang proved to be too complex, while Xingyiquan proved too plain. No amount of simplicity, no degree of perfected methodology, has been able to penetrate this guy’s Bruce-ism & help him overcome his childhood trauma (he was a fat kid). By Bruce-ism, I of course mean his insistence on only practicing the moves Bruce Lee used in his movies, with accompanying “whaa-taa” noises.
Past teaching failures have always been of a relatively easy to accept variety: inability to articulate certain concepts, inability to adapt the lesson to the student, inability to gauge the student’s capabilities. Lack of experience mistakes, basically. But this case is different, in terms of the issues at hand, & the personal nature of the relationship. Two sets of complications are creating new complications through their interaction, as well as increasing their respective individual difficulty level.
As an example: how do you tell a 40 year old man to stop acting like his bratty, teenage daughter? We’re nearly the same age, but he’s still chasing romance, casual sex, & “self discovery,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. Predictably, his body is showing both his age, & the unhealthy lifestyle he leads. If you have any amount of experience with systematic physical training, of any sort, then you can see where his priorities lay, in a literal sense. They’re written all over his body, carved into his face.
He does not value Kung Fu. He does not see the value of discipline. His training of Martial Arts is entirely in service to his pursuit of indulgence & darkness. Indulgence in degenerate sex, inappropriate social interactions, & spiritual hypocrisy. These alone are enough to justify expulsion, without even acknowledging his darkness.
That darkness is at the core of my decision, the reason it’s come to this. It can best be summed up with a single word: insecurity. That, in & of itself is not sufficient reason to expel a student, but what flows from it as behavior provides more than enough examples.
- Bullying those smaller & weaker
- Relentlessly trying to sexualize every interaction with any & all women
- Spiritul Hypocrisy in the form of “saying one thing, but doing another,” & “One rule for ME, another for THEE”
- Multiple levels of chauvinism: Racism, Sexism (against BOTH sexes), Classism, Identitarian Social & Political attitudes
Personally, I have one of two more regular behaviors of his that I include, though they have no bearing on matters of Martial Ethics & School Etiquette. But they surely reflect on my attitude & personality. Better to keep a little mystery by staying quiet on those reasons.
Bullying is the most serious charge, due to both its predatory aspect & my intense hatred of bullies. Rooted in childhood insecurity, it manifests in the present as a compulsion to show off at the expense of another, usually by threatening or humiliating someone in front of a group. He’s bluffing, of course, for the most part. Because these incidents always take place either at work or at a work related function, there’s very little chance of anyone calling that bluff. That means he’s high on his own supply, & running his mouth about his superiority, reinforced by a liberal smattering of my name & reputation.
I won’t comment on the over sexualizing tendency. It’s impossible for me to hide my contempt & disgust for such people. They are little more than monkeys in my eyes, more often than not. I will, however, comment on his Spiritual Hypocrisy.
I find those who espouse religious morality the loudest are usually doing so as camouflage while they’re in the midst of one or more heinous acts. There’s a tendency to use morality to condemn women who aren’t interested in having sex with him. He also tries to control people around him with displays of smug, domineering moral superiority.
In short, for multiple violations of both Character & Behavioral Martial Ethics, there can be no more lessons. We can compare different styles, discuss martial history, spar, & maybe even do some Partner Training, if he ever gets over his fear of not measuring up to other people. If he wants to continue learning Internal Martial Arts he’ll have to research schools near his home, pick the one that suits him, & pay that teacher money. Clearly, there has to be the scincerity guarantee of an exchange of money in order for this guy to respect the teacher, the style, & Kung Fu itself. With a little luck, this will only be the end of the shame brought to my reputation as a teacher, & not the end of 25+ year friendship.