Social Media is changing the world. It has most certainly changed Wing Chun and Martial Arts in general. When I first started training, more than 20 years ago, we had no such tools.
Before Facebook, Twitter and Youtube came along, it was virtually impossible to see what other schools were doing. How were they training? How did they execute their forms? How did it differ from what I was being taught at my own school?
The best you could do was visit local schools and take a peek. This I did, as often as I could.
Today, all that has changed. We have access to videos and articles from schools all over the world. We have access to videos of Ip man, Bruce Lee, Wong Shun Leung and many other legendary Masters training!
In many ways, we are lucky beyond belief. I would never have imagined in the late 90s, that I would have an opportunity to see Ip Man doing Siu Nim Tao, or Bruce Lee practicing Chi Sao.
We have the knowledge of the world at our fingertips. We can jump on Social Media and see virtually any Master in the world, present and past, practicing Wing Chun. We can take notes, examine their technique and improve our own understanding through a never ending database of videos and articles.
And yet, many of us may be squandering the opportunity, because there is also a never ending stream of negativity, criticism and petty quarrels that go with it.
The temptation to criticise our fellow Martial Artists when they post a video of themselves, seems too strong to resist. Many a Wing Chun Forum has indeed been shut down due to a permanent dark cloud of negativity, which slowly drove most of its members away, leaving only trolls and keyboard warriors behind. They too soon lost interest, with no one left to torment.
We must remember though, that almost anyone has the potential to be our teacher. Even a raw beginner may exhibit some good habit that we, with all our years of training, overlooked along our long and torturous path.
I have learned much from the last 15 years of research on the internet. I have often found hidden gems in the most unlikely of places. Even demonstrations that I considered to be of low technical quality at the time, often turned out to be valuable when I realised that I too, was making some of the mistakes I could see in them.
It’s difficult to walk away with anything of value when you are focusing on the flaws and are itching to point these out. Even if the flaws are there, what will it contribute to your own training to point them out and possibly humiliate the content creator?
What will it contribute to theirs?
As Martial Artists, we can and should do better. As Bruce Lee said – ““Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own”.
Don’t be so quick to judge others and seek a confrontation. It is a terrible habit that will infect all areas of your life. Look for the positive instead, and the hidden gems that may be within.
They are almost always in there, somewhere. You just need to look.