It is an unfortunate truth of the kungfu world that there is no necessary connection between how skilled someone is and the size of their ego. In general, my experience in the Chinese kungfu world has been that humble teachers actually tend to be in the minority.

Most Chinese traditional kungfu teachers I have met can be very dismissive about other styles and even teachers in their own branch, especially ones that they have only seen on video.

My own xingyi teacher frequently disparages the fighting ability of other teachers he has met from our style, and only has respect for a few of the teachers in his generation who he feels can really fight.

Another, perhaps more exaggerated example of this was with the taiji teacher I have recently started studying with, who I have mentioned in previous posts – Teacher Li. Teacher Li himself has very interesting skills, and apart from taiji has practiced several other arts such as shuai jiao, xinyi liuhe and bagua before settling on taiji as his main art. Generally he has respect for people he has crossed hands with or arts that he himself has trained in, but can often be quite scathing about other arts. Somehow we got into a conversation about a famous Yiquan teacher from Beijing who shall remain nameless.

Having seen a video of this teacher online, Teacher Li immediately started making unflattering remarks, such as “Look at his push hands with his students! They are giving him a framework [jian jia] to launch them with, I’d like to see him try that on me, he’d be 6 feet away before he knew it!”.

Normally I try to ignore comments like these, but having been on the receiving end of said Yiquan teacher’s attacks I made a feeble attempt to convince Teacher Li that the Yiquan teacher did have some real skill, but he was having none of it. The only result of that conversation was that Teacher Li spent the morning throwing me into the bushes near our training ground to prove the various ways in which to deal with the Yiquan teacher’s attacks!

In future I will know when to keep my mouth shut!

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