Shou' Shu' has been in danger of extinction many times. Sometimes closer than others. And currently is one of those times that it is close. There are a number of reasons why and I'll cover each briefly in this article.
Firstly realize that this situation of extinction is not uncommon among the ancient fighting arts. Quite the opposite. It is our belief that at one time there were literally thousands of these arts. They are all gone. Shou' Shu' is the exception. Through a series of fortunate conditions Shou' shu' was preserved. This presrvation happened through some generations of practitioners existing counter to the law. Others being counter to the trends in martial arts. And others being counter to their heads of the system when new heads inherited the rule. In other words, preservation has occurred through various types of rebels.
We do not need history books to tell us that there were once many highly sophisticated fighting arts in the world. A small bit of thinking will suffice. History books are knowingly wrong anyway. Especially when it comes to martial arts. There was a time when different cultures tried to appear superior to competitive cultures through exaggeration, elaboration, and downright falsification of the origin story of their particular art. A culture's fighting art and its warriors were what gave it power. So a majority of this falsification was surrounding the art and its warriors. Additionally, it is well known that the conquerers write and rewrite history. The more dictatorial the history, the more falsifified.
So generally, when it comes to martial history, and other histories, the history books cannot be fully trusted. They leave clues but not facts.
Fortunately, we have logic. And logic can be employed here. In many ways. The first of which is this.
In the ancient world, if a fighting art was ineffective, it would quickly be extinguished.
It's very simple. When the art was battlefield tested, the practitioners would die. There would be no one left to pass on the art. Nor would anyone want to learn it anyway. It was a fast path to annihilation.
In today's world that is no longer true. New arts get created all the time. There is constantly the story of some person taking the best of this art and that art and some divine inspiration and combining it all into the best art the world has ever seen. Then donning a multi-adorned belt and gi and parading around declaring themselves the grandmaster of that new and wondrous art. I've seen this personally several times and to my amazement students flock around him. Not only believing the lie but glorifying him for it. It is the most amazing example of cognitive dissonance I have ever witnessed. From my experience, if a student already has even a small investment in that teacher they will very likely accept the lie. Some will just go along, slowly getting deeper and deeper. As time rolls on the Stockholm syndrome strengthens. Others will embrace the lie emphatically. These participants are often given special privileges and rank within the system. This gives others motivation to also embrace the lie. I have seen a new art created in this way more than once. A much smaller and far less damaging version of the same phenomena seen in the formation of Nazi Germany. I've watched it happen a few times. Some small groups and some fairly large. As I watched I wrongly predicted that these groups would fall apart. I predicted that the integrity of the most knowledgeable within the group would not stand for what was going on. I thought that at the very least they would not participate. I thought that they would rile against it. I thought that they would value their own skill and knowledge over the favors offered to accept the lie. I was wrong. I watched this happen several times over a twenty-year span. It was emotionally difficult for me. I spent massive effort to try to fix it. In the end, all of those efforts failed. It nearly broke me.
That process is also one of the ways that arts get destroyed. It is not uncommon at all. All it takes is a new leader to emerge. This may take the form of a split (a fork). It may take the form of the old wise and benevolent king dying off and the position being taken by an evil heir (51% attack done at 100%). It may take the form of an association forming and then once in power dictating how the art is done (One chain to rule them all)
In today's world these things lead to 5 year old black belts (Parents pay nicely for this). It leads to weak men gallivanting around in fancy black belts and living in an illusion of great fighting skill. Yet they couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag. It leads to those "men" passing that illusion down to the younger generation and furthering the illusion.
Rather than die off as they would in the ancient world, these pseudo martial arts get madly propagated.
Because they feed egos. Rank is easily achieved. Advancement is very regular. Usually timed to the monthly fee collection. The public has no expectations of what martial arts should be like so most just accept the rank and pay the bill. A hefty fee for a cheap piece of cloth.
And one day some of these people open their own dojo and start it all over again.
A sophisticated art cannot exist in these conditions.
All of the above problems are created by the omnipotence of a central authority. It is a danger no matter how that authority was claimed.
Can we solve this with Blockchain? I think we can. It will take a few different applications of blockchain. Several of those pieces exist. Others are quickly on the way.
But before we discuss how this is solvable with blockchain lets look at the other ways that fighting arts have been lost.
The fighting arts have had a long history of censorship. In the distant and even not so distant past this has been done by dictatorial government. We are in an age where big tech now has the power as well. Not only do they have the power but they have previously exercised that power. All of the large platforms have rules against promoting violence in their TOS. Although I think that what we do actually very strongly promotes peace, not everyone would see it that way. I've had my facebook account shut down twice. My twitter account once. The facebook account was restored. The twitter account was not. I cannot say for sure that it was because I promote martial arts. No reason was given. And that is a part of the problem. The rules are intentionally not clear.
Asian cultures have seen many times in history when martial arts were outlawed. They were likely eliminated completely during the reign of Mao Tse Tung. This is the period when my Grand Master fled China. So I have heard personal accounts. The Shaolin temples and all other martial temples were emptied out. The practitioners fled the country.
But how is it that there is a grand tourist industry currently built around those temples and their amazingly skilled martial artists?
I'm not a Shaolin Chuan Fa practitioner. So I am no judge of good Shaolin Chuan Fa. What I have seen in the official travelling show did not impress me. Take that for whatever. But I do know a true Shaolin Grand Master. I have trained with his group and they are impressive. I take his word when he says that they sent back people from their group to find out. What they found was a mere shadow of Shaolin Chuan Fa. Skillful acrobats but not martial artists.
Yet the tourism industry to these spectacles is more lucrative than the money brought in to see the Great Wall of China.
You can even go there and get accredited by these actors. Then come back and run your own school under their good name. No skills required. Any fitness level accepted. Just bring your American Express.
Communism and Martial Arts are Not Aligned
True fighting arts training is a vehicle for developing individual strength. It develops character. It finds your weaknesses and weeds them out. It helps you become more you. Eventually, your true gifts shine through. None of this aligns with communist thought. The strength of the individual is not valued in Marxist ideology. Marxism attempts to eliminate individuality. It seeks to eliminate each of our individual gifts. It attempts to make everyone equal by punishing people for their gifts. True fighting arts cannot exist in a Marxist ideology.
One might say that Communism favors the group while martial arts promotes the individual. However this is only a low resolution understanding of the fighting arts. This is because once the individual is strengthened that individual will eventually desire to work towards helping the group. But that is another discussion.
Ideology has been one reason for the demise of fighting arts under dictatorial regimes. Another is the threat of uprising.
A Grand Master with enough skilled students can quickly form a formidable army. If an uprising is needed it can happen. Dictators knew this. So eliminating these potential threats was necessary. One only has to study a little bit of Asian history to find examples of this. Some uprisings were revolution. Others were mercenary. Neither were uncommon.
Self defense is not a game. It is your life. The fighting arts are not a sport. They are a discipline.
When you create rules you change the objective. The only objective of the fighting arts is survival. Sure there are a plethora of additional benefits. But these only happen if you put survival as the only objective. Whether that means the survival of you, the individual. Or it means defending your family, community, or country.
Sparring arts use points as the objective. This changes everything about how participants train. Grappling arts put submission or knock out as the objective. This is closer but still not the same. For a number of reasons. The environment is very different. Soft flooring slows kicks. Small enclosed cage favors grappling over footwork. Lack of things prevents anything being used as a weapon. To a practitioner of the fighting arts nearly anything can become a weapon. The environment is used tactically.
But the most important difference of all is the why. A why of preservation of life is very different than a why of seeking glory.
Although sport has been used to simulate fighting since the dawn of time. It is different. It can be used to enhance training in the fighting arts. As a part of the training. It can be helpful if used in the right way. But when it is the goal it is always destructive to the art. Eventually destroying it altogether.
I fought this one forever. I ran a school for 20 years. Always trying to keep integrity at the forefront. That is a very challenging thing. It will usually end in the school owner not being able to pay his bills. It's simply not a good mix.
And eventually it kills the school owners love of the art. It becomes a business and a soul dies.
There are so many reasons for this. Enough for a book. But a few of the top are
Society thinks martial arts is for kids. It's not. Most are not ready for it. And you introduce a third party into the equation. Try pushing someone to their limit and through the hardships of training with a protective parent overseeing. Impossible. Yet schools cater to kids. They are little more than glorified babysitters. Maybe a little slogan and good behavior reward thrown in. Not all bad stuff. But not fighting arts. Life and death training is for adults. Kids should be protected from the bad realities of life. Let them be children for awhile.
A school owner will spend most of his time and energy on the unmotivated and undisciplined. He'll then be too tired and worn out at the end of the day to give his all to his disciples. So the best suffer. The best are not given the opportunity to really be their best. It's completely backward.
Rank is positioned as the goal. This is wrong. Skill should be positioned as the goal.
A few days a week going to the dojo is a social event for most people that do it. It's not training.
Martial arts schools do not and can not teach the fighting arts at the highest level possible. They can not teach at a level where the arts can be preserved for future generations.
Centuries ago practitioners devoted a large part of their life to training. They were disciples of their arts. Today practitioners hit the dojo a few times a week and forget about it the rest of the time. I believe even this can be solved. We can fit it in without losing the rest of our pursuits.
So those are the problems that have led us to an extinction of most of the fighting arts. To our knowledge Shou' Shu' is the only remaining fighting art. How do we save it and how does blockchain technology fit in?
Firstly, the problems are.
- Time constraints
If you have been around the blockchain block you might already be saying Hhhhhmmm, I see a connection.
Proof of Bad Assery
So let's start with rank promotion.
I call this one PABA (Proof of Bad Assery)
Essentially it's a proof of stake model, but the stakes are not money, they are reputation.
A test can be done via video conferencing and also recorded. A board is formed of those who have the sufficient training to oversee the test. For any given rank the requirements for this board would be different. The higher the rank the more required certifiers and of higher rank. Each certifier scores the test. If a sufficient average score is reached then the testee passes.
In addition to certification authority, these certifiers would also have a reputation rank. Since the test is recorded any other certifiers can come in and watch and then add their certification score. Certifiers whose scores deviated from the average by more than a standard deviation would lose reputation score. Those who were within a consensus range would gain reputation. Testers can see the other scores and reasoning for scores only after scoring. The testee gets a final score that is weighted by reputation rank of the testers.
Something like that anyway. Details can be worked out but the basic premise should solve the issue. No longer can an individual promote for favors.
This, of course, would all be permanently recorded on the blockchain. With this public favoritism could be ferreted out. Ulterior motives made visible.
Then simply reward the rank as a non-transferable Non Fungible token. Now the knowledge level is public. Also very helpful for other situations, such as attendance to special seminars.
This is a fairly simple scenario yet nothing like it has ever been done. Rank has always been issued by one or a few authorities. Or fictitiously by the individual. Leading to fraud. Leading to the degradation of the arts.
Much expansion can be done on this idea, but even a simple implementation would change everything.
Such an easy one with block chain. Thanks to sites like Hive and the IPFS censorship will be a thing of the past. Media can be stored forever with a fair amount of certainty that it will persist.
But that begs the question. Can a person learn the fighting arts from video. Although the consensus has been that this is not possible for quite some time this is simply not true. I've spent the last 8 years testing it and it is a resounding yes, the fighting arts can be learned through video. The why's hows, and why it was believed to be no are a subject of another post. It's a big subject.
So with centralization, authentication, and anti-censorship handily handled that leaves sport and time.
People will always play sports. And that's a good thing. We don't need to get rid of sports obviously. We need to make training in the fighting arts more appealing. That's simply a question of the availability of good instruction. If those that are interested can find the right info they will partake. So the internet has already solved that. With video training one instructor can teach many. This should occur in all disciplines. The best instructors should teach all who want to learn. The scalability of the web allows this. It's just a matter of time for the transition to happen.
The sport side of martial arts is where a lot of the revenues are but with such scalability high per student revenues are not needed. Distribution is approaching a cost of zero. This allows for a huge reach with little cost.
This is actually solvable as well. In 2006 I created an app called Break Pal. It simply popped an exercise up every 20-30 minutes while working at a computer. Apps like this can steal back lost moments. Training can be done in 5 minute intervals throughout the day. Refreshing the brain and the body for more productivity at the same time. This amounts to a lot of time and working like this results in much more productivity. Saving even more time.
That's my vision. How blockchain technologies integrate nicely with Shou' Shu' and solve the problems that have existed in the fighting arts for thousands of years.
I plan on carrying out that vision. If you want to help you can do so in many ways. Train in Shou' Shu'. Hit up that Btc address at the top of this page. Bring your developer skills. Buy one of our NFT's. Or just share one of our social media posts.
Thanks for reading