Don’t share our secrets!
I’ve come across this refrain in the Traditional Karate Community a number of times.
It usually crops up when a person posts a video online where they demonstrate a drill they’ve been taught or a new thing they’ve worked out. Sooner or later somebody pops up and berates them for sharing a technique only taught to ‘advanced black belts’ in their system.
“Sharing trade secrets isn’t cool.”
“Have some respect.”
“Lots of people have had to work hard for years to gain access to that knowledge.”
The secret is: there aren’t any secrets.
Depending on the emphasis and technique weighting of different systems, one styles basics is another’s ‘advanced technique’. Something you might only cover as a black belt is something another student learns from Day One.
I’ll admit that there are nuances to movements and applications that are often not taught right away, but these are not secrets – they are there in plain sight and feel for those paying attention. Beyond that because they are often core to the approach of another art there are already numerous instructional videos and books out there in which they are set out.
Is this a bad thing? Are we putting dangerous knowledge in the hands of the irresponsible? Isn’t it best only to share these things with people we know and never publish books or videos?
My answer to this is no. I can show you a drill in a book in eight pictures and eight sentences. I can talk for twenty five minutes on video on the same drill and still not have covered every nuance or the underpinning rationale that explains what it is, how it works, and how to make it your own. Books and the videos are there to give you knowledge, ideas, and a framework for training; but only study and hours of practice will give you understanding and ability. The book or video, like the teacher, only shows or opens doors – it is the student that has to put in the effort to go through them.
There is only one secret, and it isn’t well kept. That secret is the arduous task of good observation, practice, analysis and repetition. That is what gives people ‘secrets’ and they don’t come easily.