Marnen Laibow-Koser wrote:
While I agree that one should not trust papers over actual experience, your essay has been disturbing me since I read it, and I've been trying to put my finger on why.
I think the passage I quoted above crystallizes my objection. Let's say I want to join your dojo. Of course, as a total newcomer, I'm going to observe your class before I do so. Of course I will watch what goes on there, and of course the perceived quality of what I see will be more influential on my decision than any teaching lineage would be.
But wait. "The perceived quality of what I see." What is that? I have seen, but if I'm a total newcomer to martial arts, how will I judge what I see? What basis do I have for comparison? Beyond a certain elementary level, how do I know what's "good" and "bad" training? Isn't that precisely what I'm coming to you to learn?
By asking me to disregard your teaching lineage and rank, you are asking me to disregard the only reasonably objective criteria I have access to and focus instead on something I have no basis to evaluate.
Very sound reasoning overall. In general, I do agree with you. As a beginner, I'd have a very hard time determining quality of training of a martial art. BUT, if I am a beginner, then knowing the lineage isn't really going to do me any good. If I've never studied any of the lineages of a martial art, I still won't know if it's quality training or not. (And let's face it, not all schools in a lineage have "proper" or "quality" training.) But, yes, it would give me some more information to make a more informed decision.
To the heart of the matter with Mr. Valadez, his website, and his dojo. I read the "arriving" page. I also found on his website some pages detailing his lineage. And then I made the conclusion that Mr. Valadez had no problems with presenting his lineage. So, I came to the exact conclusion about the "arriving" page that he explained here in this thread.
So, for me, this thread's conversation about beginning students was not applicable. And that's what I'm trying to explain here. Somewhere else, yes, it probably would have been a major point of contention. I just don't think it is in this instance.