Ignatius Teo wrote:
Call me "old school", but.... I would go so far as to say that stealing technique is actually part of the teaching/learning paradigm itself. In order to steal, one is required to first exercise superior observation, listening and intuition skills. These basic skills are part and parcel of learning to learn a martial art. Without these basic skills, one is invariably consigned to martial mediocrity.
I've got many years behind me and of the many teachers, some have been very good Asian teachers and very traditional. I'm firmly convinced that there is a an "IQ threshold" built into the teachings, traditionally, in Japan and China (and Okinawa, to include all my experiences). The "steal my technique" and the showing something one time and then saying "Understand?" are both ways of winnowing the wheat from the chaff. Not everyone is going to understand these things and by making someone figure things out, you purify and temper the student.
If nothing else, the totality of a martial art, the techniques, the training, the practice, etc., take more development than any teacher can give, due to the myriad details. If you're not constantly thinking, you'll never get it. You can spot the people who are doing the thinking, so those are the ones you demonstrate things to... the good ones will figure out what your're doing, aka "steal the technique."
There was an anecdote somewhere (I think in one of the AJ interviews with some student of Ueshiba's) that discussed Ueshiba going and watching other experts in other arts and their techniques.. and then describing what they were really doing. That analysing of the really good teachers (it's a waste of time, IMO, to try to figure out what mediocre teachers are doing because there's a good chance they don't have it right).... that's the heart of becoming good in any martial art, in addition to constant practice.