Seth is writing about business and soceity, not martial arts, but I think it applies pretty well to martial arts anyway.
I've written before about my dislike of the term "traditional" martial arts. Let me reiterate, in case it's not clear, that it is the TERM I dislike, not the arts themselves. Part of those reasons I outlined in the post I linked to above. Part of the reason is the one Seth touches on in his blog.
See, I've been doing the martial arts, in one form or another, since I was about 15. (12, if you count the obligatory year of Tae Kwon Do that I did before my Bar Mitzvah). Not ages and ages, but long enough to have been around and seen some things, especially since I've had the opportunity to train with a pretty wide variety of teachers in a bunch of different disciplines. SOme of the teachers have been very similar; some have been vastly different, but one thign has been constant.
They all changed.
Some of them changed entire teaching methodologies. Some of them made minor "tweaks" to drills. They added an extra kata, or dropped a kata from their curriculum. I've even known people who completely abandoned a training method in favor of a different one that they felt better met their needs.
In the face of that, I have a very hard time believing in the long, unbroken, unchanged teachings from before time that a lot of "traditional" martial arts claim to have. I realize that there are some rare cases where we have actual documentary evidence that things have been preserved (at least to a certain degree), but when all we have to work on is some oral history and assurances that no, really, it's been done this way for thousands of years, unchanging...I just don't buy it.
Why I Think This Matters
Every now and then, when I get on a rant about something, my wife will look at me and say "yeah, but who cares?". I suspect this could be one of those posts, so let me explain.
The claim that an art has been handed down, perfect and unchanging since the dawn of time, has been used by instructors around the world to the detriment of their students. They use these claims to keep power rather than share it, to restrict growth rather than encourage it. By claiming that the system is perfect and unalterable, they free themselves from having to think or analyze what they are doing, regardless of the cost to their students. And that I find absolutely repulsive.
That's why I think this matters.