A little of column A, a little of column B...
Originally Posted by MasterKiller
My guess is it was a small, probably unremarkable school in the Chinese community of Bandung, that no one would ever have heard of except the people who went there. A small amount of basic material from that school (as much as an 18 year old could have mastered over the course of his adolescent years), and a lot of physical conditioning. And the mystique of being from Asia and knowing martial arts in Kentucky in 1965. Mix in a childhood fantasy of being a shaolin master, a somewhat entitled life as the son of an extremely wealthy family (who could afford to send all their children overseas for university educations, buy them real rolex watches, get them private lessons in martial arts, etc), and we have all the ingredients for the creation of the myth of shaolin-do.
I know all his original students claim Sin The was extremely skilled back in the day, but could it just have been that he was in such great shape and was faster, stronger, and more flexible than all of them, with a small amount of basic training? Having attended a few of his seminars 10 years ago or so, I didn't see any of the amazing skill everyone attributes to him. I've never seen a video of him where I was impressed by his performance. I've seen the old pictures of him looking ripped and doing impressive poses, and I probably would have been impressed by him, too, if I had seen him that way.
But I really feel like all he does now is find instructional books and videos from China, or wherever, and try to teach that material in seminars. Some of the seminars might be things he invented, like that golden leopard form seems to me, based on misguided ideas about pressure point fighting.
I would like to find out I am wrong, and there really is a lineage for all the stuff he shows, but the point is moot since he and most of his schools have done such a poor job actually teaching that material.
example: I learned more about taijiquan from reading cheng man ching's book on his 37 posture form and yang chengfu's traditional yang style book than I did in my class. I corrected a lot of mistakes and incorrect postures that I was taught. Same with Jian Rong Qiao's baguazhang. Once I found out that this was the form I had learned (or was supposed to be), I fixed my form by reading Jiang Rong Qiao's baguazhang lian xi fa and watching videos of people performing it. How I was taught was so messed up!
I am doing the same with my xingyiquan five elements.
As for the lower belt through black tiger forms, I am going with my gut on those and modifying them for myself as I see fit, based on my experience in other martial arts and the little traditional shaolin I have learned. If there is something profound in those forms, I wasn't taught them correctly to see it, and if Sin The invented them all, then I probably have as much or more experience than he did when he created them and feel like I am qualified to experiment with them a bit. Why bother? I actually like the forms, they just need some "tweaking". Until I meet a "real" shaolin teacher, this will have to do for my external practice, along with the shorin ryu I've been practicing all these years and supplemental instruction videos on Chinese martial arts.
"I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun! Go back to the shadow, you cannot pass!"