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Thread: What You Wear

  1. #1
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    What You Wear

    I have posted this question on the main forum, but I wanted to get the general Shaolin view on the subject

    Does what you wear dictate your Chinese Martial Arts Authenticity (sp?)? I had a arguement with a fellow co-worker today and he said if you don't wear authentic Chinese uniforms then your linage is somewhat skewed or something. I don't go out in frog pjs and do traditonal forms.. hell a lot of people in China don't even do that. I have seen many people in contemporary Wushu wear a lot of the silk pj's, but that may be a part of the presentation I have seen many Shuai Chiao guys come out in a Judo Uniform.. does that make them Judo or Shuai Chiao??? I have even wrestled in a cheap A$$ gi.. why.. because I couldn't afford the traditional hero-skin. My co-worker wouldn't budge on the thought that you have to wear silk uniforms in order to be authentic.. oh well I guess I am using the forum to blow off steam..

    Tell what your what you think??

  2. #2
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    I think if people see a kungfu student in a gi they may be suspicious but in the end it doesn't matter.
    Hung Sing Martial Arts Association
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  3. #3
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    Hehehe

    Ok what about a naked kung fu guy

  4. #4
    The gi looks a little more like the short robes worn by monks depicted sparring in an ancient painting in the Shaolin Temple in Henan. (That painting is used as backdrop for the Shaolin Kung Fu Qigong Jan/Feb issue.)

    On the other hand, some masters have been content with street clothes, so who am I to say? I have a book published in 1969 entitled "Asian Fighting Arts" by Don Draeger and Robert E. Smith which shows a picture of Kao Fang-hsien, a Shaolin master in Taiwan demonstrating "the eight postures". He's wearing a t-shirt and dark pants...nothing formal.

    Personally, I enjoy the formality of wearing a uniform...it's part of the discipline, like bowing in, but as long as you can move easily, I don't think it makes a big difference what you wear as long as it is durable and doesn't restrict movement.

  5. #5

    Doesn't matter but...

    Doesn't matter, but if you wish to portray your school as " what ever it is", in America a traditional uniform of "what ever style" will help americans make the connection. Some Americans don't need it, but lets face it, the majority do.

    Don't waste your breathe on people who judge you on what clothing your school wears.

    By the way the frog button PJ's were common clothing back in the day, in China(not a uniform). Some people still wear em.

    Monks wore uniforms for the same reason as our military shaves everyones head. Its a process of knocking everyones ego's down to the same level, instilling commonality among everyone. There is a bit more to it but I'll stop there.

    I'm not one to say in order for your school to be lagit you have to subscribe to a uniform, but it can be an exclamation point to bring the point home the your school is "what ever it is". Lets face there are too many frauds in the MA community and we empower them even further by providing a laxed atmosphere.

    Our school doesn't force unforms, but most of the advanced group do to help support our teacher financially. Unlike many systems though we have a very thight control of our material for the time being.

  6. #6
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    Do you think

    Do you think Americans over-romantize the concept of China in martial arts and everyday life. Being that they lack the mysticism in their everyday life?

  7. #7
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    The clothes make the man (or woman)...

    ... as long as you buy them at our forum sponsors, www.MartialArtsMart.com

    Seriously, it doesn't matter what you wear unless you are in a very traditional art, in which case you must follow the tradition. I do think you should wear something special, not only for the practicality (i.e. heavy gi's for judo) but also for what it does to your state of mind. The trappings can help you enter into a more liminal state, sort of like putting on the batsuit. I remember when I used to fence and do kendo, there was much ritual to the mask and kendo men (helmet.) Fencing as a gentlemanly art had many underlying honor codes that were acknowledgee with the mask. And kendo was a do - a spiritual practice - so the men served a purpose beyond protecting your head. It signified crossing over to the spirit practice realm.
    At the same time, there is logic to practicing in street clothes every once in a while. But this should be done with the intention of training street techniques.
    Additionally, school affliation is important, especially in the Confucian sense, so whatever the school uniform is must be honored. The meaning of the uniform is just that - uniform - so that nothing stands out about the individual beyond their skill. No foppish trapping, no whistles and bells, no ego, just practice. So when I do see someone break uniform, those trapping reveal their ego, and therein lies weakness.

    BTW, anyone who know me know that I break uniform flagrantly. Even here at the office I've got the longest hair of all the guys (and some of the girls.)
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  8. #8
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    Gene a good response

    I guess my question is now

    if the purpose of uniforms is to make everyone equal.. then how come one kung fu art views another with such a different opinion regardless of their background?

    Is i because "my art is better then yours" or is it Americans are just reading into it too much??

    Or Hel l is everyone reading into it too much

    "Let everyone Kick everyones A$$"

  9. #9
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    GGL, allow me to clarify

    The uniform only equalizes the people wearing the uniform. The others are outsiders. Take football, for instance, or even the military. The uniform sets them off from the normal - obviously, it's not casual wear. It distiguished them from the rest. It equalizes everone on the team and creates a group identity, sort of like getting the shirt to be in the club. Hierarchy can be under strict and formal control, literally earning your stripes. Thus trappings like colored belts. In short, as long as it's internally meaningful and consistent, it can have great value to that community. It when people try to project that value beyond the community where you get in trouble. For example, what value is a Karate black belt in a Kungfu school?

    Americans really spin uniforms sideways. Since many have grown away from military traditions and towards passtime practice, such formal trappings aren't necessary anymore. In fact, practice is more about individual expression than falling into ranks, so now we see extraordinary variation in 'uniforms', self expression in it's myriad forms. Some uniforms look like they've just walked out of a video game now. The epitome of this is Michelle 'Mouse' Krasnoo dressed up like Elvis for demos. Ultimately, this isn't really bad (although, some can get really silly) it's just evolution.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  10. #10
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    I agree

    I agree with you all on the aspect of making everyone equal, and I think it is a good idea... to support your school or tradition and even to train for "real action"

    Thank you all for your resposes
    Greg

  11. #11

    Wink

    You can dress a doll in beautiful clothes, but at the end of the day it is still a doll.
    Lou-sy.
    regards,

    Renlei.

  12. #12
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    I posted on the other Uniform topic.

    I believe I stated, perhaps not as eloquently as Gene, similar reasons for Chinese style uniforms for CMA.

    I believe there is something about the psychology of the uniform, especially for children and I think that CMA deserves the same respect as JMA seems to have by virtue of a "respect for the uniform".

    I agree that Karate gis are very cheap compared to KF "suits" I think this may have to do with supply and demand. Also if you wear silk you should expect it to cost more than cotton.

    Lastly, I understand that belt rank or flashy clothes mean nothing if you have no skill or spirit. I don't know why exactly I have a bug up my ass about uniforms, I just do.
    "I believe that, in a stupid society, intelligence is useless." - Shen Congwen (My Education)

  13. #13
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    cheaper gis

    Actually, there are high end gis that can be much more expensive than silks. Look at some of the stuff made in Japan - awesome quality, big bucks (or should I say yen?) But then again, there are custom silks. Anything custom costs more.
    The reason for cheap low end gis is simple - there's a bigger market for it. But you get what you pay for - the low end uniforms tend not to last as long. Frankly, I don't think the Kungfu community would support low end uniforms for 3 reasons - 1. There are some pretty low end stuff available already, maybe not as cheap as some gis, but economical enough and decent quality. 2. There is too much variation in schools. Most Kungfu schools just wear black pants and their own school T. Black pants, well, not very expensive - some even use gi pants. Most Karate/TKD schools were the same standard gi which increases the need for a low end gi. 3. For those schools that do use traditional tops, well, most of those use frog buttons - those are more labor intensive to make than a gi, which of course, adds to the cost.
    Honestly, cheap uniforms, or any cheap equipment, are for beginners, weekend warriors, posers and nibblers. If you are serious about your practice, you're going to get the best you can afford. And in the long run, the cheap stuff is more expensive than the good stuff because it'll wear out faster and you'll have to replace it.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  14. #14
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    Thanks Gene

    I don't mean to hijack the thread, but just wanted to say thanks. Once again Gene has put forth a good arguement for the me to use when trying to explain the expense of uniforms.
    "I believe that, in a stupid society, intelligence is useless." - Shen Congwen (My Education)

  15. #15
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    I would have to agree with Gene as well. Uniforms are a great way to represent your school and to follow traditions. Plain and simple
    practice wu de


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