If there’s something I’ve seen a lot of in the martial arts, it’s prejudice. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. Even in the most classic kung fu movies, you can see one style pitted against another, one clan fighting another or comparisons of one style against another. Prejudice has run rampant throughout the martial arts, as every style tends to believe it has the perfect way, all the while dismissing or belittling other styles in favour of its own.
I gotta be honest, that shit drives me nuts! Yes, the martial arts are thousands of years old. And some styles have a pure lineage that can be traced quite a ways back, as opposed to some others. But every style is descendent of another, almost without exception.
The biggest issue I see is when someone comes out with their own “style” and touts it as something they’ve created from scratch. This is always a bit suspicious and can possibly be a “McDojo”, depending on who and how the style was developed. But let’s examine the concept of developing one’s own style, shall we?
My own style, Uechi Ryu, was founded by Kanbun Uechi and renamed in his honour after this death. The exact history can be easily looked up, but the jist is that he fled to mainland China and studied a style of kung fu for a long period of time before returning to Okinawa and having it develop and evolve into a style of karate do.
My point is, every style comes from SOMEWHERE. So why would you be opposed to it, when someone says that they’ve created their own? There are some pretty famous people that are socially well-known, who have created their own styles of martial arts. I’ve gathered my favourites here:
- Jeet Kune Do: It stands to reason that this one would be on the list, and not least of all first… This is a style of Kung Fu that was founded in 1967 by none other than Bruce Lee. Lee had spent his childhood studying Wing Chung and eventually came to feel that there were too many restrictions and classical mess, and founded Jeet Kune Do as a “formless” style, which was considered more of a philosophy for practicing the martial arts. The point is, he used the influence of kung fu to develop his own style and it’s still practiced by many to this day;
- Dux Ryu: This is a style of ninjutsu founded by Frank Dux, an American marine who studied several different styles of martial arts. Some people may know him from the movie representation of his victory in a secret full-contact martial arts tournament called the “Kumite”. This movie was a little hit called “Bloodsport”, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. The movie was released in 1988, and Dux had several martial arts schools in the U.S. Although some of his claims have been disputed, argumented and disproven since the release of this movie, he’s still known as a professional martial artist who founded his own style of martial arts. And the movie is totally awesome! Jus’ sayin’…; and
- Chun KuK Do: The last style on this list is a style created by Chuck Norris. Now, I have to be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of his work (ducks under the desk to avoid being punched, as Chuck Norris is EVERYWHERE). But there’s no denying that the man has studied martial arts… A LOT! In fact, he’s studied Tang Soo Do, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Jujitsu and Judo. Chun Kuk Do has many aspects of a traditional martial art, including forms and techniques adopted mostly by Korean styles as this is what Norris primarily studied. Chun Kuk Do was founded by Norris in 1990, making it one of the newest styles of martial arts.
There are students currently studying all three of these celebrity-developed martial arts styles, even to this day. And here’s a newsflash: karate is only 150 to 200 years old! In fact, Kyokushinkai is a style of Japanese karate founded in 1964, making it only 56 years old! My point is that it’s an effective style of karate and has made its mark on the world, nonetheless.
I’m not saying that every schmo who studies a martial arts for a few years can suddenly open their own doors and introduce their own “style”. But the ones who have, deserve to have that style explored and examined before being dismissed out of spite. The martial arts is a constantly evolving creature that will always continue, so long as there are serious practitioners who will indulge the way. 200 years from now, Chun Kuk Do may be as widely regarded as karate. ☯