The (Un)Importance of Lineage

The Art Doesn’t Make The Artist

Who was Picasso’s teacher? Who was Picasso’s student?

Neither question matters, does it? All you care about is the work Picasso created. You care who he was as an artist. You judged him on his own merits, not what letters were on his certificate. (Did he even go to school?)

Lineage in Martial Arts

Too often there’s an emphasis on who taught who, and what did they learn.

None of it matters. Name confers no skill.

If acquiring skills was like breeding puppies, then lineage may matter. But, it’s not, so it doesn’t. You have to put in the hard work and effort required to do what you want to do.

Until the day we can download abilities into our brain like the Matrix, this truth will remain.

The teacher doesn’t make the student.

Appeal to Authority

One of the most pervasive cognitive biases in the world is confusing authority with skills, ability, or effectiveness.

People love saying, “I studied with so-and-so,” or “I’m 3 degrees of separation from Ip Man” or any number of flavors of trying to steal some of the glory from the teacher for themselves.

You could have the best teacher in the world and be completely useless in a crisis. You could have had no teacher and be amazing in a crisis.

What it boils down to is what can you do? Not where you got it. Not how you got it. But what you can do with it that matters.

Physics is the Most Effective Teacher

The best masters of fighting can be found in the writings of Sir Isaac Newton, Carl Friedrich Gauss (Creator of Non-Euclidean Geometry), Buckminster Fuller, and other thinkers on the natural world.

Look to them, and you can’t go wrong.

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If this resonates with you, you might enjoy my book “Wing Chun: Life Physics” where I share the development of Wing Chun as the result of studying embodied physics, and its impact on life. Available now on