Like Matt said, thank you for the interesting insider information you brought to the discussion.
I think that part of the disconnect here is that many people on this forum are not really understanding the concept of how a Martial Art is founded. Allow me to use analogy to make a point. I am an American, not of Italian descent. However, I love pizza. I travel to little Italy and learn how to make the best Italian style pizzas ever. I move to a small town in the midwest and start up my own restaurant and call it "Bubba's Authentic Italian Pizzeria". Is the pizza less Italian if a non-Italian makes it or founds the restaurant? Or is the "Italian" part of it come from where the pizza maker learned how to make the pizza, what kind of ingredients are used, and how it is cooked? This is exactly what MSDT is.
I'm not arguing the fact that your pizza might taste (and “be”, as subjective as that may be) perfectly authentic; but no matter how good it is, a tall blond Scandinavian / African American / [insert visibly non-Italian type of your choice]
claiming to be making "authentic Italian pizza" is going to look
a bit silly (notice I didn't say he is
That's one thing, but we have another problem here: the pizza being sold, although originally of Italian inspiration, has strayed from its primary form to become an original creation.
Picture this. Hans is the best pizzaiolo to ever walk the earth. He learnt how to make pizzas from the greatest Italian pizza-masters, and is a natural at it. Over the years, he figured his pizzas tasted even more awesome when he replaced the Mozarella with Gruyère, the anchovies with strips of wild-salmon fillet, and the olives with Sichuan berries. He has now a perfect product, a drop-dead gorgeous pizza that tastes better than anything ever made before.
Well, I can assure you that when Hans opens his restaurant “Hans Müller's authentic Italian Pizzas”, and advertises, in his thick Germanic accent, the authenticity of his specially designed Italian pizzas modified with French, Norwegian and Chinese ingredients, no one is going to take him seriously. And rightly so, because he simply ISN'T
selling "authentic Italian pizzas”, even though what he does sell is absolutely fantastic (which could very well be the case of MSDT: I never judge what I don't know, and very little of what I do know
Yes, it is a Chinese style martial art. Yes, it was founded by two Americans. What they created reflected the Chinese style, i.e. what they learned and how they learned it. Yes, it draws heavily from Chinese Kenpo because Charles and Helen Jennings both were black belts in that system.
Whether it "is" a Chinese art is just a matter of semantics... Should Ed Parker's American Kempo be considered a Japanese/Okinawan style because that's what it mainly draws from? It's just an idle debate on words. Still, notice that Mr Parker had the good taste not to call his system “authentic Okinawan kempo karate”.
A little piece of history for the ones seeking history on MSDT. Helen Jennings was one of the first female non-Asians to achieve a black belt in the system they studied.
Could you provide more details about the said system? I'm not sure what style the term “Chinese kempo” refers to here, since “kempo” is a Japanese word (whose Chinese equivalent would be quan-fa
in Mandarin and kyun-fat
in Cantonese)... I know that Ed Parker did use this phrase to refer to his system in an attempt to render its multiple sources, before settling for “American Kempo-Karate” which is probably a better name for it. Is that the system Ms. Jennings achieved black-belt level in? I'm a bit confused.
Shiva is 100% correct in describing where the information came from in the creation of MSDT. Charles Jennings did incorporate all of his martial arts training with law enforcement-style defensive tactics, etc...
That can be an excellent thing as far as immediate practicality is concerned.
But there again, vocabulary-wise, as soon as you decide to replace the mozarella with cheddar you have to stop calling your pizza “authentic Italian”.
Focusing on what the name MSDT means isn't too important. Shiva was pretty close with this here too. Since it is Chinese, there is no exact translation.
Quite a number of Chinese words and phrases are indeed difficult to translate accurately, either due to very subtly nuanced connotations they may carry, their highly underspecified linguistic nature, or a deep bond with elements of Chinese culture that are beyond the West's understanding. BUT, for two Americans to come up with a name that fall into such a category, they would need to have reached nigh-perfect proficiency in the Chinese language and culture, which the last part of the name clearly demonstrates wasn't the case. The only possible explanation I might think of would be that a native Chinese may have invented the “meng shou dong tai” part, while they themselves would have added the silly “zhong guo gong fu” suffix.
I'm sorry but if you choose a foreign name for the art you create, you should at least know what the name means.
I studied the Chinese language for 2 years, and I still can't fully understand how some words translate. I was told in the early 1990's that MSDT meant "the instinctual prowess of a wild beast". Whether it means that or not, I don't care. They could have been totally blowing smoke up my posterior and it still doesn't change the fact that that's the name of the system.
You're the second Chinese-speaking practitioner of MSDT to post here, and I still can't get those mysterious four ideograms from anyone... It is quite frustrating.
If any of the posters who've been the voice of MSDT so far can provide a picture, or an indication of what they are through the format I suggested in my previous post, that would be great.
Don't bother about the first two characters though, they're clear enough to me already. It's the last two I'd like to be granted a chance to try and interpret myself.
By the way, that's entirely your choice of course, but I definitively think you should care at least to SOME degree about what your art's name means. Linguistic faux-pas can be real 6itches.
Just imagine for a second that an American, highly talented at martial arts but not so much at languages, comes up with a new terrific fighting style to which he'd like to give a super-cool name like “Intense Boxing of the Way of Darkness”... If he tries to translate that with a dictionary or an automatic translator, he may end up calling his system something like “yin dao shen quan” (the icing on the cake would be that he have the ideograms tattooed on his shoulder
). Do I need to explain?
Though I disagree with some of what Shi Ronglang has posted, he has brought up a valid point of why they would continue to call it Chinese Kung Fu. Back in the day, they did call it Chinese Kung Fu. They changed it to Chinese Karate (running the risk of using an oxymoron) to distance MSDT from what is classical KungFu/GongFu.
Although it does sound pretty oxymoronic, I understand where it's coming from and find the initiative valid.
I find it weird that they should call it karate now after calling it kungfu “back in the day”, though... Many schools did the opposite, calling it “karate” back in the 70's when that was what any Asian striking system would be called by the general population, switching back to kungfu
now that people are widely familiar with the term (erroneous as it may be). Oh well... Their choice.
A long as they're not trying to mislead anyone, I respect it.
As to Shi Ronglang's last comment, I think that is probably a bit unfair. I've never known a single martial artist who after being exposed to MSDT believes it's a laughing stock of the Chinese and "educated" Westerners. I honestly don't see what the point of saying that is.
“After being exposed to MSDT” maybe not – if the system is as good as you say it is. But if you read my post carefully you'll notice I was referring solely to the “zhong guo gong fu” part of its name, which – I stand by it – would not only be somewhat fraudulent but also a major source of eye-rolling for native Chinese. I honestly didn't (and still don't) mean any disrespect to the art itself, I was only saying that this silly-sounding phrase should really be removed from the art's name for its own good.
The name isn't misleading anyone anymore than Shi Ronglang would mislead people to think you are a Ninja master or something. It's a name you have chosen to use. I accept that.
I beg to disagree: calling “Chinese kungfu” an art that's of only partially Chinese inspiration and was founded in California by two Americans IS
As for my pseudonym, the reason I use it is that I feel uncomfortable giving my real name on a public forum board.
It isn't even really a “pseudonym”, as in “a made up name”: it is a Chinese name I used to go by when I lived in China, an almost direct translation of my real name – the which would have been too much of a tongue-twister for my Chinese coworkers (it's bad enough for English-speakers already).
I'm making no mystery of its characters, they're right here under my user-name in the margin on the left of any of my posts. Without much difficulty, anyone familiar with Chinese could even work out my real first name from it.
If I had to sum up what MSDT is, I would say that it is a martial arts system which utilizes the techniques, form, and knowledge of Chinese systems with a more MMA (don't do it if it doesn't work) mentality.
One might argue that this apparently simple change does constitute a major stray from its origin, Chinese martial arts having more of a “do it until it does
. But then again, as soon as you stop marketing it as “Chinese kungfu”, you do whatever you like with it and that's perfectly fine.
I'll repeat it once more: I mean no disrespect to the system per se
, nor to its founders, nor to you. I was never exposed to MSDT in any way and therefore, as a rule, won't allow myself to judge it.
I'm just pointing out a few strictly semantical weaknesses that do the style no favour.