I picked up a book off my martial arts library bookcase the other day--a book on Hsing-I Chuan written back in the early 80's by an American who I won't name. I hadn't looked at it in a long time and when I did, I was surprised at how much work the author needed on his body mechanics and posture. I read it anyway, because I can learn from just about anyone.
It's a difficult thing to put what you know on video or in photos, especially when you put it on the web, but also when you put it in print. You open yourself up to unmerciful flaming. I try to be very careful about what I put out for public consumption because I know too well the tendency of others to be very critical.
The Internet is the worst. That's why I've disabled comments on the clips that I put on YouTube. There are thousands of armchair quarterbacks out there -- black belts in their own mind -- who criticize everyone they see online. They're almost always anonymous and pick apart everything they see. 99% of these flamers can't do anything but by criticizing others, they make themselves feel better, I suppose.
This blog is an interesting example of what happens when you make people accountable for their comments. I welcome comments from everyone, but there has to be a real name attached and a real email address, and all comments are approved before being posted. This policy keeps the flamers away, but if you notice, it also means that only a few people post comments. I've learned to avoid chat rooms online, because it's so often a waste of time, and many discussions turn to arguments and flaming. That's why I took the discussion board off my website years ago.
When I produce video, I often re-shoot something because when I look at it, I realize I didn't do it perfectly, and if you don't do it perfectly you're going to get slammed. You see, even if you're giving good information, there are people who will slam you anyway.
There is a lot of insecurity in the internal arts, that's why you find people who are so critical of others. I don't spend 10 seconds worrying about what other people are doing, where they study, how they practice, or how high their skills are. The only time I'm ever critical of someone is when they claim to be able to do supernatural things with their "chi." That has nothing to do with skill or who your teacher is--that has everything to do with fraud and dragging the internal arts down into KooKoo Land.
I've listened to Tai Chi teachers badmouth others. I've seen Tai Chi masters badmouth other people. I've heard American Tai Chi teachers criticize disciples of a particular master, saying they didn't deserve to be disciples. And of course I've been on the receiving end of badmouthing, too. I think it takes a pretty insecure and jealous person to be critical of the martial arts skill of others. If you hang around internal arts teachers like that, find a new teacher.
One of the reasons I love YouTube is because I can see so many other martial artists doing their thing. I love to see the internal artists, even if they look like they're just enthusiastic guys having fun who aren't high level -- that's okay, because I almost always pick up something I can use, or a training technique I haven't tried before. I saw one Hsing-I guy performing strikes at a speed that I've never tried before. It was really cool. I don't know how good this guy really is, but he gave me an idea that I'm going to work into my practice as soon as I get my heavybag back up. I love it.
Keep yourself open to the work of others. Even if they aren't perfect (and who among us is?), you can still learn.