AUTHENTICITY IN, AND OF THE ARTS




Who is to say what is authentic?  A dictionary definition of authenticity is:  "The condition of quality of being authentic, trustworthy or genuine".  Authentic is "worthy of trust, reliance or belief".  Trustworthy is "warranting trust, dependable, reliable".  Genuine is as "authentic".  If we take the above and apply it to the Martial Arts, we can then say that an art or system has authenticity if it is worthy of trust, dependable, reliable and it is known the character of the founder or producer.

Some say that a system has to be hundreds or thousands of years old to be authentic.  If that being the case, where is the time where authenticity ends and "counterfeits, fakes and artificiality" begin?  Whenever an individual takes an idea, modifies it and improves on it for the times or their own purpose, is it a counterfeit or an original?  Is the modern day home, automobile or airplane a counterfeit of the first idea or is it a much improved version?

Tae Kwon Do and Jeet Kune Do, to name a couple, are less than 50 years old, but are they counterfeit or just another family from the same idea?  Tang Soo Do practitioners might say that they are more original.  And then you have Pankration and So on.  How far back do you have to go?  What about Vajramushti?  It goes much farther back than Bodhidharma (Daruma, Pu Ti Ta Mo), so is Chuan Fa of the Shaolin Temple a counterfeit?

I really do not believe that it is the age of a system that makes it "authentic", but of the usable and effective value of a system built upon the tradition by which the original idea was born or developed.  As with Tae Kwon Do, it has become a well recognized and respected martial art that is relatively new.  So, whether a system is 1500 years old or 40 years old, it doesn't matter as long as it is functional and accepted by the populous as workable and effective.  Some of the older systems are beginning to conform to more modern ideas, but is that to say that they are no longer authentic?  I believe that if a system is able to compete against another system with positive results, it is worthy of acceptance and of being authentic in its design.