As I read through an awful lot of posts by people I don’t recognize on the net one of the thoughts that most often pop up in my head is “talk to me in 20 years”. As a matter of fact, I say that to myself in class too, when a student asks something that I know won’t be a question in a few years, but that’s a slightly different thing. Well, maybe not, my student is being taught and gets to ask the question or make the statement of his knowledge since I’m the one teaching him. The stranger on the internet isn’t my “problem”, so I can simply say to myself “talk to me in 20 years if you still feel that way”. Otherwise it’s not my responsibility to try to educate. Time will do that, or they will be gone from the scene.
You have no idea how many experts I’ve seen disappear from the net. Or how many “schools” come to that. You might think that in this day of stunningly easy access to knowledge it would be impossible to “found” a new ancient martial art and have folks believe that you met some old dude two streets over who made you the soke of his family art… but folks don’t really check all that much. If the dojo is next door and the classes are fun who really gets worried if the teacher is legitmate or not? The internet is likely a source of trouble more than a saviour of young folks about to be deluded since the kids who follow the newly minted soke will probably hear that he’s “a fake” when they go online to brag. Up to then they’re happy.
Of course the school might be perfectly fine, just an offshoot of some other art and not claimed to be anything else. There’s lots of people who “start their own art” and it survives while they’re alive and then it’s gone when they are. Think Bartitsu if you want a good example.
The way to “found your own school” that seems to make sense to me is to simply teach. Your students will follow or not. If one of them goes on to teach the same thing and then his students teach… you’ve got a lineage and somewhere around the 3rd or 4th generation they may think about putting a name to it.
Inventing a new school and declaring yourself some sort of soke is fine, dandy, and somewhat cart before the horse. You aren’t the founder of anything at all unless you’ve got great-grandkids calling you that. Like I said, talk to me in 20 years, or two generations.