Is this Martial Art video genuine? This is a question we must now ask when the majority of martial arts the public is seeing are coming from social media. To be more specific is the video you are watching only made for social media? If so, and the majority certainly are, then what you are seeing is often for the purpose of attracting clicks. Of course, as a YouTube channel we also desire clicks and subscribers – but we are careful not to misrepresent the reality of martial arts. With the increasing use of AI, we will soon be asking not if the video is genuine but is it real?
Increasingly we are seeing videos are shot and edited to be outlandish – to get a reaction. They are meant to sensationalize even if this means hiding the truth. We are seeing this evolution on YouTube in martial arts and this gives a distorted view of normal training. Viewers are not seeing the reality of training in a dojo or temple. If we, as a documentary studio of martial arts posted only videos of Shaolin monks smashing steel bars over their heads (which we have actually filmed) then we are portraying a distorted view of Shaolin Temple Kung Fu. The reality is much more boring. Most of a Shaolin Monks time is taken with studies of Zen Buddhism, cleaning the temple and working in the kitchen, and growing food and growing herbs. Shaolin Monks practice Kung Fu in private behind closed doors unless it is for a special temple event.
When you see YouTube videos of Shaolin Kung Fu “monks” performing sensational “tricks” they are staged for the camera and very often not filmed at Shaolin. We know this because at one time, many years ago, most foreign cameras were banned from Shaolin Temple. We at Empty Mind Films were fortunate to be accepted by the Temple and allowed to film there. To do this, we needed written permission from the Government in nearby city of Dengfeng. We also had a good track record of not distorting the truth of Shaolin – my assistant was a highly credited Chinese journalist in Beijing – with a considerable reputation that she would not allow to be tarnished.
Daily martial arts training is boring to watch. Go to any traditional Japanese dojo of Karate, Aikido, Judo or Kendo and there is certainly nothing that would cause a frenzy on social media. The same for China with Kung Fu, Tai Chi Chuan and the hundred’s of styles in China. We have visited Wudang Mountain in China many times and filmed some beautiful martial arts there with acclaimed teachers. We have also filmed fake teachers at Wudang who only perform for the tourists. These so-called priests of Wudang will perform in the most scenic parts of the mountain and at temples.
But when you visit Wudang Mountain to experience legendary Taoist Martial Arts, not everything you see may be what it seems. At first glance this wonderful old Wudang priest in our video below seemed to be an ancient sage (he was dressed as a Wudang priest) showing super skills with the Daoist shovel weapon. But he kept asking us to try some tea – like the girls you see in Beijing asking you to go with them to a tea shop! In the end after questioning, he told us that he is being paid to advertise tea from the local tea plantation outside a cafe on Wudang Mountain. Oh what fun! We purposely titled our YouTube video “Not Every Wudang Kung Fu Master is Real…!”
For most martial arts practice there is nothing worth shooting for social media. It is mostly for those who understand it and train themselves or interested in Asian studies. On our website you will see our mission statement, written almost 25 years ago – “Our documentaries are authentic without sensationalism. In this way, we are regarded as the most accurate source for traditional Martial Arts, Spirituality and Wellness of Mind and Body.”
We have never shot video for social media – we make documentaries for television broadcast. Our YouTube videos are tiny slices taken from the hundreds of hours we may shoot for a single documentary. So if you want to sample authentic training in martial arts, with the best teachers – then our channel is the place for you. You will get an accurate representation of daily training in the dojos of Japan and the temples and training halls of China and South-East Asia.