Holding back one secret

July 21st, 2012

Years ago, I was talking about teaching with a good friend and she made a remark that has stayed with me to this day.

She said, “Why are you giving away all your secrets, shouldn’t you hold back at least one technique?”

And then she made a reference to the old martial arts masters.

Legend has it that every martial arts master in ancient times held back at least one technique from his students. The fear was that if you taught everything to your students, one day, one of them might come back to kill you.

If you held back one secret, you’ll have at least one advantage over him. (This is something perhaps Obi-Wan Kenobi should’ve kept in mind.)

It was a good thought, but since I didn’t expect any future guitar dueling contests with my ex-students, I decided to go ahead and keep on revealing all my secrets to my students.

And it was bad teaching philosophy anyway. If every successive generation held back at least one secret, where would the state of the art be in a few generations?

I’ve brought the same open philosophy to this blog and to my books.

Everything I know, everything I’ve learned is here in my books, and in these posts.

And somewhere, I suspect someone is asking the same question that my friend asked years ago — why am I revealing all my secrets to the world?

Because I believe knowledge is meant to be shared. It’s not meant to be hoarded, held to the chest like some secret weapon. The more one shares, the better for the state of the art.

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