The Indonesians have a word, “pusaka,” which loosely means “treasure,” or “heirloom.” In the case of pentjak silat, this has come to mean that an art is transmitted as learned.
With regard to respecting the source material, this is a good thing.
However, if all you ever did was practice and teach every piece you learned, exactly as you learned it?
You are failing in your potential as a student and teacher.
You can’t do it, anyhow, the nature of or bodies is such that we adjust whatever we learn to fit ourselves. If you are six-four and two-forty, you won’t move the same way as somebody who is five-three and one-twenty — you literally can’t.
It’s an old joke in martial arts that when you show a newbie a move or a form, you offer a caveat — this is how I do it. When the senior teacher comes back, chances are what s/he shows you won’t look exactly like this.
Because it never does.
Bruce Lee spent only about four years in formal training, and from then on, he picked bits here and there and melded them into his own system.
This is how new systems are created, always have been, and always will be, if they are to thrive.
My teacher’s teacher learned some basics, then started to change them to suit his body and mind. My teacher learned his teacher’s basics, and then changed them. What he taught me is only distantly related to what he learned, and even that has shifted a bunch over the years. What you offer at sixty is not what you offer at forty. Yeah, the bottom-line basics are still there, but they have taken other roads to other places.
This is as it should be.
The danger is that you don’t learn enough to understand an art before you begin to add or drop things, and you can get lost. Guy trains for a year or two, thinks he knows it all, then goes off and creates his own art, losing the pieces that he thinks are useless. Sometimes he might be right, but often, he is wrong.
If you have more depth in an art and you see somebody who doesn’t understand it trying to fix it, you can tell. Here is a bedrock part of what we do, and this guy has tossed it into the trash can because he doesn’t get it. What he is doing is not an improvement.
This is an ongoing problem with seminars. You go, and the guy teaching the session shows you something that is so foreign to what you know, you can’t buy it. That, you realize, will get you killed, and so you smile and nod and do it to be a good attendee, but you know it won’t go home with you.
Things evolve. Martial arts have to adapt to new influences. Yes, a punch is still a punch, but there are more ways to deal with it available, and that close-quarters knife defense might not work so well against a shotgun at fifteen feet.
There is no magic secret knowledge in our art. Anybody who is holding something back to keep students is running a shuck, and if you see this, you might want to look around. Sure, the teacher can say he isn’t showing you everything because you aren’t ready to see it yet, because you don’t have the knowledge or skill to understand it, but if that isn’t on the table down the road? Best you move along.