Monday, October 13, 2014

Legend and PR in martial art

People love stories and they love legends, keen to be part of them, in their imagination if not in reality. Lovers would cry over Romeo and Juliet (and [for the saner many] don’t imitate them) and tai chi practitioners dreamed of themselves as Unbeatable Yang, the legendary Yang-style grandmaster who pretended to be a dumb servant, according to a popular fiction that later turned into legendary “truth”, learned his art from a Chen-style master who refused to teach anybody not a Chen. I loved the stories as a kid and still love them today. They feed my imagination and fire my determination to learn. And I belong to the saner many.

It is the same in religion. A few years ago, I chatted with a brother-in-law of mine, a Caucasian who was (and still is) a minister in Canada about the life story of Jesus. “Of course it is not history, as is the history being taught in our Universities. It is a legendary story for preaching Christianity and to convert people”. And my brother-in-law belongs to the saner many too.

Recently I commented on a post in one of my internet friend’s blog and the post was written by a guest author, a sifu resided in the Gulf region - not that the never-ending crisis in the region has anything to do with the topic discussed here. Anyway I mentioned some historical facts in Chinese history concerning the use of certain weapon in the past, to correct apparent errors in the article (which I happen to be familiar about, as I have been living in Hong Kong all my life).

I then realized that I was caught in a cross-fire – apparently some one was trying to create a new legend, unsurprisingly, using favorable data, and apparently for PR purpose. More mentions of misinformation by other commenters. Then I recalled a teaching of my late father “Don’t openly comment on other sifu’s teaching because their livelihood might depend on it”. Old wisdom, whether or not it is still applicable today is another issue, though my initial response was: perhaps I should not have made the comment in the first place. I have no regret.

Today a product or service needs marketing and PR. Every single TV commercial is trying to build a good image story for its product or service. Every product or service would like to create a legend for itself. In most cases, people don’t care about the intricacies (who care about the technical details of Pepsi challenge, other than the image or perception of Pepsi winning the challenge!), they care about image (assuming that no major negative on the part of the physical product or service itself). The whole modern economy builds on marketing, aka legends and myths.

One caveat for marketer (including martial artists marketing their lineage/skills): In the past, people tended to be more tolerant on whatever were being said in legends (marketing/PR). Today, any perceived intentional tampering of the facts, if being found out, will most likely back-fire.  It is OK for Pepsi to claim victory in its Pepsi challenge (though nobody actually bought a cola drink without knowing its brand-name first), it will be disastrous for Pepsi's image if the company had faked the statistics.

The Pepsi Challenge


  1. These are frequent topics at Kung Fu Tea (


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