When discussing the topic of young masters, the argument always references the maturity level of the practitioner as well as their life experience (or lack thereof). If the study of Budo is a lifelong journey, how can someone under the age of 35 (still pushing the boundaries) have enough life experience or even martial arts experience to claim high rank in any martial arts system, let alone multiple systems, or even worse - claim to be the founder of their own system! This argument generally comes by way of traditional/classical practitioners who may have reached the peak of their martial arts progression. They use the argument that in a true traditional system, mastery cannot be achieved at such a young age. However, the history of their own system(s) seems to get conveniently overlooked.
- Kano Jigoro, founder of Kodokan Judo, began his martial arts training at the age of 17. By the time he opened the Kodokan in 1882 (age 22), he had earned master level certification in Tenjin Shin'yo Ryu Jujutsu as well as Menkyo Kaiden in Kito Ryu Jujutsu.
- Bruce Lee died at the age of 33, already experiencing worldwide acclaim as one of the greatest martial artists that ever lived (a controversy for another day) and the founder of Jeet Kune Do, though he had never officially earned a black belt.
- Miyamoto Musashi founded the system of Nito-Ryu Kenjutsu at the ripe old age of 15, after defeating numerous opponents of classical sword styles in his famous duels.
- Ji Han Jae, founder of Sin Moo Hapkido, studied under Choi Yong-Sul from 1953-1956 before he opened his own school. In 1959, he coins the name "Hapkido" to replace the name "Yusul" currently used by Choi and is currently revered as the founder of Hapkido.
- Hwang Kee, at the age of 31, combined Soo Bahk Do with the Chinese T'ang method to create Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan.
- Masaaki Hatsumi began his martial arts training at the age of 26 in 1957, and by 1972 (age 41) had achieved Menkyo Kaiden in 9 different martial arts and founded the Bujinkan.
Let's end this hypocrisy and racial profiling in the martial arts. In a world where everyone seeks equality, for the right to be treated as fairly as the person next to them, to be judged on their own merit alone and not to be compared to another, how can we tolerate such behavior in the martial arts?