There were secret strikes that could only be divulged after your character was tested, but no matter how tested you were it wasn't quite time...and then you might happen to overhear the person withholding the information ask his instructor, and you might even hear him get the same run around. The mystical knowledge wasn't there.
But people want it and they want it bad. People really like magic. And if enough people want something, someone will supply it for money or sycophants or just for ego. And the cool thing about supplying magic is that the people buying it will do all the heavy work, suspending disbelief.
So I was attracted to instructors who not only could do things, but could explain it. If the instructor had amazing skills and his students sucked, he either couldn't teach or was deliberately withholding...and if the instructor sucked and the students thought he was amazing, it was a religion, not a self-defense class.
Brent Yamamoto and Kris Wilder, under the tutelage of Hiroo Ito, are doing some amazing stuff. Stuff that harkens back to the legends I heard as a wee beginner. It's not mystical. It is structure and slaving (in the engineering sense) small motions to big muscles. Applying bone rather than muscle. They are doing the things that the internal stylists talk about, but because they are learning and not parroting, they can apply them moving and even fighting, something I have seen rarely in internal stylists.
And they can teach. Their students are picking it up. Applying it.
My reductionist side wants to take it down even further, but that can wait.
For now, I know two men in the Seattle area, NW Martial Arts in Bothell and West Seattle Karate, who are teaching some of the things that the instructors in the eighties pretended to know.
Billings, Montana this Saturday. I'll be going through Spokane Thursday night if anyone wants to meet on the route.