One of the most important questions for me personally at the moment is on choosing a tradition/school/lineage/whatever-other-taxonomical-widgets-applies. I have already given, and continue to give the matter a lot of thought, but it's hard. While I read and ponder and muse, I do practice, so I'm not waiting to know who shot the arrow before working on getting it out. But, still, as my practice advances, I will need to decide.

HOWEVER, I'm also aware that this style of question can be fraught with difficulties on an SE site.

So, what's the general view? Extremely important (to me) question, but possibly entirely unsuitable for SE: Ask it? Go elsewhere (for this question -- i.e. let SE be good at what it's good at, and use other forums/channels/places for what they're good at)?

P.S. I suspect that this is an important question for many people. P.P.S. The devil may be in the details, so one option is I just go ahead and ask my question on the main site and let the votes have their way. But I'm chicken! :-)

2 Answers 2


This is one of those where different SEs have done different things and has been, er, somewhat controversial.

As a general rule I don't like recommendation questions. I'll speak to this from a martial arts perspective, since that is the one I am most familiar with.

"What tradition should I practice" is usually worthless and too highly localized to be of use to many others. "Should I choose Hapkido or Kyokushinkai?" is not going to generate a lot of useful answers, as a general rule, simply because the instructor is such a huge variable unless the person is looking for something specific that is or is not found in one art and not the other.

For me it isn't that they come down to opinion, it is that most people don't have a broad enough experience to give an answer that is going to be applicable to both the person in question without significant caveats (not knowing, for example, the instructors in the area) or so localized as to be useless for anyone else.

That said, I think there are a lot of recommendation-like questions that could be increadibly valuable.

  • "What are the differences between these two specific traditions?"
  • "I have (these considerations), what should I look for in choosing a tradition?"
  • "In my circumstance, what should I look for in a teacher?"
  • "I am considering tradition X, can I get some more information around practice/viewpoint P?"

So long as the considerations and circumstances are not too narrow here, I think these sorts of questions can be quite valuable both for the asker and for people down the road.


Help with choosing a tradition is likely to be opinion-based. For instance, I have seen the same reasons used for choosing Mahayana over Theravada, as the opposite (Theravada over Mahayana).

However, asked in a more specific way, these types of questions could be helpful. For instance, asking for fact-based comparisons of certain (limited scope) aspects of the traditions may be helpful and less subjective.

On topic, choosing a tradition also involves finding a teacher that is suitable for you - you have to try them out (both tradition and teacher). There are a number of questions already about different traditions and teachers, letting everyone make their own informed choices.

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