Lineage is another hot button topic within the martial arts community. Some say that who you come from is of the utmost importance and others could care less. But why are there so may different opinions on this topic and why dose the very mention of it often enrage others? First lets try to get a basic understanding of what "Martial Arts Lineage" is and is not. Your martial arts lineage is the direct line of instructors and teachers from who the knowledge that you are studying has flowed through. Consider it similar to a NFL football teams coaching tree. Where did the knowledge come from and was it from a reputable and winning source? Lineage is a way to track if what you are learning is based on solid knowledge from a reputable source and not just some "Get your black belt online" rip off.
With that being said, just because you can verify your teachers lineage that they came through doses not guarantee that they themselves are good teachers. Or that what you are learning isn't just your teachers way and not necessarily the way their teachers taught them.
Usually, those instructors with a solid lineage tend to feel that lineage is important. Those who cant or don't want to say who they learned from usually don't put any importance on lineage. If your martial arts teacher has maintained a strong relationship with his or her instructor(s) and has never burned a bridge with them, they will usually be more then willing to talk about their teachers and what lessons they learned. On the contrary, because martial arts are hard to verify in the United States, you will find many unscrupulous teachers out there who are telling half truths or in many cases outright lying to their students about the depth of their knowledge in a given art or style.
There is a teacher in our area who I know personally. He was a 2nd degree black belt when he opened his school. Within a couple of years he was seen with a 5th degree black belt and a association certificate to go with it. This instructor did not have the proper time in his grade to be promoted to such a high degree. He obviously paid someone to rank him up. He does not talk about his teachers and when pressed about how he got a 5th degree masters level black belt, he gets angry.
Another reason that lineage can be a good tool to understand your path is technical knowledge. If you can verify that the people that your teacher learned from are regarded as "True teachers", you can usually assume that you are also learning a legit art.
To be fair, just because your teacher isn't from a famous line of Masters, dose not mean that what you are learning isn't real or that your teachers is a fake. It is however, nice to know and be able to verify that what you are learning is legit. You are spending countless hours in the academy. Not to mention your hard earned money. It may be a good idea that you make sure that who you are learning from is who you thought they were.