Saturday, 8 December 2012

Words and Deeds - Part 1

My Great Grand Master Ang Lian Huat Founder Nam Yang Pugilistic Association Singapore
My Great Grand Master
Ang Lian Huat
Employing politeness and etiquette is operating in the path of least resistance. It allows people a comfortable space in which to express themselves freely without the fear of judgement. Worry and excitement are two sides of a coin. I would rather that people are excited in my company than worried about my opinion of them (or their opinion of themselves). Confidence through the practice of Kung Fu helps us to employ free will. Confidence supports my discernment which in turn aids my ability to apply common courtesy (or not as the case may be) on my terms.
My skill in Kung Fu dictates that my kindness is a choice. This contributes to my genuine nature. I have never really had the desire to pander to the popular, I speak my mind and do my best to work from first principles. I give respect where respect is due, and retain the right to remove my kindness as quickly as I apply it.
My Great Grandmaster Yip Man Founder Ving Tsun Athletic Association Hong Kong
My Great Grandmaster Yip Man
Hopefully people appreciate my kindness as something valuable.  I like to think this side of my character is my most endearing. Formality has its place, has the power to break over-familiarity or misconception. As somebody who manages people that practice fighting, I sometimes require a certain separation. Being polite most of the time, I can allow other peoples attitude and conduct to lead the action. 
However, it is important to add that when walking through the door of my kwoon, that it is equivalent to walking into my living room and therefore I deem it pertinent to carry a device to remind people just who sets the mood in this space, so my students refer to me as ‘Sifu’ – teacher, and exhibit a degree of decorum in my company as my guests. We enjoy a mutual respect inside this culture.
Sigung C K Chang. Founder Wu Shu Kwan Chinese Kickboxing
Sigung C K Chang
Traditionally, I don’t like labels. Words have power and I don’t like societies ambition to categorize everything, give it a name, put it in a box, tell us what a ‘thing’ is like and what that ‘thing’ is doing. I believe most ‘things’ (and people especially) have the propensity to be far more complex than we first envisage and therefore in categorizing and labeling ‘things’, we run the risk of simplifying them to less than the sum of their parts.
Sigung Henry Koh Co-Founder Zhuan Shu Kuan Chinese Kickboxing
Sigung Henry Koh
As somebody who is working on being expansive and cultivating himself to be more than he is at this moment in time, to abide by a label and the connotations associated to that might limit my totality, or potentiality – what a sad day! I would like to believe that my identity and future is more about how I deal with the immediate, what I know, the way I feel about things, my conduct, and how people interact with me rather than an attempt by others to tell me who and what I am.
Grand Master Toddy. Often referred to as Father of UK Thai Boxing
Grand Master Toddy
So it is important to understand that labels can carry a positive or negative energy depending on the connotation and belief applied to them which will be relative to an individual’s thoughts, experiences and motivation. As connotation and opinion surrounding labels and character differ so much, on obtaining the title of Sifu, it is important to have consideration for the notion of this character, who he has been historically, actually, and what it means to be him today.

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Article from 2006: Wing Chun Illustrated - Proximity.