Monday, 17 December 2012

Words and Deeds - Part 3

T'ai Tsung Sifu Tony Roberts
Traditionally, Kung Fu schools have a long history of training individuals for many years before Sifu status is bestowed upon them. Doctors spend much less time and effort obtaining a doctorate. I don't imagine the Masters that proceeded me worked with equivalent dedication to be referred to as 'just coach'. Over the years, I have been developing an understanding of my mind, and physical skill in the context of combat. I am always working on improvement and efficiency. I use violence as the medium because the risk attached to violence makes it a very practical and exciting study. Risk is also an excellent catalyst for mind/body development, as is the framework of the Wing Chun system.

My knowledge also extends to the health and maintenance of the human being on a holistic level. This is because I have experienced so much injury and healing as a byproduct of my training. With a relatively sound understanding of myself, I am able to use my tools and experience to help other people understand them selves and in turn understand their situation better.

Most importantly, I teach people how to adapt situation so they are capable of making the most out of it. ‘Coach’ does not adequately depict the potentiality of Sifu. On a micro or macro basis it is out and out reduction. A Sifu should not be grouped with those who play games. The ability to enhance life or crush it is not a game. It is a serious matter for serious people. In the same way we respect life, wholesome individuals who have a handle on life’s enhancement or cessation should be appreciated. Like we differentiate between a soldier and a police officer, we wouldn’t confuse the two - the role is entirely different.
Not using the title Sifu does not make a man any more or less humble. Men decide that for themselves. In not using the title Sifu, we break a culture of respect and succession that has operated for roughly one thousand five hundred years.

Kru Dave with Rampage Jackson
The degradation of what it means to be Sifu is something we have to accept. As people pay for qualifications or amalgamations rather than working to accomplishment this much is inevitable. At the same time, it is important to remember that a select few are the ‘real deal’. They have honed their skill through blood sweat and injury and should be named as such. Rather than abandon the title of Sifu or substitute it for something that fails to capture the essence of what it is to be a teacher of Kung Fu, I would like to think that the next generation of proficient teachers among us will continue to use it, and remain conscious of their obligation to students, teachers and Chinese Kung Fu as hard working individuals capable of producing positive change. Without it, they only 'sell themselves short'.

I have had a Sifu since the age of eleven. Watched, listened, dined and sparred with them. I only ever intended on having one, but that’s not the way things work out. I have respected each of my Sifus in turn and worked my hardest to replicate and refine their teachings and output to the best of my ability. I feel honoured to have worked with all of them - I had so much fun!!!

Sigung Wong Shun Leung
There are not many positive male role models accessible to our youth. Sat in the fabric of advertising many seem lost. I don’t know if people will continue to pursue consumerism and entertainment as the route to happiness for a lifetime? As somebody who knows better, I hope that in teaching a few people the value of personal power they can obtain some salvation from the dictates of the mainstream, and gain some insight and satisfaction with who they really are, minus their possessions and the attempted ownership of other people.

Most importantly as teacher, I get to witness the elation and upgrade people experience as part of their personal journeys in contact with Wing Chun. This is confidence and choice that grows from an enhanced relationship people develop with them selves. To clarify, a Sifu is a man with a degree of self mastery not a man that outwardly seeks to be the Master of others. Each student I contact is on loan to me for a time, how long I have no control over. If after a single session, that person manages to take something positive and practical away with them, I’m satisfied and feel like I’ve done my job. How much people choose to take is always up to them.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my students for providing me an opportunity to share with them what I have. Best of luck to each and every one of you. You know my door is always open.

In this life there is truth - reality, and then there is everything else. In testing, teaching and contacting through combat, we may assess our grip on what is real. Our functionality and the reality of shared experience will pin point the measure of our skill. If you cannot operate in the truth unequivocally, the victim is only ever you. Reality possesses substance, when we contact the truth it dissolves everything else as everything else...doesn’t actually exist.  You can teach what you like, but if you move and speak with disillusionment when the truth catches up with you, you will acquire a new reflection. Real teachers and skilled fighters deal in truth. They assess themselves and the world against reality. These people we call Sifu.

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Article from 2006: Wing Chun Illustrated - Proximity.