What Makes A Sifu?
Grandmaster Ip Chun ‘MY’ Sifu
When we think of a Sifu the first thing that comes to mind is an instructor, well obviously we would expect a Sifu to be either a teacher or have the capability to teach, but there is far more to it than just if they teach or do not.
Grandmaster Ip Chun once said to me that to him:
“A true Sifu is one who is humble and mild, and not someone who goes blowing their trumpet”
And yes the ‘trumpet’ part was through translation, but he also said:
“A Sifu should be there twenty-four seven, and not only during class times”.
I have had trained many students up instructor level but rarely do I have them make Sifu level, however, my views on this have changed somewhat over recent years, although I would like it to be known that the reason for this is purely because of my respect of what this title holds, a view I still hold today but now I have had the chance to bring other elements into my thinking.
Over the thirty years I have been teaching my class I have always been there for my students and have been privileged to help many of them through some difficult times, and most commonly when a student is finding their motivation or lack of mojo for training to be an issue.
The only downside to this commitment is if a student wishes to have my attention but feels that I am being distant from them.
So to my students, and to those of you who feel this way about your own teachers, please consider this, if I have one hundred students it would be very difficult for me to address each and every one of you on a daily basis (as much as I would like to), whereas, what I would ask to all those one hundred students is to remember there is only one Sifu.
SO, if there is ever a problem, an issue with your training, or if you simply wish to have some extra time/attention with me in class,
PLEASE JUST ASK.
It’s ok, that’s what I am here for, so please never feel that I am unapproachable.
It is a wonderful thing when a student has respect for you, however I would not wish for such a level of respect to interfere with the students progress, all because they were too afraid to ask me something.
This happens in seminars too, questions are begging to be asked but are hampered by either a fear of speaking to me directly, OR about feeling as though it may be a stupid question.
‘There is no such thing as a stupid question’
(If you genuinely wish to know the answer)
The truth is that when that question is asked, half the people in the room probably wanted to know that same thing themselves or were incorrect in what they believed the answer to be!
So again, to my students I ask:
‘If you want to talk to me, please do, I’m here for you’
And to all the instructors out there, please remember,
‘If you wish to be considered a Sifu, do not let your teachings be directed purely by money, that was not the reason YOU started training, and remember how YOU wanted to be able to train alongside the teacher, to chat with them and be considered a friend (part of the family).’
Yes we should respect our elders, but we should also show compassion to our younger’s, this is how you get respect.
Happy training and Happy teaching… Sifu’s