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Thread: Stephen Chang - Hung gar Grandmaster?

  1. #1

    Stephen Chang - Hung gar Grandmaster?

    Hello Forum Friends

    I was wondering if I could send out a question and see if anybody has any answers for me? A friend of mine in Vancouver, Canada is currently looking for an Hung Gar instructor. He is come across a sifu named Grandmaster Stephen Chang. I know that he is from a Lam Sai Wing Lineage. I have never personally trained with Mr. Chang but he has been in Vancouver for a long time and has appeared in many Hong Kong and American films. Mr. Chang says that though there are many masters of Hung Gar, there are very few Grandmaster's such as himself. Is fees seem reasonable to me, but I don't know what advice I can give my friend as I do not know him or any of his students. Here are the questions. 1. Has anybody had any experience with or know Grandmaster Stephen Chang?
    2. Does anybody know who his sifu was? and.. 3. What exactly is the difference between Master and Grandmaster?

    Thanks! and I hope to hear from you soon!!!!

  2. #2
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    These terms Grand Master and Great Grand master are actually relatively new and weren't used before the last 15 years or so.

    I think they are terms that are brought into being to comply with teh western mentality in regards to heirarchical structure in an organization and this need to know where one "fits in".

    A phenomenon that is slowly leaking back into the east where it didn't exist before.

    My personal opinion is that these terms and references are only serving individual egos and are poisoning the truths of martial arts and their practitioners.

    Self titled Masters and Grand Masters are only that "self titled".
    They may be good, but the premise is pure bunk.

    A sifu is a different thing and people are even co-opting that title as they ae the title si gung and dai si gung. They are terms related to a familial structure that was and is part of the norm in instruction in Kungfu.

    In the past, and in some cases still, a student would enrol in a gwoon and live in it. The student would learn in all aspects of life, morals , ethics, regular school, life skills the works and the Master of teh school was named "sifu" which means Teacher/Father.

    This term was in recognition of the students and charges chief benefactor being the benevolent one who gave them instruction in how to be a good citizen and a contributor to not only society but to humanity in general.

    The extraction of all the rest and the keeping of only the martial arts is something that has occured and people chose to keep some of these structures without the whole schema being applied.

    This has led to theh modern issue of those who aren't, calling themselves these titles when in fact they are nothing close to the original intent of the structure.

    the western paradigm is not all poison, but it is surprisingly egoi based and driven by the want for individualistic power.

    In truth, a true Master would never call himself this and would indeed not let you kneel before them or serve them anymopre than they served you. While at the same time they would make the true and genuine effort to ensure that you had the opportunity to see the thruth they know and to have the opportunity to attain kungfu by learning from doing and by enacting thsoe experiential activities that will bring this objective to fruition inside of you the student.

    It is a conundrum for many teachers of martial arts these days especially in the west here by my perspective which is a western one.

    Understand that this is my observation and opinion, but I don't think I am alone on this view I hold.

    cheers
    我不知道。我不能读中国。

    - Don't bother demanding respect. You'll get less. Earn respect through what you do, you get more.

  3. #3

    Angry

    I agree with KungLek.

    Titles like master, grandmaster, sifu are titles which should be given to someone by others out of respect.


    Anybody who calls him-/herself a master or grandmaster is an arrogant *&^%$#.
    They probably need the title to impress, because they can't do it with their skill.

  4. #4
    Thanks guys for your Opinion of Grandmaster vs. Master. (I believe the same you do), that's why a warning bell rang when my friend told me about this instructor. I always believed a grandmaster was the top of the seniority chain in that particular style. Have you or any others heard of GRANDMASTER?? Stephen Chang out of Vancouver.

    __________________________________________________ __

    Quote of the day
    "Don't look at the finger that points at the moon, but my foot that's going to kick your @$$!!!

  5. #5

    Interesting Guy

    First, if you look at my past posts you'll know I'm very much against the inflated Grandmaster title. Kung Lek pretty much spelled it out.

    That said, there seems to be a phenomenon of Instructors in the 70s that felt grandmaster carried more weight.

    So doing a quick Google search, I found http://www.grandmasterchang.com/

    I've never met this guy and he doesn't ever spell out his lineage. His quote is, "was a founder of the Shaolin Hunggar style in Canada in 1969" and "Now a Grandmaster (the highest ranking in traditional Chinese martial arts)"

    Reading his site, all I can say is, he is a promoter. Looks like a very successful one at that. Based on his old photos, he doesn't look too bad. (Can't tell how good someone is from a photo but you can tell if they really s*ck) Then again, he is movie so he should know how to look good in a photo.

    Also, he tries to put himself in the same league as Bruce Lee. Neighborhood friends, trained and fought together, both went into show biz, first to teach "non-Chinese.", etc.

    Where does that leave your friend? Can he tell what he wants from a school? If the fees are reasonable and this guy can offer it, it may not be bad. If he is looking for the "real deal" Hung Gar, then he should respectfully ask about his lineage and maybe post the curriculum here. Of course, "real deal" is very subjective.

  6. #6
    I got to say, he's a personable guy.
    If his Kung Fu is any good, he seems like he would be a fun sifu.

    http://knowledgenetwork.ca/know_tool...en1_index.html

    Pick a question and hear him talk. Of course, the whole Kung Fu aspect is rarely mentioned...

  7. #7
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    my rant had nothing to do with mr chang in particular, i was pointing out the use of the term grandmaster. I don't know mr chang and i can't say anything about his kungfu that he teaches.

    cheers
    我不知道。我不能读中国。

    - Don't bother demanding respect. You'll get less. Earn respect through what you do, you get more.

  8. Originally posted by Kung Lek
    These terms Grand Master and Great Grand master are actually relatively new and weren't used before the last 15 years or so.
    I cannot agree with this at all. Nor can I agree that it is a result of the "western paradigm," whatever that may be.

    v, si fu = "instructor father." If you have students of your own, you are a sifu. This is often translated as "master"

    v, si gong = "instructor grandfather." If your students have students, you are a si gong.

    "grand master" just puts these two things together. It doesn't denote any ability, level of knowledge, etc. It simply explains where someone is in a particular kung fu family.

    You don't expect your granddad to be particularly "grand" or "great," do you? He's just your dad's dad. Likewise with 'si gong' when properly understood.

    These terms in Chinese are as old as the hills and can be found in translations about the martial art community going back at least 70 years. Have they been misunderstood? Certainly. But once you know the real story, the poor saps who suddenly don the robe of "grand master" for self-aggrandizing purposes look even more ridiculous in the eyes of the knowledgable.

    Sincerely,
    CT

    (Chinese is Big5. Right click, choose Encoding and select Big5 to view properly)

  9. #9
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    "grand master" just puts these two things together. It doesn't denote any ability, level of knowledge, etc. It simply explains where someone is in a particular kung fu family.
    I disagree entirely. In English, Master and Grand Master does imply great knowledge and ability. A master painter or a grandmaster of chess are examples of how the term is more commonly used by English speakers.

  10. #10
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    Brad Said:

    I disagree entirely. In English, Master and Grand Master does imply great knowledge and ability. A master painter or a grandmaster of chess are examples of how the term is more commonly used by English speakers.
    I have to agree with ctoepker on this one. Especially since we are not speaking of the english use of the word Grand or Great Grand.

    Gung fu (traditionally) is based on a family structure. There for my Sifu= Teacher Father and his teacher my sigung= Teacher Grandfather and his teacher Tai Sigung= Teacher Great Grandfather.

    I do agree with you that in english the word great or grand can be in many cases and will imply knowledge or skill level. However, we are not speaking of english titles but Jun Gok Mo Sut family structure.

    Peace

    Jerry Battle
    The Southern Fist Subdues The Fierce Mountain Tiger

  11. #11
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    I have to agree with ctoepker on this one. Especially since we are not speaking of the english use of the word Grand or Great Grand.
    I disagree with this

    Because we are speaking english here.

    And Ctoepker, what ancient texts use terms such as these? I don't know if what you have said is correct.

    "grandmaster" and "great grandmaster" in english have completely different connotations that sifu, sigung, si bok, si suk, dai sigung et al. These are the terms that refere to teh filial structure of an orginization a la Chinese.

    So, perhaps if these terms are teh mistaken transliterations, it may be time to set that straight and discontinue the usage of such presumptious titles.
    after all, what's wrong with sifu? or sigung? Not impressive enough?

    regards
    我不知道。我不能读中国。

    - Don't bother demanding respect. You'll get less. Earn respect through what you do, you get more.

  12. #12
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    I think that the title "grandmaster" is used deliberately so that it implies "jong si" ( 宗師 ).

    This term is not the same as the filial relationships: sifu, sigung, sisuk, sibak, etc. that Kung Lek outlines.

    It is a more profound term of respect that is conferred by one's peers and should be very rare indeed. It implies something more than martial ability .... perhaps just as important is their teaching abilities, moral integrity and contributions to society as a whole. Someone that spans the generations. I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone like that these days.

    Grandmaster/"jong si" would really only be used in the phrase "yut doy jong si" (master of a generation) and would not be an everyday title. They would still be addressed as Sifu X., and would still be someone's sibak, sisuk, etc.

    I've had a rant about this in the past too; I'm sure you can tell what viewpoint I hold.

  13. Originally posted by Brad

    A master painter or a grandmaster of chess are examples of how the term is more commonly used by English speakers.
    And herein lies the irony. While the Chinese term uses "grand" as in "grandfather," self-aggrandizing people use "grand" as in "grandmaster" (of chess).

    Its a non-point that we're speaking English. Of course we're speaking English. The point is that some are deliberatly mis-using the language and taking advantage of a couple hundred year old tradition of translation. We can put a stop to it by simply treating self-aggrandizing people like "granddads."

    I believe that CFT is also correct that many use "grandmaster" to imply "founder." Not good in my book.

    As for ancient texts...writings in and about religous and martial societies from at least 500 years ago contain "sifu," "sigong," etc. That includes novels, field reports from military police, historians, temple records, etc.

    As for the English use of the words, check James Legge's (1815-1897) landmark translations of the Chinese classics. "Si" in its many forms as 'teacher' is translated "master."

    In any case, I agree with everyone that self-aggrandizement by adopting high-faluting words is bad. However, I choose to address it with education. When you know that "grand" means "granddad" how funny is it that someone takes it to mean "great?" Hilarious in my book.

    Besides, you can't stamp it out by just saying "watch out for 'grand'" because some very well-meaning traditional folks get tarred with that brush unfairly.


    Sincerely,
    CT
    Last edited by ctoepker; 03-04-2004 at 10:29 AM.

  14. #14
    It's great to hear all your opinions. I know I started this off by asking everybody What they thought the difference is between GrandMaster and Master. But know I'll throw my two cents in (which that's all it's worth)

    I've always thought that a grandmaster is the highest rank of a certain style and a Master is one that has achieved his Mastership (I really hate that word), by learning all that his sifu has to offer, thus mastering his style (it does get tricky when the sifu can't offer much but that's a totally different topic).

    For example, if these seperate styles came from one individual - that individual would then be the grandmaster of the style. His senior student (considering he learned everything) would then inherit the title of grandmaster when his sifu would pass away. It gets tricky after so many generations because it filters into too many branches, but I truly believe in my heart that there can only be one grandmaster of each style (and no I did not get that from HIGHLANDER). It's almost equivalent to the passing of the throne that Kings and Queens do.

    I have also heard that you can be a grandmaster after reaching a certain age or years practicing a style.

    That being said has anybody trained or heard of Stephen Chang??

  15. Originally posted by Hungfutkune
    I've always thought that a grandmaster is the highest rank of a certain style and a Master is one that has achieved his Mastership (I really hate that word), by learning all that his sifu has to offer, thus mastering his style (it does get tricky when the sifu can't offer much but that's a totally different topic).

    It's almost equivalent to the passing of the throne that Kings and Queens do.
    Nope, there can be many "grandmasters" in a Chinese system. Look at Lam Cho, Lam Chun Fai, Lam Chun Sing...even though they are different generations, they are all grandmasters because their students have students. Likewise with the Chius.

    Just like in your own biological family, you know who is your father, grandfather, great grandfather, etc. it is not too hard to keep track of your own family branches. Its only when one assumes there is some other meaning that it gets confusing.

    On a similar note, this perspective also better illustrates the real transmission of kung fu. You receive kung fu from your teacher in ways similar to how you get habits from your father. For example, I tend to take stairs two steps at a time...just like my dad. I tend to be too tense in my Hung Gar, just like my first teacher. When you've seen a lot of practioners, it is just obvious whom they learned from..."like 'father' like 'son.'


    That being said has anybody trained or heard of Stephen Chang??
    After helping sidetrack your thread, and because I'm in the general area...I'll do my best to find out some more info for you and your friend.

    If you'd like, your friend could also contact me directly via www.hunggar.org. We're in the Seattle-Tacoma area of Washington...about 3 hours south of Vancouver.

    Sincerely,
    CT
    Last edited by ctoepker; 03-04-2004 at 11:00 PM.

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