View Full Version : Good Sifu or Bad?

07-02-2001, 07:18 AM
I recently encountered a problem that a friend of mine had and he asked me to ask some advise on his behalf.
He started to train in Kung Fu for a very short time even though he started to enjoy the art the Sifu telephoned him and informed him that he would no longer be allowed to be a student of his, the teacher stated clearly that he didn't do anything wrong, just that when he asked questions in class he would mention other martial art styles and the teacher felt that was not being loyal to his school. But isn't part of the training is to ask questions about ones art? The student may not have been one of his brightest students but he had a sincere desire to learn the art. I can recall that the school was in San Francisco and he had to drive quite a distance to each class but he didn't mind but the teacher was kinda like a rambo type of instructor, for whatever reason it seemed he treated my friend worse than the other students, at times he even tried to verbally humiliate my friend.
He told the teacher right off that he was more concerned in learning martial arts for health benefits than for fighting. well anyway my friend recently found another instructor in the area who teaches him right now, allows him to train at his own pace and is extremely patient with him as well as other students that are in his class.
But he told me that the other night that the instructor that he use to train with went to his class to observe the class and told his current sifu that he is serieious considering taking a martial art class with his new instructor.
He doesn't want to be humiliated again and go through all that he went through back then?
He said it was a nightmare back then. He finally has a school where he feels comfortable in at a school environment where he can honestly learn the art but by his old instructor coming to his new school to train he feels intimidated in a way?
He has even thought of changing schools again?
I couldn't honestly give him any advise so I decided the best thing to do was to post it on this board and to see if anyone could give my friend some good advise?

[This message was edited by PANTHER on 07-02-01 at 10:29 PM.]

[This message was edited by PANTHER on 07-02-01 at 10:31 PM.]

07-02-2001, 07:32 AM
Sometimes you get a special kind of person in a MA class, who compares everything that you do to a different martial art. Especially if they are proficient in a different MA.

IE: "Isn't this thing that you're showing me wrong? Because we do it this way in (ma)..."

This is MADDENING. Think of the parable -- you can't drink tea until your glass is empty. The Sifu may have been following the advice in this parable by putting his foot down and not allowing the student to come back.


"Life is hard, but so am I." -- The Eels.

07-02-2001, 07:44 AM
But that wasn't at all what happened. I went to the class myself went many times to see for myself and what I saw surprised me the teacher was extremely rude to him.
In class he never compared his questions to other martial art styles what he did say was that I am his good friend and have always been his friend he only stated how martial arts has changed my life in relationship to martial arts. But the instructor felt by him stating that I was a wing chun practitioner he was glorifying my art, believe me bro he wasn't.
After he left I asked him if he'd like to join my school he said WC wasn't the style for him, he and I concurred in agreement but we still have stayed friends for over 10 years.

07-02-2001, 05:06 PM
In China the Sifu is a father figure, not just an instuctor. Your friend should go to his current sifu, discuss his feelings, and see what advise his sifu has.

07-02-2001, 05:18 PM
He has, and his current sifu says that at his school his students are treated as family and if his sifu was to come and humiliate him in any way he would handle the situation.

07-02-2001, 05:50 PM
This "sifu" form the other school needs to chill out.

It is my opinion that the "family" structure of kung fu is more like a cult structure. I avoid this kind of personal relationship because sifu are just men with their own problems, and you come to train, not to deal with their issues.

That being said, I suggest your friend tries to realize that he is the one humiliating himself. This "sifu" can't get to him unless he lets him. You emotions must stay balanced, just like your body. I would just mind my business and workout. Eventually, the arrogant "sifu" will make a mistake that leads to his own embarassment. After all, if what you say is true and I understand you, he's already acting like an ass.

07-02-2001, 05:51 PM
There is a possibility that the former instructor would not be in the same class (maybe he's going for advanced training), that might take care of the situation. If the two will be paired in the same class your friend might consider trying to staighten out any negative chi between him and his old instuctor by talking to him in a humble manner; or he could put his trust in his new sifu's word by treating his old instructor as family and just have fun and train. Which ever path your friend chooses it must be his decision, after all this is his test not ours. Good luck to your friend - Shaolin

07-02-2001, 07:08 PM
I'd say to your "friend". That the most important relationship in martial arts is between you and your Sifu. Just like the most important relationship in your family is between you and your parents. Who cares if this guy trains there or not, he may have been Sifu at his old school, but at the new school he is just another student. Your kung fu brothers and sister are there to help your training along, but they are not Sifu. It is important to keep this in mind when other students try to teach you stuff or say "Sifu said this" or "Sifu said that". If you have a question or concern go to Sifu directly, he/she is the most valuable resource you have.

Let me ask you another question. If this guy was really a Sifu, then why is he going to learn at some other school (I'm assuming it is the same style). It seems to me that his skills are inadequate that he would need to go learn from someone else....

"If you are talking about sport that is one thing. But when you are talking about combat-as it is-well then, baby, you'd better train every part of your body" - Bruce Lee

07-02-2001, 07:52 PM
I not saying this is the best or even a good way. But I would train crazy and try to out do him. He might not out do him but his success and increaseing improvement well be strongly visible to the other guy. This will make him eat his words.

Andre Lashley

07-02-2001, 08:59 PM
If your friend is finding what he needs at this new school why should he quit. That would just be benefiting his old teacher. Tell him to keep at it. If a problem persists he should first try to work it out with his "former" teacher which is now a classmate. If this doesn't do the trick he should talk with his Sifu. This new teacher sounds more level and I'm sure he would rather have one good student than someone who might be there for his own advancement or even to start trouble (if that should happen.)

That seems lame that this old teacher would feel threatened because someone mentioned another style. I trained in TKD for a while and my teacher knows this. In fact often times when discussing theory he will mention that this style might do this or that not in a badmouthing way but rather to help the studants understand that there are several ways that things may be applied and why.

Anyway your friend should work through this if he likes what he is doing; it is hard to find a good teacher, so once you find yours stay with him.

07-03-2001, 12:11 AM
My current sifu talks constantly about other styles, as it is a way of reexamining our own method.

So did the other traditional sifus I had.

07-03-2001, 02:52 AM
Get him to talk to his current sifu. If his current sifu says he will look after it, then let him look after it.

A good sifu should know about other arts and be happy to discuss the different philosophies between arts. If you focus solely on one art without examining others, then you are learning in a vacuum.

What we do in life echoes in Eternity

07-03-2001, 05:44 AM
Tell your friend to ignore him. If he misbehaves towards your friend or any other student in the school, it is the Sifu's job to rectify this.

Unless one is a complete Kung Fu virgin, all of us carry from school to school the learning and effects of previous experiences. This crap of not being able to compare, mention or show respect for other martial arts, while maintaining respect for the art and teacher at one's current school, is a bunch of nonsense. These are not warlords, they are teachers in a modern setting.

Lyle, you are right on the money in your evaluation. The cult-like structure I see in the current martial arts climate (though I cannot speak for each and every sifu, as I have not seen all), is unfortunate and not good for the students.

07-04-2001, 09:05 AM
In your original post you stated that your friend openly compared techniques to other systems.

Did you friend join the school to learn what the instructor had to offer, if yes then why question the process of which the answers are not always exposed imediately and often require further study. I cannot speak for all systems of Kungfu, but ours is a system, meaning that there are systematic processes both physical and mental, that bring forth you ability and understanding of material. It is never good for the ignorant to question what they know nothing about. Being new to the school your friend new nothing of the system. Had you friend been there 5 years or so the instructor would have been more likely to discuss the contraries or similarities of your friends past training.

....The skilled commander