Your Sifu (師父)is your direct teacher, the one you started under, the one that opened the door and let you enter into the world and life of the Chinese martial arts. This is opposed to a Sifu (師傅), meaning “master” or “qualified worker,” someone who has attained a high level of skill in a particular craft. You may address this master as “Sifu” 師傅 to show him respect, but this doesn’t mean he’s your personal Sifu 師父. Even though both words are pronounced the same, their meanings are different. Without your father, be it your Sifu or your biological father, you will not have life. In that sense, you look at your martial art teacher as a father figure bringing you into the martial arts.
You pay for your training by honoring the knowledge that is passed down to you and working on it, then passing it on to others. The satisfaction that you will derive is the satisfaction you will get from your relationship with your teacher and from your own hard work. This satisfaction is not “guaranteed,” but requires constant “payment” of time and effort. If you consistently do this work, your training will “pay you back” for the rest of your life.
For centuries, the Chinese culture has used Kung Fu to train people in mind, body and spirit, yet many of today’s martial arts schools overlook the mental and spiritual aspects of training. They sell only the “look” and the “kick-ass” part of martial arts but ignore the philosophical and disciplinary component. Because of this lack of education, and saturation by the media with other forms of martial arts, people today don’t understand what Kung Fu is.
Many teachers and students get caught up with the physical and forget that Kung Fu is a pathway to self-empowerment. The physical aspect of the art is actually a very small part of Kung Fu. It’s an art of the mind, of the body, and of the soul. When you play Kung Fu, you touch your soul.
Kung Fu has many philosophical and spiritual benefits that other physical exercises don’t have. Some of these benefits include increased focus, self-awareness, self-confidence, self-respect and self-discipline. So many of these benefits include the word “self” – why? Because your Kung Fu practice forces you to come face to face with your “self.” This is not always easy, but it is always worth it. The self-knowledge that you gain through your practice allows you to become a better version of yourself.
Kung Fu pushes you, challenges you and focuses you so that you can empower yourself. While everything else in our modern society tries to deflate you and bring you down, Kung Fu practice elevates you to where you’re supposed to be, where you deserve to be, so you can enact your true potential. Find the best version of you, through the practice of Kung Fu. What are you waiting for?