Sifu, or the invisible commitment

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The term sifu, which is traditionally referred to as the teacher or kungfu teacher, can be roughly translated as “father of practice”. Likewise, all the terminology used to refer to the classmates, students, teacher of the teacher himself, derives from that used to designate the members of the family. As we have already seen, Confucianism articulates the social environment in which Wing Chun is learned and practiced, and for Confucianism, the family is the nucleus and model from which all other social relations are built in traditional Chinese society .

These relations, according to Confucianism, revolve around the orders of hierarchy and the duty of obedience to your superior. Although it is true that Confucius defended that for obedience to be forced the superior should act correctly. As he expressed: “fu fu, zi zi”, that is to say when the father acts as father, the son acts as a son. But the truth is that in practice these relationships often do not work as much as a consequence of the superior’s doing well (whether father, politician, boss, martial arts teacher) or social pressure that allows even despotic positions from the upper step towards The lower one without it being able to do anything to remedy the situation.

My affinity for daoism and my rejection of much of Confucian ideology is clear. That is why my way of understanding someone’s sifu role may be something different. In fact when I started teaching I had serious doubts about promoting or encouraging my students to call me sifu. However, one day I realized that the moment someone sincerely considers your sifu to create a bond, an invisible commitment. I dare to think that in the great majority of cases the instructors understand that the link has been created from the student to the teacher: he must take it as a reference, respect him and even obey him. I do not insinuate that I do not claim respect for myself from my students, but as the claim to any other person with whom I relate. What happens is that in my view the duty, the obligation, the bond, is created from me to my student. When someone calls me sifu, and although he is not conscious, in my interior I sign a contract with myself. That person, who pays his fee every month, is waiting for me not only to do my work with total dedication, with absolute dedication to his improvement as a martial artist, but also as a transmitter of a wealth that goes beyond physical technique. I live the Wing Chun 24 hours a day, for me (although it sounds like topic) Wing Chun is not only practiced, it ends up living. Progress in the system as you progress as an individual, as a person. And when someone refers to me as sifu is obliging me, since I freely agree to be considered as such, to be your guide and companion in that process, last the time that lasts. My position before him is not superior, on the contrary, in our relationship he is the first.

As the Daodejing says: the wise man is placed last, and the same we can say of the good sifu.

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