Chinese Martial Arts Etiquette
Etiquette and courtesy are a fundamental component of Chinese Wushu/Kungfu training and discipline. Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Etiquette is earnestly emphasized at Lotus Dragon Kung Fu & Tai Chi. The etiquette of traditional Chinese Martial Arts is based on the ancient Confucian household and is rich with traditions of mutual respect, courtesy, and decorum. In our kuan, traditions are liberally seasoned with humor.
A Kuan (Chinese Martial Arts School) is a unique situation where people from diverse backgrounds come together to grow as individuals, whether it is for self-defense, for health and physical development, or for mental and spiritual growth. Therefore, it is crucial that we create an atmosphere where everyone can feel comfortable and welcome through traditional courtesy and etiquette. The following guidelines will aid in your understanding of the atmosphere of the school and help you feel more at ease in class.
A salutation is executed by covering your right fist with palm of your open left hand. Performing the salutation shows your respect for your Kuan, your Sifu, your fellow students, and yourself, as well as for all Gong fu practitioners past and present.
A Salutation is Traditionally Performed:
1. When entering or leaving the practice space for any reason, including using the restroom or getting a drink.
2. At the beginning or conclusion of any class or practice session, including private lessons and informal workouts.
3. To your training partner before and after sparring, pushing hands or practicing together.
4. Before and after addressing Sifu, or when asking for or receiving assistance.
5. When a visiting instructor or master enters the Kuan.
According to tradition, Instructors, Assistant Instructors, and Senior Students are addressed by their proper titles while at the Kuan and during Kuan functions and activities. Also, anytime the topic of conversation involves the Kuan or martial arts training, or while at any martial arts function or activities, like tournaments, demonstration, or seminars.
Sifu ..................Your teacher, Gong fu Parent
Sigung ........... Your Sifu's teacher, Gong fu Grandparent
Tai Sigung........Your Sigung's Sifu, Gong fu Great Grandparent
Laoshir ......... Title for any instructor, including Lotus Dragon teaching staff except for your Sigung Sifu, Simu, Sihing or Sije because these titles refer to specific kung fu family relationships.
Sihing ...............Male Assistant Instructor or Senior (Advanced) Student, Your Gong fu Older Brother.
Sije...................Female Assistant Instructor or Senior (Advanced) Student, Your Gong Fu Older Sister.
Hing Dia ..........Martial Arts Classmate, Your Gong fu Brother or Sister
(Classmates are usually called by their first name)
Traditionally we would use the title Sifu or Laoshir and attach their last name for formal relationships and situations. The title Sifu and first name would be used or informal relationships and situations to address instructors other than your Sifu. Traditionally, in China the title for a teacher was Laoshir and the word Sifu was reserved only for your teacher because it refers to specific relationship. However, in the west the habit has become to call all Chinese Martial Arts teachers by the title Sifu whether they are your teacher or not.
General Courtesy in the Kuan
In order to make the Kuan a safe and comfortable environment for everyone we make the following requests of our students:
1. Please remove all jewelry before starting class. This is to protect your valued objects as well as to reduce the risk of injury to you and your Gongfu brothers and sisters.
2. Please keep your language, your feet, your body and your workout clothes clean. This is to avoid offending your Gongfu brothers and sisters.
3. Please pick up after yourself at the Kuan. It is inconsiderate to your Sifu and your Gongfu brothers and sisters to leave your mess behind for them to clean up.
4. Please pitch in and help tidy the Kuan after your class, just spend a minute or so cleaning mirrors, sweeping the floor, dusting or cleaning the bathroom. This has always been a traditional part of martial arts training. Remember, Sifu is here to help you learn Gongfu, not to be your janitor or to remind you of your responsibilities to your Gongfu brothers and sisters.
5. Please keep conversation not related to the subject matter to a minimum during class in order to avoid distracting your Gongfu brothers and sisters during their training. It is okay to joke and have a good time, but please avoid controversial and distasteful subjects that may make others feel uncomfortable.
6. Please try to be helpful to your Gongfu brothers and sisters during class. Be more concerned with helping them learn, and less with impressing them with how good you are, or how much you know.
7. Please be supportive and encouraging to your Gongfu brothers and sisters. We are a Gongfu family and we are here to help each other grow.
8. Please set a good example and follow the Wu Te at all times. The community judges your Sifu and your Gongfu brothers and sisters, as well as all other martial artists, by your behavior.
Traditional Gongfu Etiquette
1. It is traditional to greet other martial artists with a salutation, especially senior martial artists and instructors.
2. It is traditional to give and receive items to and from other people using both hands. Using only one hand shows disrespect and is a sign that you don't think that the person deserves your full attention.
3. It is traditional to allow your Sigung, Sifu and Senior Gongfu Brothers and Sisters to walk ahead of you. The most senior martial artist present walks in the front with the senior students walking closest to his/her side and the most junior students walking furthest behind.
4. It is traditional to hold doors and allow your Sigung, Sifu and Senior Gongfu Brothers and Sisters to pass through first. The most junior student should always hold the door for everyone else and enter or leave last.
5. It is traditional to wait to sit at a dinner table until your Sigung, Sifu and Senior Gongfu Brothers and Sisters have sat down. The head of the table should be reserved for the most senior martial artist present, with the senior students sitting closest, and the most junior students sitting furthest away.
6. It is traditional to make sure that the beverage cups and glasses of your Sigung, Sifu and Senior Gongfu Brothers and Sisters are full. It is considered a loss of face for both parties if the senior martial artist must pour his/her own drink.
7. It is traditional to pour beverages using both hands. Using only one hand shows disrespect and is a sign that you don't think that the person deserves your full attention.
8. It is traditional to insist on performing any menial chore that you see your Sigung, Sifu and Senior Gongfu Brothers and Sisters doing. It is considered a loss of face for both parties if the senior martial artist must do chores while the junior stands around and watches.
There are far too many facets to Chinese Martial Arts Etiquette and Courtesy to describe them all in this short article. We have covered the most important points. The best way to learn is to watch your Senior Gongfu Brothers and Sisters and imitate them. Likewise, it is also important for the Senior Gongfu Brothers and Sisters to provide a good example to the new students. The day will come soon when the junior students are following your example. Just work hard and the time goes by in what will seem like only a moment.