Splashing Hands class, Rainbow, Calif., 2002

ETIQUETTE AND THE KUNG FU FAMILY

“Those who know do not speak; Those who speak do not know.” –Tao Te Ching

Thank you for visiting these pages. I humbly submit my thoughts and reflections on the experience of learning traditional Chinese Kung fu, the rewards of being part of a Kung Fu Family, and Taoism. My journey is far from over, I still have many adventures to embark upon with my Sifu, my Brothers and Sisters, and my own students. Anyone interested in authentic Chinese Kung fu training should contact Lao-Tzu James McNeil via www.littlenineheaven.com. You will not be disappointed. Thank you for reading.

My first lesson upon arrival at the Little Nine Heaven Internal Kung Fu School in Rainbow, California, in 2001, was how to address my Teacher. My senior brother told me, “When you meet him, when you walk into a room he is in, when he walks into a room you are in, when you are in the school training and he enters, or when you enter the school and he is there, bow. Call him Sifu, or call him Sir.”

Your Sifu is your Father. His wife is Simu, and you treat her with the respect and kindness you would show your own mother. The students who have been with your Teacher longer than you are your Senior Brothers (or Senior Sisters), and the ones who come after you are your Younger Brothers and Younger Sisters. Your Senior Brothers are also responsible for you and your training, and you are responsible for your Younger Brothers and should ensure they understand your Teacher’s lessons. This not only helps them, but it also helps your Teacher.

Upon entering the School Building, bow to your Teacher if he is there. If he is not, bow toward the altar or picture(s) of your School Ancestors (your Grand-Teacher, Patron Saints, etc). This not only shows respect and gratitude, but also establishes a connection with the past masters of your school lineage, so that the past and present are one, and the line remains unbroken.

Traditionally, you never ask your teacher for something; you must trust that he will give you what you have earned, when you are ready. You never, ever say you are tired or that you can’t go on; he knows your limitations, trust him and persevere. During class, remain alert and at attention. Do exactly as your teacher says, and only what he says. Do not become absorbed in your own thoughts or digressions, focus on your Teachers’ instructions.

Every second spent in your Teacher’s presence is priceless; take care not to squander them. Especially, if like me, you live thousands of miles away from your teacher. Then, every seminar, every visit, every opportunity to see your Teacher is a sacred experience. You may not see him for many months; how will you treat these precious, fleeting moments? Your teacher could reveal something special over dinner; listen. He may demonstrate a technique while waiting in line or walking down the street; did you catch it? Perhaps it was a barely perceptible movement of his whole body, or a subtle hand motion, or no movement at all; pay attention.

Good luck in your training.

-Chris Benner