Important: What You Should Know In A Traditional Martial Arts School

Who is who in Chinese

Your direct master or the direct teacher of the school is addressed 師父 (Shī Fù). The grandmaster, the teacher of your teacher, is addressed 師爺 (Shī Yé )
The more senior (not by actual age, but by the time of the study) students of the school, the males are addressed 師兄 (Shī Xiōng), the females are addressed 師姐 (Shī Jiě). The master is one generation above the students. The grandmaster is, therefore, two generations above the students. The order is defined by the teaching-learning relationship, not actual age. The more senior people can address the more junior by name. During class, the teacher must be addressed by the title, no one should address the teacher by name even if you are very acquainted in private. This is very different from western society. For Chinese people, no one ever addresses a teacher by name when talking to the teacher.

How to greet

The conventional Chinese greeting is 拱手禮 (Gǒng Shǒu Lǐ)
Hands together in front of the chest, extend arms out. The right-hand holds fist, left hand holding the right hand.

Greeting grandmaster
師爺好 Shī Yé Hǎo

Greeting master
師父好 Shī Fù Hǎo
– When more than one teacher shows up together, greet the most senior one.

  • The most senior student at the venue leads the greeting, the rest follow in unity.
  • When Shi Ye shows up at the venue when Shi Fu is already present, the Shi Fu leads
    the greeting, and the students follow in unity. But note the titles used are different. Don’t just copy what you hear!
  • When a student arrives at the venue while the teacher is already present, greet the teacher individually. When more than one teacher is present, in general, first greet the most senior one.
  • When saluting the teacher, hold the hand gesture and wait for the reply. Drop the hands after the teacher has responded and dropped his/her hands. If the teacher is occupied by another interaction or task, he/she may only nod and give eye contact, or not respond. In this case, just finish the salute.

Finishing class

When a training session ends, the teacher declares 下課 (Xià Kè) (off class). The students respond with the salute hand gesture and speak in unity 師爺/師父 辛苦了(Shī Yé / Shī Fù Xīn Kǔ Le)(Shī Yé / Shī Fù , we appreciate the effort).

Courtesy in interacting with the teacher

Interact with full attention
– No looking at the phone or having another conversation in parallel when talking to a teacher
– When giving or receiving objects, present both hands
Do not refuse in the learning process
– When asked to demonstrate something, do not be shy or afraid. To refuse to get involved in the learning is considered very rude, and by doing so, you are turning your back on the learning opportunity. Doing something wrong is alright, refusing to try is not.

Positioning

  • During class, in general, stand in front of the teacher. Sit down or relax only when told.
  • When walking with a teacher, you are on the right side of the teacher, and slightly
    behind. If you are the host of the place or leading the direction, this convention does not apply.
  • When standing with a teacher facing other people, you are on the right side of the teacher. In an interactive demonstration or a dynamic situation, this convention does not apply.
  • For taking seats, the most senior person faces the door of the room. The people closest in relation to the senior (the direct disciple) sit next to the teacher.
  • In general, the teacher enters the door first. However, you can go ahead and open the door.
  • The most senior person takes seat first. Stand in front of the teacher until invited to be seated. In a situation where it is obvious everyone will be seated, no invitation is required. But sit after the senior had sat down.
  • When a meal starts, the most senior person is served first. Students start eating (including picking up the chopsticks or other tableware) only when the teacher has begun unless told otherwise.

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