When you join a traditional martial arts school. It's not about paying to learn, it's about being part of something. The members of the school become your family. In the modern age, martial arts is treated as something you pay to learn. So me teaching you is only a financial transaction. But this is not the traditional way and part of reason why people in modern life are so divided, is because there's less emphasis on community or the group. Everybody is for themselves and short term objectives. This blog article follows on from my previous article on lineages and why they matter. In this article, we are looking the the relationships between teachers and students.
In the East, teachers are held in high regard and a good martial arts teacher are often respected. How one finds a good teacher is a matter of fate and destiny (緣份). Having a good teacher makes a difference to your journey. A good teacher should act as a guide and not just to give you everything. For some may never find the right teacher, for others, the search might have been less of a challenge. Fate brings people together, yet destiny may separate them. Some say that you get the teacher you deserve. If you understand karma, then you'll understand what I really mean.
Chinese families are very much about order and that part of the culture is strongly Confucian in nature. Martial arts schools behaves as a family and usually follows a similar pattern. In a martial arts school, Your master and his fellow peers are like your father, uncles and aunts. Other students are your brothers and sisters. This arrangement mirrors your real family. The terminology would be simpler if it ended there. However, it doesn't, because there are many terms and titles. Please see this table for examples:
The information presented is quite general. There are no doubts that there are regional variations. Seniority in the school is based on a number of aspects, such as time in the school and level of attainment. A younger member might be a better fighter, but age and wisdom also counts. We must respect our seniors and help our junior members. Just like we do at home with siblings. Every school has a charter, which is like the Ten Commandments. These are the rules of the school and we must govern ourselves by the standards and expectations set. It is not unusual for members to be expelled for poor conduct. The behaviour of a few do not represent that of the school and keeping them would reflect negatively. Martial arts was created to prevent armed conflict and true martial artists are expected to behave as civilised and wholesome people.
Respect plays a big part in martial arts as it does in Chinese culture. Your Master is actually not your only teacher. Anybody who has guided or passed knowledge to you. Whether it is elders, seniors and even junior students, or even members of other schools can be considered your teachers. We learn from many people throughout our lives. Though we may become teachers ourselves, your students are actually providing you with a learning experience. Always show gratitude to those that have those that have been part of your journey and give credit where credit is due. Plagiarism and ingratitude are qualities that are not welcome in civilised society. Your training does not lie.
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