Sunday, 17 June 2012

Martial Arts Father

My Karate teacher Sensei Monty Guest teaching a seminar

oday is Father’s Day – and I’m reminded of how much my martial arts “fathers” have done for me. They basically changed my life.

The old martial systems, especially in the Chinese martial arts, are usually structured along family lines. As a student within a system, your loyalty, discipline and dedication are rewarded with a place inside this family.

Probably the most famous martial art "father-son" duo



For example, if I  just joined a traditional martial arts class in Feb/12 and a friend joins the same class in Feb/13, I’m considered to be his “older brother”. My teacher is either my martial arts “mother” or “father” depending on gender.

The teacher of my teacher is my grandfather or grandmother. A classmate of his under their own instructor is my aunt or uncle. And so on.

If  I eventually have students of my own, they`ll be known as my teacher`s grandchildren.

Jackie Chan's Drunken Master -a very strict martial arts father!



It`s an amazing process of acknowledgement and respect that traces your martial art lineage as far back as possible.

It also empowers your martial intent when you realize that you're moving inside the same martial bloodlines as people who have stood up and created history!

I have been blessed with having a number of martial arts fathers, all, as I have said, who contributed to completely changing my life. They provided me with a martial arts foundation and enabled me to pursue a livelihood that I enjoy.

I recall the first time I met Shihan Ron Forrester, the Father of Canadian Jiu Jitsu. I was a teenager with a chip on his shoulder who had little respect for his teachers in school.

I bowed, and at the same time shook hands with him. While bowing, I noticed his wrists: training had made them perfectly round – and as hard as iron. I was shocked. As I raised myself back up I took a quick glance at his eyes. They were the eyes of a hawk.

It was an immediate and direct form of communication. Together the wrists and eyes suggested that I settle down, listen…and I'd be OK.

Famous Tai Chi master Cheng Man-Ching had many martial "sons" and "daughters"

The relationship between a martial arts father and his student is a two way street.

The duty of the father is to care about the well being of his student as though the student were his natural child. He must guide and monitor his progress both physically and psychologically. And he must reward – and punish – appropriately.

The great Canadian Shorin Ryu Karate instructor Quoi Wong told me that teaching doesn`t stop at the end of class. That's when the door to his office opens. That's when the students can share with him the problems and concerns of their lives. A martial art father like Wong does more than teach others how to kick and punch…he changes lives for the better.

There is also the duty of the student. The student must - remain loyal; listen and always treat her teacher with respect; never misrepresent her teacher; conduct himself with honour inside and outside of the class so as not to bring shame upon the teacher and the martial arts system; and, finally, carry on the teacher`s legacy.

Happy Father`s Day to all the male martial arts instructors! I hope that you'll continue to be blessed with good students!

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