Wednesday, November 9, 2016
In martial arts, 師父, or ‘sifu’ as it’s pronounced in English (meaning ‘master’), is what a student calls his or her teacher, but it implies a deep and ritualised relationship of trust and fidelity.
It is not a title thrown around lightly: a 師父 can be judged not only by his or her proficiency with the martial arts, but the manner with which they comport themselves. Indeed, you can judge a 師父 by their 徒弟 (disciples) because in many ways, they are a teacher of how to live one’s life.
This is a very traditional Chinese way of thinking that, in certain ways, is incompatible with Western values; and I can see how certain people struggle with it. And that’s fine, I guess. The struggle to reach an ideal is more important than the ideal itself.
But don’t ask me to try to change it. I happen to be completely fine with it. I am, in case anyone hasn’t noticed, Chinese.