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Kung Fu Family

Jun 20, 2022

Wing Chun Kung Fu unlike other forms of martial arts does not follow a military ranking system that defers to each other based on titles of rank. Where seniority is based on promotion to the next higher belt. Wing Chun Kung Fu follows a family hierarchy based on relationship. Although some schools like ours use a sash and shirt to denote level of skill, we still defer to titles based on family relationship of time in the family (at the school).

 

Because Kung Fu lineage typically represents a style passed down the family from father to child, the term Sifu means teacher and implies father, such as father of the school. This relationship is one that the Sifu is expected to care for their students (Tou-Dai) much like a father cares for their children. The student is expected to show respect and loyalty to their Sifu, similar to a child to their parent; and not just a business arrangement of a teacher being paid for lessons.

 

Si-Hing " or "Senior Brother" and Si-Dai or "Young Brother" does not represent age, rather represents length of time studying Wing Chun at a school. For example a 30yo student may still be Si-Hing to a 50+ year old student who just started training.

Here are the Kung Fu terms we use for family in our school (Kwoon):

Si-Jou: An ancester within the system who is deceased
Si-Dai-Gung: Your Teacher's teacher's teacher, as your great-grandfather
Si-Gung: Sifu's Instructor (Sifu's Sifu)
Si Bak: Elder kung Fu brother of Sifu


Sifu:
Instructor of School. Sifu's responsibility is to teach, and be there for their students when they need help with their own training. The Sifu is more than just an instructor on how to defend yourself, but also life-coach and mentor from their own experiences.
Si-mou: Sifu's wife, Kung Fu Mother

The senior-most male and female students in a class assist the Sifu in teaching, and can answer questions when the Sifu is preoccupied.
Dai-Si-Je: Eldest Kung Fu Sister
Dai-Si-hing: Eldest Kung Fu brother

The following terms are family names students used to refer to each other.
Si-Hing: Senior Kung Fu brother
Si-Dai: Junior Kung Fu brother

Si-Je: Senior Kung Fu Sister
Si-Mui: Junior Kung Fu Sister

This term is used for the Sifu to refer to his/her student(s).
Tou-Dai: Student (both male/female)

 

The Family Tree of the Kung Fu lineage traces a "line of transmission" from generation to generation. A traditional Wing Chun system will provide lineage that traces the history from the current instructor all the way back to Wing Chun's founder, Yim Wing Chun.

 

The goal of utilizing the Family system is not for titles of rank, but rather a mutual respect and humility between family members within the school and the system of Wing Chun Kung Fu. Students use their Family names as terms of respect and endearment.

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