Sifus Talking Smack

It is an unfortunate truth of the kungfu world that there is no necessary connection between how skilled someone is and the size of their ego. In general, my experience in the Chinese kungfu world has been that humble teachers actually tend to be in the minority.

Most Chinese traditional kungfu teachers I have met can be very dismissive about other styles and even teachers in their own branch, especially ones that they have only seen on video.

My own xingyi teacher frequently disparages the fighting ability of other teachers he has met from our style, and only has respect for a few of the teachers in his generation who he feels can really fight.

Another, perhaps more exaggerated example of this was with the taiji teacher I have recently started studying with, who I have mentioned in previous posts – Teacher Li. Teacher Li himself has very interesting skills, and apart from taiji has practiced several other arts such as shuai jiao, xinyi liuhe and bagua before settling on taiji as his main art. Generally he has respect for people he has crossed hands with or arts that he himself has trained in, but can often be quite scathing about other arts. Somehow we got into a conversation about a famous Yiquan teacher from Beijing who shall remain nameless.

Having seen a video of this teacher online, Teacher Li immediately started making unflattering remarks, such as “Look at his push hands with his students! They are giving him a framework [jian jia] to launch them with, I’d like to see him try that on me, he’d be 6 feet away before he knew it!”.

Normally I try to ignore comments like these, but having been on the receiving end of said Yiquan teacher’s attacks I made a feeble attempt to convince Teacher Li that the Yiquan teacher did have some real skill, but he was having none of it. The only result of that conversation was that Teacher Li spent the morning throwing me into the bushes near our training ground to prove the various ways in which to deal with the Yiquan teacher’s attacks!

In future I will know when to keep my mouth shut!

About yosaku

Xingyiquan enthusiast
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5 Responses to Sifus Talking Smack

  1. I agree with all this and have experienced this attitdue with masters I have trained with, Videos are imposible to learn from and to judge from, I also note that no one I have seen can be said to be with out fault, including my self , do what I teach not always what I do, I act as humble as I can, you can learn from everyone, But there is always that little voice that says you are better than them. The risk of having students who think you are fantastic, I tell thenm to be honest, not always easy to hear but I am still improving so that alright.

  2. Angelika says:

    That’s something I also notice a lot. I guess that is a side effect of choosing a MARTIAL art, so people want to fight. They want to see “who is better”.
    But I think it also happens in other arts (e.g. Yoga) and I really prefer teachers who try not to do it. And maybe it is even ok for “big” teachers, but there are really beginner students or intermediate students or even advanced students who do it, too.
    I wrote about it a couple of months ago, if you would like to read it:

  3. Terry Neil says:

    Nice article. I was wondering could you clarify a term you referred to; Framework (Jian Jia). I found 架 (jià / jia4) meaning ‘frame’ but couldn’t find a hanzi for ‘jian’ that fit. Any response appreciated.

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