Junior Student’s Corner
You’ve no doubt noticed that at the WKFA we observe a number of different protocols and etiquette. Things like bowing as we enter the kwoon, bowing to one another when we spar, addressing our instructors by their proper titles, etc. All these displays of respect have their purposes—and may be more important than you think.
Bowing on our way into the kwoon, for example, shows that we revere the space we’re about to enter and the Kung Fu we train. It also shows self-discipline, in that we never just hurry in or out of the room. Always taking the time to do the things you’re supposed to is a good lesson for life in general.
Similarly, bowing to our opponents prior to a round of sparring and our partners before, say, holding kick shields for them shows that we respect that person and don’t wish them harm. That’s an important message because a lot of what we do involves striking one another. You don’t want to get hurt, nor does your opponent/partner. Bowing to them lets them know you’re on the same page.
Perhaps the most conspicuous form of respect we engage in is how we address our instructors. Calling people Sifu, Sije and Sihing shows that you respect the fact they’re your elder when it comes to Kung Fu. For me, this one can prove a bit challenging right after an Advanced grading. When someone you’ve been calling by a certain name for years suddenly deserves the honorific Sije or Sihing, it can be hard to get used to. And I bet all of us have referred to a freshly-minted Sifu as Sihing or Sije at one point or another. In those cases, apologize for your mistake—and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
A good reason to respect your instructors and members of the Leadership Team is that we respect you (hopefully you’ve noticed that by now). We’ve all been where you are, so we know the courage, determination and strength it can take to stick with your Kung Fu training. It has been said that the more respect you give, the more you get in return—hopefully the mutual respect between instructors and students constantly perpetuates itself.
Perhaps the most important kind of respect instilled through the martial arts is self-respect. You should feel proud of yourself for choosing to study Kung Fu. You should feel even more pride whenever you learn a new Form or earn a new Sash. Good for you! Ideally that self-respect makes you a happier, more confident person outside of the WKFA.
I read an article that said as soon as you allow even a little disrespect to infiltrate your school, all of its traditions are threatened. That’s why I urge you to observe our etiquette at all times. It’s a good policy elsewhere as well: treat your parents, siblings, teachers and friends with respect and you’ll likely find they return the favour.