My intent is to communicate and reinforce some things that might be common knowledge for you or a complete mystery, or somewhere in-between. My responsibility as a Sifu is to do my best to ensure that there are people and supports in place so that we can continue to develop and teach an extremely high level of kung fu that runs very deep in our Sunny Tang lineage, so that it can be spread, be made available to others and that it may profoundly change their lives and those they are in relationship with.
Below I have included a list of the qualities and attributes I will increasingly expect from students. I will not give you direct feedback on these unless you ask. My hope is that you are self-directed and self-monitoring. If you need an outside opinion, ask a few older brothers and sisters. Even if I do not say anything, TRUST ME, I AM PAYING ATTENTION. Those who consistently embody these qualities will be given extra leadership, responsibility and trust in the club and will get invited to more exclusive and extra training with me over time as it is people who embody these qualities who can be trusted and bestowed with the privilege of carrying forward the Wing Chun teachings and Sunny Tang lineage. Your current sash or martial skill level will only get you so far. This list is in no order or priority:
- Do you train regularly and consistently?
- Do you show up early and wear proper attire and your sash. In the past I have explicitly said: “It is better if you are on time than late, better if you are late than not coming at all.” This does not mean it is ok to be late for class habitually unless you let me know ahead of time why that is (i.e. don’t get off work on time to get to class on time etc.) Without good reason what message do you send when you habitually walk in late without valid reason? The message is :”I don’t care” and/or “I don’t matter.” Your presence and energy absolutely matter – who are you to think you do not matter to or impact us?? You are important and you matter whether you believe it or not. Also, I do not come to class with a lesson plan. I look at who shows up, their skill level, the group’s skill level and the number of people (even or odd numbers) and then I formulate a plan on the spot. Anytime someone comes in late without me knowing means I have to change the plan and sometimes several times for one class! No more. If you come late, start practicing your forms until I invite you to join the rest of the class. The class will be suited for those who show up on time and if you are late please reduce your sign up hours for that class by 30 minutes minimum.
- When you train, do you train seriously (limited talking, staying on the floor and minimizing water, food and washroom breaks to an absolute minimum).
- Do you follow the etiquette as per your manual?
- Do you communicate to Sifu in advance if you will be away from the club, taking a break or otherwise being unavailable? Not only do we count on you, but we care about you and want to help and support if we can. We cannot help if we do not know. If you will be away for longer than a week, I expect to know about it ahead of time.
- Do you pay your club fees early or on time consistently? Chasing you down/reminding you for your club fees is a sign of irresponsibility and unreliability. If there is a problem let me know in advance. I am reasonable and we can work something out as has always been the case. If you take it for granted or not as important as your rent, or other bills then you are being disrespectful to my time and energy and I will respond to you accordingly.
- Are you silent/listening when an instructor is speaking during class or are you talking? When an instructor speaks he/she is imparting something important for your learning – the respectful thing to do is to be silent and receive the teaching.
- Are you kind, understanding and helpful to your brothers and sisters? Do you welcome visitors, encourage and speak to new students and make all people feel welcome – even those who are not your favourites?
- Do you invite people to join or check out our club – we always need new students? The more students you train with the better your kung fu will get.
- Do you initiate or volunteer to support the club – do you ask Sifu directly if anything needs to be done or helped with. Do you do this frequently?
- Do you follow through on what you say you will do without having to be reminded or checked on?
- Are you making a consistent effort to include and help the younger students?
- Are you coming to class free of the effects of alcohol or any other drug use? If you are impaired, stay home.
- Do you have good personal hygiene and come to class clean and neat (uniform and body)?
- Do you make the time and effort to clear your schedule when Sifu Walter or other family members come to visit our club and help it get strong. Do you offer to put people up in your home, take them for meals, get them a coffee, pick them up at the airport. This is what will be offered to you when you visit them in Ottawa, Montreal and other locations that our family has a club in.
In your club passport there is a curriculum that outlines the basic skill-sets that you need to have before you are considered for grading. In addition, there are required hours of training that you must put in before I will consider you for grading (no matter how good you are) – this is to ensure that despite how fast you learn, that you are training in the club for a sufficient number of hours to share and support other students’ training and learning. These hour estimates are absolute minimums, sometimes requiring even double those.
A reminder: You are not here to purchase kung fu out of a vending machine for your own personal consumption but to commit to yourself, others, the club, lineage family and the art. If you do the latter, you will get the former.
Just because you have put in the hours does not mean that you have integrated the skill-set. Some people learn faster than others, some people learn the beginner skills quicker but struggle later on and some struggle early and flourish later. The same person who trains 100 hours in 6 months will learn quicker than training 100 hours in 12 months. The only barriers to learning Wing Chun are:
- not training consistently
- not training mindfully as guided by your instructor.
A well-known and published researcher has studied many masters in many different disciplines (art, music, academics etc) and found that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master something. Your training in the club classes is not enough. Train daily on your own and invite your brothers and sisters to train outside of class. It is the only way you will get to 10,000 hours in this lifetime.
– Sifu Jim Kragtwyk