Wing Chun: The Teacher is Not the Way…

…the Teacher merely points the way.

One of the many things that I love about Chinese martial arts and Wing Chun in particular is that they provide an avenue for spiritual as well as physical development, an element that seems to be lost whenever a martial art becomes a sport.

For those of us who study and follow Wing Chun – (Ving Tsun), attracted by the effectiveness and complexity of the art, it becomes a life-long romance which only grows and improves with age.

We cannot be out there fighting and testing our martial skills as time passes. So what is our importance then to Wing Chun or to any martial art for that matter?

I was taught by my Sifu that we are all important in the grand scheme of Wing Chun Kung Fu as we are each and every one of us a link in that chain of warriors; stretching from the origins of the art thousands of years ago to today.

If we do not carry on the art and teach it to the next generation – our particular chain will be broken and we will have failed in our duty to our martial ancestors and our descendents.

So we understand why we must teach and our reward is to see our students acquire something pure, meaningful and valuable; something that will enrich their lives and protect them, something that they then can pass on to others so that those others in turn can derive benefit.

Too many teachers strive to keep their students beneath them; seemingly threatened if the students improve and start to approach their own level of skill – which usually for those teachers will not be that great.

Such teachers are typically more concerned about their own status, importance and how much money they can make from their students and less about their student’s personal skill and development.

As teachers we should not ask, desire or expect our students to be like us. We should want them to remain true to their own identity. We should not wish for them to be as good as we are – we should wish for them to become better than we ever were!

After another brutal training session in Battersea Park many years ago, as we stood together watching the gentle summer wind stirring the branches of the great willow tree that stands there by the mighty River Thames, my Sifu told me that I should not aspire to be like him: “the teacher is not the way – the teacher merely points the way” he said…wise words indeed.

To teach with only the benefit of the student in our hearts and minds is to hold true the real spirit of martial arts. This is the true nature of giving is it not?