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Frequently Asked Questions

T he following are questions I have heard repeatedly over my forty years of study and practice in the Martial Arts. Questions come from people, and people are all very much the same in their thinking. Therefore, some of these questions may well address something you have pondered yourself.

I will be adding to this list, so do check back. You may well find the answers you have been looking for. There is a saying in Shao-lin: "In the beginning don't ask questions, but once you have learned, question everything."

Ma For Ren
Ma For Ren

Etiquette

  Proper Etiquette: Teacher, there are so many rules for proper etiquette, but I am not sure of many of them. Can you please give me some ideas of what they are?
 Red Envelope: Teacher, I have heard the Master is given a red envelope for his birthday and at Chinese New Year. What is this all about?
  Why We Bow: I am not used to all the bowing we do in the kwoon. Is it necessary to bow all the time to learn a martial art?
 Red Envelope: Teacher, I have heard the Master is given a red envelope for his birthday and at Chinese New Year. What is this all about?

Heritage/Lineage

  Authentic Style: How can I tell if a Sifu is teaching a genuine shao-lin kung fu style?
  Family Tree: I often hear martial arts people speak of their Family Tree. I am a new member and don't understand the importance of this. Many in the martial arts keep asking me about my family tree. I have no answers, can you explain this to me?
  Changes in the Family Tree: I noticed each year you change or delete the names on the family tree. I thought once you were on the tree you were always on the tree. Can you tell me why you do this?
  Heritage, Why Should I Care?: Teacher, you speak of heritage as being an important factor in picking a teacher. But as a beginner, why should I care?
  Loyalty: Teacher, when I join your Kwoon I bowed in as a follower of yours. Can you tell me what is expected from a follower?

Religion

  Shao-lin is not a Religion: Teacher, I am a religious person and my faith forbids me from becoming involved with other religious beliefs. Isn't Shao-lin based on the teachings of Buddhism and Taoism?
  Spiritual Training: Teacher, you speak of the Mind, Body and Spirit training. What do you mean by the spiritual training in Shao-lin?
  Enlightenment Possible: Teacher, I have heard that the study of a Martial Art has the potential to enlighten an individual. I thought only meditation had that potential. Would you please explain?

Training

  The Kwoon: Teacher what exactly is a the meaning of the word Kwoon?
  Closed Door Students: Sifu, you often speak of the closed door students, the ones you really put all your faith into. I to would love to achieve this level, but what does it take to achieve this status?
  Patience in Training: Teacher, sometimes I feel that I can learn more, but you don't teach me anything new. I know this is wrong on my part and I should be patient, but I still feel this way. What is wrong with my thinking?
  Types of Schools: Teacher, you always speak of the two types of martial arts schools: Traditional and Non-Traditional. What are the differences between the two and why should I care?
  Art Forms to Study: Teacher, I am not sure which art to study. What do you think is best for me?
  Evidence of Improvement: Teacher, I see little improvement in my fighting skills. Can I really learn Shao-lin or am I fooling myself?
  Enlightenment Possible: Teacher, I have heard that the study of a Martial Art has the potential to enlighten an individual. I thought only meditation had that potential. Would you please explain?
  Few Grandmasters: Teacher, I have heard there are in fact very few grandmasters alive today. How did you attain such a high level?
  Few Teachers Teacher, you have been in the arts for about 40 years now and all you have is a handful of people you have made teacher level. Why do so few make it to that level of skill?
  Few Stick with Training Teacher, may I ask why so many fail to make it to teacher levels? Everyone seems so eager to learn, yet few make it. Why?
  Finding Traditional Schools: How do I find an authentic, traditional Kung Fu school in my vicinity?
  Iron Palm: Did Ch'ang Tung Sheng train in iron palm? Or do any other special training?
  Only Technique: Teacher, I love the martial arts but I am not into fighting. I like the study of forms and techniques, but I am not into tournament competition. Can I still learn martial arts without fighting?
  Slow Learner: Teacher, I am slow learner and feel Like I can not keep up with other students. Can I really learn the Shao-lin with this problem?
  Traditional Training: There are so many rules in a Kwoon, why?
  Jung Gwo Ch'uan: Teacher I hear you mention Jung Gwo Chuan often. Is that another style?

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