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Frequently Asked Questions

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?

Yes, the list is very extensive, to say the least, and although I will tell you many of the important ones, you must be able to see a situation and handle it with the proper Wu De (ethics) or you may run the risk of losing face in front of your teacher.

1. Always bow when you see your teacher. The hand sign is generally enough. However, if you use a formal bow, you must bow lower than the teacher, and your eyes should always face downward as a sign of trust for your teacher.

2. Never forget your teacher's birthday, or special holidays such as Chinese New Year. A red envelope is usually given containing money. Usually a gift is not given since it may be a gift that the teacher has no use for. Money is the hardest thing to give up and is the most useful, so a money gift is always best. The amount depends on your means to give.

3. Always wear the proper uniform and be sure it is clean and pressed.

4. Always bow when entering or leaving the training area.

5. Always call your teacher by his proper title, never call him/her by name.

6. Always pay proper respects to the higher levels in your Kwoon by calling them by proper title.

7. Always pay your dues on time. To be late is like saying, "I'll pay you when I can." Traditional teachers collect money to maintain the Kwoon, so when you don't pay, the teacher must front the money for the Kwoon expenses. If a problem arises it is always best to let your teacher know why you failed to live up to your responsibilities.

8. If you want to bring a guest to the Kwoon you should ask you teacher first.

9. Always keep the Kwoon clean. Your teacher should not have to tell you to do this.

10. Keep talk to a minimum while in the Kwoon. It is a place of reflection and training, not gossip.

11. The higher level students are always responsible for the novice students. A novice must always have a guide so he/she learns what is expected.

12. If you see that your teacher needs assistance with something you should always ask if you can be of any help.

13. If you are asked to demonstrate your skills you must show them correctly or you will cause your teacher to lose face. Therefore, always be ready to show what you have learned.

14. Never miss classes. If you must a call is required so your teacher knows the reason. Missing classes should be something that seldom happens, if ever. You must plan your life around your training, not the other way around.

15. No matter what your level is, even if you are a teacher level and running a Kwoon elsewhere, you should always visit or call your teacher and pay respects to stay in good standing.

16. The teacher should never have to pay for anything while in the company of students.

17. If an encounter should ever arise, the student must always step in to defend his teacher's honor. You should be honor your teacher as you would your own father or mother.

18. Never ask to learn more. That is a sign that you think you are ready to move ahead. That is for your teacher to decide, not you.

19. When you are not sure of the proper Wu-De always check with a higher level student first and find the answer to your question before you make a mistake. When you make mistakes you lose face in the eyes of your teacher. To regain face a red envelope and explanation is usually in order.

20. Never speak of other art forms or teachers in the presence of your teacher. This in an indirect insult to your teacher. You have chosen your teacher to be your teacher and as far as you are concerned your teacher is the best. The only one who can speak of other teachers or styles is your teacher.

21. Fighting (Da Jya) is never permitted in the Kwoon unless the teacher gives the OK. The teacher is the only one who can determine if you are ready or not.

22. When in a Shao-lin class never practice any other art form other than Shao-lin. This is sign of focus.

23. The highest level student should always announce the beginning of a formal class by saying "Shang Ker," or "begin class."

24. The highest level student always calls for a bow to the teacher after students are lined up and ready to start class.

25. When the teacher writes on a blackboard, the student should always erase it, when the teacher is done.

26. When offering tea or refreshments, the teacher should always be served first.

27. If you give the teacher a gift, never expect him/her to open the gift in your presence.

28. Never speak for your teacher unless he/she indicates a comment from you.

29. If you commit yourself to a task that must be done, always have it done in the time requested. Your word is always your bond in Shao-lin.

30. Never criticize your teacher's methods of teaching.

31. Never teach anyone anything unless your teacher has told you to do so.

32. Always be humble. This is a sign of one who knows truth

These are but a few of the Wu-De ethics that must be followed. There are many more that can arise and it is your place to learn them as time progresses in your training. When in doubt always ask the next highest level student. If he or she doesn't know, then ask the teacher. It's better to ask than to make a mistake, which can be hard to rectify later.

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