The Student and The Master
To the reader, please do not make any more of this than a student’s inquisition for knowledge and understanding.
I have been a student of martial arts for over 47 years. In 1988, I was honored with “master” status by the Government in Southern China. Although Hung-Gar was my major influence, I’ve also studied other systems such as Choy-Li-Fut, Northern Mantis, Tai-Chi and many more which have affected my outlook and understanding of Uechi-Ryu.
I’ve also realize I’ve been a student of martial arts many more years then some of my teachers. My Mantis teacher has been studying for 22 years. I was learning the Drunken Sticks from another master with 17 years of total training.
To some, that may be an issue. I was honored these gentlemen took the time to make sure a foreigner like myself got a chance to study authentic Chinese Kung-Fu the way it was meant to be taught from the land of it’s origins.
As in many cultures, we are taught from the very beginning to honor and respect all who preceded us. This is a given and we have learned it well. We should always thank and appreciate anyone and everyone who has contributed to our leanings and skills.
Does this mean we should not or can not exceed our teachers? Does our respect for one now become our hurdle or road block? Are we limited to never exceed our teachers? Will our curiosity for more knowledge offend the very people who helped pave our roads? Should we stop training when we notice our skills being heighten to a level rivaling that of our masters?
To me, the answer is simple. I need not ponder on the issue of any of my student exceeding me for that is my wish. If any of my students should exceed me in knowledge and understanding then I have done my job well.
Our students are our seeds to the future of our art. From the strong roots which we have provided, they should flourish with larger trunks, longer and stronger branches and greener leaves. They become who they are because of their hard work. We as teachers, only provide the materials and the tools. They will honor us as we honor Master Kani and Kunbun Uechi.
If our intentions are that no one is allowed to sit with the master and this is the teachings to our students, then this art, with each generation, will certainly be doomed to be diminished and will fade from existence. My hopes are that my students learn all I have to offer and with proper training, add and compile to our collective teachings.
I have been to many dojos where students are told “this is how” a technique is used instead of “this” being only one of the options. We are all individuals. We all have our assets and short comings. To train and teach my students to be exactly like me is something I would never do. All my students are taught who I am and what I do. My encouragement is for them to be who they are and practice what they do.