A Discipleship Ceremony

8 February 2014
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8 February 2014, Comments 0
Meng’s Dayton Martial Arts – Tuesday, February 18th 2014 special announcements
By Benny Meng

Tuesday, February 18th 2014 we are having several special events happening starting at 7:30 pm. Please mark your calendars! Read on for more information about Meng’s Student Awards, a Black Belt Ceremony, and a Meng’s Discipleship Ceremony (these are very rare, and you should seriously consider being here!)

1) Student Awards
We will be handing out Student Awards to those students whose name was announced at the December Banquet as Award winners.

2) Black Belt Ceremony
We will be holding a Special Black Belt Ceremony for Mr. Jeremy Otis, who just recently past his 1st Degree Black Sash test as well as his 1st Degree Black Belt in TKD. Sifu Aaron McKillip is also getting his 2nd degree Black sash.

Black Sash testing represents a turning point in your experience as a martial artist. By earning your Black Sash, you earn the right to truly be called a martial artist. This is a great honor. Normally it takes about 3 years of hard work to accomplish this. Only 10% of all martial artists achieve this goal ? and our goal is you help you and your family to be a part of that 10% club, which is why we have our Black Belt training programs! If you?re not in Black Belt, Leadership, or Master Club, talk to an instructor today about upgrading your training.

3) Meng’s Discipleship (Baai Si in Cantonese)
We will also be holding a special Discipleship (Baai Si) ceremony for four (4) of the Huber Heights Headquarter Certified Instructors: Sifu Vincent Meng, Sifu Aaron McKillip, Sifu Jason Oaks, and Sifu Damian Raad.

Because this is not an every-day (or even every year occurrence), here are some additional details about a Discipleship ceremony and what it represents in the martial arts.

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In ancient days, martial ability was a relatively necessary skill in order to protect oneself from would-be aggressors. Because of the importance of these abilities, Warriors who possessed skill were reluctant to pass on their knowledge and skill to “just anyone” and reserved the advanced techniques and training for close relatives or Disciples. This was due to the focus on personal cultivation rather than a focus on simply being able to fight.

This idea of “Discipleship” is very important in regard to the passing down of tradition. Mastery of an art is, in part, because the availability of a qualified teacher, but mostly the result of a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication. When a person has made the effort and sacrifice to take an art to the level of mastery, then it is his! A Master has nothing to gain from passing his knowledge to another person. Why then does he pass it on? It is passed on for the sake of the art itself and the future generations.

When a beautiful tool, such as a martial art, has been created, it is the obligation of those who have mastered it to insure its propagation. If one generation of students doesn’t achieve the level of the previous generation, then the art is lost in only a few decades. If an effective tool is lost, this is a terrible loss to society as a whole. This is an awesome responsibility for the Master. The passing on of an entire art and the directing of an individual to mastery is a process that takes a lifetime of careful guidance.

The Master’s Vision

In most traditions it is the vision of a guide, a Master, a wise man that inspires the Warrior to his purpose. All who undertake the way of the Warrior share this vision. It is bound by duty, universal intelligence and morality. It recognizes there are consequences for each action and reaction that will affect others either negatively or positively. Without a guide, those who might be Warriors may waste their precious abilities trying to discover the very beginnings of the Warrior path. With a teacher, a guide, they not only find the path, but they see the vision of what they must become to embrace the way of the hero.

Both the Master and the Warrior, the Disciple, must make a lifetime dedication to the student’s learning and eventual mastery. Given the large investment that the Master must make in the student and the importance of the student achieving mastery, the Master must be very careful in choosing the person in whom he is going to invest. If he is not sure of the student’s willingness to endure and ability to master the art, then he cannot afford to invest years of his life, as he may not have time to start over if this student is unsuccessful. One can see the incredible responsibility that this presents.

The Challenge

The Disciple must demonstrate more than mere physical ability. He must demonstrate the willingness to endure. When a teacher and student come together in a lifetime bond for the purpose of the propagation of the art, then this is said to be a “Disciple” relationship. Hence, the student is a Disciple and one who has dedicated his life to carrying on the tradition of self-mastery, passing on the teaching, and supporting the Martial Arts Community. A Master may take more than one Disciple in his lifetime, again, to insure the propagation of the art in its purest form.

Having seen the Master’s vision the Warrior faces a serious challenge of choice. Will the courageous path be chosen? Will he stay on it knowing full-well that it will often confront the unknown and will just as often encompass discomfort? Can he turn away from a trite and trivial life, and live a one of vision?

In our society, few are willing to devote themselves to the tremendous work, sacrifice, and devotion that are necessary to become a Disciple and eventually a Master. Therefore, many martial art traditions today produce very few TRUE masters. And, if those who are teaching are not true masters, then, those who are learning start with a great disadvantage. Should this continue, what will we be left with several generations down the road?

Studying and embracing Shaolin Wing Chun is a Warrior’s challenge – a challenge with a price – the price of learning: humility. To be a Warrior one must be willing to learn. This doesn’t mean long hours of memorization and regurgitation of words or techniques. True learning involves seeing the universe as it truly is – no illusions, no constructs, physical or mental. Participants in our training will find that there is a reality that governs Shaolin Wing Chun kung fu and that the same reality governs the universe and should govern the quest we call the “way of the Warrior”. Training is ultimately about recognizing this reality and achieving true harmony with it.

The road to becoming a Disciple begins with the process of losing the “ego”. The student?s life must be lived not only for himself but also for the greater picture. This is already a notable accomplishment by any spiritual yardstick. Secondly, the Disciple must find a qualified teacher and Master (they are few and far between). Thirdly, the Disciple must, over a period of several years, cultivate a relationship with the Master demonstrating the proper attitude (intent) and devotion to the art.

Finally, the Master and Disciple agree to enter into a lifetime relationship focused on the carrying on of the art to the next generation. At this point, the process of preservation is set into motion. The forming of this relationship ties the Disciple into the “family tree” of the founding fathers. It is this person who will someday be given the authority of his forefathers to carry on the name of the art and take part in decisions regarding the arts’ future. The beginning of this relationship is marked by a formal ceremony in which the Disciple presents the master and his wife with ceremonial tea, an ancient tradition within Chinese martial arts. This ceremony is called “Baai Si” or “Bowing to the Teacher”.

It is vital that both the Master and the Disciple keep focused in the right direction and not allow it to be interfered with by personal desires or ideas. It is only through this traditional process that the true ART can be preserved for future generations.

The custom of a student (todai in Cantonese) offering tea to a Sifu is known as the Baai Si ceremony (or Bowing to the Teacher) and is considered one of the most important ceremonies a Kung Fu practitioner can be invited to perform. The ceremony is what sets the disciple apart from the other students. Historically, a Sifu would share 100% of his total Kung Fu knowledge and experience only with disciples who had earned the opportunity and demonstrated that they could be trusted with this knowledge.

The ceremony itself involves several steps. Prior to the actual ceremony, a student would approach the Sifu, or a Disciple of the Sifu, and make the request to become a Disciple. The Sifu would then set a test or ordeal for the student to test the student?s resolve to enter into this special relationship. Once the test or ordeal is passed, the student is invited to participate in a public ceremony to formally establish their relationship in front of others.

The Ceremony

A student who has been invited to perform the Baai Si ceremony will kneel before the Sifu and Simo who will be seated before him, in the presence of the Sifu’s other Disciples, other students, and the requesting student’s family and friends. In some cases the student will recite a school code, Kuen Kuit, or maybe even just explain why he or she wants to commit this level of relationship with the Sifu, the School, and Kung Fu. If the Sifu accepts, the student will bow three times with his or her head touching the floor. This is considered the highest sign of reverence. The student will then be handed a cup of tea to drink by a Disciple who is the Master of Ceremonies. If the student drinks the tea complete, with no signs of discomfort, another cup of tea will be handed to the student who will offer it to the Sifu and Simo. If the Sifu and Simo accept the student as an “indoor student” or Disciple, he and she will accept the tea and will drink. This confirms the ceremony, and the todai will offer his “kung fu father” a gift such as lucky money in a red envelope to end the ceremony. This is just a general overview of the ceremonial process. Within each kung fu family, there are many variations of the ceremony, and in some lineages the ceremony can last for many days.

A Disciple who has completed the Baai Si ceremony becomes like a son or daughter to the Sifu and Simo and the Sifu will even bestow a Kung Fu family name.

It is important to keep in mind that a discipleship relationship does NOT mean blind obedience; it truly means mutual loyalty between the Sifu and the disciple. The Disciple pledges to continue training hard, learning everything the Sifu teaches while maintaining the integrity of the school and the Kung Fu. In return, the Sifu pledges to completely pass his Kung Fu knowledge to the disciple to the best of his ability.

Among the many students who have participated in a Discipleship include all the Instructors and Masters in the Meng’s Martial Arts family, throughout the world! With continued training, it’s possible for you to join this illustrious group as well – remember, a Black Belt is a White Belt who never gave up and a Master is a Black Belt who never gave up!
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We look forward to sharing this special event for these four students with all of you on Tuesday, February 18th, starting at 7:30 pm!

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