The difference between Coach and Sifu.

The relationship of a Sifu to the Kwoon (training hall) is very difficult to define, as it encompasses many varying aspects of life.  The Sifu must flow through the student in many levels of communication and reach to the far corners of his life.  A Sifu is a father and at times a mother – an adviser and a chastiser.  A Sifu, though different, is the same as everyone else.  He is human in a controlled way and he deserves respect, for he has traveled a long hard road along the way.

kungfuA Sifu should be a good teacher, which means that he can convey the appropriate knowledge to the students at the correct time and in the best manner.  He must be able to see them and their problems as they never can – impartially.

A Sifu shows no favor.  Indeed, as progression is attained, he becomes harder on those who progress.  He is kind, but firm, to the beginner on the path.

He advises in an appropriate manner on the spiritual aspects of the art.  He is always a friendly ear who listens, but is not moved.  Many people are unable to see a Sifu properly, as they tend to categorize him into a teacher or a friend.  He is neither; he is both, and more.  He sees a student in a free way, unmoved by the external face or appearance and he helps in the best way.  If this is to be hard, he is so; soft, then he is soft.  Regardless, it is always in the best manner for the student, for the Sifu’s heart is forever with them.

hugheskungfu4Often a Sifu may test his students by taking views diametrically opposed to theirs and watching their reactions.  He will never praise.  In Kung Fu, silence is the best practice.  He will note what affects the student in and out of the Kwoon, how he acts to his friends, his family, and his work, and act accordingly.  He will put forward untruths to see if they are accepted: saying nothing when he should speak volumes.  He is kind when there is no reason to be.  He may be expectant, but through all these externals, his heart is forever with them.  He listens when they speak, but can see the reasons for their speech: he is unmoved but can move.  He is forever active even in a subdued way.  He gives, while others take. He asks no rewards, save proficiency of mind and body.  He is sad, sometimes happy, let down and often abused.  He is forever that way, for that way is him.

Though outside may change, the Sifu does not.  Though he can adapt at will completely, the inward ideals are always there.  He may be abused, but he thanks in return.  Blamed or criticized, he persists.  He persists when there is no reason to – that is why he is Sifu.  On average, it takes 2,000 students to produce one good, worthwhile Sifu.  If you have one – take care of him.

– P Chan 

Coach is term used for someone who is able to assist lower belts develop their skills needed to reach the rank of black belt.  In China martial artist go to Wushu college to earn the title of coach.  A coach also know the ways of helping a competitor on the sport side of martial arts.  In the Iron Mantis system 1st degree through 3rd degree black belts earn the title of coach.  A seasoned coach through time can earn the title of Sifu.