Titles

Titles express the traditional relationships between all our People.

Relationships exist as soon as there is more than one entity to be considered. The individual members of every family, group, clan, business, club, gathering or social enterprise can all be expressed by the way they are related to each other, and the martial arts are no different. No-one is an island; you have a place in a hierarchy within the world of Kung-Fu, just as you do in all other walks of life.

Because the Federation Wing Tsun System is a martial art of Chinese origin, it is appropriate that the terms used to describe our internal relationships reflect those of Chinese family traditions.

Please note that in practice it is NOT usual for our people to address each other using the modes shown below. By all means call your instructor or colleagues by their traditional Kung-Fu titles if it makes you happy, or if you feel it shows respect, however nobody within our world will insist upon being addressed in such ways. We take our art a lot more seriously than we take ourselves.

You & Your Immediate Kung-Fu ‘Family’

These are probably the most common titles you’ll come across; terms describing your relationship to your own instructor and to other students within your school or club.

Relationship To You Male Female
Your Parents
(Your own instructor)
Father
Si-Fu
Mother
Si-Mo
Your Elder Siblings
(More experienced students than you, who are being taught by your own instructor)
Elder Brother
Si-Hing
Elder Sister
Si-Je
You
(Student of the Federation Wing Tsun System)
To-Dai
Your Younger Siblings
(Less experienced students than you, who are being taught by your own instructor)
Younger Brother
Si-Dai
Younger Sister
Si-Mui

The Family Of Your Kung-Fu ‘Parents’

Of course, your instructor came from a school or club originally too, learning skills from an instructor of their own. These terms describe your relationship with their family.

Relationship To You Male Female
Your Grandparents
(The teacher of your own instructor)
Grandfather
Si-Gung
Grandmother
Si-Poo
Your Parents’ Elder Siblings
(Students of your instructors’ teacher, who are more experienced than your own instructor)
Elder Uncle
Si-Pak
Elder Aunt
Si-Doo-Goo
Your Parents
(Your own instructor)
Father
Si-Fu
Mother
Si-Mo
Your Parents’ Younger Siblings
(Students of your instructors’ teacher, who are less experienced than your own instructor)
Younger Uncle
Si-Sook
Younger Aunt
Si-Goo-Mui

Further Ancestry

Naturally, the terms exist to describe a far greater depth of ancestry than is listed on this page, however in practice the above titles plus the two shown below (for good measure) would usually be sufficient.

Relationship To You Male Female
Your Great-Grandparents
(The teacher of your instructors’ teacher)
Great-Grandfather
Si-Tai-Gung
Great-Grandmother
Si-Tai-Poo
Lineage Founder
(The person who initiated the style/system)
Si-Jo

 

The ‘Sifu’ Title

There is an important difference between the term ‘Si-Fu’ (with a hyphen), and the term ‘Sifu’ (without a hyphen). The pronunciation is identical, but the hyphen serves to distinguish between them in written usage.

Sifu (without a hyphen) is a professional title bestowed upon an individual, male or female, upon achievement of a particular level of skill & knowledge within a discipline. It is similar to the way the title Doctor is usually bestowed upon medical students after passing their exams, or upon academics after the attainment of their PhD qualification.

In the Federation Wing Tsun System, the title of Sifu is awarded when a qualified instructor succeeds in raising two of their own students to a higher grade than they themselves were at when they first began teaching the art. Thus the title is a reward for long personal study, reflective of years of dedication to ones students, and an acknowledgment of sincere effort to improve & share the art.

There also exists the title of Dai-Sifu (literally ‘Great Sifu’). Similarly, this is awarded when very senior instructors succeed in having the Sifu title awarded to two of their own students.

However, please note that the above criteria do not necessarily apply to others. In some variants of Wing Chun it is common practice to award the Sifu title as soon as one begins teaching. In others it is a title by purchase: Pay enough money, and you too can hold it. I think it goes without saying that I frown heavily upon both these practices; they do nothing for the art except to promote ego and financial motives, respectively. Our people can rest assured that any Sifu within the Federation Wing Tsun System has earned the right to the title over a decade or more of effort.

By contrast, Si-Fu is a term which can be understood as ‘Father-Teacher’; a paternal relationship between the student and their own instructor, as shown in the table above.

You can read more about this interesting distinction here, however a simple way to understand the difference is to realise that you can only have one set of parents; one father, one mother. Thus your own instructor is your Si-Fu or Si-Mo (meaning that they are your Kung-Fu parent), regardless of whether or not they have been awarded the professional title of Sifu within the Federation Wing Tsun System.