Cult like behavior

Pat M

Orange Belt
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Brisbane, Australia
My time in Wing Chun has spanned 16 years and three Sifu's with the first being a student of the second. After 14 years including some time away we found ourselves no longer welcome. Being shunned by this group (but not by some members secretly) things that we had simply overlooked but known really to be wrong slowly became clear. (it amazing how you perception changes) We had been part of a cult like group where the leader manipulated his flock to act and think as he wanted, using the threat of banishment to anyone who dared to think otherwise. The classic religious maxim of there being something wrong with each and everyone of us and that through the Wing Chun under his tutelage we could be fixed. Friendships forged within the club being the property of the Sifu to be controlled and ended if one person left. Even marriage with one being destroyed in this way.

Is this common to Wing Chun or even Kung Fu?

Given after changing school and now after 18 months it has been myself not my wife who has just been excluded from somewhere that we thought was different, I am starting to question if this whole Sifu thing over time is fraught with danger given the human tendency "Everybody wants to rule the world". Is it possible for this not to happen when one has ultimate power?

My previous experience has raised my expectations of humility, honesty, integrity and equity are high regards my Sifu, these are qualities that I hold myself to. Control of EGO is also required going hand in hand with humility. During a challenging day involving the loss and a close friend and our family dog, I lacking any filter and discussed the perceived lack of equity in the school regards instruction. "When students attend a class and pay the fee should they not be given equal instruction" Given this discussion I was excluded from the school via email the following morning. (at no time was I not respectful or heated)

I have now learned friends I have made at the school have been warned not to train with me outside the school as this would cause their exclusion. Everyone signs off on their membership that they will not teach or train martial arts out side the school so this rule can be applied how, why and when ever the Sifu wants to.

Cult like I hear bells ringing.
 
I think this cult behavior is alive and well here in the US...
 
My time in Wing Chun has spanned 16 years and three Sifu's with the first being a student of the second. After 14 years including some time away we found ourselves no longer welcome. Being shunned by this group (but not by some members secretly) things that we had simply overlooked but known really to be wrong slowly became clear. (it amazing how you perception changes) We had been part of a cult like group where the leader manipulated his flock to act and think as he wanted, using the threat of banishment to anyone who dared to think otherwise. The classic religious maxim of there being something wrong with each and everyone of us and that through the Wing Chun under his tutelage we could be fixed. Friendships forged within the club being the property of the Sifu to be controlled and ended if one person left. Even marriage with one being destroyed in this way.

Is this common to Wing Chun or even Kung Fu?

Given after changing school and now after 18 months it has been myself not my wife who has just been excluded from somewhere that we thought was different, I am starting to question if this whole Sifu thing over time is fraught with danger given the human tendency "Everybody wants to rule the world". Is it possible for this not to happen when one has ultimate power?

My previous experience has raised my expectations of humility, honesty, integrity and equity are high regards my Sifu, these are qualities that I hold myself to. Control of EGO is also required going hand in hand with humility. During a challenging day involving the loss and a close friend and our family dog, I lacking any filter and discussed the perceived lack of equity in the school regards instruction. "When students attend a class and pay the fee should they not be given equal instruction" Given this discussion I was excluded from the school via email the following morning. (at no time was I not respectful or heated)

I have now learned friends I have made at the school have been warned not to train with me outside the school as this would cause their exclusion. Everyone signs off on their membership that they will not teach or train martial arts out side the school so this rule can be applied how, why and when ever the Sifu wants to.

Cult like I hear bells ringing.


Yeah if you Google wing chun cult you do get a few hits.
 
My time in Wing Chun has spanned 16 years and three Sifu's with the first being a student of the second. After 14 years including some time away we found ourselves no longer welcome. Being shunned by this group (but not by some members secretly) things that we had simply overlooked but known really to be wrong slowly became clear. (it amazing how you perception changes) We had been part of a cult like group where the leader manipulated his flock to act and think as he wanted, using the threat of banishment to anyone who dared to think otherwise. The classic religious maxim of there being something wrong with each and everyone of us and that through the Wing Chun under his tutelage we could be fixed. Friendships forged within the club being the property of the Sifu to be controlled and ended if one person left. Even marriage with one being destroyed in this way.

Is this common to Wing Chun or even Kung Fu?

Given after changing school and now after 18 months it has been myself not my wife who has just been excluded from somewhere that we thought was different, I am starting to question if this whole Sifu thing over time is fraught with danger given the human tendency "Everybody wants to rule the world". Is it possible for this not to happen when one has ultimate power?

My previous experience has raised my expectations of humility, honesty, integrity and equity are high regards my Sifu, these are qualities that I hold myself to. Control of EGO is also required going hand in hand with humility. During a challenging day involving the loss and a close friend and our family dog, I lacking any filter and discussed the perceived lack of equity in the school regards instruction. "When students attend a class and pay the fee should they not be given equal instruction" Given this discussion I was excluded from the school via email the following morning. (at no time was I not respectful or heated)

I have now learned friends I have made at the school have been warned not to train with me outside the school as this would cause their exclusion. Everyone signs off on their membership that they will not teach or train martial arts out side the school so this rule can be applied how, why and when ever the Sifu wants to.

Cult like I hear bells ringing.

Wow!!
My Sifu presses us to go out and experience other training.
I am the same.
Just don't come in and press the other training into our drills. Ask questions and when sparring try different things. But not against our drills.
I don't care who you train with or even why. All I required is that you do the training in the manner we train when training with us.
 
I'm not a wing chun guy, but none of this is present with my sifu.

Yes, there are those who wish to build an empire and this does occur in martial arts. You need to find a teacher for whom that is not his priority. They do exist.
 
Rule of thumb: If a Sifu reacts badly to being called by his first name, at least outside of class, get the hell out of there.
 
Rule of thumb: If a Sifu reacts badly to being called by his first name, at least outside of class, get the hell out of there.
Well ... it depends. My Sifu is about 75, from Hong Kong, learned at Jingwu, and doesn't speak much English. Inside and outside of class, all his students, even those who've known him for over thirty years, call him "Sifu," whether in English or Cantonese. So he's old school ... but a sweet guy, so we call him that out of genuine respect.

Another teacher, younger, but very good, didn't mind whether we called him by "Sifu" or his first name -- he was down to earth, about my age. I used his first name, and he was fine with it, but some of his more adoring students seemed to bristle when I did that.

One of my recent psych professors, a leader in her field, seemed about my age (around 50). I asked her how she'd like to be addressed, and she said it would be best if I called her "professor" in class, but I could call her by her first name outside of class and her colleagues did the same.

But yeah, I can see how your rule would be true in a fair number of cases.
 
I suppose I should've said that my little rule applies more to western instructors than it does to ones actually from China. After all, in China, the term "sifu" is not unlike calling calling a professor "professor" or Mr/Mrs.

In the West on the other hand, terms like Sifu and Sensei have become embedded with mystical qualities and thus become a big ego-stroker for Westerners.
 
I don't think cults or cult-like behavior are exactly normal for WC or kung-fu or martial arts in general, but they aren't unheard of either. I think that any time you have an overly hierarchical culture where respect is supposedly due based on rank or where expertise in one area (i.e. martial arts) is presumed to translate into authority in other areas (like life in general), then you have the risk of developing this sort of problem. It's not inevitable, but it's the general failure mode of devotion to authority.

(That's not limited to martial arts, BTW.)
 
Rule of thumb: If a Sifu reacts badly to being called by his first name, at least outside of class, get the hell out of there.

Yeah. My mum did chun for a bit. And it got like that.

She got pulled up for not showing proper respect. And dumped the whole school lile a hot spud.
 
as human beings we are only controlled by a cult to the degree in which we ourselves allow it.
 
My first teacher had a problem with people from different wing chun's coming.Used to think they were a spy coming to steal his "secret" techniques....
 
I have no Idea what you guys are talking about. Cults? Preposterous!

My first sifu was a humble 10th level Grandmaster with the rank of Master of Comprehension. Now he has ascended to the rank of Master of Almightyness (why does this always sound like a Jim Carey line to me?).

Anyway after being his student and disciple for about a dozen years, I stopped training under him when his fees and demands on my personal life exceeded what any sane person could give. I quietly slid away from the organization. Many years later I began training again with one of my old si-dais, who in the intervening years had become very skilled. But when he left the organization, everyone associated with him (including me) was shunned. Friends and training partners I had known for decades would not even speak to me. Now I ask you, what's cultish about that?
 
My first teacher had a problem with people from different wing chun's coming.Used to think they were a spy coming to steal his "secret" techniques....

I belong to a school where a well known WC Teacher/Author came to our school, copied down the stuff from our blackboard and then released it a few months later as his own information. It sounds a bit like a terrible 1970's movie, but that stuff totally happens.
 
Rule of thumb: If a Sifu reacts badly to being called by his first name, at least outside of class, get the hell out of there.

If on their Facebook profile their first name is Sifu, get the hell out of there.
 
I have no Idea what you guys are talking about. Cults? Preposterous!

My first sifu was a humble 10th level Grandmaster with the rank of Master of Comprehension. Now he has ascended to the rank of Master of Almightyness (why does this always sound like a Jim Carey line to me?).

Anyway after being his student and disciple for about a dozen years, I stopped training under him when his fees and demands on my personal life exceeded what any sane person could give. I quietly slid away from the organization. Many years later I began training again with one of my old si-dais, who in the intervening years had become very skilled. But when he left the organization, everyone associated with him (including me) was shunned. Friends and training partners I had known for decades would not even speak to me. Now I ask you, what's cultish about that?

This was pretty much the experience when leaving the second Sifu
 
as human beings we are only controlled by a cult to the degree in which we ourselves allow it.

Wise words, given hind sight this is easy and pretty much why I was not prepared to overlook what I saw as ethically wrong.
Previously I would just overlook this, not any more.
 
I don't think cults or cult-like behavior are exactly normal for WC or kung-fu or martial arts in general, but they aren't unheard of either. I think that any time you have an overly hierarchical culture where respect is supposedly due based on rank or where expertise in one area (i.e. martial arts) is presumed to translate into authority in other areas (like life in general), then you have the risk of developing this sort of problem. It's not inevitable, but it's the general failure mode of devotion to authority.

(That's not limited to martial arts, BTW.)

I would certainly like to agree as my hope is that the human spirit is good and that ultimate power will not always corrupt.
Perhaps only twice unlucky. Unsure if I will go for three.
 
Wow!!
My Sifu presses us to go out and experience other training.
I am the same.
Just don't come in and press the other training into our drills. Ask questions and when sparring try different things. But not against our drills.
I don't care who you train with or even why. All I required is that you do the training in the manner we train when training with us.

Could not agree more Danny, testing things is good.
I'm lucky to have had exposure to Karate x 2 styles, Mantis KF x 2 different schools same style and WC x 2 lineage.
Having been nothing but respectful wanting to learn this new approach but being disappointed by hypocrisy and inequity.
If not for my honesty I guess I would not have learned the true maturity of the Sifu. 61 YO westerner
 

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