Let me give you ‘just’ two definitions, that the dictionary denotes for the word family. There are many other definitions but the two I’m choosing to use here, happen to be the most pertinent to this article.
A basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not.
A group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests or goals and, frequently, live together.
So the first definition the dictionary gives for the word family, is the most obvious and commonly used [reference 1]. Now the second definition used [above] is more [or less] the definition I’d like to stick with here for the remainder of this article.
Family: A group of who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests or goals and, frequently, live together.
The purpose for this article was simply a “once-and-for-all” answer to the question I’m always asked, “Why haven’t you grown your school to something much bigger?” Now don’t get me wrong, that’s a great and legitimate question, that I feel deserves a much more accurate response that’s written in the aether of our known communicative sphere! Plus, I think it’ll just be easier to give someone a link to a more cogently written and well thought-out answer :-)
You see, maybe it’s just because I happened to have learned combative self defense from my father, who also happens to be my sifu. It could be that I grew up around the love for fighting. It could be that watching how my father taught his students and poured himself out, so that they can not only learn but would themselves have the joy, pleasure, and responsibility to cherish the treasures that he was teaching/giving them. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re family, blood and inextricably united by the same DNA?
Whatever the “it” is, we’re family!
There’s not a moment that goes by or time that passes, where I don’t pay my respects or homage to my father/sifu and the teachings that he has bestowed on me [and a countless amount of others] and how he has unselfishly and wholeheartedly poured into my life! It’s always important, even though I’m teaching the art that has been transferred into my life, through hard work, blood, sweat and tears, to remember and honor from where I was filled with the knowledge, in which I too pour into my students.
Honor is the word that comes to mind, whenever I teach from the system that my father/sifu has created.
I’ll keep this description short, since it actually coincides with “Honor” and the weight it carries with it throughout ones life. A perfect example of how “respect” is portrayed and ultimately lived in ones life, would be, for example; the way my kids imbibe, live, espouse, manifest and translate what I have taught them, into their own personal lives.
I mean, I can tell my kids not to do drugs, not to drink alcohol, not to lower their standards of abusing the English language with cheap, lazy, easy-to-use elementary words in the form of imprecation and cussing vocabulary. BUT if I myself do these things, then I would be a poor example! However, since we all know that people don’t really learn authenticity by what’s been said, but rather, what’s being lived; it would be a huge disrespect for my kids to off and “do”, “act” and “comport” themselves in any way contrary to what they’ve “seen” lived in my life.
You see, it would be a dishonor and lack of respect if what I've poured into, lavished upon and unselfishly taught my children throughout their lives with me; if they turned around and did otherwise.
When I was growing up, I had no idea of the type of person/man that I would become. I mean, a person can plan. A person can have goals and objectives they’d like to strive towards and for. With all of the ’sometimes’ insurmountable obstacles that life throws at you, I would have to say…you’ll most likely grow up with a mindset that’s been molded, for the most part, with things you’ve seen, and how by “seeing” certain things has shaped, shifted and altered your perception on life and how you tackle it — life.
You’ve heard the old saying, “Talk is cheap!” Well, in a way, it’s kind of true. Action is “the thing” that moves you from the literal and proverbial Point-A-To-B grind[s] of life! Your action was a result of something deep within, that moved you towards your purpose because of the constant “pouring into” you received by your parents and/or other influences, which you’ve deemed authentically real — both negatively and/or positively.
It is through what you’ve seen and experienced in your life, that you start to truly sift through the contrasting garbage and authenticity you’ve learned to love and hate, which ultimately became the bases of knowing and understanding your purpose in life.
I started this article with the number one question I’m asked on a pretty consistent bases: “Why haven’t you grown your school to something much bigger?”
How in the world did I ever land on the subject of family?
Good question — I’m glad you asked!
You see, I NEVER planned on teaching! As a matter of fact, i never actually imagined that I would be teaching my fathers art — The Wing Chun Kali System. There a several reasons why I never “imagined” myself teaching The Wing Chun Kali System but I’ll stick with the two primary reasons. 1. I’ve always considered myself a student of the art and quite simply just wanted to learn [and still do]. Who am I to put the cart before the horse to try and jump on teaching, before first being a student 2. I am highly sensitive and acutely meticulous about who I teach my fathers art to. See, I’m actually blood of my fathers blood. I grew up [and even until now] watching my father give, give and give some more, with respect to his art. So giving of the art, to family, is normal to me.
The real question, with regards to the second definition that the dictionary gives [definition above], is: How do you really know that the person you’re pouring yourself into, leaving your heart on the mat for, and totally giving yourself, your real blood, sweat and tears for, is authentic “family” material? Now this is a very big and important question to tackle. I mean, you’re going to be investing a serious amount of time with these non-blood-related family members! Are you sure that they’re in this adopted family to truly grow and always have a spirit of gratitude and a heart of selflessness, that truly inculcates what a family member would and should look like?
There are far too many people that have been burned in the “business” of "family" matters! There are far too many advantageous individuals looking to suck you dry, sell what they’ve learned for high profits and NEVER even think to reciprocate the very values that were imbued with a true, authentic caliber of passion, that only exists in a giving teacher who’s Achilles Heel is to be such a free and open giver of himself; he never truly knows which student of the art is "like" family.
What does it all mean?
I’ve never really tried to grow my school beyond a certain number of students because I love the close and personal relationship that I have with my tightly nit students. Plus, it’s not that, as a bu
siness man myself, I’m against or despise growth. I would have to say that, for me, family is very important; the teachings of my fathers art is not something I’m willing to give to just anyone; I especially do not want this beautiful but extremely lethal family system to fall into the hands of the wrong person; especially a person with an agenda other than the one my father started, which was birthed out of the love for giving.
Ask any of my students, anytime, anywhere, and you can rest assured that although I sweat, hurt and bruise with them all the same, there’s never a time that all that I know, is 100% acknowledged as being the product of my fathers handiwork.
What does family mean to you?