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Saturday, March 26, 2011

What's a Sifu?

When people ask “What’s Sifu Hill like?”, the only descriptive phrase that comes to mind is “He’s…Sifu.”

In martial arts terms, your Sifu is more than just the person who teaches you how to fight. It’s a term that should be used with great respect and honor. Using the term “Sifu” would be the same as referring to someone as a mentor, advisor, instructor, life coach, spiritualist, all at the same time. A good martial arts Sifu is your guide towards understanding yourself, and thus understanding how to defend yourself in the world.

Sifu Lawrence Hill teaches his students to know more than just how to defend themselves in a combat situation. He encourages us to be aware on all levels in our lives: socially and spiritually. To Sifu Hill, Shaolin is a form of true self expression. True Shaolin helps you find more about who you are and what you are capable of doing. This is the foundation of combat; when you know yourself, you will be able to connect with everything within your environment.

The world is full of problems, whether it is suffering from today’s economic issues, situations at work,  complications with relationships, or being faced in a life threatening situation. Ultimately, the answer comes down to you: your knowledge, your skills, and your execution of your skills will allow you to get out of each problem that you will be facing in life.

At the Systems Within Systems kung fu school, we use the phrase “Grow. Learn. Teach.” These three simple principles are fundamental to any student, no matter what you practice.

In our case, we as martial arts students do more than just go to class and work out. A good student should recognize that each martial art form taught in class and each sparring session with another student is a lesson in itself, and the student slowly grows as a better person with every time they practice. Once the student acknowledges and appreciates the purpose of the lesson, they start teaching what they learned to other students. Teaching not only allows you to pass the knowledge down to others, but also helps reinforce what you already know. Often, teaching others also helps you understand more about how you connect and express yourself to other people. The cycle of growing, learning, and teaching is limitless in its rewards.

Listen and see how Sifu Hill describes his views on the martial arts by clicking the link below:


  1. I agree with Toph but it goes even further than that. In the before time, the Sifu would choose which students to accept because a Sifu is the head of a kung fu family. In many cases people would sever blood ties in order to join a school. Things are clearly a lot different now but I feel the school should still have a familial feel, although a bit more disciplined than most are accustomed. At the very least I hope poeple appreciate how much any good Sifu really has to offer.

  2. To me, one key difference between someone who is a Sifu and someone who isn't is the level of understanding of self and the ability to teach one self.

    I think the hardest lesson for any Sifu to teach onto his/her students is that the Sifu will not be teaching them forever. It just happens for that particular time period, the Sifu and the students share the same path on their respective journeys. The only way for the student to continue to learn and to grow is to over time become his/her own Sifu, or else all the arts he/she has learned will simply fade away with time.

    Sifu Hill used to say to me, "Be patient, humble, and disciplined in your training, trust the art, the art will teach you." I used to be able to go to class and hear him reminding me of that. Now, I don't live near anyone who does Kung Fu or training for combat. Those words are the only thing I have in driving my own martial art training forward. I am learning that the journey to become your own Sifu, is a very lonely road. Your Kung Fu is as good as your inner Sifu.