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What is a Master / Grand Master?

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  • What is a Master / Grand Master?

    This question seems to arise more and more often. Recently during a seminar with a group of medical practitioners, the question was again raised. Those present mostly assumed that a certificate (for example from a national association) would be enough to show the person was a Master.

    But what is a Master really? And what then is a Grand Master? How can people find out who is a real Master / Grand Master and who is not?

    Ideas / thoughts?

    Andrew
    Sifu Andrew Barnett
    Shaolin Wahnam Switzerland - www.shaolin-wahnam.ch

    Flowing Health GmbH www.flowing-health.ch (Facebook: www.facebook.com/sifuandrew)
    Healing Sessions with Sifu Andrew Barnett - in Switzerland and internationally
    Heilbehandlungen mit Sifu Andrew Barnett - in der Schweiz und International

    Chi Kung Courses: October and November 2018 in Landquart CH
    QEA Discussion Forum: www.qea.ch/forum

  • #2
    Very good question Andrew. I think there is no other demarcation criteria than social status: Master is a person that is widely accepted as a Master of certain art. Same thing with Grandmaster. To me Grandmaster means just elderly master who has perhaps students who are masters themselves -- but ultimately what matters is the social acceptance. If most people, who are of course involved somehow with similar art, call person X as a Master or Grandmaster, then he or she is. In every case there will be some people who disagree that X is a Master or Grandmaster.

    Sincerely,
    Panu
    Best wishes,
    Panu

    Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another. (John Dewey)

    Comment


    • #3
      I have to agree with Ovidius here, I think a Grandmaster is the master of masters.
      As for a master, I have met few who would even call themselves one. Only the pretenders would have the cheek to call themselves master.
      I have been involved in Martial Arts and contact sports for about 27 years in one way or another and one thing I am definitely not is a Master. If anything, I realise how little I do know the more I learn or practice. Ok, there are aspects that I am good at and can show a reasonable level of skill at, but there is so much more that I have alot to learn.
      It's a pretty subjective title.
      How, then, do we find a master? Well it depends what you are looking for and what you will settle for. Do you want lots of knowledge and very little substance, or concentrated learning in a smaller area?
      It look like I will be rambling for ages on this, so I'll let someone else have their say but I'll just finish with one more question: Does a master have any more to learn?

      Cheers,

      Richard

      Comment


      • #4
        On the other hand, I met someone recently who's been doing Taijiquan for over twenty years and says, "I'm nowhere near mastery!" Perhaps it's false humility, but if it's true, then I have to wonder. Twenty years of practice and not even close to mastery? That tells me something is wrong.

        I am no master, but if after 20 years of practice I cannot honestly call myself (or be called) at least a low-level master, then I better kill myself. :P

        Does a master have any more to learn?
        Definitely! I don't know when mastery got equated with Enlightenment, but I think it's a problem in the West. Mastery doesn't mean you're done! I think it means you've mastered your art to a level where you control it, not vice versa.

        In music, this is all so much clearer. When someone stops being a student and starts being a real musician, you can just hear it in their playing.
        Last edited by Antonius; 3rd September 2004, 09:49 AM.
        Sifu Anthony Korahais
        www.FlowingZen.com
        (Click here to learn more about me.)

        Comment


        • #5
          I am no master, but if after 20 years of practice I cannot honestly call myself (or be called) at least a low-level master, then I better kill myself. :P
          A master is a master, there aren't really levels of Masterdom (I made that word up ).

          In music, this is all so much clearer. When someone stops being a student and starts being a real musician, you can just hear it in their playing.
          This is true in all things, especially MA. Whan someone actually starts to have fights, their improvement is exponential.
          Does this that all real musicians Maestro's?

          Comment


          • #6
            A master is a master, there aren't really levels of Masterdom (I made that word up )
            I disagree. I think there are many different levels. For example, Sifu Wong is certainly a master, but his teacher, Sigung Ho Fatt Nam, was at a much higher level. But they are both called masters (or Grandmasters).
            Last edited by Antonius; 3rd September 2004, 04:47 PM.
            Sifu Anthony Korahais
            www.FlowingZen.com
            (Click here to learn more about me.)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Antonius
              Sigung Ho Fatt Nam, was at a much higher level.
              Did you have a chance to meet him?

              Sincerely,
              Panu
              Last edited by Ovidius; 3rd September 2004, 07:21 PM.
              Best wishes,
              Panu

              Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another. (John Dewey)

              Comment


              • #8
                Did you have a chance to meet him?
                Sadly, no. But several of my seniors met him, and I live vicariously through their stories.

                To clarify, it is not my assessment that puts Sigung Ho at a higher level that Sifu Wong; it's Sifu's Wong's own assessment.
                Sifu Anthony Korahais
                www.FlowingZen.com
                (Click here to learn more about me.)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Interesting question Andrew.

                  My understanding of this is that (a) grandmaster is/tends to be reserved for the living head of a school and that (b) rather like a gentleman in English no grandmaster would say he is a grandmaster.

                  On this basis I would say that Sifu is a grandmaster and the fact that he may not call himself this is further proof under my criterion (b)

                  Separately your Swiss clinical tests are brilliant - could we hear more about this in a specific thread? When I have the time I must get round to kicking off a thread re science and Wahnam qigong. Having spoken to a couple of professional scientists in Spain there are some interesting possibilities and angles.

                  rgds and congrats

                  Mike
                  "If you realised how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought." Peace Pilgrim.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Interesting inputs --- but still no definitive answers. We'll see what others have to say maybe

                    Andrew
                    Sifu Andrew Barnett
                    Shaolin Wahnam Switzerland - www.shaolin-wahnam.ch

                    Flowing Health GmbH www.flowing-health.ch (Facebook: www.facebook.com/sifuandrew)
                    Healing Sessions with Sifu Andrew Barnett - in Switzerland and internationally
                    Heilbehandlungen mit Sifu Andrew Barnett - in der Schweiz und International

                    Chi Kung Courses: October and November 2018 in Landquart CH
                    QEA Discussion Forum: www.qea.ch/forum

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mike B
                      When I have the time I must get round to kicking off a thread re science and Wahnam qigong. Having spoken to a couple of professional scientists in Spain there are some interesting possibilities and angles.
                      There already is one.

                      http://wongkiewkit.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1375

                      Shaolin Wahnam Institute Discussion Forum > Chi Kung > Chi Kung Experiences > Modern Science and Qigong?

                      Regards,
                      Chris

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        For me a master has to be skilled in the MA he teaches. But much more important is that he has the ability to give his knowledge to other people.
                        For me, the ability to teach isn't part of the definition of a "mastery."

                        I had a violin teacher who was a master at playing his instrument, but he was a lousy teacher. Whenever he would try to convey an idea to me, he would inevitably get frustrated with words and pick up his fiddle and just play what he wanted. At the time, however, this was exactly what I wanted from my teacher.

                        Similarly, many Kungfu masters throughout history have lacked the ability and/or the desire to teach.
                        Sifu Anthony Korahais
                        www.FlowingZen.com
                        (Click here to learn more about me.)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Mastership

                          Hello all,

                          for me is a Grandmaster sombody who get named,called or his title from masters from the same art because of his unique.
                          In the Japan arts like Karate, Judo, Ju-Jutsu, Aikido etc. you will get the title Grandmaster automatic if you reach the 6th Dan.
                          May all beings be happy

                          Kai
                          ______________
                          Shaolin Wahnam Germany
                          www.shaolin-wahnam.de
                          www.Cosmos-Chikung.de
                          www.Anicca-Praxis.de

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Happy to be a novice

                            Having studied Kung Fu, Shotokan Karate, Qigong, and Taijiquan for 19 years now, I have the ability to make friends and relatives 'woop' and 'wow!' with displays of my art, I've also tested my training in a life threatening situation,but I would not call myself a master. The term itself has been so devalued in the arts over the past 20 years or so, I am not not sure if it really has any relevance. I no more crave the term master bestowed on me than I crave belts and awards. I gave up that particular obsession over a decade ago. I have been a student/disciple now since 1985 and I get the same feeling of a child opening christmas presents every time I am exposed to something new or someone with something to teach me.

                            This isn't fake humility, just a strong desire to retain the 'kid in the sweetshop' attitude I had when I started. It's what makes me want to train every day.

                            This reason alone is enough for me to be happy to remain a student hopefully til I die.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Happy Horace
                              The term itself has been so devalued in the arts over the past 20 years or so, I am not not sure if it really has any relevance
                              When I first started teaching I was unsure in regards to students referring to me as 'Sifu', so I decided that I would explain the meaning for Sifu and leave it to the students to decide for themselves when they would call me Sifu (deserving of the term). Now I think that this was wrong, that if you are teaching Kungfu in a class then you are a Sifu whether you are comfortable with the title or not. As a personal point, I am far comfier being called Sifu Collett than Master Collett, in fact I squirm if referred to as 'Master' in a martial sense. I don't know about everywhere else, but in the UK Master used to be a term for a young male (Master Darryl Collett later becomes Mr Darryl Collett).

                              I fully agree with the point about how a once noble title has been cheapened and handed out freely to barely skilled instructors who are very bad at what they do (an all too common point unfortunately). Is this not the same as 'Kungfu' though - if one aim of Shaolin Wahnam is to restore the grandeur and respect of genuine Kungfu, is it also an aim to restore the significance of being referred to as a Master? If it does then I think that 'Master' does not mean the same as 'Sifu', or are we confusing ourselves by having two completely different titles?

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