The term of Master is a term used to denote the ultimate Teacher in Asian and Oriental cultural disciplines.
The term translates into different words of course in different cultures. In Indian Vedic systems the term Guru or Mahaguru is often used.
In Japanese systems you have Sensei. Many Japanese cultural disciplines use the term including ikebana and tea ceremony – thus you have an acknowledgement of and respect for the leadership knowledge and understanding of a teacher to whom the student subsumes himself or herself in order to learn.
More than the actual term, we have an underlying and cultural acknowledgement the teachers personal work, study, passion and dedication to his art as well as his ability to subsume within himself his own ego where it impacts on the Art he/she leads.
A Teacher is by nature modest and humble. He does not accord himself the title Sifu. It is bestowed upon him by his own Masters in the structure of his own lineage and progeniture.
However, since it is Chinese Shaolin Kungfu that you study, I should tell you that in any System there is only ever one Sifu.
That Sifu may in his discretion refer to his senior followers amongst his students (direct or indirect) who teach the same Art, as ” Sifu” but this is done out of deference to those loyal and dedicated students and to acknowledge the work that they have done studying the Art.
This also is how it is in our Shaolin Gaocan Mun Nampaichuan System schools.
In our System, I, as your Sifu sometimes refer to senior students, particularly those who teach centres within our System.
This is a bestowed honour and privilege and is not automatic.
That student retains that honour and privilege when he remains with his Sifu but not otherwise.
It is unseemly and not in tradition for someone to call himself Sifu if he has not been accorded that by his current Master or no longer follows his Teacher.
In the System always
26th July 2022