Bai Shi ( 拜師 )
For hundreds of years, knowledge skills and arts have been passed down from generation to generation, father to son, Master to disciple. It is said that discipleship is the highest honour and responsibility that a Master can bestow a student. The event is a rare occasion, and its importance felt throughout the international community.
The act of discipleship (Bai Shi 拜師) is not merely a namesake, but instead describes a bond that has been formed between Master and the chosen disciple. A signal to the outside world that a level of understanding has been established that goes beyond mutual respect and admiration or dedication and duty. However this trust and understanding is not enough. It is only one facet of the complex relationship between Master and disciple.
Discipleship is not available to all. Its essence requires a student that has the ability to actively absorb, and assimilate the most refined concepts within the art at the highest level. That their character is of the most respectable and that their ability to conduct themselves in a moral and professional manner is not in any doubt. The disciple assumes the responsibility of being a representative of the teacher: someone who will assume the mantle of responsibility for the on-going well-being of the teacher, the teacher’s reputation and all the teacher hold to be important, particularly in relationship to the tradition being taught.The journey to
discipleship begins by first becoming a student or member of a Tai Chi Chuan organisation. The word student literary mean a person following a course of study. However, in Chinese, it has a much deeper meaning. These people are called “門生 Moon San” in Cantonese. It gives student a sense of belonging to the organisation.
In ancient times, students are usually taught by senior students and only occasionally by the Master. Over time the student learns the basic principles and concepts of the art through the practise of forms.This form the basic foundation block on which other more advance training are build on. In time as ones training progresses one tends to spend more time with the Master.
The Master continues to instruct the students in accordance to their standards. At each level, students receive different training, particularly so in Tai Chi Chuan. During students training, the Master continually assesses students’ character, commitment, dedications and ability to absorb new levels. He teaches the students accordingly. In some cases, advanced students because of their character are not shown higher level skills until such time when they have changed. Staying with the master for longer period will ensure the opportunity to learn higher level of Tai Chi Chuan.
To ensure that the art are passed on to student to take on such responsibility in the next generation, the Master usually choose a successor or a few worthy students. In the past, it is very difficult or impossible for an outsider to obtain the full transmission from the master, as the family art is a closely guarded secret. It was kept within the family and passed down from father to son. Often you can observe that the successor to the family art is usually a member of the family. This is still the case in some martial arts. People outside such family, practically have no chance of getting the whole transmission of the art. However, some modern masters do take a more sensible and practical approach. They are still selective of their disciples so as to ensure that the treasure, Tai Chi Chuan continues to exist in future generations to come.