Please tell us if your are able, about the initiation ceremonies you have been apart of and the inherent responsibility to preserve Martial traditions there in, for better or worse?
Read the FULL INTERVIEW HERE: https://hakka-mantis.com/rdh-interview-001-by-tyler-rea-a-southern-mantis-retrospective-july-28-2018/
Initiation Ceremonies today run the gamut. From complex ancient Shaolin (today’s Chinese Freemasons) rituals, to simply presenting a cup of tea to your teacher, to receiving a membership certificate while raising your right hand and pledging oath and allegiance to the Pai (Clan).
There is a saying, ‘martial relations often run deeper than blood’. This means the teacher-student bond may supersede family ties. It is part of ancient Chinese custom to revere the teacher. See my article about “Sitao – Sifu: The Teacher-Student Relationship”: https://hakka-mantis.com/question/sitao-sifu-the-teacher-student-relationship/
And there are some teacher-student relationships that come to fruition, without the need for external ceremony. There can exist a heartfelt common welfare, where initiation is in the heart. The performance of an external ceremony is only a symbolism, for the already inwardly felt relationship, between a teacher and pupil.
I have been asked to make three ceremonies, to Hakka Mantis. The first was Mark Gin Foon Sifu, USA Kwongsai Mantis, circa 1980. It involved sleeping in front of the Sun Toi (Ancestral Shrine), for 49 consecutive days and retelling the daily dreams to Sifu. This is a common Shamanic practice. 49 days represents the journey through the underworld and rebirth (into the new Clan). It was a private, but intricate ceremony which took several days of preparation. An abridged version of the Chinese Masons, involving fire and water, etc., and culminating in knocking the forehead three times on the floor, before offering a cup of tea. I forgot to kowtow thrice and only knocked my head once!
The second was to late Sifu Gene Chen, Chu Gar Mantis. Gene annually accepted a number of Tai Chi students by ceremony, although, he only ever had three Chu Gar disciples. I was his third Chu Gar disciple and his last, circa 1988. The ceremony was a simple exchange of gifts and an offering of tea. He wrote out his mandate to carry forward Mantis on a red paper and presented it to me. I have included this, in the Chu Gar Online Courses.
Late Cheng Wan Sifu, in Hong Kong, circa 2002, also asked me to make private ceremony to him. He knew he was passing soon and wished to charge others with the Transmission, of the Chu Gar Art. Later, before he passed I also asked several of my USA, Australian, China students, to make Ceremony to Cheng Sifu. Some were lucky, some not. It is the hope of a Sifu, that those who make ceremony will never forget to call his name and annually burn incense, hence, he is never forgotten and lives on.
However, it is common, in the Ancestral Shrines, that only Five Ancestor’s names (Spirit tablets) made of peach wood, are kept. As time passes, the oldest name is taken down, burnt in fire, and the smoke carries the Ancestor’s spirit back to Heaven. Whilst on earth, spirits are embodied by the peach wood spirit tablets.
Like the difference between USA and China Kwongsai Mantis, this is a complex question that requires a bigger answer. Let’s follow up on this. At 62, I don’t mind to open up.