Saturday, February 26, 2011


I have learned a great deal in my teaching years, and in future blogs I will discuss many of the things that changed my life. But for now I would like to say one big realization I have learned. The American people and not easy to teach. Yes, I too am an American, but my Teachers, but one were not. A great deal of my learning comes from Taiwan. I have noticed one major difference in the students there and the students here in the states. And that difference is their dedication to their chosen Teacher. It is unwavering and heart felt. I have found this is a rare event to see this dedication among those in the states.

In China a Teacher is revered, respected and the devotion of his students is unwavering. Here I have found this is not the case. It is all about what I can get from you, and the dedication is fragile to say the least. It is rare for a Teacher to find students that really appreciate what a Teachers gives of himself to pass on the Arts.

I traditional Teacher never teachers for money alone. Yes, there are small fees to maintain a school but that is not why they teach. I can attest to the fact that I have lost more money teaching the I have made. It seems the Teacher is the last one to be paid, and often not at all. I am not talking about commercial schools where they bind people with contracts to collect money. It seems they are aware of the fact if they did not they would never get paid. However, a Traditional Teacher only go by the word of a student to maintain their fees and devotion and respect according to Wu-De (ethics) which is the very heart of our arts.

My biggest lesson is that few really believe in the Martial arts Ethics as compared to the Asian students. They are devoted and never waver and remain loyal to the end of the Teacher life as well as their life. Of course there will always be exceptions to the rule, but very few as compared to the large number seen in non Asian students.

A teacher is called a Shrfu, which means Teacher /Father. However, it is rare to see a student who really believes in that. They treat their Teacher as only a Teacher and nothing more. Like a Father would die for his children you would expect the same in reverse for their Teacher, but I have not seen this in this country, but for a few. I believe this was my greatest disappointment in teaching the Arts. This is the main reason I feel it this time to stop teaching and move on.

I know a Shaolin Monk of high order, who I won't mention his name, but he came to the states a number of years ago to teach only to find what I have stated here is true. He has even stated he may leave either back to China or elsewhere where he might be able to find true students. My only consolation is that I did find a handful of devotees that I leave behind, for that I am grateful.


  1. Hi GM Ma Shr-ya,

    Yes, unfortunately your assessment is quite accurate and I'm very sorry to hear that you are officially "closing your door" & have decided to stop teaching.

    My very own teacher, GM Jeng, Hsing-ping in 1971 was the 1st martial arts instructor to publicly teach Chinese Swai Jiao here in the USA. GM Jeng was quite disappointed because he had trained hundreds of students from 1971 to 1984 but none of them continued with their training to become an instructor.

    When I first met GM Jeng in 1973 I was learning traditional Northern Shaolin Long Fist Kung Fu and back in those days no one cross-trained KF styles and you remained loyal to your Shifu. After my Master Nelson Tsou, Yen-kai my Long Fist teacher retired I have still continued his teachings. Then as if by fate, in 1984 I met GM Jeng once again and he remembered me as the student of Master Tsou. Fortunately, GM Jeng was still looking for instructors to train to carry on his Chinese Swai Jiao lineage from Great-GM Chang,Tung-sheng. After 12 years of continuous training with GM Jeng, my six classmates and I in NYC were promoted to the rank of BB instructor.

    Sadly, for the past 20 years, I have been the only 1 of 7 who has continued to teach Chinese Swai Jiao. Since 1986, I have had only 5 students who earned disciple status after training in the complete system to be BB level instructors. Once again, the pattern continued for the 2nd generation - now only 3 of my 5 disciples are currently teaching Chinese Swai Jiao.

    Last year, GM Jeng officially retired and presented me with his Swai Jiao jacket as a symbol to carry on his teachings. So my door is open for the next generation to come forward :)

    My 3 disciples (Franc, Matt & Joe) who have continued to teach in NYC and me in California have been training a select group of students from the 3rd generation to be evaluated/tested in August 2011 for rank promotion to BB level instructor. Hopefully, a much larger percentage of those who pass will continue to teach the 4th generation :)

    Otherwise, our traditional martial arts will not be perpetuated.

    This is truly a sad commentary on how martial arts is regarded here in the USA. Many don't understand that Black Belts are just a symbol and earning that rank is just the beginning of the real learning process as an instructor.

    I always tell any prospective students that if their real goal is just to have a black belt - then go buy one for themselves and don't waste my time:)

    Shifu James Chin
    Chinese Swai Jiao Association

  2. GrandMaster Ma ShrYaFebruary 27, 2011 at 9:45 AM

    Very well said Shrfu James, Finding a True inheritor of the Arts is like panning for gold. What you find is mostly the rocks, and only one pieces of gold, if your lucky. However; most of the time you find nothing at all but an empty pan.

  3. Question ... I'm 54 yrs old, good physical condition and very interested in the martial arts. I have been studying a Qigong form off the internet, for 3 years; but not having a teacher close is difficult. I'm in Redding, CA.
    This quote from your archives is very meaningful to me:
    We could use our time here to develop our immortal soul to that of an enlightened being—one who has accumulated enough merit here on earth to progress to the next level of existence.
    Physically speaking, i'm late in the journey, any suggestions.

    Your Archives are excellent reading .....

  4. don - contact information

  5. Hello Don:
    Thank you for the kind words.I have given up on teaching as you had read above because in realty when it counts most loyalty and devotion is not there. I have burned myself out looking for it. students in this country use the words love and devotion and loyalty without real meaning. But thank you for your comment. I hope you reach your goal.

  6. Again Hello Don:
    I really have no suggestions for you other then to say keep up your efforts. It is said when the student is ready the Teacher will appear. As far as spiritual development is concerned, this is the most important of all endeavors in life. Keep up your efforts as will I.

  7. Hello GM Ma Shr-ya,
    I am proud to say that I one of your devotees. You have inspired me for many years in both spiritual aspirations and martial applications. We have many common elements in our personal development. I always enjoy listening to and reading your words and watching you perform your art, which includes the art of teaching.

  8. Dear Jay
    I am proud to have you as a grand student. Obviously to have heard the things I have said over the years, whereas many have not. A Teacher only wish is that someone is listening.