Teacher Forever

09.07.2014 12:00

Bùzàihū chéngsī xiūliàn,
Bùzàihū dǎodé liángshī.

This is a beautifully inspired hero's couplet.

When I first saw this, it was in the 蔡李佛門 Choi Léih Fāt Mùhn book of a classmate. I read the Spanish translation: "No importan las años de práctica, sino encontrar un verdadero maestro." [1] ("Years of training are unimportant, without finding a true master.") I thought this quite noble and exemplified everything our teacher always says. One day, just to be curious, I asked my teacher directly what the expression meant. (I had great trouble reading the couplet because the calligraphy was difficult for me to decipher.) To explain the meaning, my teacher said the following, speaking in português: "Professor por um dia, professor sempre." ("Teacher for a day, teacher forever.") - 國際師宗陳國偉 (Guójì Shīzōng Chén Guówěi) International Grandmaster Chan Kowk Wai. It didn't quite jibe with the few characters I could read from the text and was different from the Spanish translation I had read previously, but I just chalked it up to a hard to translate idiom.

However, I really wanted a clear and precise understanding of the expression. So, I had the calligraphy re-printed and 2 translations offered to me (one in Czech and one in English). I should have asked my teacher to say the expression in Cantonese or clearly print the Hanzi for me. Unfortunately, I didn't.

This is how I translate the idiomatic meaning:

"The lack of proper training is due to the absence of guidance from a true master." [2]

This is a very powerful and profound expression. It speaks to the 功底 gōngdǐ (having good foundational training) of those who have sought, found, and trained under the tutelage of a true master.  It helps to explain the culture of a traditional school and the 師徒制 Shītúzhì (master - disciple system).  It is at the heart of the Gōngfū of every practitioner under a true master.


Other Translations:

I. Alternate translation:

A. "No importan las años de práctica, sino encontrar un verdadero maestro." [1]
("Years of training are unimportant, without finding a true master.")

B. "Nedbat na poctivé provádění cvičení znamená nedbat vedení dobrého učitele." [3]
("Ignoring the honest implementation of training is to ignore the knowledge of a good teacher.")

C. "Negligence of proper training means negligence of guidance from a good teacher." [4]

II. Literal translation:

"Not caring to honestly manage training,
Not caring for the guidance of a good teacher."


Footnotes :

1. Written on the final page of Carlão's book.

2. My translation changed the wording of my student's with very minor tweaks and added the sense of the expression due to context. 

It must be noted, 良師 liángshī often translates as "good teacher," however, the sense is quite different from that offered in this couplet which speaks to one's journey in the traditional martial arts. This is a subtlety that may not be understood out of context.

3. Petr's translation.

4. Marika's translation.


Author: 竇萬春 Dòu Wànchūn

Published at: kungfuauthentic.blogspot.cz