Unlike other styles of martial arts, in traditional kung fu we don´t use color sashes for grading. Currently there are a large number of schools using this grading system as a way to inspire students, with the assumption that getting a new sash is a easier and tangible way for the student to understand its evolution, a kind of reward for their effort and dedication.

The sashes, when used, have a very important function: to serve as a support for the lumbar and abdomen areas, very stressed during practice.

However, in kung fu schools typically the hierarchical relations are structured differently. Influenced by Confucian ideas of the importance of family, ancestor worship and respect for elders, graduation and all relations between practitioners of a school were organized considering that all were members of one family.

The following is the proper nomenclature to address the members of your kung fu family:

(The following terms are written in the Cantonese dialect, which is used in our school):

師祖
Sijo (founder)

師太公
Sitaigung (great-grandfather)

師伯公
Sibaakgung (older grand-uncle)

師公
Sigung (grandfather)

師叔公
Sisukgung (younger grand-uncle)

師伯
Sibaak (older uncle)

師父 ou 師傅
Sifu (father)

師母
Simo (sifu´s wife)

師叔
Sisuk (younger uncle)

師兄
Sihing (older brother)

師姐
Sije (older sister)

師弟
Sidai (younger brother)

師妹
Simui (younger sister)

同門
Tungmun (cousin)

師侄
Sijat (nephew)

師侄女
Sijatlui (niece)

You can find some variation of these terms depending on the family or kung fu style, but generally these tend to be the most used terms.

Remembering that the above terms are not titles. They are relative, as you may be one thing for a person and something else in relation to another. For example, you may be a particular student´s sihing (older brother), but at the same time you can be sidai (younger brother) of another student who started to practice before you. Your sifu´s sihing is your sibaak, and at the same time he is sijat of your sibaakgung (who is their Sibaak).

Confusing? It seems, but it´s only a matter of becoming familiar with the terms, and understand the structure and genealogy of your kung fu family.