• Wu De

Demonstrating proper wu de - respect - is an integral part of what it means to be a member of a kung fu gwan (school).

Here are the basic Dragon and Crane wu de guidelines from Master John:

  • Always refer to your master as Sifu (see foo) both inside and outside the gwan.
  • Always bow to the gwan training floor upon entering and exiting.
  • Never wear street shoes on the training floor. Buy a pair of shoes for use only on the training floor (see Master John for recommendations).
  • When training with a partner, always bow to your partner before and after training.
  • If a class is already in session, wait at the entrance for Sifu to acknowledge your presence before entering.
  • During class, never leave the training floor without Sifu's permission. "Sifu may I be excused please?"
  • Excessive talking during class is inappropriate and counter-productive to learning.
  • Refer to gwan members by proper titles:
    Older Brother - Shr shong ("Older" means one who has more training time than you)
    Older Sister - Shr jie
    Younger Brother - Shr di
    Younger Sister - Shr mei
    Student in general - Shueh shong
    Disciple in general - Tudi
    Members who have achieved Sifu or Gao Shou levels should of course be addressed by those titles.
  • Wear a neat, clean, proper uniform to class. Shaolin students are not permitted in class without proper dress!
  • The honor of sweeping the floor before and after class is reserved for our youngest (newest) members.
    Older brothers and sisters relish this privilege so arrive a few minutes early or they will beat you to it!
  • Show respectful, courteous behavior at all times; it is the Kung Fu way.

The following is from Master John's primary teacher on the subject of wu de:

Wu De, the Code of the Shaolin Martial Artist

What is the Shaolin Code? The code, simply put, are the directives we follow to preserve the Shaolin arts for future generations. Collectively, these rules or customs are known as Wu De. The character "wu" is the same as in wu-shu, meaning martial or warrior; the character "de" means virtue, to follow the natural way or do what is instinctively right.

Respect is the key to preserving the Shaolin arts. Without respect, the true martial arts and their traditions would have faded away centuries ago, leaving nothing but fighting in their wake.

Train hard, and may each day of your training bring you closer to enlightenment.


Great Grandmaster
Older Brother/Sister

Always address your teacher as Sifu (teacher), not by name. Senior students who instruct classes should be addressed by name or as older brother/sister.


Great Grandmaster - Beyond Rank
Grandmaster - 40+ years
Master - 25+ years
Sifu - 10+ years
Disciple - 5+ years
Student - 1+ years

(New members to Dragon and Crane may be referred to as students in casual conversation, but it is at the one year mark that they are eligible to officially become students and be listed on the family tree.)

The Family Tree

The rewards for dedication to our arts are many and life-lasting. For as long as you train your name will be listed on the school family tree, and your name will always hold a place of honor amongst members of our circle. If you reach teacher level, your students will be recognized and sanctioned by circle members as legitimate heirs of the Shaolin arts. You will be remembered for your dedication to the arts and for helping to maintain the ancient traditions of Shaolin.

School Support

In a traditional Chinese kung fu school of old, the teacher's role was to cultivate himself (or herself) to the highest level and then guide the students to this same level. The student's role was to support and obey the teacher, and provide and maintain needed facilities or resources to make such training possible. Dragon and Crane adheres to this tradition. Tuition is kept reasonable to make training available to as many students as possible. Without the support and effort of the students, the teacher cannot forge ahead and the success of the students will in turn fall short. Therefore:

  • All students should take responsibility for running and maintaining the school. Volunteer to help in any way you can, and participate with a positive spirit of cooperation.
  • More experienced students should help new students feel welcomed and wanted in our gwan. Encouragement and setting a good example will help all students reach their full potential. Newer students should demonstrate respect toward more senior students at all times.
  • All students should actively participate in promoting the Shaolin arts in general, and our school in particular. Tell other people of good character about your training and encourage them to join. The strength of your school is the foundation from which you draw strength in your own training.


  • Never miss your classes. In earlier days, you would live with your teacher who would oversee every phase of your development. Today you only see your teacher for a short time each week, so it is important that you are consistent and on time to class.
  • In the event you must miss several classes, notify your school's staff ahead of time if possible or let them know afterward why you missed class.
  • Do not miss class because of injuries or minor illness. You can make great progress sitting in a wheelchair and meditating if need be, so do not neglect the spiritual strength that can be derived from being in the company of your teacher and your hard-working kung fu brothers and sisters.
  • Always attend classes with a proper uniform (clean and in good repair), fingernails cut short for safety, no watches or jewelry, and wearing proper kung fu shoes or suitable sneakers.
  • Do not miss special events such as lectures, demonstrations, retreats or other school events. If your teacher feels it is important enough for your school to participate, you should take advantage of the event and the learning experiences it will offer you.


A true kung fu teacher is not motivated by money or business matters, for he or she understands the impermanence and illusion of such things. Few things can compare with the treasures derived from cultivating your mind, body and spirit in the ancient traditions of Shaolin. However, wu de mandates that you pay your teacher for the gift of Shaolin bestowed upon you, whether in money or in service. We make every attempt to keep costs low but we do have expenses that must be met, so please follow these guidelines.

  • Never stop your training because you are short of money. Instead, work out a system of payment or service with your teacher. It is too easy to find reasons and "excuses" not to forge ahead and develop yourself - never let money become an excuse.
  • Whenever possible, buy or order any kung fu clothing or supplies through your gwan. With student discounts you will usually spend less than you would through retail stores or mail order, and you are helping to support your gwan.
  • It is tradition to remember your teacher and Grandmaster on their birthdays and on Chinese New Year. The common practice is a red envelope donation collected amongst students, the contents of which usually gets reinvested in the school anyway. It is said in China, "If a student cares for the teacher, how then can a teacher not care for the student?"

General Conduct

  • Train regularly. Recognize that success in your training is important to you, and set your schedule accordingly. Once set, do not deviate from your training schedule. And remember, nothing of value is mastered quickly.
  • Follow through on any commitment you make, whether in training or in volunteering to help with gwan activities. The gwan is dependent upon the efforts of students to grow and flourish. Everything you offer to do is appreciated and does not go unnoticed but make sure that you follow through and do what you say you will do. In Shaolin there is a saying, the empty bucket makes the most noise. Some students talk big about what they can and will do, but there is little substance behind their words. Remember, in life it is okay to say no, but not okay to say yes if you mean no.
  • If you make an error in judgment regarding wu de, admit the error and correct it. Every master before you made mistakes, and part of their mastery was showing the courage and humility to admit and correct their mistakes.
  • Understand the teacher/student relationship. If your teacher asks your opinion on a matter, give it freely, but when it comes to instruction, wu de dictates that you accept and comply. Success in kung fu comes from adherence to the instructions your teacher gives you. Many thousands of people around the world claim to be martial arts instructors but few have the knowledge, discipline, and proper character to become instructors in the true Shaolin tradition. Those who have reached sifu level should be respected for their dedication to the art.
  • Realize that becoming a sifu is a commitment to a way of life. That commitment involves continual training and study so a sifu has precious little time for other endeavors. When it comes to helping students with training or personal matters, a sifu will do everything possible. When it comes to socializing casually with students or participating in activities outside the gwan, a sifu will nearly always say thank you but no thank you.
  • Carry your training into your daily life. Indeed, make your daily life your training ground. Be humble, kind, harmonious, and non-confrontational in all of your dealings, and follow the Shaolin creed at all times.
  • Know that your toughest opponent is yourself! Do not become complacent, lazy, or apathetic in your training. Do not sacrifice the development of your mind, body, and spirit - ever!