Chinese martial arts student
How is it like for a non Chinese to learn Chinese martial arts from a non Chinese sifu?
Let Jay Kalaw, a young Filipino professional tell you his story and experience:
My name is Jay Kalaw, I’m 26 years old (2008) and I’m a researcher from Manila, Philippines. I began my training in Hung Gar Kuen under Sifu Frank Bolte in April 2007, so basically I’ve been training traditional Chinese Martial Arts (CMA) for almost two years now.
Like most non-Chinese, CMA was first introduced to me through mass media, namely Chinese kung fu movies which demonstrated not only the martial aspect but also the artistic and personal aspect which CMA imparts on those who practice it. I’ve wanted to learn CMA for a quite some time; I just never really focused on looking for a proper school and master primarily because I was unsure if Chinese Masters would accept a non-Chinese student.
One day I found myself on the internet searching for different kung fu styles which were being taught in Manila, I was looking for Wing Chun or Wushu because I wasn’t aware of other styles. In my search, I came across an article on Sifu Frank Bolte when he visited the Philippines a few years ago, this led me to his website; Hung Gar Kuen Manila. Surprisingly I discovered that he was teaching in Manila’s Chinatown area so I worked up the courage to email him and inquire if he would accept a Filipino student to which he immediately replied that he accepts all those who are willing to learn. He gave me an address and a schedule and I in turn told my two other friends an invited them to join me for the first lesson.
I had no real expectations when I started. I remembered the training which they showed in old kung fu movies but I didn’t really think that was how it would be, turned out me and my friends were in for a surprise. I expected to learn how to fight, how to beat an opponent using my hands and feet and maybe traditional Chinese weapons like the sword and the pole or staff. But since I’ve started training, I’ve learned much more. I’ve been able to appreciate other martial arts, whether traditional or modern, because I understood the difficulty, commitment, and hard work necessary to become a master. Apart from learning how to fight, I realized that my training taught me patience, discipline, the value of hard work, these I have begun to apply in my personal life and somehow I wished I started at a much younger age.
How does it feel to learn CMA from a German Sifu? Having no previous experience with a CMA, I must admit that Sifu Bolte has been patient and understanding, he has always demonstrated his appreciation, respect and commitment not only to Hung Gar, its ancestors and its philosophy but also to its Chinese heritage. These values he continues to pass on to his students and disciples. In general Sifu Bolte has been more than a master to many of his students, many also regard him as a friend.
Sifu Frank Bolte
Jay accepted as Sifu Frank's student
Jay and fellow disciples with Sifu Frank
All images copyright of Frank Bolte
Use with permission from Frank Bolte