Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kung Fu Tea Ceremony

I would like to write about my experience with a kung fu tea ceremony.
I am not talking about gungfucha.
This ceremony is part of traditional family martial arts systems.
About ten years ago I was searching for a deeper knowledge and training in the kung fu world here in the states. My older kung fu brother and I wondered off a bit from our base school.
Looking into finding a more traditional teacher. We found what we were looking for, a Master originally from Hong Kong, who learned his art from his father which is one of the top Grand Masters in the world of Hong Kong kung fu coming from the Chin Wu association.
After learning from Master for some time and proving ourselves, he was ready to accept us as disciples of his family style. We had to go thru this Tea Ceremony.
We were invited to his home and began by lighting incense before the family alter to his ancestors and the patron saint of martial arts Guan Yu
Guan Yu
 We then kneel before the Grand Master.
We asked to be taken in as disciples, he speaks to us in Cantonese, very stern and serious as his son translates to us what is spoken. He gives us a long history lesson about his training and where his style comes from, then asks us if we are ready to uphold his family name in the martial arts.
Giving us the rules and traditions that are part of his family style.
At this time each of us speaks about why we want to train and learn his style, and what we are trying to achieve with our training. His son brews up some oolong and presents two medium size cups to us.
We bow three times and ask to be accepted, offering the tea to Grand Master. 
If he drinks a sip of tea he accepts us, if not we cannot continue to learn from them.

He takes each cup, looks at us thinking deeply, and takes a sip of each. We are part of his family system.
Then the true teachings begins.

It is very rare for a westerner to be part of a martial arts tea ceremony.
At the time I didn't even realize how rare this was.
I don't know too many martial artists who have had this experience let alone even know it exists.

I am not giving any information on who these Masters are or what style as I am no longer training with them.
After a dispute with my kung fu brother who is still with them.
I have moved on and am currently training in another traditional family style from Taiwan.
But I will always keep there teachings alive within myself and those I teach.

Cha & Kung Fu


  1. Great story, thank you for sharing, and I respect you not wanting to talk about your teacher.

    I train in an Indonesian silat system and Filipino blade system (among a few other things). Funnily enough, I grew up in Hong Kong, but have never studied kung fu! That may change soon. :)

    I'm a fellow tea aficionado, which is how I'm coming to you.

  2. Thank you for your comment Tiger, I have also dabbled a bit in the Filipino arts specifically kali sticks. I think the Penjak Silat is a very interesting style also that is very similar to some styles of kung fu, I someday would like to train with a Silat stylist. Drink good tea to warm the chi.

  3. Thanks for sharing about Kung Fu Tea Ceremony.
    I am a regular reader of your blog.
    This is a very interesting story.