I ask because it is commonly regarded as having the exact sense of Sensei, of Master, or Teacher, but these don't convey the full meaning. Sensei, for instance, shares the same characters as the Chinese xiānshēng 先生, which is distinct from the two sets of characters used for Shifu, 师父 and 师傅.
Wikipedia gives the facts, I'm looking for the context, to better understand the Chinese tradition, and how it is expressed in the contemporary generations.
- What are the meanings and connotations of the term Shifu? What is implied?
Chinese martial arts were not really taught to westerners in the US prior to the late 1960's, so this may be the first generation in the west fully separate from the old country.
- Are contemporary Chinese martial arts teachers using different terms based on the different dynamics in contemporary and western culture?
For instance, in a modern wushu context, a teacher may be a coach to generations wushu competitors, but only Shifu to a small number of students. Wu Bin is famous example—his status comes as a coach specifically, not a shifu of a lineage per se. (He is the Chinese equivalent of Bill Belichick:)