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I have a question concerning the way we greet our shifu in the beginning and end of our lessons.

I was wondering what the explanation is and if I'm saying the right things to our Shifu.

Are the following greetings correct, and what do they mean?

beginning of class:

Shifu how

End of class:

Shifu shinkula (?)

My trainer says that the last greet means something like

'Phew' training is done, now we can relax...

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In Mandarin, "hao" means "good", and is used as a greeting. (As in "ni hao". "Ni" means "you", but can also be replaced by a title, in this case Shifu.)

The end of class phrase is probably "shi fu xin ku le". Literally, it means that Shifu has worked hard, but the implication is that you are thanking them for their hard work. https://chinese.yabla.com/chinese-english-pinyin-dictionary.php?define=xin+ku

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This sounds like it's probably Cantonese or a related dialect. You're going to be best off finding someone who speaks the language to tell you the exact meaning, though whether it is "correct" is often tradition based and may be specific to the region your style comes from or the actual lineage itself.

The bit I can tell you:

"Shifu Hao" is a basic greeting. "Hao" = good. "Ni Hao" = "You good?".

I don't know the second phrase but ending on "la" is common in Cantonese or Toisanese.

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Why don't you just ask him (or her)?

You'll have your question answered, and you're likely to be seen in a more positive light by your instructor for having asked. Plus, your instructor will be able to share some key information with you.

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  • I asked him, but since he's Chinese and our English communication isn't the greatest, I'm not getting really any further. But I updated my question! – Tom Jonckheere Feb 11 '15 at 14:58
  • Ah, that makes sense. Maybe reach out to an instructor at a local college to see if he can assist you. I'm taking a Chinese language class that starts in a few weeks that only lasts for 6 weeks - my guess is many other colleges or universities would have a similar resource. Maybe ask your instructor to write down the formalities so you can better understand them, saying you're going to do some research on the characters (or ideograms). Just a thought. – adambockler Feb 12 '15 at 16:01

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