I have 7 years practising Wing chun, it took me 5 years to get an "intermediate" rank ( officially we don't have ranks at all just people who have more experience/skill than us), when we train technique we have a partner, back then when i was a beginner everytime we had a different partner to avoid getting used to one person size/strength/speed etc...

But now i don't know why it was my sifu decision to change this, now we have fixed partner to train, the issue is mine partner sucks in the sense he doesn't practise more than we do in that class nor he exercises, so he always get tired way too fast after just warming up, also he gets distracted too easily. He barely has 2 years of training, sure there is people who has more skill but not him, he confuses the names of the techniques, still lacks of coordination and worse of all i don't see any motivation from him (which would explain the slow progress).

I tried to help him to get better at it, but no result if he's not willing to do it. Also i don't get better either.

How i can address this to my sifu being tactful?

3 Answers 3


There's a good reason why an instructor pairs two students of unequal skill together. The student that is of lesser skill will begin to accelerate their knowledge when exposed to someone of greater skill. The student that is of greater skill, on the other hand, improves his/her knowledge of the art by being put in a position to explain things to the lesser skilled student. Together, they can be of great benefit to one another.

At 5 years of training, that is usually when someone takes on a more teaching role. They've reached a level that most martial arts consider "black belt". It's at this point that the instructors begin to ask the students to train others. And usually they'll train the beginner through intermediate level students.

When you're being asked to teach and explain something, you will find out very quickly what you do and don't know. It can really solidify your understanding of the art. And that's why instructors often put students in that role.

Now the interesting part is how your instructor in this case decided to keep you with one student only, rather than switching you around to partner with others in class. That isn't done as often, in my experience.

Sometimes I see it done that way if a particular student only works well with one other student in the class and nobody else. So the instructor makes sure that the "problem" student is always with people who can handle him. It's not a good solution for the student who's forced to partner with him all the time, though. Could your partner be such a student? If every student in class is stuck with a particular partner all the time, then this obviously doesn't apply.

So I think if I were you, I'd just bring it up with my instructor. But instead of going into it accusingly, just say, "Sifu, can I ask you a question? Is there a reason why I always have the same partner? Would we not be better off rotating partners like we used to? Why the change?"

It's very simple. It doesn't accuse. It just asks why. Any good instructor loves to answer "why" questions from students.

Hope that helps.

  • 2
    +1. I challenge the last sentence, because I think there are many ways to teach, and there are some "good" instructors who find ways to be good without asking "why," but I agree that it's a pretty reasonable metric. For those teachers whose styles are less inclined towards "why," a related question might be "Sifu, can you help me get as much as possible out of the situation you have presented me with?" I have found that one approach or the other typically is appreciated. Both lead to the same logic as the rest of Steve's post, just from a slightly different starting point.
    – Cort Ammon
    Apr 24, 2016 at 23:06
  • 1
    Sorry to choose yours anwers a bit late i didn't have the chance to see my sifu for work reasons i hope i can talk with him this weekend, thank you for you insight
    – Progs
    Apr 28, 2016 at 14:27

Try this...

"I thoroughly enjoy your teaching, and you are a great sifu. However, I am finding it difficult to further my learning with my current partner. I would like if I could work with an alternative partner, preferably one with similar experience as me."

It's likely questions he may ask are those you already have answers to. But if the answer is negative try to subtly avoid the question.

Remember to choose your timing correctly, maybe when you sifu is in a particularly good mood, or even when we has noticed that you are not learning as well with your partner. Or, even better, you might want to tell them at the beginning of the lesson, so they can observe throughout the lesson, and it is likely they will be in a better mood at the beginning of the lesson. Also, try and turn to make it sound like something you would say. You sifu might note a change in your regular tone of speech.

See this link on how to be tactful: http://www.wikihow.com/Be-Tactful

  • ok, seems like a good start, but i actually would rather not point at my current even it's his fault, i think something like " i think i made more progression when we didn't have fixed partner"
    – Progs
    Apr 22, 2016 at 19:51
  • That would be better, but you would have to consider, and then consult the viewpoints of the other people in your class - do they want to have fixed partners or not?
    – Oditi
    Apr 22, 2016 at 20:03
  • 'when your sifu is in a good mood'?? - if you are scared to talk openly and express yourself then I believe you should change the training place! Sifu is also a human like everybody else and the mood has nothing to do with it, it is all about being a professional where emotions should have no impact.
    – mitro
    Apr 23, 2016 at 5:38
  • I mean that if your sifu has had a hard day, you might not want to approach him because he has a lot on is plate at the moment.
    – Oditi
    Apr 23, 2016 at 9:09
  • Sorry for any disrespect
    – Oditi
    Apr 23, 2016 at 9:09

I believe the reason for his decision was well explained by Mr Weingard.

However, I think you should just talk to him. Find time after a training and just tell him what your goals are and what you are expecting. Why should you treat a 'sifu' different then everybody else? Just think about that if you continue to train like that, you'll soon loose motivation and your skills will stagnate and/or your progress will slow down.

The last point is, not the most important one though, that you are probably paying him for teaching you... so it is even more natural to expect something and express openly what you can get out of it right?

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