Author Topic: You aren't "SeeFu" -resolved (i think) p.#60  (Read 11833 times)

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Knitterly

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You aren't "SeeFu" -resolved (i think) p.#60
« on: December 26, 2011, 11:04:20 AM »
Mr. Knitterly and I have a friend we will call Bob.

Bob is a decent guy...most of the time.  He can be kind of clueless far too often and his cluelessness too often pushes into rudeness.  But he's taken to doing something that crosses the line and is culturally insulting.  He has no real idea how insulting, though.

BG:  When Little Knit was baking, we called her Little Ninja.  This was a nod to the ongoing ninja jokes in our circle and to the fact that she was super active (and also unexpected in spite of years of trying).  Yes, I know ninjas are japanese and not chinese, but the ninja jokes are just jokes.  There are also a lot of Chuck Norris jokes in our circle.  Mr. Knitterly is Chinese. 

When LK was born, Bob decided she was going to call him SeeFu.
Here's the problem:  That title is actually an honorific and he has no right to the title.  It means Master.  It is reserved for a teacher, usually in Kung Fu.  A student will decide to call a master teacher "SeeFu", but it is not a title to be demanded.  I'd be far more comfortable with her calling him Uncle.  Every time Bob refers to himself as SeeFu, my husband cringes.  He might as well be demanding to be called Father. 

My husband has asked Bob not to call himself that.  He has told Bob not to call himself that.  He was informed Bob that he is NOT SeeFu and that LK will not be calling him SeeFu.  Bob thinks it's a joke and keeps on referring to himself as SeeFu.  Bob is not chinese and is not well versed in chinese culture.  What he knows of it comes from hollywood.

Bob does not know martial arts and will not have a prominent place in LK's life as a teacher.  That said, Bob is a neighbour as well as a friend and we do see him often.

I need figure out how to put the kibosh on this as Mr. Knitterly of the typically infinite patience is growing increasingly impatient and slightly hostile over this.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2012, 12:04:40 PM by Knitterly »

Amava

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Re: You aren't "SeeFu"
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2011, 11:10:55 AM »
When your husband has asked/told Bob not to call himself SeeFu, did he or you explain to Bob why? Have you explained it just the way you explained it to us?
If not, do that. Explain to him that it is not a joking matter. Ask him how he would feel if your husband asked Bob's (hypothetical) son to call him "Daddy" or so.

Also, "cringing" will not help. He needs to be reminded with a firm "no" every single time he tries it.

violinp

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Re: You aren't "SeeFu"
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2011, 11:13:10 AM »
"Bob, Little Knit cannot call you SeeFu. It is a title for a kung fu teacher, and an honorific given by the student. As such, it's inappropriate for her to call you that. We would be fine with her calling you Uncle, but not SeeFu."
"It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends" - Harry Potter


JadeGirl

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Re: You aren't "SeeFu"
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2011, 11:18:20 AM »
I'm Chinese and I'm cringing too.  Sometimes it helps if the explanation comes from someone who is not from that culture (ie. not Chinese in this case). That way any feelings of embarrassment on the part of the offender are not taken out on the offendee (eg. "you are too sensitive").

The term "Sifu" applies to a Master of any discipline, not just martial arts (eg. calligraphy).

Knitterly

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Re: You aren't "SeeFu"
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2011, 11:36:42 AM »
I meant to post this as an immediate followup, but my computer froze and there were already replies before I managed to get back on. ;)

Having posted the story, here is what I'm thinking of doing. 

We've been emailing Christmas thank-yous "from" LK along with pictures of her with whatever gift she was given (I'm taking the time to make a proper photo card in digital scrapbooking software).  So far our friends have gotten a huge kick out of it.

Bob and his girlfriend got LK an adorable, geeky toy.  It was so perfect.  I'm thinking of writing a thank you note to them as with other gifts, but including a note to Bob from LK about the Seefu thing.

Dear Mr. Bob and Miss Bob'sGirlfriend
Thanks so much for my special [geeky toy].  How did you know I love [geeky thing]?  [Part of geeky thing] is the best.  [Geeky toy] is fantastic.  I love it!
Also, Mr. Bob, I know you want to be my SeeFu, but I don't think I can call you that.  I was born a ninja.  And anyway, SeeFu means "master", and Chuck Norris is my master.  It is a very important title with lots of cultural significance.  Thanks for the offer, though.  I hope we can still be friends.
Lots of love,
Little Knit


I don't know if that will get the point across, though.  Bob obviously adores LK so I want to be nice in my approach, but I am getting a little fed up.  So is Mr. Knitterly. 

Yvaine

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Re: You aren't "SeeFu"
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2011, 11:39:01 AM »
Hmm. I think it might be better to separate it from the TY note, just so the geeky squee in the TY note is undiluted. ;D

Knitterly

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Re: You aren't "SeeFu"
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2011, 11:40:52 AM »
When your husband has asked/told Bob not to call himself SeeFu, did he or you explain to Bob why? Have you explained it just the way you explained it to us?
If not, do that. Explain to him that it is not a joking matter. Ask him how he would feel if your husband asked Bob's (hypothetical) son to call him "Daddy" or so.

Also, "cringing" will not help. He needs to be reminded with a firm "no" every single time he tries it.

Mr. Knitterly hasn't gone into details, but he has said firmly "Bob, you are not Sifu." (spelling corrected to Jadegirl's spelling of the word).  He has started saying this every time Bob calls himself Sifu.

"Bob, Little Knit cannot call you SeeFu. It is a title for a kung fu teacher, and an honorific given by the student. As such, it's inappropriate for her to call you that. We would be fine with her calling you Uncle, but not SeeFu."
This is a good way to phrase it.  I will use this if it persists.

I'm Chinese and I'm cringing too.  Sometimes it helps if the explanation comes from someone who is not from that culture (ie. not Chinese in this case). That way any feelings of embarrassment on the part of the offender are not taken out on the offendee (eg. "you are too sensitive").

The term "Sifu" applies to a Master of any discipline, not just martial arts (eg. calligraphy).

I am not chinese, so I will try addressing the situation myself the next time it happens.  Maybe it would come better from me than from Mr. Knitterly.

Hmm. I think it might be better to separate it from the TY note, just so the geeky squee in the TY note is undiluted. ;D
good idea.
My thinking was that throwing it in as a line at the end would soften the blow and having it come from LK would make it..I don't know... more serious but less harsh?

rose red

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Re: You aren't "SeeFu"
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2011, 11:48:37 AM »
Maybe you can give him a comparison to make it easier to understand.  "Bob, it's inappropriate to ask LK to call you SiFu.  It's like asking people to call you Pope or President or Olympic Gold Medalist."

ladiedeathe

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Re: You aren't "SeeFu"
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2011, 12:27:12 PM »
I would keep it seperate from the letter from the little one, just because if he really is that clueless he may take it as an ongoing "game" where the baby is being funny with refs to Chuck Norris, and he is being encouraged to "prove" he is indeed a mighty Sifu.

Stop dancing around this. You personally pull Bob aside and say, very privately: "Bob, I think we've had a misunderstanding and it's really causing my family some discomfort and a lot of embarassment. Listen- I know we all make cultural jokes and stuff, but this is serious. Don't call yourself our kid's Sifu- not ever again, ok? That's a real title with real meaning behind it, and you are not her Sifu and wouldn't be allowed to be. For us, this is as upsetting as if you were asking my baby to call you daddy in front of her father. This isn't open for any kind of debate and we're not mad at you because we know you didn't get it- but just stop and let this die- immediately."

If he argues tell him "If it keeps going we are going to have to stay away from you until you quit, and we don't want that- this isn't funny or negotiable."
"Here to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Have chalice, will travel."

NyaChan

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Re: You aren't "SeeFu"
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2011, 12:34:40 PM »
I would keep it seperate from the letter from the little one, just because if he really is that clueless he may take it as an ongoing "game" where the baby is being funny with refs to Chuck Norris, and he is being encouraged to "prove" he is indeed a mighty Sifu.

Stop dancing around this. You personally pull Bob aside and say, very privately: "Bob, I think we've had a misunderstanding and it's really causing my family some discomfort and a lot of embarassment. Listen- I know we all make cultural jokes and stuff, but this is serious. Don't call yourself our kid's Sifu- not ever again, ok? That's a real title with real meaning behind it, and you are not her Sifu and wouldn't be allowed to be. For us, this is as upsetting as if you were asking my baby to call you daddy in front of her father. This isn't open for any kind of debate and we're not mad at you because we know you didn't get it- but just stop and let this die- immediately."

If he argues tell him "If it keeps going we are going to have to stay away from you until you quit, and we don't want that- this isn't funny or negotiable."

This is excellent!  I think it has just the right amount of niceness to take the sting out, but is a firm and unequivocal directive to not use this title again.  The Thank You note you outlined makes it sound like a joke - if you have already made comments asking him to stop such as what you posted above, then it seems unlikely that your playful note will be understood or given the weight that you intend it to have.

weeblewobble

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Re: You aren't "SeeFu"
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2011, 12:55:10 PM »
What if you phrased in the terms you mentioned, "Bob, we really like spending time with you.  But we need to talk to you about the SiFu nickname.  We're sure you don't realize this, but in terms of DH's culture, you're basically asking our daughter to call you, 'Father.'  It makes us both uncomfortable.  I'm sure you don't want to do that.  More beandip?"

HonorH

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Re: You aren't "SeeFu"
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2011, 01:01:29 PM »
I would keep it seperate from the letter from the little one, just because if he really is that clueless he may take it as an ongoing "game" where the baby is being funny with refs to Chuck Norris, and he is being encouraged to "prove" he is indeed a mighty Sifu.

Stop dancing around this. You personally pull Bob aside and say, very privately: "Bob, I think we've had a misunderstanding and it's really causing my family some discomfort and a lot of embarassment. Listen- I know we all make cultural jokes and stuff, but this is serious. Don't call yourself our kid's Sifu- not ever again, ok? That's a real title with real meaning behind it, and you are not her Sifu and wouldn't be allowed to be. For us, this is as upsetting as if you were asking my baby to call you daddy in front of her father. This isn't open for any kind of debate and we're not mad at you because we know you didn't get it- but just stop and let this die- immediately."

If he argues tell him "If it keeps going we are going to have to stay away from you until you quit, and we don't want that- this isn't funny or negotiable."

This sounds good to me. Bob needs to not just be told, but to have it explained to him that continuing this behavior will have consequences. Some people need to have anvils dropped on their heads to make them understand something's not appropriate.

If I'm not mistaken, the Japanese equivalent of Sifu would be "sensei", which is a title one never gives oneself. A lot of people who watch martial arts movies probably just think it means "teacher", but it's a lot more serious than that. (The generic word for teacher is "kyoshi", which is how a teacher refers to oneself.) Sensei is a title of honor for teachers, doctors and clergy, and it must be bestowed by others. So, I'm picturing Bob trying to get your little one to call him Bob-sensei and cringing right along with you.
William wondered why he always disliked people who said "no offense meant." Maybe it was because they found it easier to say "no offense meant" than actually to refrain from giving offense.

--Terry Pratchett, The Truth

MerryCat

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Re: You aren't "SeeFu"
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2011, 01:53:12 PM »
I know that you're trying to be nice, but I don't think he'll understand unless you're point blank and direct, without trying to dilute the message with niceness. Of course, you can still be polite while doing it :)

I suggest you take Bob aside, without your DH there, and say to him something along the lines of "Bob, I know you're trying to be cool and funny but, the word 'sifu' has and a deeper cultural context and more meaning than you realize. It is completely inappropriate for you to ask LK to call you that. I know you don't mean to disrespect DH's culture, but you are. You need to stop."

Searcher

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Re: You aren't "SeeFu"
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2011, 03:34:28 PM »
I agree that you're going to have to be direct and assertive with Bob:

"Bob, you are not our child's Sifu.  That word has a specific cultural meaning, and in that context, it is not appropriate for you to call yourself her Sifu.  We have to require that you stop.  Otherwise, [applicable negative consequences]."

ZaftigWife

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Re: You aren't "SeeFu"
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2011, 04:44:45 PM »
Is there another martial arts term you could suggest as a nickname?  Maybe if you give him an alternative to Sifu, he'd be okay with that instead.