Updated: Mar 31, 2022
A special, time-honored tradition within the Chinese arts was celebrated at ShaoLin Center when SiFu Kleppe "adopted" 10 disciples into his martial family. Known as a Bai Si, it literally means "bowing to SiFu" or "becoming a disciple of SiFu." In the West, emphasis is placed on rank or accomplishment, but in China, the highest form of respect is shown by welcoming an individual into the family. Within these bonds, knowledge is shared for lifelong development, and commitment between family members is cemented to the end of time.
The ceremony itself is merely a formalization of the relationship that already exists between SiFu and student. According to SiFu Kleppe:
"It is the responsibility of the SiFu to watch over the progress of all students, or Tou Dai. Over the years he teaches. He also observes. As the Teacher and Father, he is responsible for not only martial technique, or WuShu, but also martial virtue, or WuDe. I believe that a good instructor can teach anyone to kick and punch; teaching virtue is a much more challenging endeavor. Not all students will learn WuDe. Many students, sometimes after years of study, have not, perhaps cannot, learn virtue. One's progress, one's growth, is a measurement of body, mind, and spirit. Good students cannot be measured solely by the number of techniques they have mastered or forms learned. How has character evolved? Have they become a better person, a better human being? Over the years a SiFu will observe the student's dedication to the school, to his brothers and sisters, to his SiFu, SiMu, SiGung, to his lineage, and to all around him or her.
After years of study, after years of observation, a student may be granted the privilege, the honor, of being accepted as a disciple. Being accepted as a disciple is perhaps akin to the student being adopted by the SiFu. In essence, each takes an oath to move the student-teacher relationship to yet another level. This new relationship represents a far deeper commitment and dedication. The idea is not that each disciple will themselves open a school and teach the martial art they have learned... it does, however, mean that they will live what they have learned. It means that they will dedicate themselves to helping others learn and grow... to live longer, healthier, happier lives. Such commitment must not, cannot, be taken lightly."
SiGung Lam named SiFu Kleppe, 雷 司 夫 (léi sī fū), which means “to take charge of man” with a surname of “thunder.” In his wise way, SiGung Lam identified his son as a formidable leader with dynamic impact. Through mutual love, respect, and understanding, SiGung Lam and SiFu Kleppe together secured the legacy of the Lei family: 10 new members of the Lei Family ensures that the thunder will roll on to the next generation.
Pictured with SiFu Kleppe (from left to right): SiHing Michael Merrins, SiJie Pam Fleider, SiHing Rikos Kasim, SiHing Shanon Cousland, SiJie Marie Richter, SiHing Dwight James, SiHing Dustin Buxrude, SiHing Zac Enk, SiHing Dave McGraw, SiHing Chris Miller.