|“||If you only do what you can do, you will never be more than you are now.||”|
|—Shifu, Kung Fu Panda|
Master Shifu is one of the main supporting characters of the Kung Fu Panda franchise. He is the current senior master of the Jade Palace and trainer of many kung fu warriors, including Po (the Dragon Warrior), the Furious Five, and Tai Lung.
A former student of Master Oogway, Shifu became a highly skilled master of kung fu who hoped that his first student, Tai Lung, would become the legendary Dragon Warrior. Some time after Tai Lung's betrayal, however, Shifu went on to train Tigress, Mantis, Monkey, Viper, and Crane, the Furious Five. Though these students became well-known for their heroics, none of them were selected to be the Dragon Warrior, and Shifu was outraged when Po was chosen instead. Witnessing the panda's potential and determination however, Shifu eventually came to believe in him, successfully teaching Po the skills needed for him to ultimately save the Valley of Peace. He now acts as both a friend and mentor to Po.
|The canonicity of this section is questionable.|
Information in this section may conflict with previously established canon.
It is known that Shifu departed his family to dedicate himself entirely to the duties of kung fu. However, in Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, Shifu explained that he and his father had traveled to other villages to sell fake amulets ever since he was a young boy. One day, his father dropped him off at the Jade Palace, promising to return in five minutes. Shifu waited for him until nightfall, when eventually Master Oogway found him and took him in, making him a student at the Jade Palace.
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Shifu underwent kung fu training under Oogway's instruction as a member of the Former Furious Five—alongside Fenghuang the owl, Rooster, Elephant, and Snow Leopard. It is presumed that the Five eventually disbanded and went their separate ways some time after Fenghuang turned to evil and fled after failing to defeat Oogway.
After becoming a master, Shifu became overwhelmed by the mass of new responsibilities that was placed upon him. As a result, Shifu became internally unbalanced (or, as Shifu himself stated, "trapped in transition"), and at one point, this resulted in him getting beaten up by a dummy on a rope. The stress soon became too much for Shifu and he removed his master's robe, preparing to quit kung fu and return to his old life. However, Oogway stopped him and kindly proceeded to teach him "hing kung", a discipline aimed at balance. Shifu succeeded in this training and learned an important lesson: true balance is attained not by allowing the weight of the world to control you, but by becoming weightless and taking control of the world. Shifu would then go on to teach this discipline to his future student Po.
Arrival of Tai Lung
It was presumably some time after becoming a master that Shifu had heard the cries of an infant outside the palace gates, where he discovered an abandoned snow leopard cub in swaddling cloth. He adopted the cub and granted him the name Tai Lung, loving him as if he were his own son and fulfilling the role of both father and teacher. He raised Tai Lung and trained him kung fu. Seeing his natural and perfect skills in kung fu, Shifu believed Tai Lung to be the prophesied Dragon Warrior, constantly praising the young leopard's continuous efforts and apparent skill, thus unknowingly boosting Tai Lung's growing pride. When the time came many years later, Shifu presented his prize pupil to Oogway for judgment. The old master, seeing darkness in Tai Lung, disappointed them both when he said that Tai Lung could never be the Dragon Warrior.
Angered and feeling betrayed by Shifu's reluctance to speak up in his defense, Tai Lung went on a furious rampage across the Valley of Peace, ravaging the Valley and its citizens before rushing back to the Jade Palace to take the Dragon Scroll by force. Shifu tried to stop Tai Lung and defeat him, but at a crucial moment, he hesitated, unwilling to deliver a critical strike against the son he raised and loved. Paying for his hesitation, Tai Lung knocked Shifu aside with a crushing blow to the hip, and leaped up towards the Dragon Scroll, only to be disabled by Oogway's paralyzing strikes, which immobilized him.
Suffering a shattered right hip and a broken heart, Shifu bowed to the wishes of Oogway and oversaw the construction of the Chorh-Gom Prison in the frigid outskirts of Mongolia, the sole purpose of the prison to hold one prisoner, Tai Lung, where Tai Lung had spent twenty years of his life in payment for his crimes against the Valley of Peace. Bitter of heart, Shifu left Tai Lung under the watchful eye of Commander Vachir and the Anvil of Heaven, and would not to see Tai Lung again until a full two decades later.
It is unknown when and where exactly Shifu gained the members of the Furious Five, with the exception of Tigress, whom he took in as a child after being recruited by the matron of the Bao Gu Orphanage to help her control her temper and destructive strength. Utilizing domino tiles, Shifu set to work taming the cub's untrained power, attempting to teach her grace and gentleness. Finally, it paid off, and young Tigress learned the control she needed to safely interact with the other orphans. When the adoption day came, however, the adults were still afraid of her and wouldn't take her, much to her disappointment. It wasn't until the day's end when Shifu appeared once again, taking Tigress with him back to the Jade Palace and starting her training in the Tiger Style of kung fu.
Unwilling to make the same mistake he made with Tai Lung, he became distant and closed off to his students, driving them with vigorous training inside the newly-revamped Training Hall—the most challenging training hall ever designed so far. His distant attitude upset Tigress, who constantly craved his approval and drove herself to earn it by becoming the unofficial leader of the Furious Five.
Shifu continued to oversee Tigress' training, but was dissatisfied by her inability to replicate his style of Kung fu, though Oogway attempted to convince him of the foolhardiness of expecting Tigress to be just like him. Just after one training session, the pair were approached by Master Mongrel, who warned them of the approach of Boar, a villain who was defeating Kung fu masters left and right. Shifu prepared to face him, only to end up with food poisoning due to a poorly prepared order from Mr. Ping's Noodle shop. Left unable to fight, Shifu reluctantly dispatched Tigress to recruit four warriors to fight against Boar. As she was departing, Mantis arrived to give Shifu medical attention via acupuncture.
Due to a mixup, Tigress ended up recruiting four individuals other than those Shifu had sent her to find: Crane "the Cleaner," Monkey "the Comedian," Viper "the Dancer," and finally Mantis "the Doctor", which resulted in Shifu judging his pupil's effort to be a failure and the four "warriors" to be unworthy to defend the valley. However, his illness left him unable to fight against Boar, or to intervene when Tigress and the others stood against him themselves. To his utter surprise, the unlikely band of heroes managed to triumph, saving the valley of peace from Boar. Cured of his illness by Oogway, Shifu set to work helping Tigress develop her own style of Kung fu, welcoming the other four as pupils as well and becoming the Furious Five.
Twenty years passed since Tai Lung was put in prison, with the Furious Five gaining great fame across China during that time. The relatively peaceful lull came to a halt when Oogway summoned Shifu, saying that he had a vision of Tai Lung returning to the Valley of Peace. In alarm, Shifu sent a messenger goose by the name of Zeng to Commander Vachir, with a letter ordering double security in hopes of preventing the vision from coming true. Oogway announced that it was now the time to choose the Dragon Warrior, and advised Shifu to prepare his students for the tournament that would take place for the purpose.
Acting as the announcer on the day of the tournament, Shifu introduced each member of the Furious Five to the crowds that gathered to view the event, unaware that the time of the choosing would be interrupted by the presence of a portly panda named Po, a noodle maker's son and kung fu fan who had accidentally been shut out of the tournament and was looking for any means to get inside the arena to watch. When Po crashed the ceremony by landing in front of Oogway, just as the tortoise raised his hand to point out the Dragon Warrior, Shifu was outraged. He believed that Oogway was about to point to Tigress, and felt infuriated that a "flabby panda" who appeared seemingly by accident was chosen over his own students.
He determined that he would prove that Po wasn't the true Dragon Warrior by treating him to many punishing "exercises", believing the panda would swiftly bow under the stress and quit by morning. However, Po proved to be enthusiastic and determined, even under Shifu's sharp verbal barbs and his own constant bumbling, which only serving to make Shifu become even more spiteful. It was two days into the panda's "training", and the distraught Shifu desperately meditated for inner peace, but was soon interrupted by Zeng, who had just arrived back from Chorh-Gom Prison with ominous news: Tai Lung had escaped and was coming back, just as Oogway had foreseen.
Anxious, Shifu sought out Oogway under the Peach Tree of Heavenly Wisdom, relaying the bad news. Oogway accepted the news calmly, saying that he had faith in Po as the Dragon Warrior and quietly admonished Shifu, telling him to be patient and nurture the panda instead of offering harshness. He then stated that his time had come, and that Shifu would have to continue without him. Oogway disappeared in a shower of peach petals and light as he passed away, leaving Shifu with his beloved peach-wood staff and a mountain of a problem to deal with.
Realizing Po was really their only hope in defeating Tai Lung, he went back to the barracks and announced the news of Tai Lung's escape and Oogway's passing to the Furious Five and Po. The news instantly set them in an uproar, making Tigress and the other Five leave the palace to try and stop Tai Lung on their own while Shifu attempted to stop a panicking Po from leaving. This led to an argument with Po, who calls Shifu out by reminding him that he had been trying to get rid of him since he arrived and treated him like he was nothing. Shifu admitted this, but pointed out that Po had chosen to stay despite everything. Shifu then learned that the panda had a deep self-loathing, as Po revealed he had taken all the abuse because he considered it better than being himself, and asked Shifu how is he gonna change him into a dragon master, but Shifu says he doesn't know. Faced with a student so physically and spiritually burdened, Shifu soon began to share Po's doubts that he could train him into the Dragon Warrior, and departed.
The next morning, Shifu came back from his vigil under the now barren peach tree, only to discover that Po hadn't left after all and was currently tearing apart the kitchen and eating everything in sight in his agitation — and performing some tricks that should have been beyond the panda's abilities as he tried to reach food that was hidden or out of reach. Realizing that the key to teaching Po was through proper motivation (food), he proceeded to take Po to the Wu Dan Mountains and lifted the panda's spirits by simply asserting he had faith in him for the attempt. With that accomplished, Shifu started training Po in the art of kung fu in an entirely new way, climaxing in a fight of "keep-away" with a dumpling. When Po finally bested Shifu at the game, and then demonstrated his emotional growth by declining to eat it as a sign of his overcoming his psychological dependence on food, he knew that Po was ready to receive the Dragon Scroll and revive the unlimited power that came with it.
Upon returning to the Jade Palace, Shifu and Po were horrified to find that the Furious Five had been badly beaten by Tai Lung, and were all paralyzed except for Crane, who was left to carry them back home as a warning. After reversing the nerve strike effects on his students, Shifu reassured them all that even though Tai Lung had gotten stronger, the Dragon Warrior (Po) would beat him by attaining the power from the Dragon Scroll. However, upon opening the scroll, it was revealed that it was blank.
With nothing else left to do, Shifu told Po and the Furious Five to evacuate the Valley. He would stay behind and hold off Tai Lung long enough to make sure that everyone would be safe, even though he knew that the price would cost him his life. Preparing himself, he awaited Tai Lung's arrival, and when the leopard showed up, the two engaged in violent combat. The fight was evenly matched for a long time, until Tai Lung renewed his vicious attacks on the aging master, screaming accusations and taunts before demanding to be told of how proud Shifu was of him. Badly wounded and defeated, Shifu knew that this was his one last chance at making amends with his former son and student, and apologized; telling him that he was indeed proud of him, and that Shifu's pride had blinded him to what Tai Lung was becoming. After a moment of clear indecision, Tai Lung hardened his heart and grasped his master by the throat tightly, proclaiming that he wasn't after an apology—he still wanted the scroll. Upon seeing the scroll missing, he nearly strangled and killed Shifu before the timely arrival of Po saved him.
Resting all during the ensuing battle that resulted in Po utilizing the legendary Wuxi Finger Hold on Tai Lung, Shifu was mistaken by Po to be dying, but he had merely found peace after confronting his greatest mistakes. In the aftermath of the great fight, Shifu has found it in himself to let go of his bitterness, and is slowly, but surely, opening himself back up to his students while continuing Po's training.
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The wise and sage master of the Jade Palace, Shifu is the gatekeeper to many of the legendary secrets of kung fu and acts as a mentor to Po and the Furious Five. Whether it be teaching the Five new kung fu moves or guarding the many mystical artifacts within the Jade Palace, Shifu's toughest job has always been keeping his temper in check when dealing with Po's latest misadventures.
Throughout the series, Shifu is shown to be generally enigmatic and calm, but on rare occasion also displays a playful side. In one episode, he was seen playing with the action figures of his kung fu hero and had also asked Po to teach him how to loosen up in another episode. In the same episode, Shifu was also seen dancing for the first time (which was a plot to take off the chains that Temutai placed on him to prevent his escape).
Shifu came by Mr. Ping's Noodle Shop to inform Po that he would be hosting the Winter Feast at the Jade Palace, much to his delight. Po presumed that there would dancing and sun-lanterns at the event, but Shifu corrected him by stating that the feast was traditionally and strictly formal, to which Po quickly agreed. Suddenly, a pig ran up to warn Po that a group of boar bandits were currently attacking the Valley. While Po ran off to help the Furious Five with the bandits, Shifu politely excused himself from Mr. Ping's shop.
Once Po was finished with the bandits, Shifu began to explain to him the myriad of responsibilities and instructions involved with the Winter Feast at the Jade Palace. These burdened Po, but he tried suggesting that he invite his father to the feast, only for Shifu to refuse him, noting how guests were not allowed. Though he could understand wanting to spend a holiday with his father, Shifu reminded Po that he still had his duties as the Dragon Warrior.
When it came to hiring a chef to cater to the feast, Po dismissed them all and failed to convince his father to help. Therefore, Po was left to prepare everything for the feast all by himself. Eventually, he came to enlist the help of the Furious Five in finishing the preparations on time, right up to Shifu's exact specifications. But when Po was finally seated with the other kung fu masters at the Jade Palace, he found that he couldn't enjoy the ceremony (as much as he admired the kung fu heroes present) and he explained to them his own traditions of having fun with his family. He promptly left the palace to assist his father in cooking at the restaurant. Shifu began to panic that Po would completely skip out on the Jade Palace's formal feast and pleaded somebody to do something; a goose singer amateurishly tried to sing, only making Shifu groan.
The Five and all the other masters, moved by Po's loyalty, made their way to the Noodle Shop to celebrate the holiday with him. Shifu followed them, grumbling about how Po ruined something so perfect. But upon seeing the happy celebration in the shop, Shifu came to appreciate Po's decision, and Po invited him inside, telling him that he was part of his family as well.
Shifu was teaching Po with a dummy hung from a rope when the panda was knocked down, appearing to be distracted. The red panda goes on to ask what was distracting him, and Po responds by saying he had a dream about "another self" who knew his moves before he made them. Shifu ponders about the dream until the next day, when Shifu teaches him balance. He begins by telling him about when Oogway taught it to him.
Shifu goes on to say that they'll be practicing "Hing Kung" which is balancing on fragile objects. Po appeared to be getting better at the art, but still was lacking balance, and at one point was 'flung' into a tree by a vase, much to Shifu's surprise and exasperation. Shifu was also taken aback when he learned that Po mistook him for a raccoon, and eventually decided to call it a day. That night, Po returns to the noodle shop to find his father being held hostage by an antelope named Kuo. Shifu witnesses Po beat the antelope by balancing on the knives Kuo throws at him. After Shifu stops Kuo from making a silent getaway (by tossing him into a wall) he congratulates Po on finding inner balance, and informs him of a crisis at Crescent Ridge where the Five needs his assistance. As Po runs off, Mr. Ping asks if he has any interest working at the restaurant, and Shifu responds, "None whatsoever."
At the beginning of the film, Shifu summoned Po to the Dragon Grotto, where he was seen meditating. Once Po had arrived, Shifu started their lesson off by demonstrating one of Oogway's final teachings about inner peace. By using slow tai chi movements, Shifu took a small water drop that dripped from one of the cave's stalactites and carefully moved it onto the leaf of a nearby plant without breaking the droplet. Po was amazed by this technique, and Shifu stated how inner peace allowed one to do the seemingly-impossible. He continued by explaining how inner peace could be achieved through various ways. He shared with Po that he had learned it through pain and suffering, which he said he endured from the events with Tai Lung and Oogway's selection of Po as the Dragon Warrior, calling it "the worse day of [his] life." But then he added that he eventually came to realize that it wasn't Po that was the problem, but instead within himself. When he allowed himself to come to that realization after Po had defeated Tai Lung, he was able to "harness the flow of the universe" and achieve inner peace. Just as he and Po were about to begin practicing the lesson, Tigress arrived with news of the Musician Village being raided by wolves. Shifu allowed Po to go with the Furious Five and protect the village.
After returning the next day, Shifu read to them a message he received from Gongmen City, stating how Master Thundering Rhino had been killed by a weapon that "breathes fire and spits metal". Shifu immediately feared this was the work of Lord Shen, and that he and his weapon must be stopped or it would be the end of kung fu. He then told Po to take the Five and travel to Gongmen City to stop Lord Shen and destroy the weapon. But when Po hesitated, asking Shifu how kung fu could stop something that stopped kung fu, Shifu again reminded him that "anything is possible when you have inner peace." And with that, Po left with the Furious Five.
Later, while meditating in the grotto again, Shifu sensed something was wrong and nearly collapsed just after Po had been blasted back in Gongmen City. Though he wasn't seen doing so, he traveled to the city and convinced Masters Storming Ox and Croc to leave their cell and help Po and the Five fight against Lord Shen and his forces. All three kung fu masters did so, and with their help, Po and the Five were able to fight off a good majority of Shen's forces, with Shifu taking out boats of enemies single-handedly. But their success convinced Lord Shen to ruthlessly fire one of his cannons at the wreckage of boats the masters had created, which exploded everything and everyone in front of him. The masters were all left floating on pieces of the remaining wreckage in the harbor, all hope seemingly lost. Shifu saw Po climb up onto a piece of floating timber and face Shen's fleet, seemingly trying to sacrifice himself to save his friends.
He was then astonished when he saw that Po was instead using the movements of Master Oogway's teaching of inner peace to catch Shen's cannonfire and redirect it back towards his fleet. After Po defeated Shen, he congratulated Po on finding inner peace "at such a young age", which he added sourly. But Po then told him he had a great teacher. He then attempted to hug Shifu, only for him to mysteriously reappear behind him. Shifu and the other masters stayed for the city's celebration and watched as fireworks decorated the golden sky.
Presumably checking on the new Masters' Council exhibit before opening, Shifu found that Po had broken in early with Tigress and Mantis. Excusing the two Furious Five members, he assigned Po the task of repaving the ceiling the panda had broken to get in.
Master Shifu announces that he will be teaching his final class, and Po will take over training after this. After Po's catastrophic failure, Shifu tells Po that he intended him to fail, because if he only does what he can do he will never be more than he is. Shifu shows Po the chi technique, in which he made a flower bloom.
Po introduces Shifu as a legend of Kung-Fu to his father, Li Shan, before Shifu joins the Furious Five and Po in fighting the Jade Zombies. The seven masters corner the Jombies in Mr. Ping's restaurant. Shifu didn't know anything about Kai, but after studying the ancient scrolls revealed that Kai was Oogway's brother-in-arms until he discovered how to take Chi and was defeated by Oogway. Shifu then states that Kai can only be defeated by a true master of Chi. Po suggests that Shifu should stop him, but Shifu states that he needs another "thirty years, and a cave". Li says that since he is a panda, he knows the ancient chi technique, and will teach Po if he learns how to be a panda. Much to Mr. Ping's dismay, Shifu encourages Po to go.
Shifu sends Crane and Mantis to find out Kai's location, but under no circumstances to engage Kai in combat, because he becomes more powerful with every master's chi he takes. After receiving news from other villages, Shifu tells the other members of the Furious Five that they are the only masters left in China.
Kai soon arrives at the Jade Palace, with the Jade Zombies of Crane and Mantis, which horrifies Shifu. The remaining members of the Furious Five engage Kai in combat, in which Tigress disarms him by knocking his blades out of his hands, but is thrown back by Crane. The Furious Five now fight each other, while Shifu duels Kai. Shifu restrains Kai by his weapons, telling him he won't let him destroy Oogway's memory. Shifu dodges and blocks Kai's weapons and appears to be winning against Kai, to the point of landing on the chain holding them and running at Kai. However, Shifu becomes unbalanced at seeing Oogway's chi pendant around Kai's neck and, as a result, his hit fails to hurt Kai directly, causing Shifu to fall to the ground.
A horrified Tigress runs to her adoptive father, but Shifu tells Tigress to run and warn Po. Kai absorbs the chi of Monkey and Viper, while separating Tigress and Shifu with a blast of Chi. Shifu appears to be powerless as he watches Kai lift a statue of Oogway and, to Shifu's horror, hurl it into the Jade Palace, paving a path of destruction as it collides. A devastated Shifu then watches the statue of Oogway fall down the steps and land in the valley below. Surrounded by debris, Kai tells Shifu that Po will suffer the same fate, while absorbing Shifu's chi. Tigress looks on horrified as Shifu's chi is taken, and Kai appears to be inspecting Shifu's chi pendant with pride due to having taken the chi of the most powerful master in China.
After Po defeats Kai, Shifu is sent back to the mortal realm along with the Furious Five, who land on top of him. Shifu is then slightly mortified by Po's new mastery of chi, and the fact that Po had Oogway's yin yang staff, whom Oogway had given in the Spirit Realm, asking if Po can teach him, which fulfilled what Shifu said earlier- there is always something new to learn, even for a master.
Master Shifu was seen as a loving father and devoted teacher to a young Tai Lung when the cub first showed up. But after Tai Lung's betrayal, he became distant, a firm and uncompromising taskmaster to his students. It wasn't until he expected to depart from his students one last time that he confessed he was proud of them all, including Tigress, who especially sought to earn his approval. Since Po's heroism in becoming the Dragon Warrior, Shifu has let go of his bitterness and attained inner peace.
He also appears to have a bit of a devious side, and before befriending Po, was shown to have a cruel sense of humor. This was shown from the moment Shifu met Po, as he seemed to take delight in trying to drive the amateurish panda away, slowly turning up the heat with every challenge he gave Po and chuckling to himself at his incompetence.
Shifu also exhibits sarcasm. This is seen when he reprimanded the Furious Five to be "doing well if they were trying to disappoint him" when they failed to defeat him in a training session earlier in the first film. He also regarded the existence of a "Level Zero" when Po failed at his first day of training.
He was also very objective in terms of obedience to his master, following Oogway's every word closely. He exhibited this when he did nothing regarding his master's rejection of his beloved student Tai Lung as the Dragon Warrior, and also when he was forced to fight (albeit halfheartedly) Tai Lung when he tried to steal the Dragon Scroll for himself. This strong sense of obedience and objectivity eventually proved to be one of his strongest characteristics, as seen when he decided to believe and train Po to become the Dragon Warrior due to Oogway's final directions.
Meditative, perceptive, and creative, Shifu approached kung fu and teaching with dynamism. These traits effectively enabled him to see the key to training Po, as seen when instead of reprimanding the latter regarding his "food outbursts", he simply used this knowledge to develop Po's instinctive "food skills" into tremendous kung fu strength, thus paving the way for Po to defeat Tai Lung and ultimately lending a hand in bringing peace to himself.
Despite his former hardened heart, Shifu does have a sense of humor. In the credits of the first film, he is seen laughing at the way Tigress was acting, due to seeing that she attempted to try Po's cooking and had a noodle hanging on her lip. He was even able to chuckle at the name Taotie gave to Crane when he was brainwashed, which was "El Storko".
Since the events of the first film, Shifu seems to be a much warmer and more understanding master. He has started to show a gentler nature reflecting that of Oogway's. His attitude also changed drastically towards Po—while Po's antics still perplex and frustrate him, he seems to have faith in the panda and a growing confidence in his abilities after underestimating him so many times. For instance, in Secrets of the Furious Five, without previous warning he assigned Po to teach the introductory class to kung fu for young children, expecting him to struggle at such a mature task, only to find the panda excels at it. Furthermore, when he assigned Po to host, cook for, and basically direct the preparation for the refined Winter Feast, he exhibited great pride in him when the task was done.
Shifu still seems to struggle with the "illusion of control", as first mentioned by Oogway in the first film. He wanted everything to run perfectly for the Feast, seemingly adamant that the duties and traditions of kung fu were above all others in a warrior's life. And, just when Shifu was praising Po on such exemplary preparation for the Winter Feast, he was beyond shocked when the panda suddenly took his leave. This was followed by a moment of panic when he saw that the smooth course of the evening would have been disrupted, and soon believed that it was seemingly ruined. It wasn't until he went down to the noodle shop and saw the joyous gathering for himself that he came to appreciate Po's unusual decision.
Yet, while still holding firm to the (formal) traditions of the Feast, Shifu's devious side is still apparent—this time, in favor of aiding Po rather than torturing him. This shows when Shifu prompted Po to recite the opening words of the Creed of the Masters, to which Po couldn't bring himself to do from the guilt of leaving his father. Shifu then quietly mentioned to him that he had a feeling he would forget the words, so he wrote them on Po's napkin.
Even though he has been elevated to Oogway's position as spiritual leader of the Valley of Peace, Shifu is still a few steps shy of enlightenment. Though he tries his best, he strains under the pressure and responsibilities of stepping into such big shoes. Some times... all right most times, Po's antics can still send his old master searching for calm in a cup of hot tea and a meditative chant of 'Inner peace... Inner peace...'
Since Shifu's final confrontation with Tai Lung, he has shown to have become emotionally healthier, as indicated by his straightened posture and his more calm attitude after years of bitterly hunching over when on his feet.
Master Shifu is trainer to all the great warriors in the land, including the Furious Five. Though small, Shifu is a powerhouse, exerting maximum force with minimal effort, exemplified by his signature move, the Wuxi Finger Hold, which overpowers an opponent with the touch of a finger. Shifu's elusiveness borders on the mystical. He's capable of appearing where he's least expected within the blink of an eye.
Small, fast and cunning, Master Shifu is an extremely talented warrior. As the master of the Jade Palace, Shifu's abilities could possibly rival those of his own master Oogway, who was considered by many to be the greatest master in kung fu history. Although Tai Lung defeated him a second time during their rematch, Shifu was able to hold him off long enough for Po to arrive and defeat him.
Possessing the knowledge of many kung fu styles, and being able to use paralyzing nerve strikes that block the chi in an opponent's body and disable them, Shifu is a force to be reckoned with. Shifu is also known for his amazing sense of hearing, possibly due to his large ears. In the first film, he was able to hear Po ransacking in the barracks kitchen all the way from Peach Tree Hill.
Though the Wuxi Finger Hold is said to be Shifu's signature move, he has never been seen fully using it, only having readied it once as a warning to Po. However, a common move of Shifu's involves leaping up at his attacker and rapidly kicking them; then, while they are recovering, grabbing the attacker and flinging them away. He did this twice in the first film, when he sparred with Po and when he fought Tai Lung.
- Shifu: “ [After being asked to believe in Po] But how? How? I need your help, Master.”
- Oogway: “No, you just need to believe. Promise me, Shifu, promise me you will believe.”
- Shifu: “I... I will try.”
Shifu was a very loyal student to Oogway, whom he greatly respected as both a mentor and a friend. In general, Shifu was dedicated to his master and rarely argued with his wisdom, no matter how eccentric it might have seemed to him. However, they disagreed on who the Dragon Warrior should be. On the day of the tournament when the Dragon Warrior was to be chosen from among the Furious Five in the first movie, Oogway told Shifu that the chosen one would not only bring peace to the Valley, but to Shifu as well. When the time came for the choice to be made, Shifu thought that Oogway was going to choose Tigress until Po fell in front of her. Oogway took this as a sign from the universe and named Po the Dragon Warrior. Shocked, Shifu argued that Po's arrival was all an accident, but Oogway replied, "There are no accidents."
Unable to go against Oogway's wishes directly, Shifu tried scaring Po off in the hope that Oogway would choose one of his students instead. But Po didn't leave, and Oogway still didn't change his mind. Things went from bad to worse when Shifu learned that Tai Lung was free and coming for revenge. Oogway, however, encouraged Shifu that Po could defeat Tai Lung if he would believe in him. Shifu promised that he would try, and sensing his time had come, Oogway handed Shifu his staff before he ascended into the Heavens. Shifu kept the staff, as well as his promise. He trained Po and soon came to believe he really was the Dragon Warrior. And after Po defeated Tai Lung, Shifu saw that Oogway's prophecy about him had come true.
- “What goes on in your head I really don't always understand, but what goes on in your heart will never let us down.”
Shifu had been told by Oogway that whoever he chose to be the Dragon Warrior would bring peace to the Valley, and to Shifu himself. When the tortoise declared the Dragon Warrior to be Po, Shifu was shocked and appalled, and even objected to his master's decision, believing the whole ordeal to be an accident. After meeting the clumsy panda face-to-face, Shifu wasted no time in trying to intimidate him, insulting his portly body weight and bullying him with potential use of the Wuxi Finger Hold when he talked back. After making it clear to the distressed panda that he would regret being chosen, Shifu proceeded to do everything in his power to get rid of him, setting him up to fail in the Training Hall and several brutal sparring matches with the Furious Five and himself, snickering and offering no help as the panda stumbled and got hurt in each obstacle.
However, Shifu only became more infuriated when his attempts failed as Po, being such a big fan of kung fu, showed only excitement during his tortuous training, even after Shifu literally kicked him out of the Jade Palace. After hearing that Tai Lung had escaped prison and was returning, Shifu sought help from Oogway, still convinced that Po wasn't the Dragon Warrior and couldn't possibly stop Tai Lung. Before passing away, Oogway assured him that the panda could indeed stop Tai Lung, if Shifu would only guide and believe in him. After sharing the news with his students (Shifu unamused as Po had been mimicking him at the time), Po was alarmed and fled after hearing that he was the only one who could stop Tai Lung.
Shifu stopped him outside the palace stairs, and the two argued, with Po asking the master why he'd been trying to get rid of him, and that neither of them thought he was the Dragon Warrior. Shifu asked him why he hadn't quit in spite of everything, and was taken aback when Po admitted that being beat and humiliated was still better than living every day being himself, and hoped that by staying, the kung fu master could change him. When Po demanded just how Shifu could actually help him to win against Tai Lung, Shifu was at a loss and quietly retreated without an answer.
The next morning, Shifu discovered the panda had raided the barracks' kitchen, eating everything he could find in his distraught state. Shifu was astounded to see that Po displayed an unintentional talent in kung fu while trying to rummage the place for more food, even making a perfect split while doing so. Shifu understood that the best way to teach him was to use food as motivation, and with that, he took the panda to the Wu Dan Mountains. He proclaimed that he would be Po's master and would teach him kung fu, much to the elation of the panda. During an intense period of training, the two formed a bond of friendship and trust, and Shifu saw Po's mastery and humility in a final test of "keep away" using a dumpling as the prize. Though Po won, he gave back the dumpling, declaring with confidence that he wasn't hungry, and ended bowing respectfully to his master, with Shifu bowing to him in return.
By the time they returned to the Jade Palace, Shifu believed that Po was ready to receive the Dragon Scroll, and used his name instead of calling him "panda" when addressing him. But when the scroll turned out to be blank, both Shifu and Po were confused, and Shifu did not see how Po could defeat the snow leopard on his own. With Tai Lung approaching, he ordered the Five to evacuate the Valley, while he would fight Tai Lung himself. Po was reluctant to let Shifu fight alone, afraid he would be killed, but he obeyed and left with the Five. Once he reunited with his father and realized the true secret of the Dragon Scroll, Po returned to the palace just in time to save an injured Shifu from Tai Lung's attack.
After Po defeated Tai Lung, he again returned to the palace and found Shifu, who weakly thanked him for saving the Valley and bringing him peace, seeing that Oogway had indeed been right, and that Po was the Dragon Warrior foretold of in legend. After the master trailed off and closed his eyes, the panda pleaded with him not to die, only for Shifu to yell back that he wasn't dying, he was only at peace, and master and student shared a long meditative moment side by side, until Po interrupted, asking if Shifu wanted to get something to eat, which the red panda agreed to after a sigh. Po and Shifu then shared a meal of dumplings at the Peach Tree of Heavenly Wisdom, together as two friends.
Although Shifu has accepted Po, he continues to show some impatience with the panda, and later stated that the day Po was chosen as Dragon Warrior was the worst day of his life, though also noted that Po had not been the real cause of his turmoil, but rather it was his own expectations and presumptions. He also appeared to be slightly jealous that Po had mastered inner peace at such a young age, though he was deeply impressed at Po's incredibly swift mastery and how he used it to defeat Lord Shen.
This jealousy carried on into the third film, where he was jealous of Po's mastery of chi, despite the fact that Shifu had attempted to master chi years before Po and had only managed to make a flower blossom, but he humbly asked Po to teach him, once again showing reverence at Po's abilities and switching their position of master and student.
The two now continue to sustain a good friendship, with only the occasional quarrel, and Po has also come to consider Shifu as being part of his family.
- “I have always been proud of you. From the first moment I've been proud of you. And it was my pride that blinded me. I loved you too much to see what you were becoming, what I was turning you into. I'm... I'm sorry.”
Shifu's first student—both his greatest success and worst mistake—was Tai Lung. Shifu found him as a cub, raised him as his son, and trained him in kung fu. During all this time, Shifu expressed nothing but love and pride in his student, raising and training him until he saw that Tai Lung's natural and formidable kung fu skills would make him the prophesied Dragon Warrior, not realizing that he was creating a monster until it was too late. When Tai Lung was denied by Oogway the title of Dragon Warrior and the Dragon Scroll, Shifu had to stop him from taking the scroll by force, but could not bring himself to harm him. Tai Lung, however, did not hesitate to shatter Shifu's hip. He was halted by Oogway's nerve strike attack, and Shifu was forced to put Tai Lung in prison for the rest of his life.
For the next twenty years, Shifu was tormented by the memory of Tai Lung and tried not to repeat the same mistakes with his other students, especially Tigress. Then one day, Oogway told Shifu that he had seen a vision foretelling Tai Lung's return. Shifu took steps to prevent this, but it was all in vain as Tai Lung broke free of his prison and set out once more to take the Dragon Scroll. This time, Shifu did not hesitate to face Tai Lung in combat, but he was no match for his opponent's rage. Even when Shifu broke down, admitted his mistakes and apologized for them, Tai Lung still demanded the scroll and would've killed him for it if Po hadn't arrived in time. In the end, Shifu was forced to accept the cub he loved as his son was gone.
The Furious Five
- “Listen to me, all of you. It is time to continue your journey without me. I am very proud to have been your master.”—Shifu giving his life to save his students and displaying his true pride for them., Kung Fu Panda
The Furious Five were trained by Shifu as his students. Each of them attained the rank of master and won many battles, but none of them could win the one thing they all wanted: Shifu's approval and love. After his failure with Tai Lung, Shifu became a harsh and strict teacher to prevent history from repeating itself, but this only made his students feel inferior (as well as greatly pressured) and he drove them to try even harder to please him. They even went so far as to confront Tai Lung together, only to be defeated. It was then that Shifu showed emotional attachment to the Five and concern for their well-being. When he ordered them to evacuate the Valley, they were willing to do so, and it was at this time that Shifu admitted he was proud of them all.
- “You are not a monster... you're just a little girl.”
Shifu took in Tigress when she was a child, giving her a home at the Jade Palace. As her new master, and possibly the only person unafraid of her and who hadn't regarded her as a monster, she was always eager to please him. But Shifu's stern and bitter personality disheartened her, afraid that Tigress would become like Tai Lung, which always making her feel like her efforts weren't enough. She worked hard at her kung fu training to make him proud, and perhaps wished to become the Dragon Warrior herself as a means to do so. Though she failed in achieving the title, and in defeating Tai Lung, Shifu declared he was proud of all his students, including Tigress, before parting with them on what they thought would be their last meeting.
Tigress obeyed his orders to evacuate the Valley without question, even in knowing her master would likely lose his life. At the end of the first film, however, Shifu finally accepted her after he had attained inner peace due to Po's efforts of defeating Tai Lung. A scene during the end credits showed Tigress at the kitchen table with a noodle dangling from her upper lip, imitating Shifu in the similar way Po had done in the first film, and the red panda was seen to be laughing at the display.
- Mr. Ping: “It's good to see you, Master Shifu!”
- Shifu: “And it's good to be here, Mr. Ping.”
Shifu once needed to see Po on the account of the Winter Festival at the Jade Palace. Mr. Ping tried to tell Shifu that they were decorating the noodle shop, but Shifu appeared not to have heard this. Before he and Po headed over to the Jade Palace, Shifu briefly said his farewells to Mr. Ping. Later on, Shifu had seen Mr. Ping's noodle shop and everyone having a good time at it. After being persuaded by Po to enter, Mr. Ping greeted him by saying, "It's good to see you, Master Shifu."
In Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, Shifu wholly welcomed Mr. Ping as a guest to the Jade Palace on account of his demolished noodle shop, despite Po's qualms. However, once he overstayed his welcome and caused all sorts of chaos about the Palace, he declared to Po that the old goose must instead take up residence at a boarding house in the Valley. It became evident at this time, however, that Shifu felt relatively horrible about kicking Mr. Ping out, and in turn helped Po and the Five rebuild the noodle shop.
- See Shifu/Relationships.
Shifu is most often seen wearing a reddish-burgundy robe with a brown-colored sash. The robe has golden wave designs on the silver cuffs, as well as oval patterns on the back of the sleeves. He also wears black pants (white in the TV series), closed-toed sandals, traditional Shaolin leg wraps around his ankles and lower legs, and a ring-like item that holds together his small goatee.
In Kung Fu Panda Holiday, Shifu wears a silver shawl with faint snowflake designs laced into it. This garment goes over his regular clothing and is kept closed by a golden clasp. Shifu also wears a hat similar to the others at the palace feast.
In Kung Fu Panda 2, Shifu has ascended to Oogway's old position as Grand Master and spiritual adviser of the Jade Palace, he is seen wearing a jade green shawl kept closed by a golden clasp with an insignia on the back, much like his silvery winter shawl, and similar to one that Oogway wore before his passing. The sleeves of his standard burgundy robe appear to have been re-sewn with the same jade material in place of the silver. His belt also has been replaced with jade material and golden lining. The addition of this green wrap adds the symbolism of wisdom and peace to Shifu's aforementioned color scheme.
Shifu is seen with the same, green-colored attire in Kung Fu Panda 3.
- Shifu's name is the English approximation of the Chinese word for "master" (traditional Chinese: 師傅?; simplified Chinese: 师傅; pinyin: shīfù). It also translates into "master-father" (師父?).
- The simplistic design of Shifu's robe was made to resemble dedication to a simple lifestyle.
- The colors Shifu wears (white, orange, and brown) are symbolic honor, energy, and dedication—a mirror of Shifu's traits.
- According to the directors' commentary, there was a possible backstory that Shifu might have hoped to become the Dragon Warrior himself in his youth, but when he failed his own expectations, he vowed he would raise and train the Dragon Warrior instead.
- Shifu looks unlike most red pandas. He is mostly white with light red/orange markings, whereas red pandas are typically mostly colored a dark red or orange, with a few white markings and lighter rings on the tail. His paws are also a dark brown whereas they tend to be almost black on red pandas.
- Early in story development, Shifu was going to be Po's adoptive father instead of Mr. Ping. This was the reason for making him a red panda.
- According to a video interview, Shifu had a longer nose in early character development. Upon seeing the design, Shifu's voice actor Dustin Hoffman determined that he didn't like it, and Shifu was redesigned with his final, smaller nose.[source?]
- Shifu was originally designed to be much older, possessing a more exaggerated hump, a wrinkled face, and jagged teeth. His age was ultimately reduced a bit to allow the character more activity.
- At one point in the production of Kung Fu Panda 2, character designer Nicolas Marlet also designed red foxes to serve as part of the population of China. They were eventually taken out because of their "slight resemblance to Master Shifu." These designs were later used to create Junjie from Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness.
In popular culture
- Spoof characters of Shifu and Po have appeared in the MAD episodes "Are You Karate Kidding Me?" and "PO-blivion".
- Shifu appears as a K.O. effect in the 2D platform fighter game Brawlhalla.
- Revealed in "Fluttering Finger Mindslip" from Nickelodeon's Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. Ep. 5, Season 1. Written by Jessica Gao & directed by Jim Schumann. Originally aired November 9, 2011.
- Revealed in "My Favorite Yao" from Nickelodeon's Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. Ep. 20, Season 1. Written by Joshua Hamilton & directed by Luther McLaurin. Originally aired December 30, 2011.
- Revealed in "Shifu's Ex" from Nickelodeon's Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. Ep. 1, Season 3. Written by Gene Grillo & directed by Aaron Hammersley. Originally aired June 24, 2013.
- Revealed in "Mama Told Me not to Kung Fu" from Nickelodeon's Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. Ep. 23, Season 2. Written by Doug Langdale & directed by Lane Lueras. Originally aired June 18, 2013.
- Revealed in DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda Holiday (2010). Written by , Jon Pollack & directed by Tim Johnson.
- Revealed in "Father Crime" from Nickelodeon's Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. Ep. 25, Season 1. Written by Doug Langdale & directed by Michael Mullen. Originally aired April 4, 2012.
- Revealed in "Owl Be Back" from Nickelodeon's Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. Ep. 9, Season 1. Written by Doug Langdale & directed by Michael Mullen. Originally aired November 26, 2011.
- Anderson, Matt and Various. Kung Fu Panda: Art of Balance, p. ??.[source?] ISBN: 1936340364
- Revealed in DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda (2008). Written by , & directed by John Stevenson, Mark Osborne. Distributed by Paramount Pictures.
- Nick.com - "Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness Characters: Shifu"
- Revealed in "My Favorite Yao" from Nickelodeon's Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. Ep. 20, Season 1. Written by Joshua Hamilton & directed by Luther McLaurin. Originally aired December 30, 2011.
- Revealed in DreamWorks Animation's Secrets of the Furious Five (2008). Written by , Todd Berger & directed by Raman Hui. Distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment.
- Kung Fu Panda Official Site - Master Shifu
- Revealed in DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011). Written by , , Charlie Kaufman & directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson. Distributed by Paramount Pictures.
- Revealed in "Master Ping" from Nickelodeon's Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. Ep. 13, Season 1. Written by Paul Rugg & directed by Michael Mullen. Originally aired November 28, 2011.
- Miller-Zarneke, Tracey. The Art of Kung Fu Panda 2, p. 43. ISBN: 1608870189.
- Wikipedia - "Sifu"
- Scott, Heather. Kung Fu Panda: The Warriors Guide, p. 16. ISBN: 0756638259
- Miller-Zarneke, Tracey. The Art of Kung Fu Panda, p. 34. ISBN: 1933784571.
- Revealed in the DVD audio commentary of DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda (2008). Narrated by John Stevenson and Mark Osborne (directors).
- Miller-Zarneke, Tracey. The Art of Kung Fu Panda 2, p. 72. ISBN: 1608870189.