Usually in a central spot within the kung fu training hall, Kwon, is a place where we show our respect. This area is known as the Li (the strength) or by it's traditional name of the Wu Tan or Martial Altar. The use of the name Altar or Shrine will create some discomfort in some students. However, the Altar is not "religious", in the case of the martial arts the Wu Tan pertains to the founder and successors of the system.
Bowing and lighting incense is done as a form of remembrance; not worship. On some Wu Tan you will see a statue of General Kwan Kung, on ours in most branch schools you will see General Kwan Kung with his Kwan weapon and sometimes a statue of him sitting down reading a book. General Kwan Kung was a General in the Chinese army and a school teacher. Having a statue of both would show him as a warrior and a scholar.
General Kwan Kung was a general during the Three Kingdoms Period (CE 220-280) and he is honored for his Righteousness (Yi), Loyalty (Zhong cheng) and Fortitude (Jianren) and his placement on the Wu Tan is for respect to the ideas of what he represented and to inspire students to emulate those qualities in their daily lives and in their martial training.
Some Wu Tan contain couplets, these are usually two vertical lines of Chinese characters one on the left side and one on the right side of the Wu Tan. These are usually use to provide incite into the system, ours is the Dragon Style Motto; Control yourself let others do as they will, this does not mean that you are weak. Control your heart, follow the principals of life, this does not mean that others are stronger. The Dragon Style Motto is not seen on our Wu Tan, however, you will see the character for Fire, inverted.
Whenever it appears on the Wu Tan, or placed in a couplet, or in a solitary central position (as ours is) it is always inverted. Inverting a character plays with the relationship between Invert (Daozhi) and Arrival (Daoda), while both sound similar their meanings are different. The inversion of the character Fire means that the arrival of the intent that is required to implement the techniques of the system.
In other words, it invokes the "fighting spirit", Zhandou Shen, that is desired by a martial artist. Also, the inversion of the Fire character represents a safe guard for those who have already achieved this fighting spirit; that to much fire destroys. So, Temperance and Self-Control must be central to one's training. Controlling one's fire in order to avoid escalating confrontations and personal burn out.