Over millennia, nationalities have developed strong systems of warring skills, and all have their basis in hand-to-hand combat, both unarmed and with a variety of weapons. The best weapon was the one that you could wield effectively and would keep you alive throughout a prolonged battle. Young men were trained in combat for the sole purpose of defending their king, their lord, or their land. Training was serious business because you didn’t get to make many mistakes. The best students were tasked with rigorous, brutal, daily training intended, to increase the odds of their own survival, and the survival of their comrades, on the battlefield; and the quick demise of their enemies. They were the elite athletes of their day.
The true test (their black belt grading) came when they faced the enemy for the first time. If you were still alive at the end of the battle, you passed. Battles were long, intense, and physically demanding. There was nothing romantic about this kind of warfare; it was a brutal engagement that was often won or lost through attrition. Most were not granted a quick death and died slowly on the battlefield as a result of serious injuries. Weak warriors would only meet the enemy once, while strong warriors could evolve to become legends.
So, what does this have to do with WKFA? When you train in Kung Fu you are learning a warring art with deep historical roots. We are training you to become modern day warriors. It’s unlikely that you will find yourself looking an enemy in the eye in a life or death battle, although we do teach you practical self-defense should the situation arise. Your enemies are more likely to be the stress of final exams, the challenge of surviving in a hostile workplace, dealing with discrimination, or sometimes bullies.
Gradings simulate some of the stress of battle conditions, except that we, your instructors, provide the stress in a controlled environment. Our gradings are not easy; never have been. They are more rigorous for adults than for children and that is why advanced junior students moving to the adult program must participate in a Novice II adult grading in order to earn their full colour adult sash. Gradings become increasingly more intense as you rise in rank.
You are not promoted simply because you can demonstrate a sequence of moves or a few techniques in front of a panel; nor are you promoted on the basis that you have a lot of natural ability. Sigung Bob Schneider used to refer to gradings as “recall under stress”. Gradings at WKFA are a true test of desire, commitment, and the ability to overcome your fear. Many, including me, found an inner desire and ability to overcome adversity that they never knew they possessed. The WKFA grading experience provides a foundation that will serve you well in the years to come.