Just after I wrote my last column about Sifu Patti’s retirement, Sifu Craig reached out to inform me of his hard decision to do the same. He trained consistently at WKFA for 30 years, having obtained his Black Sash on March 28, 2007. He earned his 2nd Degree on September 12, 2015.
I have immense respect for this man and his level of dedication to training and teaching. Sifu Craig is an extraordinarily successful lawyer, running a team at his firm in Ayr. I regularly describe him as the busiest person I know! Sifu Craig always made time for his training and the Academy despite his intense schedule and client demands.
Not long after earning his Black Sash, Sifu Craig became the Monday Noon Class instructor, a position he served faithfully, right up to the start of the lockdown. He had a unique ability to effectively instruct by breaking our curriculum down into its foundational elements.
Sifu Craig embodied the Kung Fu concept of “practice is the way”. He prioritized his training, attending classes 2-3 times a week and most seminars offered. I appreciated his perseverance, his wit, and his dry sense of humour.
For our 25th Anniversary, we made a video of our history and I regularly refer to the interview with Sifu Craig describing how the focus developed in Kung Fu helped him professionally too. Check it out here, starting at the 14:50 mark:
On behalf of everyone at the Academy and myself, thank you, Sifu Craig, for your years of dedication to us. We wish you health and happiness in your retirement. You will be missed!
While 2020 saw our Academy lose two instructors, on November 28th, after an arduous lead up and grading, we gained four fantastic new ones. A huge congratulations to Sifus: D’Arcy, Josh, Laura and Laurent and Sihing Karthik! This brings us up to 28 active instructors!
With a lot of careful planning and much preparation, we were able to finally conduct our Black Sash grading, which was postponed from May 9th. Those that test for Black in the Spring start intensifying their training in the Fall and ramp up as the test date draws near. This year was wrought with uncertainty, however, these five amazingly individuals stay dedicated and patient, adapting where required to ultimately put in a successful performance 6.5 months after the original test date.
A heartfelt thank you to my instructors, who worked tirelessly to help the candidates prepare and to assist me in developing an unprecedented, but appropriate grading format. We streamed the grading from six cameras to over 60 remote viewers, including instructors, and used real- time updated electronic comment sheets. It was truly our most team-based grading to date!
Special mention goes to Sifus Josh and Laura, who are the first students to achieve Black Sash after leaving at Advanced ranks and returning from a long hiatus.
All five that tested are shining examples of perseverance in the face of adversity. Congratulations and respect!