The term kung fu instantly brings to mind images of Bruce Lee, flying drop kicks and smashing cinder blocks, while in reality it is a Chinese word that simply means, “skill achieved through hard work.”
Timothy Henderson, 72, a lifelong resident of the Village of Lewiston, recently achieved the rank of black sash at the Niagara Kung Fu Academy in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Henderson trained bi-weekly for three years in the Seven Star Praying Mantis style of Northern Shaolin Kung Fu.
“I chose the NKFA training center in Canada because of its reputation and location. On a good day with no bridge traffic, the commute was less than a half hour which put it closer than Buffalo,” said Henderson.
He related how Shaolin kung fu emphasizes high kicks, powerful striking, long, low stances, fast steps and low broom sweeps and takes a high level of strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. “While it absolutely applies to the martial arts, kung fu can be practiced in everything we do by focusing in the moment and giving your best effort,” he said.
The Niagara Kung Fu Academy is owned and operated by Master Rob Atalick, who teaches much more than the martial arts. The focus is on building character as well as developing mind, body and spirit. “It takes a great deal of effort and commitment on the part of our students, coupled with a good heart to earn a black sash because our standards are so high,” said Atalick.
During the graduation ceremony, Henderson demonstrated his acquired skills by breaking multiple boards. He also spoke of his journey to the rank of black sash and thanked Atalick and the excellent teachers at NKFA for not cutting him any slack because of his “advanced youth.”
“At my age, I’ve outlived most of my enemies so the likelihood of getting into a fight is pretty slim,” said Henderson. “But it’s good to know that if the need arises, I can defend myself or the life of someone else.”
Niagara Kung Fu Academy is located at 4337 4th Ave, Niagara Falls, Ontario. For more information contact Atalick at (905) 357-9146 or niagarakungfu.com.