Twelve participants took part in a Kung-Fu Masterclass on Jan. 26-27 at Valois Kung Fu, with Master Alex Atkinson, a ninth-degree blackbelt, travelling to Quesnel from Toronto to teach the class.
Participants ranged in age and ability, with beginners working alongside those with blackbelts under Master Alex.
“We are working on self-defence moves mainly,” says owner and instructor Marc Valois, who himself is an eighth-degree blackbelt. He says he has been learning from Master Alex as well throughout the weekend.
“The blackbelt participants are also working on the five animal forms in Kung-Fu, which are leopard, dragon, tiger, crane and snake.”
Valois teaches the principles of the Canadian Karate Kung-Fu Association (CKKA), which incorporates karate basics and moves into more complicated kung-fu philosophies and moves.
“Kung-fu can be difficult to learn for beginners, so they’ve incorporated karate basics for the first two or three belts,” explains Valois.
“They then transcend to the animals as they move up through the belts. It’s a very old style of kung-fu.”
The masterclass was taught from Valois’ new location on Davie Street. The club operated out of Maple Drive Junior School until December 2017.
Valois was notified he needed to vacate the school due to the Ministry of Education’s decision to move Quesnel Junior School students to the south Quesnel school in March this year.
“The move was not great at the beginning; it was a rush and it was mayhem,” says Valois.
But he says he and his team are enjoying their new spot, which is centrally located and has plenty of room.
“We have the main training area upstairs, and a second training space downstairs with the change rooms, so we are able to have two classes scheduled at once. It’s just what we needed,” he says.
Valois says they also are able to rent out space to other groups needing training or performance facilities.
With the move, Valois and his assistant instructor Angelo Sia decided to partner, and Sia has started his own Iron Dragon Martial Arts, housed under the same roof. Sia teaches karate to children age three to seven, and Valois takes students age seven and up.
“Angelo has been with me since he was eight years old, and now we’re in business together,” says Valois.
Sia has his fifth-degree blackbelt and has been working with Valois for many years.
Upon his arrival in Quesnel to teach the masterclass, Master Alex surprised Valois with a nomination for this year’s CKKA Lifetime Achievement Award.
Valois was presented with a plaque and will attend a CKKA convention this spring in Toronto, where he will find out if he wins the honour.
Valois opened his martial arts practice in 1977 after closing his boxing club. He has trained countless Quesnel kung-fu students and was very pleased with the nomination.
“I was so surprised, it’s a really great honour for me and for the club,” he comments.