At the end of 2019, Marc Valois began to hold gradings for his students who were ready to move to the next stage in their kung fu training, and six athletes were successful.
The gradings would take place over a few weeks in December and could last anywhere from one and a half to four hours per individual.
The results of Valois’s testing would see Aiden Keith earn a yellow belt, while Braxton Wyssen earned a green stripe, Corey Neufeld and Sean Cunningham each earned their blue belts, Canyon Neufeld earned a junior brown belt, John Spiers earned a brown belt, and Seth Reddemann earned a black belt.
These individuals are only a few of the many students Valois has graded since he began teaching martial arts in Quesnel in January of 1977. In the 43 years the school has been open, it has moved locations three times but has endured and grown in popularity.
When the school first opened, Valois found himself mostly teaching adults, but in recent years, he has seen the demographic change.
“Years ago, it was mostly adults and some kids at the school, and now in the last 20 or so years, we have less adults and more kids,” said Valois, who believes the change and growth in popularity may be due to families seeking to spend more time together, adding: “Our family classes do very well because we find there are a lot of people who want to do an activity with their kids. Kung fu is perfect for that because it’s low-impact but can be as intense as you want to make it, and you go at your own pace and speed, and you progress accordingly.”
The style of kung fu Valois teaches is the Sao Lin Fist Way, a combination of the northern and southern categories of the martial art from the Sao Lin Temple in China.
According to Valois, kung fu not only teaches students self defence but builds positive character and attitudes, along with co-ordination and balance. These are a few of the reasons he began training and teaching the martial art many years ago.
“I did karate at first, and I switched to this style because of the fullness of it, the completeness,” said Valois. “It has everything within it.”
Valois says the martial art is perfect for anyone of any age or fitness level. He currently has students who range from eight years old to well into their fifties. Valois feels that learning a martial art should not just be about learning to fight — rather, he believes that the skills learned through the practice of kung fu create a more in-control and focused individual.
“The skills we teach, you can use anywhere, you can use them at school, at work, in everyday life,” he said. “If you are in a confrontation or argument with someone, you learn how to control that situation. First, you learn how to control yourself — if you can control yourself, then you have a better chance of controlling your situation. If you can’t control yourself, then it’s your opponent that is controlling you. Sometimes you may have to fight, and that’s what the self-defence we teach is for, but you use that as a last resort, and there are always other venues, other ways to neutralize a situation without having to resort to fighting.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the kung fu school can call 250-747-3292 or find Valois Kung Fu on Facebook.