Ancient Spirit Temple Kung Fu hosts martial arts open house in Essex

by Kyle Reid

The art of Kung Fu was on display at the Essex Community Centre on Sunday, as members of Ancient Spirit Temple Kung Fu organized a martial arts demonstration to kick off the opening of a new school in town.

In a showcase of punches, kicks, and throws, members of Ancient Spirit Temple Kung Fu demonstrated their knowledge of the ancient Chinese martial art to the delight of friends, family, and anyone interested in getting to know more about the fighting style.   

Ancient Spirit Temple Kung Fu, operated by Sifu (Cantonese for ‘teacher’) Nicholas Waite, originated in Lakeshore in 2004. After nearly 15 years teaching Kung Fu, Waite is now expanding his martial arts program into Essex with the goal of sharing the art of Kung Fu with anyone who is interested.

Students at Ancient Spirit Temple Kung Fu practice a form of Kung Fu known as Northern Seven Star Praying Mantis. The form teaches self-defence techniques through fluid, dance-like movements. Grappling, joint locks, and holds are also taught in a system known as Shaolin Chin-Na, Waite explained. Emphasis is also placed on the historical side of the art, with higher ranking students practicing proficiency in classic Chinese weaponry handling.

Waite, who teaches alongside Sifu Gilles Vachon, has a diverse martial arts background, with almost 30 years of training in Kung Fu and Tae Kwon Do. However, Waite said there is no experience necessary to give it a shot, and students can begin learning as early as five years old.

“In class is where everyone learns and you’ve got to do it from the beginning,” Waite said. “I went from learning [Tae Kwon Do], and after doing that for almost 15 years, I started fresh with Kung Fu.”

Sunday’s demonstration featured a number of Waite’s students, from beginners to advanced Kung Fu practitioners, showing their skills. Students measure their progress in a traditional coloured belt system, or in this case, a sash, with a variety of colours indicating higher or lower ranks of proficiency in the art.

However, the benefits of practicing Kung Fu go far beyond obtaining a high rank or learning new techniques, Waite said.

“Everybody learns at their own pace,” Waite commented. “It’s about understanding yourself and building that confidence.”

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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