A great article on a fellow Martial Artist coming from a great Martial Arts family that we know well, congrats Hailey Day on your 1st Degree Black Sash, you make your Grandfather proud! Carrying on the family’s legacy at Kitchener Kicks!
Martial artist follows in a master’s footsteps
Keen on kung fu
David Bebee,Record Staff
KITCHENER — When Hailey Day steps in front of Grand Master David Chong this weekend, she’ll not just be proving herself to one of the most revered kung fu teachers in Canada. She’ll also be proving herself to her grandfather.
The late Ron Day, who died in 2008, was one of this region’s kung fu pioneers and founded the city’s first martial arts club in 1974. When he received his first black belt in 1968, it was also under Chong’s direction.
On Sunday, his 17-year-old granddaughter will try to prove to Chong and a panel of judges she’s earned her own black belt, while honouring the memory of the man who made such an impact on her life.
It’s been a decade of hard work to get here, Day said — and she hopes her “Papa” will be proud.
“This means everything to me,” she said. “I really wanted to prove I could do it. He was my hero, so I knew if I kept going and did it, it would mean the world to him.”
Day started with kids’ camps at Kitchener Kicks when she was just five years old. By age seven, she was training in kung fu. She graduated through the martial arts ranks to eventually become an instructor at the club, still a rare sight in a male-dominated sport.
Those who know her say there was never any doubt the determined teenager would reach a pinnacle only one in about every hundred martial arts students attain.
“Ron was the Big Kahuna around here, and Hailey was his pride and joy,” said Sigung David Hackett, the club’s owner and head instructor.
“He didn’t push any of his children or grandchildren into the martial arts. But Hailey was the one who really embraced it from day one. There was never a question she would go all the way to black sash.”
Ron Day remains an influential figure at the club he founded and in the Canadian Karate Kung Fu Association. The son of a police officer, he started in kung fu at age 10 and went on to spend more than four decades mastering it, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Chuck Norris and Jackie Chan along the way.
His granddaughter, an Eastwood Collegiate student who’s off to university in the fall, also hopes to be a police officer one day. She says she owes everything to her grandfather’s early influence on her life, and the many black belts who trained under him.
Today, she lives with her grandmother, who tells her there’s a lot of Ron Day in her personality.
“People always said, ‘You’re going to make your grandfather proud,'” she said. “My family wouldn’t let me quit even if I wanted to, but I never wanted to quit.”
Not that Day needed much of an extra push. As the granddaughter of a kung fu master, she’s always put a lot of pressure on herself to live up to his name.
“Dedication is the very first thing you need, more than anything else, more than how many pushups you can do. You need to make time for kung fu if you want a black belt,” she said.
“I think if he weren’t my grandfather, I would not be as determined as I am. Even though he’s not around anymore, there’s always that thought in my head that I can do this, and that’s because of him.”
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