A Special Tribute to Sifu Wayne Jackson

On Thursday evening, February 9, 2017, my mom called to inform me that Sifu Wayne Jackson had passed away.

His memorial service was slated for the next morning.

Given the magnitude of this man’s impact on my martial arts development, I was committed to paying my respects to him.

I attended the memorial service to see Sifu Wayne one last time and to thank him for being a very important part of my life.

As time passed after the memorial service, Sifu Wayne Jackson continued to occupy my thoughts.

I felt compelled to do more to honor his memory.

So, I reached out to the Jackson family and asked if it would be okay to create a tribute page to Sifu Wayne on my website.

The family gave their blessing.

If you knew Sifu Wayne, you understand my desire to honor him.

If you didn’t know Sifu Wayne, you’re likely wondering what the big deal is?

The big deal is his:

  • passion,

  • desire,

  • skills, and

  • legacy.


A Great Equalizer or Elevator

I wholeheartedly believe that passion is a great equalizer or elevator in any endeavor.

Passion can “level the playing field” and it can “up” or improve games or performances in industry, martial arts, or sports.

Sifu Wayne Jackson was passion personified!

To those around him, his passion for martial arts was obvious!

It was visible in the way his eyes and face lit up when talking and teaching.

It was audible in the way his voice became energized when sharing his vast knowledge.

It was also evident his willingness to travel to learn and to teach.

Sifu Wayne gladly traveled for opportunities to learn with highly respected instructors that included the likes of Sifu Randy Williams and Sifu Cass Magda, as well as others.

I still fondly recall a trip Sifu Wayne and I took to Cleveland, Ohio to train with Sifu Cass Magda.

It was a weekend filled with great martial arts conversation, training, and companionship – a weekend I will always hold dear.

I also recall a road trip I made with Sifu Wayne to Bedford, Pennsylvania to share some Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do training with Sifu Rod Hillegass and his group.

Sifu Wayne readily embraced opportunities to expose new students to his arts and his teachings.

In looking back at his history, Sifu Wayne Jackson’s passion was paramount to his success as a martial artist and a teacher.


An Intangible Success Attribute

While desire can be a difficult, if not impossible, attribute to measure precisely, I, nonetheless believe that desire is critical to success.

What is desire?

Desire is a craving or longing for something that brings enjoyment or satisfaction.

For Sifu Wayne Jackson, his desire for martial arts excellence was obvious!

His desire was witnessed by his long hours of training and study.

Prior to meeting and training with Sifu Wayne, I had never seen a martial artist put forth so much effort in dissecting video footage.

Sifu Wayne would gladly spend hours dissecting footage of interest.

He would then train the techniques he had dissected until he could do them as well as the practitioners in the videos.

This combination of dissection skills and technique training not only allowed Sifu Wayne to develop impressive skills in Jeet Kune Do, kickboxing, and Kali, but also to become a recognized Close Range Combat Academy instructor under renowned Wing Chun Gung Fu instructor Randy Williams.

His desire was also seen in his compassion for those who embraced his tutelage.

Sifu Wayne gave his knowledge and time freely to those who were eager to learn.

It was never about earning money from teaching, it was all about helping the student develop himself or herself.

While the love was definitely tough love at times, there was no mistaking that it was love.

When it came to genuinely caring about students, no one cared more than Sifu Wayne Jackson. 

In hindsight, Sifu Wayne Jackson’s desire was essential to his success as a martial artist and a teacher.


Sifu Wayne Jackson Had A-Level Abilities

Speed.

Power.

Fluidity.

Timing.

Rhythm.

Mechanics.

Sifu Wayne possessed all of these attributes and many more.

His martial skills were very highly developed, as anyone that trained with him or moved around with him would attest.

The two abilities I want to focus on are his striking prowess and his holding acumen.

Striking Prowess

While one could point to many different facts as evidence of Sifu Wayne’s striking prowess, for me, there’s one obvious body of proof.

This “body of proof” was to watch with your own eyes as he lay waste to the double-end bag.

Like most, I was in absolute awe the first time I ever saw Sifu Wayne work the double-end bag.

Forget about just punching the double-end bag!

For Sifu Wayne, that was child’s play!

He would spinning back kick it and then punch it before his kicking foot ever hit the ground.

He would lead side kick it and punch it before his kicking foot returned to the ground.

He would elbow it during varied combinations that included punches and kicks.

In short, he would produce his own poetry of motion on the double-end bag.

I still recall the great pride I felt for Sifu Wayne when he was asked, by Sifu Randy Williams, to display his other-worldly double-end bag striking during the Sifu Dan Lee / Sifu Ted Wong JKD Camp at Sifu Randy Williams’ place in Forest City, PA on June 17, 2001.

Sifu Wayne obliged by treating the two Jeet Kune Do icons to a double-end bag striking exhibition like they had never seen, despite the fact that these two legends had been around many elite martial artists from all over the globe throughout their lengthy careers.

Holding Acumen

When I write about holding acumen, I am referring to Sifu Wayne’s ability to hold focus mitts and Thai pads.

Regardless of the combination, drill or exercise, Sifu Wayne not only figured out how to hold mitts or pads for it, but he flowed from one hold or move to the next without any hiccups.

His holding acumen was instrumental in developing flow in his students, as they did not have to slow down their moves at all.

Additionally, he was able to teach his students how to hold effectively as well.

Sifu Wayne’s holding acumen was paramount to the success he had in developing students’ attacking skills – punching, elbowing, kicking, kneeing, trapping, sweeping, and more.


Greatest Gift

While Sifu Wayne Jackson possessed many wonderful attributes, it is my belief that his greatest gift of all is the legacy he leaves behind.

Sifu Wayne’s passion, desire and skills enabled him to make lasting impressions on many of his students.

It is these lasting impressions that cement his legacy as his influence inspired many of his students to pay it forward by sharing their love of martial arts with the next generation.

Sifu Wayne’s legacy lives on in individuals like Kip, Toan, Bert Hill, Josh Hummer, Jared Ramsburg, Ernie Himes, BJ McPherson, and me.

In my humble opinion, Kip is the most talented of the lot.

I always enjoyed my time with him as it was always inspirational due to the fact that he had a knack for exposing weaknesses that I needed to improve.

My recollections of Toan were of a young, Vietnamese boy who lived, breathed, ate, and slept Wing Chun Gung Fu. Despite his youth at the time of my early studies, he was always a fierce training partner that I relished training with.

Bert Hill and I were training partners for five years. I love Bert like a brother. Despite the miles between us, we still stay in touch. Bert went on to start his own Wing Chun group in Frederick, Maryland. When he ended up moving to Switzerland, his top student, Tylus Quan Do, assumed leadership of the Frederick group. Later, when Quan moved to a Spanish island, Don Berry, another student of his, took over. 

The continuity of the Frederick group is an excellent example of the impact of Sifu Wayne’s legacy.

Josh Hummer continues the legacy of Sifu Wayne by teaching martial arts in Pennsylvania.

BJ McPherson does his part to keep Sifu Wayne’s flame burning by sharing his passion for Russian martial arts.

As for Jared Ramsburg, Ernie Himes and I, we have went on to become Magda Institute Association instructors. We all owe a great deal to Sifu Wayne and readily credit part of our development and accomplishments to him.

As each of us continues to share our arts and the passion we have for our arts, we keep the legacy of Sifu Wayne Jackson alive and that is the least we can do for a man that gave each of us so much!

Sifu Wayne, we will continue our efforts as we keep your spirit alive by continuing to train and teach.

We all thank you for everything you did for us!

Be at peace Sifu Wayne.


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