Name: Justin Elliston
Rank: yi duan (1st degree black sash)
Title: Laoshi (Assistant Teacher)
Location: Saint Joseph, MO
Teaches at the Saint Joseph location with Shifu Read.
Served his nation in the United States Army
Bachelors Degree in Biblical Studies
Working toward Masters Degree in Bible and Theology
Through the four and a half years that I have been studying martial arts with Shifu Read one of the principles that have stuck out to me is the idea of root. Within martial arts this is your connection to the ground and it allows you to withstand forces that you couldn't without that root. I quickly learned through this class that this principle wasn't just about martial arts but could be instrumental in many other facets of my life. I learned that I needed to be rooted not only with my body but also with my faith. I had been a church-going Christian all my life but I was always the person who allowed one mistake to derail me. Through the fellowship that I had with my teacher, Shifu Read, I have become a much stronger Christian than I was before.
When I first started learning xing yi it was because my older brother had been in it for a year and told me that it was a good stress reliever. I had just returned from basic training with the Army and I was dealing with a lot of emotional stress in my life. When I went to my first class I knew that this was going to be something with which I was going to continue. I quickly jumped in and began my journey. I always wanted to know more and for that reason I would be at every single class possible. I would practice for hours at home. I knew early on that I wanted to teach kung fu and because of this when I became a green sash I began assisting in class as able. I was eventually allowed to teach some of the classes while Shifu Read observed and assisted and after attaining black sash was allowed to run classes without supervision. There were times when we needed to make adjustments because of life factors but through these four years I have learned much even beyond the martial application.