Senior Instructor Sarah Williams’ Final Tuesday Class
From Bodan Danielle Uchitelle
This week the WMAC class calendar lost one of its most gifted and experienced teachers, as Senior Instructor Sarah Williams, bowing to professional pressures and health issues, reluctantly gave up her long-time position leading the Tuesday morning 7:00AM class.
Ever since I discovered the weekday morning classes, I’ve especially looked forward to Tuesdays with Sarah. Sarah has an encyclopedic knowledge of techniques and forms, and she was especially good at demonstrating how these had evolved in the curriculum over time. Having trained with Sabumnim for almost 23 years, Sarah knew exactly the right approach for any student, from beginners to advanced, and has an understanding of the deep structure of Hapkido that only becomes apparent after you’ve studied with her for weeks and months, as you come to realize just how profound and precise her corrections and comments are.
There wasn’t a formal announcement of Sarah’s final Tuesday; in fact, most of us didn’t know until the week before, when she informed students at the end of her penultimate class. Word got around, though, and the final class was filled with many of her students and former students, who celebrated Sarah’s influence with flowers, handwritten cards, group photos, and a few tears.
In addition to her mastery of the WMAC curriculum, I should mention one other aspect of Sarah’s training that has influenced me: her approach to cleaning the dojang. I know that a class’s Assistant Instructor (if there is one) or Instructor is responsible for tidying up the dojang and making sure that the mat area is organized and clean. But Sarah’s dedication to WMAC took this to another level: every Tuesday morning she would dust the entire dojang, then sweep the entire dojang with a broom, and then, after class, vacuum the entire space. And since caring for and cleaning our training area is an honorable tradition, one as old as the martial arts themselves, I have tried to follow her example.
I know that all of us who train with Sarah, and those who have trained with her in the past, will miss her weekly influence in our lives. I look forward to future special events that Sarah has already assured us she’ll attend, and I hope that when she next observes my forms and techniques in action, she’ll recognize her influence and feel satisfied with my progress.