As many of you know, Master Washington was an avid martial arts student and instructor at Fitzgerald’s Martial Arts in Chicago.  Martial Arts was truly one of his great passions as was education.  He worked many years selling educational books and resources to teachers.  With that in mind we have chosen honor his legacy by creating a scholarship in his honor.

The Kenneth J. Washington Memorial Scholarship will provide funding to martial arts students in the Chicago Area who move on to attend a 4 year college after high school.   The scholarship will go directly to the chosen recipient’s college tuition, and will remain with that student for the 4 years of his or her attendance at that college or university. 

To accomplish this we will need your financial support.  We are asking for any financial support you may be willing to provide.    Please check this page on the Fitzgerald’s Martial Arts website and follow the link above to donate and to see the progress we have made so far.

Thank you again for your generous support!

Donate Now!

A Tribute to

Kenneth J. Washington

Presented at his memorial service 2-17-16

It was written in a conversational tone, because that’s how I intended to present it.

Let me here you say WOW!

In 1998 Ken Washington brought me this scrawny, little boy he called Nikko and he wanted me to teach him and his son karate.  At the time, I was very excited to have them both.  Both he and his son turned out to be dedicated students who gave me their best effort in class.  I remember thinking this little guy Nikko is going to be so short, he better learn karate.  He’s gonna have to knock someone out one day!

Then it wasn’t long and they brought in this other pip squeak kid, August!  As fate would have it, I would be training them the rest of their childhood years.  They all achieved black belt, second degree and third degree black belt.  Over the years my relationship with them grew into a bond that made them not just students but family!  That is something that people who don’t train in a martial art can understand.  The blood, sweat and tears that are shed in training, the contusions, bruises, sprains and occasional broken bones serve as bonds that connect us on an emotional level the few other groups have.  

As the kids grew, they had to go off and achieve their own goals: Start driving, dating, going to college getting degrees and important things like that.

But one thing didn’t change.   Ken Washington stayed at my karate school.  In essence, he became my biggest supporter, my right hand and the person I could count on no matter what.  He helped out at the karate school all the time.  He helped kids tie their belts, wipe their noses, line up straight, stand at attention.  He greeted and comforted parents, answered the phone.  You name it.  He taught classes when I had to be away.  He covered every class when I was sick, or when I wanted to see Shannon (my daughter) play volleyball/basketball.  Or watch Evan (my son) play baseball.   He made sure I could go.  He traveled with me to tournaments and seminars.  He touched martial artists all over the country.  If you don’t believe me, just check out some of the comments on my Facebook page.  Everyone respected this man.  Look around this room.  Many of those present are folks from our school.  They would never miss this.  He earned the rank of master in the Korean art of Tang Soo Do and was in the process of earning another in the Phillipino martial art.  Kali-Eskrima.  

Go ahead you can say it: WOW

You know: I could keep listing the many wonderful things that Master Washington did for our school, but most of you know that’s just the kind of man he was.  Because you also know him, You are not surprised.

We talked about more than some of you know.  Megon was his dream girl.  I know who chowderhead is.  The picture that August posted on Facebook after he passed was the one he carried with him in his wallet.  We talked about how to be a father.  He lead by example when it came to being a parent at my karate school.  I learned about being a dad by watching how he raised his two children.  Something, I still haven’t quite mastered yet. 

So here comes the part that is the real: WOW.

All the candy coating, all the nonsense that life brings.  All so we can get to the real WOW.  We live in a world of smart phones, smart cars, the internet, Instagram, Twitter, who’s got the nicest shoes, the hottest new song, hash-tags and SELFIES!  But all that doesn't matter!  Lets talk about what does matter.  What we can all celebrate about Master Washington’s life.  I believe that we are all here on this Earth for a reason.  God has called each of us to be something.  Some of us are called to be doctors, some teachers, some musicians, some preachers....  But some of us he has called to be servants.  And that was my friend, Ken Washington.  He showed everyone how to be a man of God by being generous with his love, kindness, support, caring, sympathy and encouragement.  His friendship.  He has achieved more by sharing his generosity than most ever have biased on any other means.  He showed us how God wants us to spend time here on Earth.  His gentile service to others showed us how much he loved us, and I promise you that when God called on him it was so he could finally hear the praise: “Well done my good and faithful servant. Well done!”

OK, go ahead Now you can say it!  WOOOOOOOW!

That is the piece of Ken Washington that will always walk with me, because it wasn’t him who benefited from knowing me.  It was me who benefited from knowing him.   

I’d like to share one last comment before I end.  Last friday, ordered patches for our students to wear on our uniforms.  The company I order from is a large company; been in business for many years.  So, early in the morning, I sent the email that I would like patches made with his initials, and we would wear them on our uniform.  I have to be honest because felt ashamed that I couldn’t come up with something more original that what I sent.  Before 9am the VP of the company called me on the phone.  She said that they had never had an order like that before.  I had no need to worry, the patch was easy to create.  The art dept. already had it done and the email of the proof was in my inbox.  What shocked her was that in the many years she has been in the business, no one has ever had a patch made like that.  A patch that honored the passing of a student.  You see the martial art industry has turned into a profit based model.  To many karate schools it all about hamburgers and french fries/dollars and cents.  Ken Washington was not that to us.  He is family.  How fitting that the first patch this company ever made to honor a student would be one that honors him.

You can add a WOW her if you like!   

in parting I would like to leave you with two versus:

Ephesians 1:9-10  (I’ll paraphrase the first two, but I believe in some way they help answer why he left us so soon.)

According to the mystery of his will, in time, He will gather together all things in Christ both which are in Heaven and on Earth.

and from Romans 8:19

the Creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God.

Finally, I hope to encourage to us all with Psalm 27:14 (quoted directly)

Wait on the Lord.  Be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine hart.  Wait, I say, on the Lord.


Kenneth J. Washington Memorial Scholarship!