4th Degree Senior Black Sash
As a child I was as a musician. I started playing the piano by ear at the age of 3. My mother was studying the piano in college at the time and I picked it up from listening to her daily practice. Throughout my childhood I took piano lessons, performed in recitals and won piano competitions. Music was the career that I was destined to pursue.
Even though music was a central focus in my early life, I always had a love of martial arts. I watched Saturday morning Kung-Fu Theater and I would imitate kung-fu warriors by throwing kicks and punches and even injuring myself jumping from couch to couch. In my youth, I simply loved how the movie heroes could perform incredible fighting feats that no one else could. They seemed superhuman to me. And, that was appealing to me, since I grew up in a bad part of town where fighting was an almost daily occurrence.
At the age of ten, my mother put me in a martial arts school where I learned Kenpo Karate for a year. During that time, I felt like I was doing exactly what I always wanted to do. I had the white gi, the rank belt, and I was training in class right along with other martial artists. However, after a year of training, my mother could no longer afford to pay for my lessons, so I was forced to take a break from martial arts.
When I entered college, I still had the idea of becoming a performer in the classical music genre. My plan was to teach music professionally and perform all around the world. After all, I had already been teaching private piano lessons since I was 16 years old. But, then something happened that change all of that. I was attacked by a gang of skinheads! This made me realize the importance of being able to defend myself. So, I began practicing self-defense techniques and sparring with a friend, using a couple of Bruce Lee books as a guide.
A year later, I met a kid that trained at White Dragon La Mesa. When he told me that he studied Kung-Fu there, I immediately went to check it out. After seeing the facility, I was completely impressed with how serious the school looked and felt. So, I took the introductory course and immediately fell in love with the training. It wasn’t long after joining the school that I realized I eventually wanted to teach.
After a few years of hard work, I was invited to join the instructor’s training group. I knew through my experiences of teaching the piano that I would only be able to maximize my skill in Kung-Fu if I taught it as well. After completing the rigorous training and becoming an instructor, my love of the art had become so deep that I knew I wanted to do this as a career. I had the honor to study with La Mesa’s Chief Instructor at the time, Master Nathan Fisher, as well as Tai-Sifu Donald Tittle. Learning from these two high-level teachers enriched my knowledge far beyond what I had experienced as a student. Several years later, I decided to teach full-time and was promoted to Assistant Chief Instructor, under Tai-Sifu Tittle. Then in 2003, I was promoted to the title of Chief Instructor of White Dragon Encinitas. A year later, I was promoted to the level of Sifu by my teacher and Grandmaster Doc Fai Wong.
Throughout the time I trained as an instructor, I participated in nearly 30 tournaments including the World Tai Chi Chuan Championships in Taiwan, MMA tournaments, form competitions, as well as taking Grand Champion in the Dragon Cup Instructor’s Tournament. Looking back on it all, I feel my skills were sharpened in a way that wouldn’t have been possible without immersing myself in competition. So, I just have to thank my teachers for pushing me to compete and for making it possible for me to teach martial arts as a career.
Looking at life through the eyes of a martial artist makes me put importance on family, health, self-protection, and longevity. I feel that martial arts teaches us to better ourselves in every aspect of life and to constantly reflect on how we can improve. The greatest joy is being able to pass on all that I’ve learned to my students! I consider serving as the Chief Instructor of White Dragon Encinitas to be a great honor.