By John Warner
It has been more than a decade since my wife, baby and I settled into the Richmond district looking for a more family oriented environment in which to raise our 7 month old baby girl: Casey. That began a big beautiful chapter in our lives with The Tat Wong Kung fu Academy playing an important part right from the beginning.
In the early days my wife Claudia and I would take our walks with Casey in her stroller around our neighborhood and would often pass the Tat Wong Kung fu Academy, on 32nd Ave taking notice of the young students and their parents. Claudia and I would talk of how good this would be for our daughter and that one day Casey too would become a student there. Over the next few years that plan became a givin and sure enough 5 years and 3 months later Casey became a student at TWKFA. By then we had a son Christopher who was 3 yrs old at the time and he too would became a student, taking his 1st class on his 4th birthday. Two years later I began a practice and 6 months after that Claudia began to tackle both kickboxing and Choy lay fut kung fu with equal intensity. What began as an idea to teach our kids discipline and self defense has evolved into something much more.
The last few years have been filled with experiences that have collectively played such an important role in defining who we are as individuals and as a family. There are the many tournaments that we all participated in from the beginning, sometimes planning family vacations around them as in Orlando FL ,Las Vegas NV and Seattle WA. There are the New Years parades that our kids have had the priveledge to participate in. And there are many other fun activities we’ve had the opportunity to be a part of. There are the black belt tests and the particular challenge they present. But most importantly, we have the virtues and satisfaction that comes with the hard work of training our bodies and our minds in our classes almost daily. To learn from Grandmaster Wong , Master Chow , Sifu Gray, Siheng Brandon and all the Sihengs and Sijehs these last few years here in San Francisco has been tremendous.
Today Casey is nearing her 1st degree and has won numerous competitions over the last 6 years. Chris too is working towards his 1st degree and has successfully competed in sparring and hand forms. I’ve had the honor of learning under our Grandmaster, Tat Mau Wong in his instructional Training program, and today I’m an Instructional assistant at the San Francisco School, dedicated to my practice, my teachers and my students .Claudia is Claudia, awesome at everything she works at and taking her black belt test early 2016.
Our families story Is both unique but similar to many other families and individuals whose lives have been profoundly affected for the better. For over 3 decades, lives have been transformed through the power of Kung fu at the Tat Wong kung Fu Academy and to say they have become a 2nd family is for those who understand, a cliché. What we take from our practice and our brothers and sisters at TWKFA is the satisfaction that we are working towards something that is righteous and purposeful, discovering and growing the strength inside us that allows us to thrive… Perhaps for some of us, more than we ever thought possible.