From the Shaolin Temple to Burbank: California Academy of Martial Arts Offers Betterment for Everyone

Sifu Tei practicing the Wing Chun dummy.

When Kung Fu Panda 2 hits theatres at the AMC 16 in Burbank this weekend, the term “3D experience” will be an understatement. That’s because Sifu (master) Todd Tei and his star pupils – from California Academy of Martial Arts — will be putting on a demo outside the theatre before the premiere. This will allow moviegoers to get an up-close look at how Kung Fu is really done, minus the CGI magic. More specifically, the style of fighting that the master Bruce Lee studied himself: Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Sifu Tei is a direct descendent of Wing Chun Kung Fu. When he was 21, he became a Sifu and studied with Ip Ching, the younger son of Bruce Lee’s master, the legendary Ip Man. Sifu Tei then moved to California and started the California Academy of Martial Arts in 1995. Sifu Tei has worked closely with some of martial arts’ elite, including a stint as Jackie Chan’s bodyguard while the star shot Rumble in the Bronx and as a fight choreographer for over a dozen feature films. But the role he values most is that of Sifu, teaching all ages the celebrated and unique art of Wing Chun:

CAMA instructor Gabriela, far r, with some Little Pandas.

“Unlike other martial art forms, Wing Chun is concerned with redirecting an opponents’ energy. It’s less hard force blocking and more simultaneous attack and defense — deflecting and hitting at the same time. It’s a very realistic and applicable skill set for both men and women, young and old, regardless of prior martial arts experience. After lessons, students feel a sense of accomplishment unlike your typical cardio workout. They experience renewed energy and confidence; increased balance and coordination.”

CAMA classes are offered for ages three and up. Sifu Tei explains:

“The great thing about our classes is that we offer specialty programs tailored to your specific age group. Kids will learn with their peers under the guidance of an instructor-to-student ratio of 1:4 in every class. Our main goal is to teach these young souls how to protect themselves — not to be violent. This, along with other invaluable life lessons that include discipline, character development, self esteem, philosophy, as well as — believe it or not — an appreciation for art and history.” There is a free one day trial for kids.

These lessons extend to adolescents up through adults, with classes focusing on self-defense, wooden dummy training, wea-pons, cardio and weight loss. Entire families are enrolled at CAMA, and that sense of kinship is felt throughout the whole staff. Sifu Tei stresses that there are just as many girls enrolled as boys, as are there equal amounts of women to men. In fact, the legend goes that Yim Wing Chun (literally meaning “forever springtime” or “praising spring”), a woman, originated Wing Chun Kung Fu as we know it today.

There will be a special Memorial Day Camp on Monday, May 30, for kids ages 5 ½—13. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and there will be Kung Fu games, contests, movies and more. The cost is $55, with $5 extra for early drop-off. Lunch and Menchie’s trip is included.

California Academy of Martial Arts is open seven days a week and located at 521-A N. Hollywood Way in Burbank. For more information on classes, call (818) 843-7916 or visit www.kungfuwingchun.com.