What Is The Future of San Soo?
Jimmy loved to talk on various topics to his
classes. One topic he would infrequently bring up was his prediction
that San Soo, as he taught it, would disappear within eight years of
his death. When he broached the subject of death, I refused to
believe that Jimmy, a man of great strength and extreme confidence,
would one day die. To me, he was going to live forever.
However, years passed and two weeks after my first son was born,
Jimmy passed away.
Now, years later, I have watched his prediction come true. Without
the father to hold the family together, many sons and daughters have
strayed away. Today, fewer than a handful of his original students
actively teach San Soo. Of those, even fewer teach it in the same
pure manner they learned from Jimmy. You might ask why this has
happened? My answer is they lack a full appreciation of the art
based on a lack of experience and understanding.
Jimmy was a fighter. He fought countless times in both China and
America. In each fight he relied on his San Soo skills. One man,
several men, hand to hand or armed with weapons, Jimmy did not care.
If forced to, he would fight anyone, anytime, anywhere. By
experience, he proved the scientific method of fighting known as San
Soo, was not theory, but fact. Jimmy called San Soo his art
because he dedicated his life to its teaching and training.
Classifying San Soo as the best he repeatedly reminded us that
hundreds of men over many generations devoted their lives toward one
purpose: The formulation of a pure system of organized fighting
designed to take out an opponent as quickly and efficiently as
Unfortunately, some of today's instructors have polluted this purity
by blending in teachings and techniques that have nothing to do with
the art, yet they advertise that they teach San Soo. flavor of the
month instructors, take whatever is currently popular on the
martial arts scene and mimic it into their teaching program. The
result is disheartening. They trade outstanding, well based fighting
technique for what looks good and is based on theory. When they do
this, they willingly throw hundreds of years of development by the
wayside, without even a second glance.
Personally speaking, when I began training, I, like many others,
became involved in minor spats here and there. San Soo never let me
down. Later, I became a police officer and worked in some of the
worst areas of Los Angeles for 20 years. There, I had the unique
experience of witnessing physical violence and the aftermath of
violence perpetrated by street predators on innocent people.
Additionally, in those areas, street fighting was reality and an
accepted way of life for many. Violence would erupt in a second
without warning. Constantly, my job exposed me to fighting in some
form or another. Without dwelling on these experiences, I can say
they formed an unequaled and outstanding exposure to the nuances of
street fighting. They also provoked a deep gratitude in me to Jimmy
for teaching his family's art in the manner it was developed. One of
the many things I learned on the street is that there is vast
difference between fighting theory and fact. With one you lose, with
the other you survive.
For those instructors who remain true to their roots, remember, the
survival of this art lies not in the past, nor in the present, but
in the future. That future is our child.
I admit, teaching children was not my first desire. When I began
teaching adult classes at our church, my wife kept telling me that I
should teach children and gave all the logical reasons for doing so.
Not wanting to do it, I was able to side step the issue until one
day, while visiting my friend, Vince, at his Buena Park Studio.
Knowing I was again teaching, he asked if I were teaching children.
When I told him no he replied, what if your teaching San Soo to
kids saved one child from joining a gang or using drugs? Remember
what Jimmy did for us? Vinceís words were like a knife through the
heart. I tried to ignore them but they kept nagging at me. Then one
evening a mother approached me with her 8-year-old daughter and
asked if I taught children. When I told her no, she pointed to her
fair-haired little girl and asked, what if you teach her one thing
that protects her from being kidnapped. isn't that worth it.
At that point, how can you argue with such logic? After asking the
church, talking to my wife and praying for Christ to direct me, we
now teach children. We teach them all aspects of San Soo, including
defense and offense against an adult attacker. We also teach
traditional Christian values, commitment, discipline, honesty,
integrity and most of all, confidence. Our method of teaching boils
down to two words, love and discipline. Discipline not only in the
sense of receiving motivation when they misbehave or don't pay
attention in class, but encouragement to be responsible for their
actions. We see the effect of our teaching method by this: Children
who have started as timid, withdrawn, introverted boys and girls
with time, training, discipline and love, develop into confident,
outgoing young people. This confidence not only effects them now, it
will influence all aspects of their life as they grow up. As we
teach them, my greatest desire is that these children remember the
history, the lessons, and fine details of San Soo. Then one day,
they, in turn will pass the same training down to others. In doing
so, San Soo will very much remain alive.
In all this, I picture Jimmy in my mind, standing in the midst of
the children's class, with his typical big smile, patting the
children on their heads and backs, exclaiming, you doing good
Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he
will remain upon it. Proverbs 22:6
Sam Silva (pictured with sons, Samuel and Joshua) has been active
in Kung Fu San Soo for more than 30 years. Training at the El Monte
Studio, he received his black belt, first through seventh degree
black belts and Master ranking from Grandmaster Jimmy H. Woo. Sam
was the past Vice President of the International Kung Fu San Soo
Association and has written nationally published articles on San
Soo. He currently teaches at Calvary Chapel of the Chino Valley,
12205 N. Pipeline Ave., Chino.
Chapel Chino Valley
12205 Pipeline Avenue