The decision to choose a martial arts school is entirely personal, and is a reflection of not only your base desires and external interests, but also your core values, specifically, what "moves" you. Some seek a sporting environment of contest, timed rounds, and point systems; others seek inner peace, spiritual harmonization, reaching a "oneness" with themselves and their world. And still other find themselves drawn towards a more primal experience, where action and reaction are unfettered, unbridled, and trigger like the crack of a whip. Stillness is shattered and cumbersome rules of engagement are obliterated. At that moment of such sudden violence comes a true sense of absolute peace, as if time itself has stopped and everything within your immediate sphere of reality has reached a peak of clarity and focus. Athletes refer to it as "the zone". I refer to it as San Soo. There are no ancient martial secrets to be had. No magical, mystical powers or tricks. It strips the martial experience down to its purest essentials. Blood, flesh, and bone, this is where the mind and body exist. This is where you find harmony and peace, in the very fiber of your DNA, the essence of your humanity distilled. The victory is gained in bettering your best, perfecting your perfect, honing the edge of your own personal inner blade. No trophies, no belts, no timers, no bells. Just you, your instructor, and your partners, call them brethren, kindred, classmates, friends. The challenge is to bring what seems so far out of reach, a mythic "Everest" in your mind, down to the floor beneath your feet, laid out before you like a smooth path from point A to point B. You do this by stripping away all that is superfluous and engaging the human body at its simplest level, its basic physiological structures. Applied kinetic force to the point of least resistance, with maximum efficiency and minimal effort or as my teachers and senior colleagues have so succinctly put it, manipulation of the skeletal frame. The universal weaknesses of the human anatomical structure exploited, without prejudice, without remorse, but always with a true and abundant understanding of your purpose, your control, and likewise your mercy. The predator becomes the prey. San Soo gives you the tools and environment to prepare for that moment you hope never arrives, and the confidence to respond as nature intended you to if it does. Within the forgiving walls of the Double Dragons School of Kung Fu San Soo, Sifu Lue Montalvo and Sima Dora Montalvo are always ready to guide you on your personal San Soo journey. Devoid of pretense and without ego, you will find a welcoming environment that does not rely on intimidation or humiliation as tactics for teaching. Gender, age, race, or creed; all are welcomed equally and without presumption. No honest person is denied the opportunity to become part of this San Soo community. Masters Lue and Dora will be your strictest critics and your most ardent defenders, while encouraging you to relentlessly pursue your best martial expression of San Soo. My personal return-on-investment has been immeasurable, and my martial journey enriched far beyond my expectations. I encourage you to seek the same at Double Dragons School of Kung Fu San Soo. Their door is always open, inviting you to simply step through it and find out who is waiting on the other side. If I’m lucky, perhaps it will be me, and if so, I will humbly greet you as a fellow San Soo student, with open arms, a warm smile, a formal kung fu salute, and gently closed fists.
Masters Lue and Dora Montalvo are a husband and wife team who are dedicated to teaching their students realistic and practical self-defense. Kung Fu San Soo is not for competition. Its purpose is to end any physical assault as quickly as possible. Masters Lue and Dora teach efficient body mechanics to stop an aggressor from injuring or killing you. The essence of what Masters Lue and Dora teach: Move out of the way of the force of an attack and redirect that force as necessary. Meeting the force of an attack head-on is not efficient and favors the bigger and stronger adversary. Immediately take the balance of your attacker, usually by redirecting the force of his attack, and never let him get it back. It will be difficult for him to hurt you when he is off balance. Learn to manipulate the skeletal frame of your attacker. This is accomplished through technique and skill, not with brute strength. Use the natural strengths of your body against the vulnerable points of your attacker's. This is achieved through the proper use of your skeletal frame, body weight, and movement. As a student of Masters Lue and Dora for nine years, I have personally observed the progress of dozens of new students. The speed of their development and growth is impressive. The secret is that less is more. In the beginning the new student will focus on the basics, only. This rapidly builds the foundation so essential to their later power and effectiveness. Solid fundamentals in any physical activity is the secret to excellence at the highest levels. Masters Lue and Dora are genuine teachers of their art. All belt levels get a lesson specifically created for that belt level every night. Based on who is in attendance, Master Lue or Master Dora will create a lesson which includes a technique or move that the students need to work on. All belt levels learn all lessons up to and including the lesson for their belt level. Real fighting is all about improvisation. A series of pre-arranged moves or techniques for a particular attack will not work when the attacker's response to any individual move is different from what was anticipated. To truly be prepared for any attack, you must be able to flow with the action and instantly improvise based on what is happening. You will practice doing this every night. Everyone develops their own style based on the characteristics of their own body and on what they can and cannot do. All Kung Fu San Soo schools are not created equal. The excellence of a school depends on the quality of its Master. Masters Lue and Dora teach an evolved art that is elegant in its efficiency and brutal in its effectiveness. Visitors are welcome. Come in and check it out for yourself!
Body Builders is a well-established gym in the Silverlake area of L.A. In fact, it's one of the few gyms in that area. To find another workout facility servicing Silverlake/Los Feliz/North Central L.A., you have to go to Burbank, Glendale or Hollywood. Body Builders is a great, no-nonsense gym. It's like Gold's without the exorbitant fees. They feature lots of free weights, padded mats for ab work, cardio equipment and some machines. There are two floors, with equipment divided by body area you work. The changing room on the first floor was remodeled, so it's good; but the second floor one is still a bit "rough." But it's no big deal. This gym doesn't have over-aggressive sales folks, big-time promotions or an array of classes. It's just a gym. And that suit me great. I want to attend a gym that's all about the workouts and not about the scene or the loud music. They offer various membership plans, with the most economical being a six-month membership at $199. That's pretty darn cheap w/o corporate sponsorship! Parking can be a real bear, as they are in a suite of small businesses on Hyperion and share a lot. But if you go during off hours, it's no big deal. There is also metered parking on the street and free parking about a block away.