Daly City’s Filipino community teaches the art of self-defense

DALY CITY — The sign of Ralph Castro’s Kenpo Karate has brought in thousands of students through the years in Daly City.

Today, the studio is run by Fil-Am Vince Ronan, an 8th-degree black belt who holds the title of professor.

“The space has been here since the late 80s. This place was originally owned by Great Grandmaster Ralph Castro and he started teaching back in the 60s. This is one of his last and largest locations that he started.”

The studio continues to train students of all ages and all levels.

“With martial arts… it’s a form of empowerment. So you teach a person confidence to defend themselves if they have to or defend their family members.”    

Since great grandmaster Castro’s retirement in 2012, Ronan and his brother took over the studio.

Today — they provide other kababayans of different disciplines a chance to teach their crafts.

One such form of self-defense offered at the studio is Capoeira Batuque — which is a Brazilian dance style of African origin.

Fil-Am Nes Marco Morales runs this program.

Capoeira is very unique. It’s a music culture. It’s a martial arts culture. It’s a movement culture.”

This is what is called in Capoeira — an open roda — a circle where two artists exchange kicks, escapes, sweeps, and gymnastic flourishes.

“If you watch all the martial arts movies there’s always some kind of cool music and combat that unfolds out of that feel. So in the capoeira culture, music culture it’s almost you have to understand music to understand combat or it helps turn that combat into a chase game and unfold within the music.”

Like other forms of martial arts, Morales says capoeira may come more naturally for Filipinos.

“It translates well with Filipinos because we already come from a culture with a lot of rhythm, a lot of musicality.”

Other than Kenpo and Capoeira — the studio offers boxing and mixed martial arts to students — also, all ran by Fil-Ams.

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