In 2021, kung fu master Jeff Chow, who is Chinese American, began offering two-day self-defense seminars for people over 65 at his dojo in San Francisco’s western Richmond District. More than 200 people, about 70% of whom were Asian, took him up on the offer.
Chinese people often “want to be able to succeed, but not make a big ruckus or big noise about it,” Chow said. Culturally, they have often been hesitant to speak out about or even report the problems they face.
However, a sense of increased violence during the pandemic—which often showed little rhyme or reason—changed that.
“It’s the randomness of these events, I think, that really mobilized the community,” Chow said. The senior defense course is so popular that it's still ongoing, twice weekly, at Chow's dojo.
"I'm appreciative of the fact that the community has mobilized and gotten together, and now I'm just hopeful that they continue to do that, and it becomes something that's not just Asian American, but all-inclusive of all ethnicities moving forward," said Chow.
This video is part of a larger feature on how the pandemic spurred a wave of Asian American activism in San Francisco.
Mike Kuba can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org