Martial arts enthu siast Arthur Co said, In return for a dream come true — my U.S. Citizenship — I wanted to contribute something to America, my adopted country.
What could Arthur Co do to make a difference? I decided to teach troubled teens what I love to do most, martial arts. Co explains that teens are most often the most difficult to discipline and control. In addition, they are often rebellious, inconsiderate and sometimes misunderstood.
Co thought his biggest problem was where to find such troubled teens. He didn’t have to look far. Arthur Co is a Hibachi chef at the Arirang
Japanese Steak House in Brooklyn, N.Y. Three new-hire chef-trainees were Chinese immigrant teens and high school dropouts. Deep down inside my heart I felt so bad having to watch three teenagers end their education (and future) just to earn a living, Co explains. They are bright kids with dreams, but need someone who cares enough to know and understand them, guide them, show them the way, forgive them if they make a mistake, and correct them when they are wrong. After work one night at the Arirang Steak House, the teens went to relax and have fun at a local pool hall in Brooklyn. Instead. Of having fun, a fight broke out at the pool hall with some local teenagers.
Arthur Co took action in response to the scuffle by inviting these teens to his New Jersey home on weekends after work to learn martial arts. I asked them to study with me instead of hanging around and getting into trouble after work. Co teaches martial arts on Saturday mornings.
He felt he could teach them as well as guide them down their career path as Hibachi chefs. This way I’ll be their sifu (teacher) and disciplinarian. I took a big
Bonifacio Lim (left) and Arthur Co. gamble inviting them to stay at my house every Friday night without even knowing them, but thank Cod they all proved to be trustworthy, Co notes. Co not only opened his home to the teens, he also opened his heart to them.
Arthur Co invited his neighbor’s son along with three suburban New Jersey teens to join in the Saturday morning martial arts class. Co wanted to integrate kids, who were academically active, good students, with the struggling, troubled Chinese immigrant teens. This way both sides can see (the other side) and determine which kind of future they would choose. Co donated not only his time and home to the teens, but also purchased and provided all the martial arts equipment for their use.
Co teaches the ancient martial art of ngo cho kun kung-fu (five-ancestor fist) and single-stick amis. He trains them outdoors at his community park year round. He doesn’t teach the offensive fighting tech-niques of ngo cho kun for the teens; instead he concentrates on the more defensive side of ngo cho kun. He has more or less developed his own street fighting style and has passed that along to his students. I also challenged the three ‘troubled’ teens to get their high school equivalency and continue further by taking college courses during the day, while still working at night as chefs.
Co knows first hand how hard it is to work full time, teach martial arts, and study at the college level. Co recently graduated from
Somerset County Technical Institute as a Multi-Media and Graphic Arts specialist. I explained that if I can take computer courses in the morning, work nights as a chef, study in between, while still being a good husband and father, they can do it too! Co reports that the three have completed their high school equivalencies, two have gone to college while working part-time as Hibachi chefs, and the third is happily married and a full-time Hibachi chef.
Co looks forward to teaching more students, but he has already found his next challenge. He is co-writing a manual with sifu Bonifacio Lim to popularize the form of kung-fu he teaches. Co studied ngo cho kun at the now-defunct Eng Han School, and Lim studied at the Beng Kiam School, both in the Philippines.
Lim is the only authoritative ngo cho kun master in the northeastern United States. He teaches every Saturday morning in Plainsboro, N.J. Co teaches the streetfighting forms of ngo cho kun every Saturday in Hillsborough, N.J.