Our Mission; Our Passion

We seek not to emulate the ancient masters. Rather, we seek what they sought.* * Adapted from a quote by Matsuo Basho

Sifu John Bracy (center) with martial arts friends Jay Lee and Nam Ki Sung, circa 1979

The institution that was to become the Hsing Chen School of Martial Arts began in a studio/ garage in Santa Ana, California in 1976. Sifu (Shrfu) John Bracy, the instructor, was in his last year of active-duty U.S. Marine Corps service and was attending college at the same time. He had no idea that teaching the martial arts was going to become his career or, within a few years, that the school would grow into one of the largest of its kind in the United States.

Sifu Bracy (right) kung fu demonstration, circa 1977

“I never expected that I would have many students. I wanted to teach –– it was my passion. I loved sharing the art and it was a great way to play, get paid for it, and pay for college. I never expected that I would have many students because my standards –– what I expected out of my students –– were so high.”

John Bracy quote from 1989 interview

LEFT: John Bracy (with old childhood friend) in front of his martial art studio, circa 1982   RIGHT Sparring with Rob Kulda around the same time

The school’s curriculum was tough and demanding, but the students kept coming. Over time, the school grew large. Later, smaller branches sprang up as graduates went away to college and elsewhere where they introduce the art to others. Over the last three decades the Hsing Chen teachings were presented through martial art clubs at UC San Diego, Humboldt State College, CA, Mankato State University, MN, Claremont College, CA, and satellite schools opened in cities of Orange and Laguna Beach, CA, Reno, NV, Miami, FL, and through an associated teacher-student group in Los Angeles.

Starting in the 1980s, John and the instructors/ students at his Tustin (later, Costa Mesa) school began to sponsor guest masters from Taiwan & Mainland China. However, the exchange went the other way as well.  Since the 1980s individuals and groups from the home base regularly visited and trained with masters and associated groups in Taiwan and Mainland China.

Left video: Master Liang Kequan discusses the best way to study and teach the internal martial arts at the Hsing Chen school in Costa Mes, California; Right video: Master Liu Xinghan demonstrates the 9 Palace “snake gua” for Hsing Chen students in Beijing, China

Masters who visited the Hsing Chen school from Taiwan/ Mainland China include Masters Yi Te-kuen, Yi Tien-wen, Ho Shen-ting and Liang Kequan. Masters from other areas visited us as well to share their knowledge with us. A partial list includes Vince Black, Sam Tam, Jan Diepersloot, Seongju Park (South Korea). 

Through many of those years –– more or less 15 –– the Hsing Chen school became the largest of its kind* in the United States. Below / 25-year reunion. Licensed instructors/ instructor trainees enjoying a multi-person (“everything goes”) group freestyle sparring event called “free kill” (Done in a playful way, anyone, single or with others can attack anyone – or another group –– at any time. (video thumbnail is of the late and beloved first senior instructor graduate, John Taylor) 

Our Philosophy & Approach

Why our approach stands out