Hidden between office buildings and dentist offices lies a hidden treasure of Milpitas. From the outside, O-Mei Kung Fu & Chinese Academy looks like a small, one story building in the middle of a business area.
Once inside, the tiny building opens up into a sprawling Kung Fu training area and after school learning center. Children laugh and play as they wait for their parents to pick them up.
The O-Mei Kung Fu academy opened in 2004, and the after school program opened in 2005. Although the academy opened nearly eight years ago, it is relatively unknown. Judy Yang has been taking her son to Kung Fu lessons since June. She had only heard about the place because her husband used to work nearby.
Wendy Duong had a similar experience. She searched for Kung Fu places on Yelp and came across O-Mei, but said it only had one review, so she thought it might be out of business. When she found out it was still open, she brought her son to try it out. Wendy’s son has been enrolled for two months now.
The Kung Fu Academy is taught by three instructors who work together to ensure each student is learning and progressing.
Xue Li, one of the Kung Fu instructors, likes teaching Kung Fu because he gets to "teach American kids Chinese traditions and … teach kids discipline."
Wendy has found that Kung Fu lessons have helped her sons become more disciplined.
Wendy says O-Mei teaches a different style of Kung Fu than other places in the area.
"This place has really unique form," she said. "Most places are attack but this one is self defense and confidence."
Vivek Prabhu has been taking his son to lessons at O-Mei for about one year. Vivek also likes the style.
"They teach things like listen to your teachers in class, have confidence in yourself…improve yourself before trying to improve somebody else," Vivek said. "That"s one of the benefits of this methodology of teaching – even his school teacher has noticed he is a lot more attentive and focused in class."
This attention to teaching students is seen in O-Mei's after school program as well. The after school program provides a place for kids to go while their parents are still at work. O-Mei picks up students from their schools and brings them to the center.
"Most parents don't have time," Dong Ping Liu, an office manager at the after school program said. "Pick-up is very important for their safety."
Once at the learning center, students do their homework, practice Chinese, do art projects, and have time to play.
Students between Kindergarten and 6th grade are welcome at the after school program and are separated into groups by grade level. The students have a block of time dedicated to doing homework before they are allowed to play.
The program runs Mondays through Fridays and offers different activities for the kids each day. Some days they do art while the next they have piano lessons.
"It’s a nice place for kids," Dong Ping said. "My kids grew up here. Kids want to learn everything – they say 'oh that's interesting or that's not interesting.'"
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