Thursday, December 31, 2009

New martial arts studio opens downtown

New martial arts studio opens downtown
By Sarah Rohrs/Times-Herald staff writer
Posted: 12/31/2009 01:01:50 AM PST

Eric Mitchell chose downtown Vallejo to open his own School of Chinese Martial Arts and help others embrace and benefit from kung fu.

Open since November, the 337 Georgia St. school offers children and adult classes in its spacious quarters adorned with colored belts denoting the levels in mastering skills -- white to black.

Mitchell, who has practiced and taught a kung fu style called Hei Long Shou Shu Kung Fu, said his passion is teaching the practice of combat and self-defense to all age levels.

His school is one of three School of Chinese Martial Arts under the leadership of martial arts teacher and master Tim McNabney. The other schools are in Hayward and Richmond.

Mitchell, 27, said his goal is to teach people what has helped him so much, including confidence, stature and happiness.

"It's done so much for me. I wouldn't be what I am today without it," he said.

Students take on a variety of challenges, including kicks, throws, grappling and the use of swords, spears and other weapons, as well as other self-defense techniques.

Beginning students wear white belts and as they master new techniques, progress to other colors. Mitchell himself, who began learning kung fu at 10, is now a third-degree (out of 7) black belt master and is working toward his fourth degree.

Relatively new Vallejo residents, Mitchell and his wife, Naja, moved to the city to be closer to her family.

He said one of his goals is to find ways to give back to the
community, including staging self-defense classes for women.

Another aim is to help change the perception of downtown Vallejo to a positive one, he said.

Mitchell was able to open the School of Chinese Martial Arts after the city relaxed its requirement that first-floor Georgia Street businesses be retail only. He first set his sights on the long-empty store in June.

For more details about the School of Chinese Martial Art class schedule and other information, call (707) 712-3223 or go to

Contact staff writer Sarah Rohrs at or (707) 553-6832.