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Sifu Sonya Richardson
5th Degree Black Belt
Sifu Sonya Richardson has been training in the martial arts since 1990 and began practicing as a licensed physical therapist in 1988. She received her 3rd degree Black Belt in Kajukenbo, the Gaylord Method, under Professor Coleen Gragen and was promoted to 5th degree Black Belt by her current teacher Professor Barbara Bones. Sifu Sonya is also a Sandan in Kenpo Karate under Professor Gloria Boldizar. Her knowledge of biomechanics, combined with a positively-minded teaching style, provides a skillful and physically well-rounded learning experience for students of all levels and abilities. Classes are guaranteed to be challenging, gritty, and fun.
Sifu Sonya has competed in national and international tournaments, consistently medaling in each for forms, weapons, sparring and self defense divisions. She teaches at three national martial arts camps: PAWMA (Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists), NWMAF (National Women’s Martial Arts Federation, and AWMAI (Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors, )as well as local seminars for community martial arts schools and the Kajukenbo Association of America. She currently serves as the co-chair of the Anti-Racism Committee for NWMAF.
Sifu Sonya took on the role of Head Instructor of Hand To Hand in April 2007.
Additional recognitions and honors:
- Martial Artist of the Year 2011: awarded by the Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists
- Awardee: 10 Women Campaign 2011: awarded by Flyaway Productions; a biennial celebration of women who work in law, politics, activism, business, philanthropy and the arts to promote community building and social justice throughout the greater Bay Area
“My passion for training and teaching is fueled by my respect and love for our wonderful student body. I am truly honored to serve Hand to Hand. I believe that as each of us, student and instructor alike, is given space enough to root and reach, we will, no doubt, positively affect an even greater portion of our community, of our world."
Sifu Aarin Burch
Assistant Head Instructor of Martial Arts Programs
3rd Degree Black Belt
Sifu Aarin began her martial arts training in 1984 studying White Crane Style Kung Fu under Sifu Ron Dong. In 1997 she discovered Hand To Hand Kajukenbo and began training under Sifu Coleen Gragen. Sifu Aarin received her black belt from Sifu Coleen in 2002, and her 2nd degree (2008) and 3rd degree (2011) from Professor Barbara Bones. Sifu Aarin was part of the Hand To Hand team at the 1998 Gay Games in Amersterdam where she won a gold medal in forms and a silver medal in sparring. She was part of the Hand To Hand performance team and is a former Acting Head Instructor of Hand To Hand. Sifu Aarin continues to teach students of all levels. Outside of Hand To Hand, Sifu Aarin teaches kickboxing and hip hop dance. She also runs her own video production company, Aarin Burch Productions.
"My goal is to empower women and men to be their fullest selves, on the martial arts floor,
on the dance floor, and in our every day lives."
Sifu Jen Resnick
Head Instructor of Internal Arts Programs
5th Degree Black Belt
Chief Instructor Jen Resnick began training in the Chinese martial arts in 1983. In 1991, upon returning from training in China and Taiwan, she had the good fortune to discover Hand To Hand and Destiny Arts Center where she found a martial arts environment which also insisted that the warrior's path be devoted to creating a just and peaceful self and society. She began training in Kajukenbo and soon after devoted herself to teaching at both Hand To Hand and Destiny Arts Center. Sifu Jen received her 1st Degree Black Belt from Professor Coleen Gragen in 1995, and was awarded her 5th Degree from Professor Barbara Bones.
She is drawn to the eclecticism of Kajukenbo that allows each student to develop creatively, and is grateful to have been blessed with a teacher who always encouraged her to expand herself into new ways of being in the world. She has competed nationally and internationally to great success. In addition to Kajukenbo she also trains in the arts of Shaolin Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Ba Gua and Xing Yi. She is a licensed acupuncturist and nationally certified herbalist in Traditional Chinese Medicine and practices Zheng Gu Tui Na, Martial Arts Therapeutic Massage and Bonesetting.
Sifu Jen became the Head Instructor of Hand To Hand in 2002 at the request of Professor Coleen Gragen. Since 2008, she has been living in New York, continuing her training in traditional Chinese Medicine and Internal Arts.
Sifu Joyce Mende Wong
Co-Director of Hand to Hand’s Self-Defense Program
In 1993 Sifu Joyce Mende Wong enrolled in a 10-week self-defense class taught by Sifu Coleen Gragen. She began training at Hand to Hand in the next New Beginners’ class. As a white belt she was a member of Hand to Hand’s 1994 Gay Games team in New York where she won a silver medal in sparring. Sifu Joyce received her student black belt promotion from Sifu Coleen in 2001 and currently holds the rank of 2nd degree black belt under Sifu Sonya Richardson and Sifu Jen Resnick. She has participated in Hand to Hand performances, martial arts camps, and Sifu Coleen’s Black Belt Leadership classes. In 2009 Sifu Joyce was certified as a Self-Defense Instructor by the NWMAF (National Women’s Martial Arts Federation) and became a member of the planning committee for NWMAF’s 2009 Self Defense Instructors’ Conference. She is Co-Director of Hand to Hand’s Self-Defense Program. Her work includes administration, curriculum development, mentoring students, as well as teaching self-defense classes and workshops at Hand to Hand and in various community settings. Sifu Joyce is a Hand to Hand Board Member and also practices yoga, studies tai chi with Sifu Michelle Dwyer, and trains in Modern Arnis with Sifu Ann Killeen.
Sifu Christine Schoefer
Co-Director of Hand to Hand’s Self-Defense Program
Sifu Christine Schoefer first walked through the door of Hand to Hand in 1993. From the beginning, she has experienced her Kajukenbo training as physical conditioning, mental discipline and spiritual practice. She has participated in Hand to Hand performances, martial arts camps, and Professor Coleen Gragen’s Black Belt Leadership classes. In 2000, she began studying Tai Chi. In the spring of 2002, she was promoted to Student Black Belt by Professor Gragen. She was tested for and received her Black Belt from Sifu Jen Resnick in June, 2006 and was promoted to First Degree Black Belt by Sifus Jen Resnick and Sonya Richardson in May 2007. Raising three daughters has deepened Christine’s interest in self defense; she has taught workshops to different age groups in the Bay Area as well as in Germany and is currently Co-Director of Hand to Hand’s Self-Defense Program.
Sifu Lorraine Mann
Director of New Student Programs
Sifu Lorraine has been a student at Hand to Hand since 2000. She received her black belt from Head Instructors Sonya Richardson and Jen Resnick in April 2008. A classroom teacher by profession and an avid dancer, she has discovered a love and talent for teaching physical movement to adults. She draws on her extensive knowledge of brain development and learning styles in designing and teaching martial arts classes that are engaging and challenging. She has developed a curriculum for the New Beginners series and enjoys teaching students at all levels. Sifu Lorraine can frequently be seen performing with her Hand to Hand sisters and brothers at martial arts and other community events. As part of her quest to develop a well-rounded physical and internal practice, she has also acquired a working knowledge of Chinese sports
medicine and massage, and she practices Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
Sifu Cynthia DeCastro
In the summer of 1998, CynthiaI enrolled in Hand to Hand’s 10 week self defense class, andin September of the same year she started the new beginner’s class under Sifu Jen Resnick. Sifu Cynthia received her black belt in March of 2009 from Head Instructors Sifu Sonya Richardson and Sifu Jen Resnick. Sifu Cynthia has participated in many Hand to Hand performances, as well as attended annual martial arts training camps where she continued to explore her power and centeredness. As a result, she began exploring her training in the Internal Arts ( Taichi, QiGong and meditation).
"I find that the Internal Arts training compliments my Kajukenbo training by creating a well rounded balance between internal and external energies. I love teaching and find it a challenge to come up with ideas to keep the practice new and fresh. I continue to explore the balance of mind, body and spirit through my training and hope to share my experience and knowledge through teaching."