With 20 years teaching experience in various educational settings (preschool, elementary and middle school, special needs, and ESL) combined with a strong background in competitive sports, both Sonny and Maya offer a unique insight in the practice of the movements arts. At Sequoia Kung Fu & Yoga, because of this experience, Sonny and Maya approach teaching with the same question constantly in mind:
How can I maximize and enhance my students' understanding and learning?
With focus centering on the student and their practice, Sonny and Maya take great care in getting to know their students and their specific needs. Planning and preparation of instruction become a daily response to accommodate the ever-changing needs of their students as they progress and identify their strengths and weaknesses. With an emphasis on guiding principles and foundation, Sonny and Maya place higher value on integrity and a better understanding of the subtleties of one's practice. Advancement comes with a deeper understanding of the self rather than just working toward advanced poses and movements.
Because of their background in both education and athletics, Sonny and Maya understand the consistency and dedication required, not just of themselves as teachers, but also for their students to truly benefit from a regular practice of martial arts and yoga. Effectively breaking down postures, movements, and concepts into consumable parts, Sonny and Maya make their students feel safe and more confident. Practice is more accessible to everyone, yet still challenging for the individual. Creating a non-competitive environment that encourages a community of individuals to support one another enhances the experience and need for practice.
Born and raised and graduating in the same class at Redwood High in Visalia, CA, Sonny and Maya did not cross paths until they connected at their 10-year reunion. Since graduating high school, Sonny had played collegiate basketball as well as worked in behavioral therapy for students with special needs. As his old email moniker, tai chi bum, would suggest, his love of martial arts and travel inspired him to move abroad to deepen his understanding of kung fu. For Maya, life seemed rooted in academia. After studying, coincidentally enough, behavioral therapy for students with special needs, Maya began working on her master's degree in deaf education. By the time she had met Sonny, Maya was craving a big change and new challenges for her life.
For both of them, the road led to Beijing, China. In 2007, Sonny and Maya moved to the huge, highly populated, bustling city, which in more ways than one, was thousands of miles away from home. During the day they worked as teachers in a private school for Chinese students. During the evenings, they dedicated hours to their respective disciplines; Sonny trained kung fu and Maya practiced yoga. Then somewhere along their 8-year acclimation into a city, culture, and language they would grow to love, the idea for their school, Sequoia Kung Fu & Yoga, was born.