Letters/Memories of Simo

       As the Open House event approaches, our thoughts are drawn to Simo Helen as she was such an integral part of the Open House as well as the Academy. We have been members of the Academy for ten years and have watched our children grow up here. We enrolled our children as a way of introducing them to part of the Chinese culture.
       Along with you (Sifu), Simo helped teach our children kung fu, wushu and tai chi. At the same time, they have been taught life lessons to help them succeed beyond martial arts. We personally feel that one of the most important lessons she has taught our children is to not settle for mediocrity. As the children were assessed in different forms for performances, sometimes they were “cut.” Oftentimes, in that situation, the children were disappointed at not having the opportunity to perform. However, they learned that they should not automatically expect inclusion, but must work hard and earn the opportunity to perform by putting forth their best efforts. They have learned that they are expected to persevere and strive for excellence in all their endeavors.
       Traditionally, Open House has always been held on the first Sunday in May, one week before Mother’s Day. This year, Open House will be on Mother’s Day. Whether this was planned or things just fell into place this way, I believe it is fitting to honor Simo on this day. She was like a mother to our children. It has been a privilege to have had her guidance all these years. Helen is and will continue to be dearly missed but will always be with us and our children in the values she has instilled in them.

– Lisa and David

       We each started kung fu around 12 years ago and, over that time, Simo became much more than just the Sifu’s wife. She became like a second mother to us.
       As Reggie Jackson would say, Simo was ‘the straw that stirred the drink.’ For every martial arts performance that we did, she was the unsung hero behind it. While we performed and got the cheers and praise, it was Simo who was contacting people, and putting music together, and organizing rides and making sure that we were prepared. No matter how many time we dropped our weapons, or how many times our pants fell down, or how many times we walked off the stage in the wrong direction, she was always there to say that we did a great job. She was undoubtedly our biggest supporter and #1 fan.
       Even away from kung fu, she treated each of us like her own sons. Every time we went over to her house, she would always make food for us, no matter how empty the fridge ended up when we left. For every birthday, wedding, tournament, performance, Fourth of July, Halloween, Christmas, and New Years, Simo was always there to celebrate with us.
       In the last few years, Simo always said that we had grown into such strong young men, but it is because of her that we are. She taught us to always be confident and to keep our heads up. She taught us to work together and to rely on each other. She taught us to be responsible, to be leaders and role models for the younger kids. Most importantly though, Simo taught us appreciation – to appreciate our culture and heritage, our family, our friendships, and all of the memories we’ve had together.
       We love you, Simo. Thank you for everything.

– Bryan, Chris, and Ryan

       Leadership is the word that comes to mind when I think about Simo. What I remember most, when going through the process of learning the tai chi kung fu fan from Simo, was her leadership. She was able to teach me so many new techniques, and not only did she teach me the fan, but she taught me the importance of leadership. Simo was able to guide us in the right direction, and her leadership definitely rubbed off on me. Before I even learned fan, I don’t think I ever took kung fu quite as serious, but once Simo introduced the tai chi kung fu fan to me, it was like everything snapped right into place. I strived to learn more, and strived to impress. With her teaching the fan, the form had been included in a large amount of performances, and has been used to compete with. Without her leadership and determination, I wouldn’t have been able to learn fan as well as I did, and I would not be able to be who I am today. My accomplishments, ranging from medals and trophies from the tai chi kung fu fan, are all thanks to her strong leadership and her strong determination.

– Megan

       Simo was more than just a simo. She was like a mother to all the kids up at the academy and a dance instructor. Every Saturday, she helped the dancers when I couldn't, especially when I needed to practice the dance myself or when I was in Chinese School. She pushed the dancers as hard as any professional dance teacher could and chose our best dances to perform. I guess I took this for granted and expected her to always be there when I needed her. When we practice our Jai Ho dance, I know Nicole and I put this dance together because Simo wanted us to. Dancing this dance and all of the other dances reminds me of Simo herself since she has touched each and every one of them. Because of Simo, I've become a more confident dancer and a better dance coach. We have really relied on Simo's help a lot, especially in keeping the brown belts in line during red belt classes and putting the performances together. Simo will be greatly missed and the academy won't ever really be the same.

– Melanie

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