POSTED: Jan 10, 2009
I met Brent at an open sparring session, I was fast, had 15 years of training in a variety of styles, and usually did very well. Sparring Brent was a different experience than the "usual", he actually beat me mentally. Normally when I spar I can gauge my opponents mental state pretty well, angry, frustrated, scared, but Brent was unreadable. I can make people react by leaving openings, making them angry, or scaring them, nothing worked on Brent, it was like he was not at home. My normal strategies were not working and so I started to gas out, get really tired. The second Brent saw me weaken, he switched on the controlled aggression and wailed on me hard for the rest of the round. I have been training and eventually teaching at EBM ever since then. What a challenge and an honor it has been.
Adam Caldwell

POSTED: Jan 8, 2009
After searching in the Bay Area for a suitable kung fu teacher for several years, I finally came across EBM Kung Fu Academy last year. Brent is one of the best instructors I have ever met; he is patient, extremely knowledgeable, and a great motivator. His class structure is extremely well balanced, and students are exposed to many different styles of kung fu for both external and internal training. While other schools I have visited tend to focus solely on one style, EBM provides a well rounded approach that cross trains its students in several different styles of kung fu, whether it be northern shaolin, sanshou, shuai jiao, or tai chi. This approach reflects the experience and background of Brent himself, who is extremely knowledgeable in multiple martial arts. I could not think of a better teacher in the Bay Area regardless of your martial arts background. If you are thinking about coming to try out a class at EBM, just do it; I promise you won't be disappointed.
Ronald Chang

POSTED: Jan 7, 2009
I have been training at EBM for four years, and can't imagine my life without it. There are so many things I love about this school that it's hard to list them all. One of the best things is the variety of the curriculum. Regular classes include instruction in kung fu, tai chi, wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, and sparring. Students aren't required to do all of these types of classes, but doing them all will really develop a student into a well-rounded martial artist. I have visited other schools to train, and the instructors there are always impressed at my knowledge of proper form and technique in a variety of styles, all of which I learned at EBM. I also love that the school is really bare-bones-- no loud music, no gym equipment, wrestling mats are pulled out by the students at the beginning of classes and stacked away at the end. EBM is clearly a labor of love more than a business. The best thing about the school is the attitude of the students and instructor. Brent sets a great example of how to be focused and respectful and also how to work really really hard while still being lighthearted and compassionate. Students follow his lead; everyone is friendly, respectful, and willing to help their fellow students. This makes EBM a great place to grow as a person as well as a martial artist.
Karin Spirn

POSTED: Jan 6, 2009
One must first note that EBM is a nonprofit organization, with the emphasis on solid training rather than the marketing of belts and ranks. The vibe is informal, no bowing or uniforms, just serious attention to learning the art. Brent, the head instructor, is that rare combination of master of the art, and a talented teacher. Furthermore, it is rare to find this combination of classical chinese martial arts alongside full contact kickboxing. The beginner will have a wide range of possible directions to explore, while the more experienced martial artist can find new and interesting things to learn. Definitely worth checking out.
Tyler Ross
Software Engineer

POSTED: Jan 5, 2009
EBM has been a part of my life for over 15 years and will continue to be so for as long as Brent keeps the doors open. I have trained in other schools, but have never found a more solid curriculum or more dedicated instructor.
Russell Middleton

POSTED: Jan 1, 2009
EBM has done an excellent job of developing a flexible curriculum that allows true beginners to train alongside longtime students. In a situation like this, both sides benefit. The true beginners can learn from the examples of the longtime students, and so speed up their progress, while the longtime students can draw on the energy of hungry, open minds. It is an ideal arrangement.
Brian Madigan

POSTED: Dec 30, 2008
Maybe it was the need to update an antiquated fighting style not suited for modern combative sports. Maybe it was the bitter taste of defeat in competition. Both weighed on my mind as I sat disenfranchised in the hot, cramped gymnasium. A steady stream of fighters and their coaches shuttled between a ring at the center and three matted areas spread around the gym. Earlier in the day, my first competitive fight at Born to Fight ended in the second round when I was pushed out of bounds for the third time. Following a loss of the first round my defeat was secured. The primitive mind said return to the cave, tonight you don't eat. Then the rational mind spoke, I don't know the rules of the sport and how judges tally points. I'm not adequately conditioned for combative competition. (At the time I had the conditioning and fitness level of a professional bowler.) I'm not psychologically ready for combat. And does a competitive advantage require a celtic band over my left bicep? As the afternoon wore on I took notice of one team in particular. Stretched out on mats in a far corner of the gym wearing black shorts with SAN SHOU on the front and OAKLAND on the back these guys seemed very relaxed. Disarmingly nonchalant for the impending combat one might say. In the last round of the final lightweight bracket fight, a Oakland fighter sustained a front kick to the head. His opponent landed a very unorthodox foot strike that drove deep into his right cheek just below the eye. Moments later a black welt visible from spectators seating area appeared on the fighters face. I could not have been alone to believe the judges might call the fight due to the injury. Or I figured the fighter would concede. Neither happened. Unwavering in composure, the fighter returned to his corner. The third round began. The coach didn't speak begrudgingly to his fighter as other coaches had in other bouts that afternoon. Rather a steady stream of exacting instructions on how to win came from Oakland's corner. Needless to say, the fighter was victorious. A short time later I joined EBM. Over the months that followed, I shed my worst habits, conditioned my body and gained a new arsenal of stand up techniques. One day after a sparring class, Brent handed me a photo copy of the book "Mental Toughness Training". I suspect it was few pages from Brent's playbook that helped win that lightweight bout. I've competed in 6 fights with Brent as my coach. When the body needs conditioning give me Monday nights class. When the technique needs refining give me Sunday class. But when the body's been punished, the mind wavering, and it's the start of the third round give me Brent in my corner.
Michael Higgs

POSTED: Dec 29, 2008
I've spent a lot of time searching for an ideal martial arts class and after my first visit to EBM, I knew I had finally found a perfect match. I was looking for a class that offered rigorous training, focus on strikes, throws, and groundwork, body strengthening, an intelligent approach to fighting, and the opportunity to get in some quality sparring. EBM had all that and much more. The head coach and assistant coaches lend the class a strong sense of integrity, character, teamwork, and camaraderie. I really look forward to each class I attend both for the workout and also to train with great classmates and coaches. Of the places I've trained in martial arts, EBM has by far the most to offer. I consider myself super fortunate to have found this place.
Shawhin Roudbari
Graduate Student, UCB