We had the good fortune of connecting with Derrick Wright and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Derrick, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
My favorite quote or affirmation is, “martial arts is not just a hobby it’s a lifestyle.” I like this quote because it continously reminds me that martial arts is different from other sports or activities such as soccer, basketball, football or hockey. Not that anything is wrong with those sports. But to me, traditional martial arts can help you in every aspect of your life. Whether its mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually. I’ve been practicing martial arts now for more than 30 years and teaching for approximately 25 years and one thing that has always been with me and has been consistent is martial arts. My martial arts training has helped me in different aspects in my everyday life at home, work, and school. I like the quote because most people look at martial arts as a hobby, sport or activity. Most people that practice martial arts never get past the surface. But those of us that are committed to trying to understand the deeper meaning of our martial arts training are able to develop more insight and are able to see how it correlates with everything we do.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I learn, practice and teach Northern Shaolin Seven Star Mantis Style. It is a traditional Chinese martial arts system that was developed just under 400 years ago in Northern China during the late Tang or early Ming Dynasty. Mantis Kung Fu is an ecclectic traditional Chinese martial art system. The hand techniques are based on the hooking movements of the praying mantis, the alien like insect. They are useful for defense, offense and are very tricky and elusive. It also contains elusive footwork based on the characteristics of the monkey. Which is essential for advancing & retreating, kicking, throwing and, tripping. I started teaching in 1997, Initially, I started classes in North Hollywood Park in North Hollywood, CA. Eventually I rented space from NOHO Gym and the MKM Cultural Arts Center so that I would have a place to teach and train during the rainy season. It all started In November 2002. One day after class my students and I were eating breakfast at a popular Cafe in North Hollywood. As we were leaving we saw this empty space located in the same plaza. I knew that this was the place. I had about 20 students at that time and with a leap of faith, I used all the financial resources I had, with a little help from my students we opened Wrights Kung Fu. Wrights Kung Fu Inc is a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching and promoting traditional Chinese martial arts, Taiji, Qigong with a modern day approach. Our goal is to help you accomplish yours. Over the last 23 years there has been a lot of changes; different names and locations, many old and new faces, and changes in the economy. Since then I think we have had three recessions. Actually, when I first opened my school we were in a small recession. Then we were affected by the big recession during 2008 Now, we are all faced with COVID-19. In order to overcome life challenges we have to be mentally and emotionally strong and spiritually sound. It also helps to do something that you really have a passion for and that you are going to do regardless of the success. I told my students a long time ago, “I will be doing Kung Fu whether you do it or not.” In my opinion, this is a very strong statement. This has to be our attitude with anything we do in life. Some lessons that I’ve learned along the way are, 1. always listen to you and belief in yourself. I usually experience unnecessary difficulities when I doubt myself or think others know what’s best for me, they don’t. 2. Find yourself a mentor. Someone that you trust and respect, and you trust and respect them. 3 Like my mother used to always say, “Don’t take no wooden nickels!”
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
some of my favorite spots in the city would be the Observatory at Griffith Park. I would definitely take them there so they could see the view of LA and the Hollywood sign. I would take them to eat at Versailles the famous Cuban restaurant. There is nothing like the half chicken with garlic and onions. A visit to downtown is a must to visit the Staple Center and LA Live. Its very alive down there. Walking up and down Hollywood Blvd is a must. Looking at all the stars on the sidewalk with all the famous names and then a stop at the old Chinese Theatre would be fun. Maybe even see a movie there or take a tour. Shopping at The Grove is always fun. Watching a live concert there or grabbing a bite to eat at one of the restaurants in the farmers market there. If you visit LA you have to spend time visiting the beaches. Whether is the iconic Venice Beach, Manhatten, Redondo, Santa Monica, Malibu or further south. A day trip to Catalina Island is always nice Another good day trip is San Diego Having lunch and spending the day at Paradise Cove Being in LA is all about diversity so check out West Hollywood, take your LGBTQ friends to the famous Abbey for cocktails LA is all about Mexican culture so trying to find good authentic Mexican food and Margaret’s or a good Mexican beer shouldnt be too hard. You can always start at Coyotes
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I don’t believe that there is just one single person that I can credit to. I believe that many people influences us in our lives along the way to get us to where we want to or need to be. And of course, these can be parents & family members, friends, teachers, supervisors, coworkers, clients etc. I believe what has inspired me the most is having the courage to shed things that I have been taught that didn’t align with me discovering my own truths and spiritual beliefs. I have to give credit to my mother. She was the most consistent person in my life that showed me unconditional love and was always there for me. She would always say to me, “Derrick, don’t take no wooden nickels.” Unfortunately, we lost her to mestatic breast cancer July 2018. Other people that has been influential in my life has been my past martial arts instructors; the late Normand Burland, Kenneth Edwards, Dr. John Cheng, and my current instructor, Grandmaster Lee Kam Wing. They have all contributed to my growth as a human being, martial artist, and teacher in their own unique way.