Since she was 5, Pham has practiced martial arts at The Dragon House Gym in Orange. The 16-year-old recently got her second-degree black belt in self-defense and tries to live by the words inscribed on the belt: respect, loyalty, responsibility, and truth. Now the Villa Park High School senior instructs kids ages 4 to 14 in the gym’s Young Samurai Martial Arts Club. Their training focuses on respect and basic self-defense, and they sometimes use toy light sabers or play ninja dodge ball.
What appeals to you about martial arts?
I used to hate it, but it grew on me. I love practicing with my friends and showing off, like “I can do karate!” and it’s not a joke. I’m proud of that.
Do you like teaching young children?
I love it. I’ve always wanted little kids to look up to me, and I feel like they do.
What do the kids learn?
It’s hard to teach technical stuff, because they don’t retain it, but we have a routine. Warm-ups, line drills, stretches, punches, and kick defenses. We do meditation before and after, to keep them relaxed and ready to go.
Is martial arts harder than it looks?
I think easier, like monkey see, monkey do. You see it, you replicate it, and you practice it, and then you get good at it.
What do you want to get good at next?
I really want to try boxing with my friends. They all want to see me fight.
Check it out! The Dragon House Gym, 7626 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, 714-516-0972, tdhgym.com