Steve Ihde opening Kung Fu Underground Saturday

San Ley Sheng blocks a punch from her instructor Steven Ihde who is the proud owner of a new Kung Fu studio in town called Kung Fu Underground. Kung Fu Underground opens this Saturday at 11:00am and offers deals for CSU students.
San Ley Sheng blocks a punch from her instructor Steven Ihde who is the proud owner of a new Kung Fu studio in town called Kung Fu Underground. Kung Fu Underground opens this Saturday at 11:00am and offers deals for CSU students.

To the right of Snarf’s, through the doors and down some stairs, there’s a newly renovated unit with recently painted walls hung with large mirrors. If you come at the right time, there are people throwing each other onto the freshly laid, thickly padded carpet.

Steve Ihde, a graduate student in mathematics at CSU and a seventh degree black belt in Kung Fu San Soo (pronounced like “sand” without the D) will be opening a new school for kung fu this Saturday. The event will feature a DJ, free T-shirts and demonstrations in combat and weapons. There will also be a demonstration specifically for children.

“I teach all levels, from six-year-olds to adults. The event appeals to everybody, there’s stuff for everyone,” said Ihde. “There’s kid demonstrations, and there’s more serious adult stuff.”

Ihde has taught Kung Fu before; he was initially trained under, and eventually took over for, Drew Bankston, who in turn taught at a school formerly owned by Rod Conahan of Conahan’s Driving School. He has trained in Kung Fu for 14 years and taught for 10 of them.

After teaching at the old school for a while, the economy took a downturn — remember that? — and between the recession and grad school, the school became unsustainable. After a few years of grad school, Idhe is ready to start up again.

You might expect the owner and teacher of the school to be above getting thrown around by his students, but that’s not the case with Ihde. “I get in there and work the same as anyone,” he explained. “Actually, at a higher level, I’m better equipped to get thrown … and less likely to get hurt.”

He explained that he typically had students try a throw before being thrown, to allow them to see what was happening and why.

“Your first instinct if you fall is to — ” Idhe fell backwards stiffly, throwing his arms behind him.

He explained that, “At a higher rank, I’m actually less likely to get hurt being thrown.”

“You need a different psychology. We’re very different from Karate, Taekwondo, Judo, MMA. The way we train, the very first day you’re doing real, applicable moves,” said Idhe. “There are very specific rules in other sports, but there are no rules in the street. If you get in a street fight, you’re not going to say ‘You can’t hit me in the groin, that’s against the rules.’”

“But,” he went on, “you only use it if you really need it. What we teach is absolutely deadly.”

“I’m definitely more confident now, especially being a woman I feel I can defend (myself),” one of Idhe’s students, black belt San Ley Sheng, said. “It’s definitely very empowering for a person to study.”

Another student, green belt Roshan Joseph, said, “There’s always the risk of injury, but in all the time I’ve been there I haven’t seen an injury. That concern is utterly dispelled; we look after our workout partners.”

Joseph also encouraged research into the topic of San Soo Kung Fu, which has a fascinating history.

The school will be $80 a month for adults, or $275 for five months for CSU students.