Charles Gracie Jiu-jitsu


Cristiano Xavier in his gi, the two-piece white garment, walks around on the grey-and-blue mat and oversees people’s action.

Denis Dasilva lies on his back while a guy sits on top of him. He pulls the guy close to him, and tries to sneak his left hand between their bodies to complete a choke technique, but he fails.

“Move your hip,” says loudly Xavier, a 6-year trainer with a black belt at Charles Gracie Academy. He has been participating Brazilian Jiu-jitsu for 16 years.

The technique, that Dasilva failed to apply, is using one of your hand, over your competitor’s shoulder to his back, to hold him down and close to you tightly, while the other hand pulling out his gi from the front and move it around his back to the other side, so your hand, which is above his shoulder on his back, can grab it and pull, turning his gi to a straitjacket.

Next step is to step on the mat and slightly move your hip to create a better position for your free hand sneak in between two bodies and reach to your hand that pulling his gi above his shoulder, so you can pull the gi harder by both hands and choke him.

At Charles Gracie Jiu-jitsu Academy located at 603 Taraval St in San Francisco, kids, as young as 4 years old, and adults practice Brazilian Jiu-jitsu together. Males and females are locking each other tight on mat, sweat and, sometimes, bleed together.

Joseph Asaro, a trainer with brown belt, said Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is becoming a popular sport.

“Within last three years, the Charles Gracie opened three academies in the bay area,” Asaro said. “The newest one was opened last month in Pacifica, the eighth one in California.”

The Charles Gracie has two more academies in Nevada, and 15 affiliated academies, one of them is located in Kona, Hawaii.

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, also known as BJJ, is a booming martial art in the United States, thanks to the popularity of MMA and UFC. Jiu-jitsu itself is Portuguese spelling of Judo, a Japanese term that means the way or technique of being flexible and soft, Xavier said.

“After World War II, Mitsuyo Maeda settled in Brazil, and he opened a Judo academy in Brazil,” Xavier said.

Carlos and Helio Gracie, the founders of BJJ, taught by Maeda and devoted to the martial art, but their body builds were not as strong as Maeda, so they modified techniques based on the Japanese Judo and created BJJ.

Judo discarded locking and chocking techniques that it once had included, for they are illegal in competition, but BJJ is focused on those discarded techniques.

“It’s the way to fight a guy much bigger than you,” Xavier said.


The Dead Wandering

Two rocket scientists, James Furfaro and Keith O’Dell, are commuting to their work at ATK systems. Furfaro is the driver of a 1999 blue Saturn sedan, which they are sitting in.

When they reach to Valley View Drive in Tremonton, Utah, Furfaro collides into a Chevy Tahoe that is going to the opposite direction, and the Saturn swerves and gets T-boned by a 5-ton Ford F-250, which is following the Tahoe..

Reggie Shaw is driver of the Chevy Tahoe. He climbs out from his car and dials 911, but his call doesn’t go through.

At the same time, John Kaiserman, the driver of the F-250, has successfully reached to a dispatcher for help. However, both Furfaro and O’Dell are already dead at the scene.

It was Sept. 22, 2006. The moment people began to realize their brains are distracted by overwhelming technology devices. However, with no sufficient laws to restrict people who behind the wheel from doing it.

Matt Richtel, in his book A Deadly Wandering, focused on this particular accident to reveal the connection amid sciences, technology, attention, and distraction.

Richtel interviewed numerous doctors from neurosciences, for how human’s brain react to overwhelming information that provided by smartphone of today.

Some of the doctors and researchers classified the irresistible compulsion to reply a text as an addiction similar to gambling addiction, because both action would fulfill human’s dopamine-shot-seeking.

While they were arguing that whether or not it is an addiction, the grieved family of Furfaro and O’Dell were trying to move on.

Terryl Warner met Jackie Furfaro, James Furfaro’s wife, through her daughter’s gymnastic class. Warner was working at attorney office. She is a person who believed in justice and never back down for anything.

Warner persuaded Don Linton, the chief deputy county attorney, to take the case of the accident that took away two scientists’ lives.

Meanwhile, Neither Utah State Trooper Bart Rindlisbacher nor Utah State Bureau of Investigation Scott Singleton agent did give up the case.

Rindlisbacher pursue the true cause of the accident, for he did not believe Shaw’s statement that his Tahoe was hydroplaned. When he took Shaw to hospital, he noticed Shaw skillfully sending text message on his smartphone by one hand, such action caught Rindlisbacher’s attention.

The only witness, Kaiserman, said Shaw swerved over to the other side of the road couple times before the accident. Rindlisbacher had been questioning himself that was Shaw on the phone when the the accident occurred?

Rindlisbacher and Singleton tried everything to prove Shaw was distracted by sending text message, including a court order to gather Shaw’s phone bill statement from the service provider, breaching in the sacred and inviolable privacy that valued by most of the Americans.

Shaw, in the court, denied he was on the phone when the vehicles collided. However, he confessed later in a Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee meeting. He admitted that he was sending a text, swerved to the other lane and crashed on to James Furfaro’s Saturn. He begged forgiveness from Furfaro and O’Dell family. His confession changed the committee’s decision on banning sending text message on phone while driving.

Judge Willmore sentenced Shaw to jail for 30 days, 200 hours of community service, including 150 hours speaking to local schools about distracted driving, continuing to work with legislators to push banning on using phone while driving, and to read Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

“which talks about a man who has done a terrible wrong and makes it right again,” Judge Willmore said.

Durian from Stockton Street.


If Grant Avenue is for tourist to shop, Stockton Street is for the people from local to shop. When I was attending City College of San Francisco, One of my classmate,who is a French, lived in North Beach, and she told me she would go to Stockton Street for produces. She said that she wanted to purchase meat, too, but buying meat she has to communicate with butchers, she and those butchers were not speak English good enough to communicate. She was amazed that Chinatown had many exotic produces from different nations. I remembered, one day she showed me a picture from her phone, and asked whether or not I know what it was.

It was a picture of durian, a famous fruit from Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

Dec. 17, 2014 Chinatown

Dec. 17, 2014 Chinatown

I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw the picture on her phone, not because it was the first time I saw a Caucasian bought a durian. I could tell she had no idea what it was from her confused face. However, she bought it home anyway. Durian sized like a volleyball, and, as the picture shows, it is very unfriendly because of its spiky hard shell. When I bought it from a produces market, I used to tell cashier to wrap it with numerous layers of newspapers. When I said unfriendly, I meant it. Apple, for example, is a friendly fruit because there are people who like it, who dislike it, and who are OK with it. However, for durian, there are only two groups- people who are addicted to it, and people who extremely hate it. When people say they hate it, they can’t even stand close to a durian because of its smell. Also, durian is required some skills and tool to open it. I laughed at her because I know she was carrying a heavy, large size, smelly, and spiky fruit home but she didn’t know what to do with it.

Opened durian

Opened durian

I helped her to open the durian because she offered to share with me and I am one of those people who are crazy about durian. Moreover, it is expensive to buy one in the U.S since it is perishable, especially those from Chinatown are not frozen.

she liked it, and she bought one again when her parents came to San Francisco. however, they hated it.

Videos you should see before buying your first durian.

They hate it.

She loves it.

how to Open a durian

Jawbreaking sugarcane. We used to chew it for the sweet juice.

Jawbreaking sugarcane. We used to chew it for the sweet juice.

Sam Wo

A friend had moved to overseas for almost three years and finally returned to San Francisco. We decided to meet at Chinatown for our reunion.

While I was driving to there, he called me and said, “Sam Wo is closed for good?”

“Yes, it was closed in 2012. I was there on its last night.”

Dec. 15, 2014

Dec. 15, 2014

He suspired as if a kid realized Disneyland is closed at the front gate.

During our lunch, we couldn’t stop talking about Sam Wo. We had totally forgotten that we had not seen each other for almost three years.

April 20, 2012. Sam Wo second floor.

April 20, 2012.
Sam Wo second floor.

Sam Wo Restaurant was located at 813 Washington St. It had been in business over a century. Because of its building is too narrow, the entire ground floor was the kitchen, so customers had to pass the kitchen before to be seated on second or third floor. Because the kitchen was on the ground floor, and the stair was too steep, all the food and dishes were delivered from the kitchen to second floor and third floor by a dumbwaiter.

Since its business hour was from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m., it was a popular place to din after clubbing. It was usual to see people smoking on the third floor at mid-night. Therefore, it attracted many violence to the restaurant.

Sam Wo is famous of its business attitude. Edsel Ford Fong worked for San Wo and described as the world’s rudest waiter by Herb Caen, a columnist.

This note might give you a little bit of its business attitude.

This note might give you a little bit of its business attitude.

The restaurant was closed on April 20, 2012, for health department and fire department violations. On the last night, three of my friends and I waited 4 hours, although half of the dishes on the menu were already sold out, I was happy that I was there on Sam Wo’s last night.

April 20, 2014. 11 p.m.

April 20, 2014.
11 p.m.

When we finished and left the restaurant, people who were still waiting in line clapped for they are one step closer to their goal, to be seated. Clearly, they knew that Sam Wo had nothing left to serve.

Rumors have been circulating in the community that Sam Wo is seeking a new place. However, the latest updates from its official website was more than a year ago.

Our last meal at Sam Wo.

Our last meal at Sam Wo.

A short documentary of Sam Wo by Rick Quan

Conan O’Brien was at Sam Wo

Remember Sam Wo

Sam Wo’s official website


Celebrities in Chinatown

When my Chinatown guide and I were on Grant Avenue, on our way to interview a business, we saw a guy excitedly hoping on the street. I recognized the tattoo on his neck. He is Mc Jin, an Asian American rapper.


“Is that Lap-Chang (name of the character he played in a Hong Kong drama)?” I asked my guide in Cantonese.

“I don’t know.” She replied in Cantonese.

Mc Jin heard that I said his nickname, so he stretched his hand out for a hand shake when he walked past us.

I was so nervous that I held his hand firmly with both of my hands, and didn’t let go of his hand. I held his hand for more than 10 seconds, asking him for a group picture and ignoring what he replied.

Then I realized a cameraman was right next to him filming us. I was sure that I made a fool out of myself, and hoped that I won’t be on the video. I let go of his hand, took few pictures of him, and moved on to my interview.

However, few steps away, there was a guy with a shirt you couldn’t miss standing at the corner. That guy was the Linsanity-Jeremy Lin.

“Is that J-Lin?” I asked my guide again, in Cantonese.

“What Lin?” she confused and replied in Cantonese.

As Lin heard his own name from us, he tried to turn around and avoid eye contact.

“It is him, J-Lin.” I said.

He was nice for letting us take a group picture with him as we requested.

I was so excited that I raised my camera without any other thoughts.

“Don’t you want to be in the picture?” Lin said.

“Oh, yes.” I said, and dropped my DSLR camera on my guide, thinking it was my luckiest day ever.

However, my guide didn’t know how to operate a DSLR camera. We tried three times, and it was still unsuccessful to take a picture.

At that moment, they finished the filming and were about to leave, my guide pulled out her IPhone and snapped this picture.

Finally I had a picture with Lin, Mc Jin, and myself in it. Not bad, but it could be a much better picture if my guide had known how to operate a DSLR camera.


Look at his shirt.

To set the boundary of San Francisco Chinatown, “traditionally,” Police Officer Mike Amoroso says, “it is from Columbus Avenue to Stockton Street and from Green Street to Bush Street.”

police copy

Officer Amoroso has been in the police force for 15 years, and has been stationed at Central Police Station located at 766 Vallejo Street for three years. When he is asked about difficulties from patrolling the area, such as linguistic or cultural differences, he says there is always a language barrier, but it is the phenomenon of San Francisco because of the diversity. “I have the same problem when I go to Italy town,” he adds.


Chinatown is crowded as it always is. People, including residents, tourists, and workers, are busy as if they are hurried on their way. I try to talk to merchandisers and workers of restaurants, but they will never stop working. After the waitress took my order at a restaurant on Washington Street, she turns around immediately, leaving no chance for me to gossip with her. Choosing oranges from a produce market on Stockton Street, I begin a conversation in Cantonese with one of the workers who stands right next to me, but once his instinct tells him that I have no business with their produces, he quickly turns around and shouts to the street in Cantonese “nice orange.” You could hear his voice from one block away, in the crowded, noisy Chinatown.

On Grant Avenue, there are numerous tourists. Chiu, Wu, and Tam perform music with Chinese classical music instruments at the corner of Grant Avenue and Commercial Street. “We perform here four days a week, three to four hours a day,” Wu says, holding a San-Yun, a guitar-liked music instrument that has three strings, in his hand.


Holding an Erhu, a music instrument that plays with a bow, similar to the violin, Chiu adds, “There is another group of people would play at this spot on the other three days, we take turn.” None of them are residents of Chinatown, but they say Chinatown is indispensable to their lives in the U.S.


Aubrey Johnson, moved into the neighborhood two months ago after employed by Facebook, lives in an apartment on Pacific Avenue. He says the neighborhood is nice since he can almost get everything within a walking distance. however, he is moving out next week because he dislikes walking uphill. “I have to walk couple blocks uphill to catch the shuttle. Sometimes, I will take a Uber for only few blocks.” Johnson says.


There are many constructions going on in Chinatown. One of them is on Stockton Street and between Washington and Clay Street for the Central Subway Chinatown Station.

The other construction site is at 835 Jackson Street, replacing a 88-year-old medical building with a new one that costs more than $100 million.

“They (contractors) demolished an old building of our hospital, and they are building a new one,” Fong Wong, a nursing assistant at Chinese Hospital, says, “I hope the construction could be done as soon as possible. Some of our patients have been complaining about the noise since the construction site is right next to the building where the patients are.”

The other construction is at Portsmouth Square Plaza for a restroom improvement project. Therefore, only temporary portable toilets are available. The sanitation of those toilets is unforgiving. Two tourists open and check every single one of temporary portable toilets.“It is ridiculous”, Justin, one of the tourists, says, and they decide to try their luck somewhere else.