Join Visit Concord in celebrating the vibrant heritage, culture, and traditions of our Asian-Pacific American community throughout the month of May. Support the great local businesses, artists, and resources throughout our city.
The Martial Arts are cultural traditions that have been around for centuries and the benefits can go far beyond learning how to defend oneself. Students of judo, karate, kung fu, kendo, and others, often experience physical and spiritual development, improved cognitive function, and appreciation for and preservation of cultural heritage as they commit to the practice.
For those interested in finding out more about Martial Arts, here’s a short list of top-rated, Asian-owned, and operated studios in Concord:
1. Concord Kung Fu Academy
Lo Si Evelina Lengyel is the founder of the Concord Kung Fu Academy. She and her son, Sifu Andrew, are the main instructors at the academy. They have been serving the community for over 20 years teaching Kung Fu, Tai Chi, and Lion and Dragon dancing. Concord Kung Fu Academy’s mission is personal development and fitness through martial arts and they prioritize overall health and well-being by focusing on physical and mental development through self-defense instruction. The academy offers group classes as well as customized private lessons. In 2005, Concord Kung Fu Academy was recognized by then Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, for its community involvement.
2. Tomizaki’s Champions Kung Fu Institute
Along with his wife, Steffani, Master Daniel Tomizaki opened Tomizaki’s Champions Kung Fu Institute in 2007. With more than 35 years of experience, Tomizaki offers training for all ages and experience levels, from preschoolers, children, and teens to adults and seniors. He is also the co-founder of the International Traditional Kung Fu Association, along with his partner, Master Marco Serra of Brazil. The Tomizaki’s Champions Kung Fu Institute’s philosophy is to bring out the best in each person. They believe the path to success does not begin and end with awards or trophies, but rather in the ability to achieve personal bests and consistently strive for improvement. They want each and every student to walkout at the end of class feeling empowered.
3. F.I.T. Fitness Innovations & Tae Kwon Do
Master Lonny Louie is a fifth-degree black belt and owner of the FIT school. He has been teaching martial arts for more than 35 years and strongly believes in helping their students achieve their goals and to grow mentally and spiritually as well. The FIT staff and members have created an environment that is inviting, friendly, and respectful. Their instruction caters to children, teens, and adults, with the understanding that each student has their own unique needs and goals. Whether it be Tae Kwon Do, Fitness Kickboxing, or just kicking and punching the Thai pads, FIT wants its members to feel like they have accomplished something after attending their classes. Louie and his wife Leimomi also own a second facility in Martinez.
1. Heather Ihn Martin
Heather Ihn Martin is an adopted Korean American artist who has lived in California for most of her life. You can often find her painting local landscapes, as she loves to explore and capture the beauty of the area. She has a passion for painting directly from life, observing and appreciating colors and movements that a camera just can't capture. She works primarily in oils and gouache on a variety of subject matter from still-lifes, to landscapes and interiors.
2. Emily Ding
Emily Ding is a muralist who gets inspiration from nature, animals, and people's personalities. She painted several murals around the City of Concord. One of her major artworks in the city is entitled "Lead The Way" located at the Brenden Theatre. She uses vivid color gradients and a fluid, painterly manner to bring life to expressive animals and figures in her large-scale art. She strongly connects to natural occurrences and uses storytelling with people and wild animals to convey feelings and experiences.
3. John Nakanishi
John Nakanishi was born in Chicago, Illinois, to newly immigrated Japanese parents. With his dad’s job changes, John grew up in Minnesota and then Connecticut, eventually moving to California as an adult in 1979. John studied at the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, majoring in ceramics with a minor in filmmaking, but as often happens in life, he shifted gears to focus on other academic interests and received a degree in chemical engineering from UC Berkeley. Over the years, he pursued additional interests as a competitive soccer coach and an avid ultra-runner. But after more than 25 years of working in the field of engineering, raising kids, and coaching, he found himself retired with a lot of time on his hands. So John decided to return to his first love: creating art!
John enjoys exploring all media, including metal sculpture, but he works primarily in acrylic paint and ceramics. He receives inspiration for his art from the surrounding natural beauty of California, his Japanese heritage, and his love for the simple act of creating.
Hiromi recorded her solo piano debut Place to Be in 2009, on the eve of her 30th birthday. The album would offer a snapshot of the chapter just ending and the ways in which her experiences and personal growth had shaped her sound over the course of her 20s.
“The sound of a pianist changes with age and with every experience in life,” Hiromi says. “I wanted to set these milestones so that I can see from the outside how I’ve changed and grown.”
She decided then that she would revisit the solo format at least once a decade, building a sonic portrait of her evolution and artistry. Ten years later, the prolific pianist goes it alone once again on her new album Spectrum, an homage to the array of colors that imbue her music. The album Spectrum was produced by Concord Records, a recording label created locally in Concord, California that supports a diverse group of contemporary creators producing important and popular new songs and musical works.
The Japanese American Religious and Cultural Center is a resource for information, interactive activities, and social clubs. Although the current structure has been in place since 1972 its origins date back to 1926 when Issei families sought a community gathering place in Contra Costa County for the growing number of Japanese families settling in the area.
The center offers a space to build relationships, connect with their community, and preserve their native language, and cultural heritage. Today, the JA Club is a bustling Community Center comprised of almost 400 families. Members and their families may participate in any of the affiliated organizations that call the JA Club home.
Japanese American Club
The Japanese American Club (JA Club) is an organization based out of the Japanese American Religious and Cultural Center (JARCC) facility. The Club is home to a number of affiliates, each with a specific interest or focus. Some of the activities they offer are, but are not limited to, Nippongo Gakuen (Japanese language school), Judo, Kendo, Taiko, Youth and Adult Basketball, Ikebana (flower arranging), Buddhist Fellowship, Exercise, and Shinwakai (senior activities). The Diablo Japanese American Club is the local community branch and active JA Club members are free to join any or all of the clubs.
Check out the Concord Library - Contra Costa County Library for books about Asian American heritage, culture, history, important historical figures, characters, and more. The Concord Library has a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books for different reading levels. The library staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and ready to help you dive into your next literary adventure!
The Concord Ambassadors
Concord's Sister City in Kitakami, Japan
Kitakami, Japan Monument
Concord Ambassadors is an all-volunteer organization that maintains the sister city relationship between Kitakami, Japan, and Concord, California, and are dedicated to promoting mutual exchanges in the fields of education, culture, social affairs, and economics. The partnership was founded in October of 1974 as a result of two cable TV executives meeting at a conference and becoming friends. Court Kirkeeng of Concord and Dr. Zenji Katagata of Kitakami persuaded city leaders to approve the Sister City relationship and enlisted the help of other citizens to make the partnership work. Since then, delegation visits led by the Mayor and other city officials, Ambassador members and citizens, occur every five years. The two cities have alternated the official visits over the past 45 years, providing a steady flow of visitors between the two cities who enjoy the opportunities for both "home stay" visits and cultural exchange.
Asian Concord Cuisine
Looking for a wide range of delicious Asian cuisine?
You’re in luck! Concord offers dozens of choices for delicious authentic Asian food of all varieties including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian. From classic favorites to exotic new dishes, Concord is home to some of the best and most abundant Asian dining in the East Bay.