ID: Binh Quoc Nguyen

Last modified: Thursday, April 24, 2014

Binh Quoc Nguyen, a martial artist, was born in Vietnam and came to the United States at age 5. He lived in West Springfield until moving to Amherst at 19 to attend the University of Massachusetts, and has lived in Amherst since.

He started his martial arts training in 1997 when he learned aikido. He earned his black belt in kung fu in 2002 and his black belt in wushu, a form of Chinese martial arts, in 2010. Binh is trained in contemporary wushu as well as several styles of traditional kung fu: Shaolin kung fu, Wah Lum kung fu and Choy Li Fut kung fu.

Throughout his career, Binh has earned medals for his skill and expertise, including first-place wins in national and international kung fu and wushu tournaments. He says his mission is to spread the arts of traditional kung fu and wushu, and to help his students become strong, wise and kind leaders in their communities.

Full name: Binh Quoc Nguyen

People know you as: Binh or Sifu

Date and place of birth: July 23, 1984, in Vietnam

Address: Amherst

Job: Kung fu and wushu instructor and founder of The Chinese Kung Fu Wushu Academy in Hadley

Education: Bachelor’s degree in resource economics from UMass, 2009

Pets: Five fish, two turtles

Hobbies: Fishing, kung fu, wushu, working on cars, gadgets

Book you’d recommend to a friend: “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl. It was one of my favorites growing up. Finding a golden ticket to the Wonka factory is like finding a golden opportunity in life. To me that golden opportunity was coming to America and opening my kung fu school. It gave me a new beginning in life

Favorite movie/TV show/singer: Movie — “Ip Man”; TV — “Lizard Lick’s Towing”; singer — Jason Chen

Five items you can’t live without: iPhone, fishing pole, kung fu weapons, pickles and water

Last thing you purchased just for fun: Fishing hooks. I love fishing and can’t wait for spring and summer, when it won’t be so cold out

What’s at the top of your bucket list? Seeing my students win first place at an international competition

Life­ changing experience: Opening my kung fu wushu school. Now that I have students, I have the responsibility to teach them the true meaning of being a martial artist and to help them better themselves and their lives. It is something I must commit myself to for the rest of my life

Strangest job you ever held: Selling kitchen knives for Cutco. I had to demonstrate the knives at people’s homes. It was a summer job and I did not last very long

A little-known fact about you: I am 5 feet, 4 inches tall

Dumbest thing you ever did: Roller skate down a hill of a busy intersection with no helmet or pads. I was a pretty good roller blader — I used to be able to do a back flip skating backward. But I seriously could have been killed going down the hill of a major road

One trend you’d like to see return: Lower gas prices

What really sets you off? Bullying

If you could spend the day with a celebrity from any time in history, who would it be? Jackie Chan!

Best and worst advice you ever got: Worst advice: “Don’t do it, you will fail.” Best advice: “Go for it, you will never know until you try”

Favorite place to get a bite: Debbie Wong in West Springfield, for their chicken wings

Favorite athlete: Scottie Pippen of the Chicago Bulls. He is a great athlete and a total team player. A great role model for me growing up

What does your ideal weekend look like? Fishing on a lake or off a beach in the ocean

One thing you would change about yourself: Nothing

What gives you the creeps? Snakes ... just plain creepy

People who knew you in high school thought you were: Not sure, to tell you the truth. Friends did predict that I would own a kung fu school

Whom do you most admire? My father. He is a strong, caring, great man whom everyone respected for his good deeds to his family, friends and community

Parting shot: In life we must always try to better ourselves, we should never let others destroy our dreams and we should always do what we love to do no matter what. Life is too short to ever be thinking “what if”

— Compiled by Brenda Nelson

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