'It needs to stop': Fairfield resident combats rise in anti-Asian acts with new martial arts group

Kervin Yu

Kervin Yu

Contributed Photo / Kervin Yu

FAIRFIELD — Over the past few months, violence, crime and harassment has been targeted towards Asian communities.

The increase in hate crimes have sparked the #StopAsianHate campaign and has brought an enlightenment to the struggles of Asians.

However, for many people like Fairfield resident and martial arts instructor, Kervin Yu, the movement has just brought back painful memories of their own personal experiences with the mistreatment of their people.

“I spent a lot of my childhood in New York City,” said Yu. “I have personally seen a lot of this stuff. I’ve experienced a lot of this stuff. Certainly not as egregious or frequent, but this stuff has always been around.”

Anti-Asian hate crimes have increased 169 percent when comparing the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, according to a recent report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, a organization dedicated to examining the ways extreme methods and terrorism deny civil or human rights to people based on race, gender or religion.

New York City has seen the greatest increase at 223 percent with San Francisco coming in second with a 140 percent increase, according to the report.

“I left that area about 30 years ago so it was a distant memory, but after seeing this it really came roaring back,” Yu continued. “It makes me very angry and very passionate. That’s why I woke up one day and I said I have to do something. It needs to stop.”

At the beginning, Yu didn’t know what exactly he could do, however, there was just an innate feeling inside of him to figure something out. The compelling feeling to do something drove Yu to ultimately decide to teach self defense and call the organization Martial Artists Against Hate.

Along with a fellow instructor, Yu settled on the idea to teach not only self defense, but also bystander intervention or what he likes to call “Good Citizen Intervention Training.”

“Martial Artists Against Hate was formed really to start a movement,” said Yu. “Particular in the West Coast these issues are more prevalent and more in your face, but in the wake of everything happening I felt really compelled to do something.”

Yu and Martial Artists Against Hate partnered with SDSS Martial Arts, which has martial arts schools throughout Connecticut, to teach the two components of self defense and bystander intervention.

“If we give people the tools to defend themselves and get out of the situation, that was my objective,” said Yu. “What are the five or six things you can do regardless of your physical ability?”

The training sessions will address countermoves if you are grabbed, choked, knocked down and if someone comes from behind. They will also include the basics on how to throw a proper punch, kick and how to properly block.

The bystander intervention will discuss ways a bystander can help directly or indirectly through several scenarios and personal safety trips.

“Don’t be a victim,” said Yu. “Don’t be a victim as a people. Today it’s anti-Asian, yesterday it was anti-Muslim, tomorrow can be anti-something else.”