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Who's Who: Thomas Brewer

Thomas Brewer, owner of Kuk Sool Won in Berkeley, teaches students of all ages the unique martial arts form.

Master Thomas Brewer, a sixth-degree black belt and owner of a comprehensive martial arts school, has taught students—young and old alike—for twenty-two years. Moving to California from Michigan in 1986, Brewer worked at the Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco and sought out martial arts classes as an intellectual and physical release. A friend told him about Kuk Sool Won but warned of its rigors. Brewer recounted, “He told me Kuk Sool Won was the hardest form, the most challenging, and that was all it took. I signed up the next day.”

Progressing quickly, Brewer moved through the ranks and found himself teaching—a requirement of the discipline. He developed an effective mix of calm, authority, patience, and expectation, the qualities that have since earned him respect and renown as a teacher. “He really knows how to teach the kids so that they take it seriously, take themselves seriously,” said Rick Patterson, a parent of one of Brewer’s students. “He commands their respect by insisting they cultivate self-respect in themselves.”

Brewer took over the Berkeley studio in 1989, building it into the thriving school it is today. He remains committed to his students and the art of teaching them. “Kids keep you on your toes," he said. "Watching them progress, gain confidence, that’s what it’s all about."

Brewer appreciates the climate of diversity in Berkeley. "In Berkeley, diversity just happens, you can’t plan it, it’s just an organic development and that brings a whole different dimension to my teaching," he said. "There’s just no other place like Berkeley."

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