San Jose Garage Unlikely Home To Martial Arts Powerhouse

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When the Nguyen brothers went shopping for a home, they cared most about what the garage was like. Not for parking their cars, but for practicing their craft. (Published Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014)

Californians are well known for using their garages for any number of reasons other than parking their cars.

Some covert it into extra living space. Others opt for a workshop. Still more just cram it full of all the "stuff" that won't fit inside the rest of the house.

Inside their home's two-car garage, the Nguyen brothers have created a martial arts powerhouse.
Photo credit: NBC Bay Area

The three Nguyen brothers of San Jose, though, offer up another option: they have created a martial arts powerhouse in the two-car garage of their home.

The brothers, Anh, Huy, and Long all trained in the sport of Taekwondo do as young boys growing up in Vietnam. Their father insisted upon it. "I hated going to practice," says 29-year-old Huy. "I would love it whenever it rained because class was canceled."

Huy, and older brother Anh, 32, say it wasn't until many years later that they realized what a passion they had developed for the sport. "I don't know when," says Anh, "but one day it's just, 'Taekwondo is my life!'"

Brothers Huy, Long and Anh Nguyen.
Photo credit: NBC Bay Area

The brothers say the shared love of the sport brought them closer together after the death of their father in 1999. Five years later, they founded Team M.

Instead of the traditional form of Taekwondo, where combatants strike each other, Team M is a demonstration team. Their synchronized movements, acrobatic leaps, and wood-shattering punches and kicks are meant to entertain crowds and impress judges.

It is something that Team M does very well.

Over its 10-year history Team M has performed more than 300 times, placed dozens of members on U.S. national teams, and medaled at international Taekwondo events.

A member of Team M practices her Taekwondo moves.
Photo credit: NBC Bay Area

And they have done it all practicing in the Nguyen's 20 foot by 20 foot garage (and in the warm, summer months, their backyard).

"(Our competitors) reaction is always surprising," says the 25-year-old Long. "They just stare at you and are like, 'How do you possibly , physically do it?'"

The Nguyen brothers say they could, like many of their competitors, lease commercial space an open up a Taekwondo school, charging students money for lessons and to be a part of their team.

But that wouldn't fit with Team M's mission.

Members of Team M practice in the Nguyen brothers' 20-foot by 20-foot garage.
Photo credit: NBC Bay Area

Team M is not just a martial arts phenomenon, it is also a non-profit. The three brothers, who are all Team M coaches, do not take any salary for their work (all three have full-time jobs working for Silicon Valley technology companies). Aside from a yearly $20 fee, the athletes pay nothing to be part of Team M.

The brothers say they opted for the non-profit model because they wanted to give something back to the sport they love, to honor the memory of their father, and say thank you to those who supported them after his death.

"We figured, 'Hey this is the perfect way we can give back to the community,'" Huy says.

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