The Shaolin Kung Fu Academy is a fellowship of students and artists taking the journey of self-discovery and self-realization through the ancient art of Shaolin Kung Fu.

 Photo Credit:  Peter Hellberg

Lineage of Shaolin Kung Fu Academy, Tucson branch:

Si Gong Robert Firestine, along with his wife Si Mo Suzanne Firestine, are the founders of the Girl Power program. In 1999, Si Gong Robert extended our Shaolin lineage to Tucson, AZ. He has studied the art of Shaolin Kung Fu for over 30 years and is a 9th degree black belt. As a father of four girls and one boy, he has a strong desire to empower girls and to help reinforce that they are special, beautiful, smart and strong, and that they never deserve to be abused. These positive messages are interwoven into the Girl Power program, helping to build up the girls' level of self-confidence and inner strength.

Even though he no longer teaches in Tucson, Si Gong continues on his quest for human liberation around the world, and acts as the overseer of the school.

Si Fu Do Pham - Lead Instructor of The Adult Classes

In 2007, following an intuitive voice from his heart, Si Fu Do travelled to Tucson and started his training under Si Gong Robert. He has studied with Si Gong for 9 years, while teaching under his umbrella for the last 5 years. Si Fu Do currently holds a 3rd degree black belt. Following his teachers’ footsteps, while guided by his own spirit, Do emphasizes his fundamental teaching on hard work, humility, respect, and freedom.


Si Bok Matthew Ruhl - Wednesday Adult Classes Instructor

Si Bok Matthew Ruhl  is a 5th degree black belt under the teachings of the Universal School of Self Shaolin Kung Fu Institute. He studied with Si Gong Robert since the age of 13, having been brought up though the Peaceful Warriors program, Teen program, and Adult program. Matthew is also a local elementary school art teacher here in Tucson, applying the lessons learned here at the school to his teaching, both at the temple and in the classroom.

Si Fu Kalli Firestine

Information Coming Soon

Si Fu Gayl Zhao - Lead Instructor of Girl Power Program

In a past life, Gayl Zhao was a musician with a varied background of orchestral gigs, bands, competitions, pit gigs (playing reed books), and the occasional chamber music stint. After finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance at Cal State Sacramento, she came to the Old Pueblo and completed a Master’s in Music at The University of Arizona. While leading a clandestine life as a lindy hopper and balboa dancer, she met her husband, Howard. Together they trained in Shaolin Kung Fu with our beloved school’s master instructor, Si Gong Robert Firestine, whom graciously married them in 2008. Fast forward eight years, and now Gayl and Howard have a two year old daughter, a garden, and a small pack of fur children. 

Gayl has since put down her instrument/s and left her music days behind her. Gayl currently holds a 1st degree black belt. She continues to train as a student at the Shaolin Kung Fu Academy and has accepted the challenge of teaching the Girl Power program. A desire to help women and children find their own power has awakened in Gayl’s heart. One of the greatest treasures she has learned from Si Gong is to follow the wisdom of the heart, so here she is doing just that.

Si Fu Anh Le - Lead Instructor of Shaolin Sisters

Si Fu Anh Le is the instructor of the Shaolin Sisters class (women only) on Tuesday evenings. She is a 2nd degree black belt, who has studied with Si Gong Robert Firestine for 7 years. As a mother and a sister, she understands the importance of women empowerment. Through martial arts, she seeks to help people find their voice, awaken their power and express themselves.


Si Fu Sean - Lead instructor of Boys and Teens classes

Information Coming Soon