Derek Chan overcomes challenges to teach martial arts

Centennial College

While used to close-quarter combat, martial artist Derek Chan didn’t expect to be pushed out of his comfort zone. But that’s exactly what ACCEL, the Accelerator for Centennial College Entrepreneurs and Leaders, did for him.

Armed with a graphic design diploma from York University in 2008, Chan didn’t anticipate the market headwinds after graduation, the “bad times” as he calls it, which made employment in his field difficult. He jokes that as a result, he was “forced into entrepreneurship.” It’s a common refrain from many entrepreneurs, and that’s when his brother stepped in, suggesting that Chan check out Centennial’s ACCEL program, designed for youth aged 18 to 29 years.

Chan had already launched the now two-year old Ko Fung Martial Arts studio to teach Wing Chun, a centuries-old martial art system that focuses on economy of movement and simultaneous defence and attack. And while his business had been up and running for a year before joining ACCEL, he credits Centennial’s mentors for fine-tuning it.

At the outset he was strictly an instructor, while competing in regional martial arts competitions. However, there were challenges he had to face outside of the gym, including differentiating his business in a crowded segment and overcoming his shyness. There are lots of self-defence practitioners out there, not to mention many different types of martial arts, as well as fitness centres.

Read more about Derek here.