by LINDA FRABL | photos by Spark Photography

Successful Sensei

Danny Hoang, who has called Scripps Ranch home for 12 years now, was only three years old when he first immigrated to Cerritos, CA from Vietnam in 1975. After moving to San Diego to attend UCSD, Danny got his Biochemistry degree and eventually found work as a research scientist. He went on to win several research excellence awards in the biotech industry. It sounds as if Danny found his true path towards personal fulfillment, right? Not necessarily.

Danny recalled, “During my lunch break one day, I came upon a martial arts studio in the Clairemont Mesa area, and the next day I started my first lesson at the age of 27, because martial arts was something I always wanted to try. I had no expectations and I was a complete novice, but I became completely involved and fascinated by the training.”

He became fascinated enough that he eventually quit his research job in 1999 in order to become a full-time martial arts teacher (also known as a sensei). He rationalized, “I became passionate about sharing what I’d learned with others, and I was driven by the dream of giving back more than I received through the discipline and experience of the martial arts.” Working out of a studio in Rancho Peñasquitos, Danny initially had about 15 students, and within one year that number grew to over 100 students! His martial arts organization, called USSD (United Studios of Self Defense) Team Focus, now has over five locations throughout San Diego.

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As for the popularity of his martial arts classes, Danny attributes his studio’s huge enrollment to his noble philosophy towards teaching karate. He explained, “Creating a program beyond the punches and kicks was a priority, so we focused on leadership development, character building, respect, and discipline. Our true mission is to help foster mature, focused, and contributing leaders within the community.”

A leader in his own community, Danny earned the 2015 Local Hero Award this last May. The honor was bestowed on him from Union Bank, in conjunction with KPBS, in recognition of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Commenting on this award, Danny humbly remarked, “The ability to work with people and be part of a journey of development with our students is the most rewarding aspect of being a person of influence.”


Name: Daniel Q. Hoang
Profession: Martial Arts Instructor
Community: Scripps Ranch since 2003
Hobbies: Running and Golf
Favorite Local Spots: Miramar Lake, Rancho Bernardo Inn Golf Course