“One of my favorite students was a guy who had a stroke and could only move half of his body down the center. The other half, he said, felt like dragging a dead person. He told me that he got more benefit in six months training with me than he did in six months of physical therapy,” Busha recalls. “That’s one of those turning points when I was like, ‘yeah, OK, this is what I want to do — because that right there is awesome.’”
Busha first began his own training in the martial arts as a youth within the Reno/Sparks Parks and Recreation system. Although he was enrolled in Karate at 13, it wasn’t until a nearly violent altercation with his sister’s boyfriend five years later that he truly became passionate about the pursuit of Kung Fu. After nearly 20 years of intense dedication and training in the art, including a year-long trip to the Shaolin region of China, where he trained in a local Kung Fu academy, Busha now owns and operates “Two Fish Kung Fu,” a Shaolin style Kung Fu studio based in Spanish Springs, where he instructs anyone eager to learn the discipline, regardless of age or ability level.
“When I started learning, it was to protect myself, but I started learning the higher picture and realized, this is for the betterment of everyone, not just myself — so why not share that?” Busha said about teaching. “It becomes addicting watching people grow and achieve.”
Although he first turned to the Chinese martial art out of desperation for self-defense skills, Shaolin Kung Fu has become more than Busha’s preferred fighting form, extending further into a manner of meditating, thinking and living. With every training session, Busha does his best to inspire the same connection in his students.
“It’s deep. There’s more to it than punching and kicking,” Busha said. “Anyone can be a fighter as long as they can throw a punch. Being a martial artist is having that balance: the good and the bad, the hard and the soft, the right head with the right body. Anyone can be a fighter and be a bad person. A martial artist has to have that inner strength and inner calm and that inner intelligence about when to fight.”
Ty Glowniak first met Busha seven years ago as a pupil at the Shaolin Descendants Kung Fu Hall that Busha co-owned upon his return from China. He says that the all-encompassing mentality of martial arts was something that he couldn’t help but pick up on during Busha’s training sessions.
“I see martial arts as a lifestyle rather than just something that you do. I take it everywhere I go. It teaches you self-discipline, respect for others and integrity. It gives me a better way of living rather than just fighting,” Glowniak said. “Something that (Busha) really drills into us is, that when you’re in class and you’re outside of class, that you should do things at 100 percent. You should never give up on yourself and never quit — which is a great motto to live by.”
Although the first thoughts inspired by the words “Kung Fu” often involve famous stuntmen, flying spin kicks or an eclectic combination of the two, their original Chinese boils down to a much more basic translation, meaning literally: “a skill achieved through work and time.”
In Busha’s studio, both are required to succeed.
“Shaolin Kung Fu is hard. It’s demanding and I teach a little strict. I’m not a great cheerleader. I’m a great trainer but I expect a lot because I know it can be done — because I’ve done it,” he said. “I can push you beyond what you think you can do, and I expect it. I’m a little hard sometimes when it comes to teaching, but I wouldn’t ask you to do something that I don’t do or haven’t done, or can’t do.”
Glowniak believes that Busha’s intensity and unwavering confidence in the potential of his students is what sets him apart from other instructors. Last year, Glowniak joined Two Fish as Busha’s teaching assistant. Still, he says, Busha pushes him to achieve more as a teacher, and as a disciple, than he ever thought possible.
“He was the first instructor that pushed me and worked me hard past the points I thought I could do, because he knew I could do it,” Glowniak said. “What I like about the school and what a lot of other people like about it, is that it really teaches the traditional way. You’re going to have to work hard and pay physically, but we’re going to move you up the ranks.”
Currently, Two Fish Kung Fu is more of a state of mind than a permanent location. Three days a week, Busha teaches children and adult classes out of a rented room shared with North Valley Tae Kwon Do inside of a pilates studio in Spanish Springs. The rest of the week he travels to locations like the Davidson Academy, I Can Do Anything Private School and Ballet Nevada and even into private homes to instruct students in his craft.
“I’m all over the place. Every day I’m pretty much some place different,” Busha explains. “Shaolin has a saying. It says, ‘you can practice Kung Fu in the space of a lying cow.’ So basically, wherever you are is where your school is, and wherever you are is where you can train — that same philosophy can transfer to wherever I’m teaching.”
In addition to instructing classes in the evenings, Busha supplements his martial arts instruction with a day job as an advertising retailer for a coupon agency. The end goal, he says, is to generate the kind of funds and publicity needed to expand Two Fish into its own location — one where he can teach interested students all in one place.
“I’d like to have a building and a full schedule where I can open up the doors and sweep off the stoop and be here all day. Teach a morning class, do some training, take a nap, teach evening classes. I love that life,” he said. “I’d rather have a good school that doesn’t have as many students than have a so-so school that has a ton of students. I’d rather teach people everything that Shaolin has to offer than just teach part of it and have to water it down.”
Despite its current space limitations, the studio is expanding. In September, Busha plans to start a sanshou Chinese kickboxing class to accommodate students with the desire to practice martial arts in a more sport-like manner, and he is working to create a traveling competition team called the Silver State Warriors to represent Nevada on the Kung-Fu circuit. What’s more, Busha is working toward a certification as a personal trainer to augment his own abilities as an instructor.
Regardless of what he’s teaching, Busha’s primary goal is to use the art of Kung Fu not only to teach his students fitness and self-defense, but also to inspire the drive to become a better person.
“Some parents bring their kids to me and say ‘teach my kids respect.’ Well, that’s kind of a general term. Self-respect is where it’s at. Self-respect, self-discipline, self-awareness — that’s what I hope my students take away,” Busha said. “Anybody can learn how to be fit. Anybody can learn how to punch and kick. Learning those deeper things is what matters most.”