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Published on August 11, 2023
A Fight for Survival: Oakland Martial Arts Academy Clashes with ForeclosureGoFundMe

An Oakland-based martial arts academy with a rich history of over 50 years is now facing foreclosure, and its students and supporters are fighting to save the beloved institution. Cascos Martial Arts Academy, founded in 1972 by Bill Owens, has been a vital part of the Oakland community for decades, teaching not only martial arts but also discipline, self-confidence, and cultural awareness to students of all ages. However, the once-thriving academy is now in danger of closing due to financial troubles and the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Bill Owens himself mentioned, the difficulties started when the pandemic hit and the number of his students began to dwindle. "I kept thinking I can beat that. Before I knew it, I was getting further and further behind with those notes, with the dream that this is going to be over. My students are going to come back," Owens told KTVU. Unfortunately, his students never returned in the numbers he had hoped for, leading to mounting financial strain and the threat of foreclosure.

Numerous obstacles have contributed to the academy's financial hardships, including increased mortgage payments, which jumped from $2,700 to $4,300 due to an interest rate increase last year. The academy now needs $88,000 to stop the foreclosure scheduled for August 24, 2023, and an additional $250,000 to pay off the loan entirely. To help save the cherished institution, students and supporters have launched a GoFundMe campaign with the aim of raising the necessary funds.

Over the years, Bill and Mary Owens, his wife, have developed a unique martial art form called Ofanics, which fuses Chinese Kung Fu with African-American culture. This one-of-a-kind martial art is taught only at Cascos Martial Arts Academy, further emphasizing the significance of its survival. The loss of the academy would not only hurt the Oakland community but also deprive the world of a truly distinctive martial art experience, per the GoFundMe page.

The couple's dedication to the academy and its students has not gone unnoticed. On June 25, 2021, Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland wrote a letter acknowledging the immensely positive impact that Cascos Martial Arts Academy has had on the community. Furthermore, they have received commendations from members of the California State Assembly for their exemplary teaching and support of the youth. With the academy having served over 6,000 students throughout its 50 years of history, its closure would be a crushing blow to the many lives it has touched.