Category Archives: Camp ANV!

Camp ANV Spotlight: Talking Sticks with Sifu Bill Owens

If, one sunny Summer afternoon, you find yourself near Acta Non Verba youth urban farm, you may hear the sound of sticks clacking together, echoing rhythmically throughout the neighborhood. Bay Area martial arts legends Sifu Bill and Simo Mary Owens are sharing their unique and beautiful martial arts form known as Kusema Vijiti, also called the Talking Sticks, with our campers.

Working in unison with sturdy, short sticks in each hand, the students’ movements are fluid and rhythmic like dancers, yet close observation of each pose reveals the form’s true defensive nature.


Martial Arts as an Art Form
“As a martial arts instructor, you can get tired of teaching aggression,” Sifu Bill reveals. “I want to prepare kids to defend themselves—to ‘go crazy’ if they need to—but I also want them to stay sweet. The Talking Sticks is a martial arts form that allows me to teach self defense, while remaining in the realm of beauty.

“I teach martial arts without the aggression, and more as an art form. I keep it very jovial, rhythmic, musical, and fun. But what you are seeing is a series of blocks, strikes, deflections, and parrying thrusts offensively and defensively. You can take the moves and in an instant, use them in a fight.”

Kusema Vijiti (The Talking Sticks) is a rhythmic stick art form, born out of martial movements, African, and African-American cultural rhythms and sensibility. Sifu Bill Owens and his wife Simo Mary Owens developed this unique form right here in Oakland over 25 years ago. They established the Kusema Vijiti Institute, and have developed a grading system that ranks and gives credibility to its practitioners by levels according to the length of time of study and the knowledge gained.


“Kusema Vijiti develops rhythm, coordination, focus, balance, and timing,” Sifu Bill explains. “Because it is based on a written language of symbols it also promotes reading.” Campers at the day’s instruction quickly spoke up, saying they enjoy the practice, and recognize its combined elements of defense, art, and music.

The class will continue throughout the remainder of Camp ANV 2015, and takes place every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 4:00 to 5:00pm. Parents interested in Kusema Vijiti should contact Sifu Bill Owens or Simo Mary Owens at the Kusema Vijiti Institute in East Oakland (contact information below).


Martial Arts Champions Sifu Bill and Simo Mary Owens
Sifu Bill Owens started training in Wun Hop Kuen Do under Sifu Al Dacascos in 1966. He attained 6th degree Black Belt in Wun Hop Kuen Do, 1st degree in Arnis and 3rd level in Capoeira. In addition to Sifu Al Dacascos, his instructors include Remy Preses and Bira Almeida. He has studied martial arts for over 25 years and has operated a school in Oakland, California for more than 20 years. During his own years of competition he won 107 trophies, was rated 5th in the World and rated #1 in Region 1 for three consecutive years.

Sifu Bill was one of 10 Martial Artists invited by the Chinese Wushu Association of Beijing, China to attend the 1985 International Chinese Wushu Championships as a United States Martial Arts Representative. He is presently the Vice President of the Kusema Vijiti Institute and continues to teach his own system he has named FaChuen or Blossom Fist.


Simo Mary Owens began training in the martial arts in 1971. Traveling the tournament circuit, she became the #1 rated fighter in the United States for two consecutive years, all while attending school to obtain her nursing license.

In 1979, she married Sifu Bill Owens and joined him in running the Cascos Martial Arts Academy.  Besides being a business partner at the academy, Simo Mary specializes in teaching the children’s classes. In addition to her more than 15 years in Wun Hop Kuen Do, she has expanded her martial arts training to become a level four of the V.G.T. Arnis method and to encompass Capoeira and Kusema Vijiti (Talking Sticks). Simo Mary continues to teach along with Sifu Bill in his system named FaChuen or Blossom Fist.


More about Kusema Vijiti (The Talking Sticks) and Camp ANV
The Kusema Vijiti Institute is located at 7421 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA 94605. For more information, call (510)638-9990 or email or

Camp ANV is run jointly by Acta Non Verba and Oakland Parks and Recreation. The program provides quality, educational enrichment in an urban farm setting to low-income East Oakland youth during summer and school breaks, year-round. Camp ANV takes place at Acta Non Verba, located at 1001 83rd Avenue, Oakland, CA, United States. For more information call (510)972-FARM (3276) or email

ANV’s 3rd Annual Epic Oakland Food Day is coming!!


ANV and OPR present our 3rd Annual EPIC Oakland FOOD Day! on Saturday, October 18 from 12-5!

Preserve the Harvest …And have FUN Doing it!

This FREE event will have music, kids activities and workshops showcasing different ways you can eat SUMMER FRESH produce all winter long!


How YOU can use Vegetables to make natural DYES for clothing!

How to Make Jams and Jellies and Can them!!

How to Make a SUPER SIMPLE #Delicious Tomato sauce!

And so much MORE!

Plus, SUPER FUN Activities for KIDS!


Want To PARTICIPATE as an exhibitor?!


We are ‪Seeking Master Food Preservers‬!!

We are looking for folks in the community who can CAN!

Do you know how to: Bake breads or crackers? Dry fruits and veggies, ferment krauts, pickle peppers, smoke or salt meat, create healthful teas?!

Please sign up HERE, so we can highlight your work at this event!

RSVP Here on our Facebook Event page!

And please feel free to share this call and event with your networks! Thanks so much!


Sponsor a Child to Attend Camp ANV!


Donate A Campership – Change a Life!

(All of that, for just $100!)

Oakland Parks and Recreation (OPR) and ANV’s spring and summer day camps are ALWAYS a resounding success last year, over 160 children in attended!

Well, now, were’re back for 2015! This amazing partnership will be offering CampANV’s Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter camp AGAIN!!

Beginning April 6-10 from 7:30 am- 6:00 pm, kids will have a ball with the theme: “Cultures in Our Communities”!

Breakfast, lunch and snack are all home cooked using produce from our farm and provided to the kids, free w/ the registration fee of just $100!

Your donation of just $100 will provide a campership to one of our farm rockstars!

From a parent:

ANV is just wonderful!  My kids would come home excited about their daily activities whether it was cooking or working in the community gardens (my son did not touch a veggie before ANV). 

The instruction they receive will follow them thru their lives, they became aware of the nutrition they need, from cooking to cultivating.

Thank you ANV for coming to our community!

-Esperanza M. (Miguel and Maribel’s mom)!

Please consider sponsoring a child today!

And remember, “It’s YOU that put the YOUTH in ANV’s Youth Urban Farm Project!”


ANV and OPR’s Summer Day Camp 2014

Fairyland pic

Acta Non Verba’s and OPR’s Summer Break Day Camp at Tassafaronga June 16- August 15

NOW Accepting Applications!

Check out our E-Flyer HERE!

Acta Non Verba (ANV) and Oakland Parks and Recreation (OPR) are teaming up again to bring Action, Education, Excitement and FUN to your children this SUMMER!

Join us this Summer for Art Projects, Storytelling, Reading, Games, Overnight Camping and MORE!!

And at just $10 per Day, it cant be beat!

Get the application HERE!

(Session 1) June 16-July 11 (7am-6pm) (Session 2) July 21-August 15 (7am-6pm)

Thomas Raising Friends

For just $10 per day*, your child will receive:

Breakfast, Lunch and a Snack

Field Trip Admission and Transportation

Art, Culinary, Fitness, and Gardening activities

A Safe, Clean, EDUCATIONAL place to GROW!

…AND a TON of FUN!!


Think You’re Ready? Find the Application in English and Spanish HERE.