Rory D Hearn began his training with Grand Master Hoy K Lee more than twenty years ago, after moving to Virginia from New Jersey. Throughout his lifetime, he has more than a decade of experience in various job fields ranging from restaurant work, retail management, holistic medicine, carpentry, customer service, photography, and security all of which have helped shape the individual he has become. He brings that real-world experience to both his martial instructions and his career as a Professor of Psychology and Contemplative Neuroscience at Berkeley College in New York City where he currently resides.
As a boy, Rory had “dabbled” in a variety of martial arts, but never stuck with any of them until he found Sifu Lee and Jow Ga. After a few months with Sifu Lee, he felt like he’d finally found the “right fit”. He dedicated the next decade of his life to training 5-6 days a week and helping the school in whatever way he could. At the age of seventeen he began helping in class as an assistant, and then, at nineteen, he was promoted to a full instructor and began studying Tai Chi and Chi Gung as well.
Rory became responsible for teaching the children’s, adults’, and Tai Chi classes in the Newport News Branch of the Jow Ga Kung Fu Association for the next 7 years. During this time Rory was also exploring eastern philosophy, various meditation styles, and holistic medicine. He studied Massage Therapy at Tidewater Technical Institute and utilized his philosophical and medical knowledge to supplement his martial training and instruction. He was taught, and teaches the students, that practice doesn’t make perfect; practice makes permanent so its important to practice properly.
Rory developed skill with a variety of empty hand forms but specialized in bladed weapons and long weapons such as: the Chinese broad sword, double broad sword, straight sword, tai chi sword, double-headed staff, Golden Coin, and Guan Do. He competed in tournaments for several years winning gold medals in the empty hand, weapons, two-man sets, tai chi, and push-hands divisions. He was a part of the Jow Ga Lion Dance and demonstration team as well.
Martially, his focus has been on practicality and discipline. For someone to truly be proficient at the art, it’s important to understand the foundational ideas behind why something is done the way it is. Rory emphasizes that the body mechanics involved in the proper execution of the movement to produce maximum results with minimal efforts and building the muscle memory for techniques to become reflexive is crucial if a practitioner hopes to utilize the techniques in the real world. In addition to sparring, his years of security work proved to him that knowing a technique and being able to use a technique are not necessarily the same thing, so just as Sifu Lee always said, “don’t fear the guy that knows a dozen forms; fear the guy that trains one form over and over”.
Towards the end of his twenties, Rory decided to get his college degree which unfortunately required him to cut down on his time training and teaching. He first earned an Associates of Social Sciences from Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia. He then continued his education at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in world religion, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and a Minor in philosophy. This blended degree focused on how an individual's ideology, cultural influences, and psychological background affected well-being and interpersonal relationships. He then moved to New York City where he earned a Master of Arts in Individualized Studies from New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. While at NYU his concentration was on Cognitive/Affective Neuroscience, Neurotheology, and Positive Psychology. The program allowed him to take the foundation that was built during his Interdisciplinary Bachelors at ODU and focus on the neurological correlations between meditation, ideology, cultural influences, and an individual's psychological well-being. His primary area of research is related to the development of positive character traits through neuroplasticity and mindfulness-based practices. He credits his ability to be remain focused through all his endeavors, both academically and personally, to the discipline developed through his martial training.
Currently, Rory is working towards his PhD in Clinical Psychology. He combines the scientific knowledge regarding the mind/body connection obtained in college with the years of study at the Jow Ga Kung Fu Association, as well as, with his other life-experiences. He advocates the use of mindfulness-based practices to build cognitive function and increase one’s attention, awareness, and acceptance of life-circumstances, as well as, developing a sense of self-actualization through disciplined training, grit, and resilience.
“I tell my student, both at the college and in the kwoon, its not about being better than someone else; it’s about being better than YOU were yesterday”.
Jow Ga Kung Fu Association of the USA
World Organization of Wushu and Kung Fu Masters
Berkeley College Winner Distinguished Adjunct Faculty of the Year 2018
International Positive Psychology Association
Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society
Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society
Tau Sigma National Honor Society
The Diversity Institute at Old Dominion University