Globe West | Arts

Calvin Chin’s Martial Arts Academy to honor late cofounder

Students of Calvin Chin’s Martial Arts Academy will perform a flag dance in honor of Helen Chin on Sunday afternoon.
Sunny Cheng
Students of Calvin Chin’s Martial Arts Academy will perform a flag dance in honor of Helen Chin on Sunday afternoon.

Helen Gee Chin was a fitness buff who always followed stringent principles of healthy living. And after she and her husband, Calvin, founded a martial arts studio in their hometown of Newton, she added tai chi to her workout regime.

But even five decades of clean living couldn’t save her from a diagnosis of lung cancer. Helen Chin died in 2010, but it is fitting to her beliefs, her outlook, and her devotion to the business that she and her husband ran together that she is being remembered this weekend at a special performance of martial arts by her husband’s students.

“I’d studied martial arts all my life, but Helen was not particularly involved with it when she was growing up,” Calvin Chin said. Then in the mid-1990s, Helen felt that the couple’s two young children should begin studying martial arts as part of their exploration of their Chinese heritage. She suggested to Calvin, who was teaching martial arts in Chinatown at the time, that they open their own school, and in 1996, Calvin Chin’s Martial Arts Academy accepted its first students.


“It was really a struggle in the beginning,” said Calvin Chin. “Eventually it grew and evolved as our students began taking part in tournaments, performances and competitions. Then we started going into the Newton schools as part of their cultural presentations.”

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A close community formed among the academy’s students and their families, and it was devastating to all when Helen discovered two years ago that she had lung cancer at the age of 55.

“Helen was so active and spirited,” recalled her husband. “She was a nonsmoker devoted to clean living.”

In the spring of 2010, he turned 60, and the couple celebrated with a trip to the American Southwest.

“We hiked the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park,” he said. “We got home from that trip in June and she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer the next month.”


The annual open house at the Chins’ academy had always been a small-scale gathering for the students and their families. Only after his wife’s death did Chin think about making it a bigger affair, one that could double as a fund-raiser for the college scholarship he established in her name.

“The scholarship is for students who have studied martial arts a minimum of five years and have a B average in school,” Chin said. “It’s one of the first scholarships established for martial artists. It was important to me to give something back to this niche community.”

The event Sunday will include demonstrations of classical martial arts techniques and routines, and also other Chinese traditions as well, such as the lion dance and the dragon dance.

“Our students range from beginning through advanced, and range in age from 5 to 86,” Chin said. “Each group will do some routines. And at the end, we’ll perform a special tribute to Helen.”

The Calvin Chin’s Martial Arts Academy will hold its open house and martial arts demonstration from 1 to 3:30 p.m. in the Lasker Auditorium in Newton North High School, 457 Walnut St., Newtonville. Tickets are $20, and can be purchased at www.hgcscholarshipfoundation.org or at the door. Proceeds will benefit the Helen Gee Chin Scholarship Foundation.


For details, go to www.hgcscholarshipfoundation.org.

GLIMPSE LIFE IN ISRAEL: MetroWest Jewish Day School is sponsoring an evening with the Tzofim Friendship Caravan, a group of Israeli students entering their senior year in high school who travel throughout North America sharing their lives in Israel through song, dance, and story.

The performance will be Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the school, 29 Upper Joclyn Ave. in Framingham. Tickets are $5, with a $15 family maximum. To reserve space, e-mail risa.werblin@mwjds.org or call 508-620-5554.

SUMMER INFORMAL: The Lexington Symphony, led by music director Jonathan McPhee, presents an informal “concert in the round” Saturday at 7 p.m. in Cary Hall, 1605 Massachusetts Ave. in Lexington.

The performance is preceded by a question-and-answer session with McPhee and orchestra musicians at 6 p.m., and will be followed by a reception where musicians and patrons can meet and mingle while enjoying refreshments. The program includes pieces by Bach, Gounod, Bartok, Honneger, and Gabrieli.

Tickets are available at www.lexingtonsymphony.org, by phone at 781-523-9009, in person at the Crafty Yankee, 1838 Mass Ave., Lexington (cash/check only), or at the door. The general admission tickets are $35, or $15 for students. Seating is unreserved. Will-call tickets must be picked up at least 15 minutes prior to the concert.

AMAZING FUND-RAISER: Americana roots ensemble the Mystix, with harp legend Jerry Portnoy on board, brings its Roots Ramble Tour to the Amazing Things Arts Center at 8 p.m. Friday in a benefit for the nonprofit venue, at 160 Hollis St. in downtown Framingham.

Ticket prices are $20, or $19 for students and seniors; $17 for members; $10 children under 10. To purchase tickets, call 508-405-2787 or go to www.amazingthings.org.

PAUL WALL TO WALL: In celebration of the upcoming 70th birthday of Paul McCartney, along with the 30th anniversary of his 1982 critically acclaimed album “Tug Of War,” the program “One Sweet Dream: The Paul McCartney Experience” embarks on “The Hundred Years Tour” at the Regent Theatre, 7 Medford St. in Arlington, Friday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Reserved seats are $23 and $28 ($12 for children) with a $3 discount for Regent Theatre members.

For tickets and information, call 781-646-4849 or go to www.regenttheatre.com.

EXIT ENTERTAINED: The Arlington Friends of the Drama ensemble presents its final show of the season, “Enter Laughing,” based on the semiautobiographical novel by Carl Reiner depicting his own introduction to live theater, with its run opening Friday at 8 p.m. at 22 Academy St. in Arlington.

Shows continue Saturday and June 8 and 9 at 8 p.m., and 4 p.m. Sunday and June 10. A conversation with the cast takes place after Sunday’s matinee. Tickets are $20, and may be ordered online at www.afdtheatre.org or by calling 781-646-5922.

HOUSE PROUD: The 30th annual Newton House Tour takes place Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and features eight private residences.

Tickets purchased before 5 p.m. Friday are $30, or $20 for Historic Newton members, and may be ordered online at www.historicnewton.org or by calling 617-796-1450. Tickets purchased on the day of the tour at the Jackson Homestead, 527 Washington St., Newton, will cost $35, or $25 for Historic Newton members.

GARDEN TOURS: The 23d annual Concord Museum Garden Tour runs Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The tour of eight private gardens is self-guided and self-paced, beginning at the Concord Museum, 200 Lexington Road.

Tickets may be purchased at the Concord Museum or by phone at 978-369-9763, ext. 216, for $38, or $32 for museum members.

E-mail Nancy Shohet West at nancyswest@gmail.com.