Our Instructors

Our martial arts biographies …

Sifu Keith Sonnenberg is a direct student of the Grandmaster of Wing Tsun kung-fu, Leung Ting.  Grandmaster Leung Ting, permanent president of the International WingTsun Association, Hong Kong, requires a high standard in specific skills training in both teaching and martial arts proficiency before an individual may start a branch.  Prospective students should know that two or three years of learning Wing Tsun, Wing Chun or Ving Tsun does not prepare a person to properly teach, by themselves, the unique fighting, self-defense and health aspects of the art, particularly that of Leung Ting WingTsun®.

Sifu Keith Sonnenberg

4th Level Technician

Sifu Keith Sonnenberg was named by Grandmaster Leung Ting as his first American disciple in the book Dynamic Wing Tsun Kung FuHis martial arts training stretches back to 1967 as a student of “Korean  karate” – Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do – in Detroit, Michigan, his home town. He obtained his First Degree Black Belt in 1970 under Instructor David Praim.

Mr. Sonnenberg was one of the earliest pioneers in teaching wing chun in Phoenix, Arizona.  Within a few weeks after moving to Arizona in 1975, he met a student of wing chun kung fu during a job search and became a student of wing chun in a new school on 15th Avenue and Indian School in Phoenix.  This answered a desire that Mr. Sonnenberg had to find a Chinese martial art with real self-defense techniques and technical depth. Rising rapidly in his position within this school, he became a part owner of a branch on Thomas Road and 29th St. in a very short time and then became sole owner.  He had also opened another branch school in downtown Chandler.

During this period, Mr. Sonnenberg had exposure to another Wing Chun lineage in San Francisco. He also had the opportunity to learn Chinese Iron Palm and the basic forms of certain Shaolin weapons: Kwan-dao 偃月刀, Qiang 槍, Dan Dao 單刀.

After several years of training and difficult business relationships, he discovered Leung Ting’s Wing Tsun kung-fu system in 1979 from reading Leung Ting’s Hong Kong published book, Wing Tsun Kuen.

Mr. Sonnenberg invited Master Leung Ting, who is a closed-door disciple of the late Great Grandmaster Yip Man, to the United States in 1979, not necessarily expecting the author of Wing Tsun Kuen to actually arrive in his city – at that time, a suburb of Los Angeles, CA.  Mr. Sonnenberg met Leung Ting for the first time in January 1980, learning his system’s differences and interviewed him for a planned article in Black Belt Magazine. It was Grandmaster Leung Ting’s way to travel all over the world to spread his system.  His next goal was North America.  After his tour was over, Grandmaster Leung Ting decided to teach a group seminar in Arizona and Mr. Sonnenberg learned at that time that he was considered his first choice as senior American disciple. During the 1980s, Sifu Sonnenberg taught everywhere including Clark Park in Tempe, the Salt River Project PERA Club in Tempe, The Center for Body Awareness, Tempe, C & C Dance Center in Phoenix, Heart and Sole Fitness, Phoenix, and Mesa Community College in Mesa. In the late 1980s, Filipino Escrima (stick and knife fighting) was added to the curriculum for a short while during which Mr. Sonnenberg reached his probationary Instructor Level. Sifu Keith Sonnenberg appears in the bookDynamic WingTsun Kung Fuby Grandmaster Leung Ting.  He has taught in various venues throughout the years including out of state seminars. He attained the rank of 4th Level Technician in 2002 where he was conferred for the second time (the first time was in absentia in the early 80s) as a disciple of Great Grandmaster Leung Ting in a tea ceremony in San Francisco. This was on the occasion of Great Grandmaster Leung Ting’s 55th birthday celebration. Today he is a member of the management team of the International WingTsun Association in the marketing advisory role.

Frank Jones

Second Level Technician

Frank is a Second Level Technician and the most senior student of Sifu Keith Sonnenberg and trains at the Gilbert location. His Wing Tsun training began in 1994 as a student in the one-credit hour classes as Mesa Community College taught by Sifu Sonnenberg. He was promoted to 12th SG in July of 2000. Frank took a break in his training after his promotion to 12th SG to pursue career and marriage objectives. He returned to training for a time in the mid 2000s and again more recently in January 2015.  Mr. Jones has a background in Cheng Man Ching T’ai Chi under the late Debbie Gordon. He has been to the German headquarters of the European WingTsun Organization for extensive periods of WingTsun training as well as touring the European cities. He currently is self-employed as a licensed real estate appraiser.

Rick Salkind

Primary Level Technician

Rick is a Primary Level Technician in the IWTA-NAS at the Gilbert location, BE School of Dance. He has trained and studied Leung Ting WingTsun® since 2006 and been a regular attendee at seminars under prominent WingTsun instructors including Grandmaster Leung Ting. His martial arts experience ranges from several prior styles such as Tang Soo Do, Tae Kwon Do, and under the Jeet Kune Do banner, arts like Silat and Kali over much of his life. He has attended several WingTsun™ seminars with senior instructors of the IWTA-NAS including those of Grandmaster Leung Ting.  He is currently a senior student and assists Sifu Keith Sonnenberg in Gilbert.  He currently works for Microsoft.

Dan Farina

Primary Level Technician

Dan Farina has studied Wing Tsun from Sifu Keith Sonnenberg since May 2012. He has previous training in Kung Fu San Soo. Dan has appeared in several YouTube videos for Wing Tsun Arizona at https://www.youtube.com/user/mesasun . Dan passed his test for Primary Level Technician on September 10, 2017.

Paul Delrio

10th Student Grade

Paul Delrio has studied Wing Tsun with Sifu Keith Sonnenberg since September 2012. He previously studied Wing Chun in another lineage as well as Korean Karate.

Ryan Pletcher

10th Student Grade

Ryan Pletcher started his Wing Tsun training in June 2000. He had a few breaks in his training since then to start a career and raise a family. He brings to the table a great perspective in watching the emergence of Wing Tsun in the Valley of the Sun. In his regular job, Ryan is a web developer of very high caliber. He designed this site and also the one for Wing Tsun Sifu John Brusstar. Ryan Pletcher can be reached for professional web services at https://ryanpletcher.com/ .

Sifu John Brusstar – Scottsdale

3rd Level Technician

John Brusstar ( [email protected] ) is a Third Level Technician and the head instructor of Leung Ting WingTsun® at Scottsdale WingTsun and a senior and direct student of Sifu Keith Sonnenberg. He has trained in WingTsun since 1995 and attended many high level seminars by senior instructors of the IWTA and IWTA-NAS as well as Filipino Escrima training. He won first place in the chi sau event, Welter Weight Division, Austin Martial Arts Festival in the fall of 2006. Sifu Brusstar was awarded the title of “Sifu” of WingTsun kungfu in June 2008. He received the Third Level Technician rank from his Si-Kung, Grandmaster Leung Ting on October 13, 2013 at the yearly seminar in San Antonio, Texas after many years of training under the instruction of Sifu Keith Sonnenberg.  Sifu Brusstar is a public school teacher in special education in the Chandler school system.