Fighting His Way Out of Gangs

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Fighting his way out of gangs
Updated: July 29, 2008 04:37 PM

Sophia Choi reporting

When you examine southern Nevada’s gang problem, the numbers can be daunting. According to Metro’s Gang Unit there are nearly 300 active gangs in the Las Vegas Valley with roughly 7,800 members and another 1,600 associates.

Despite the discouraging data, Crime Tracker 3 introduces us to a young man born into a gang family who fought his way out… by learning how to fight.

“A lotus can’t grow in clean water. It grows in some of the murkiest water because that’s where the nutrients are. And you see this beautiful thing come out of a swamp. That’s in the same aspects of hat this school did for me.”

23-year-old Donald Carlisle wears a black shirt or sometimes a blue robe as he trains at the Lohan School of Shaolin. But when he was growing up in south central Los Angeles, he wore “Bloods red,” like his gang member parents.

Sophia: You said you only got to wear red as a kid in that household and I see you’re wearing blue today.

Donald: Yeah, I was wearing red because if you wore any other color you’d kinda get beaten up. When I came here I chose to switch from red to blue. And the reasoning behind that was kind of me shoving off the past.

Donald’s mother moved the family to Las Vegas in hopes of obtaining a better life. In high school Donald started searching and followed his English teacher’s figurative advice literally. “She suggested I go take a walk, in the very metaphoric sense of spirituality, and I would know where I was when I got there. I took a walk; I actually ended up walking two or three miles. I actually found Sifu Steve’s school and walked in and it just felt right.”

Perhaps that’s because Dashi, or “Big Teacher,” – Steven Baugh knew the life Donald knew. “I grew up in south central Los Angeles myself, and I lost three brothers to the street,” Baugh explains. “In fact, I joined a gang in Los Angeles. And I joined it more for… I just couldn’t fight twenty guys at a time.”

Through the physical training, the Shaolin School of Kung Fu gives a person emotional training. “Once you get that emotion to the side, you can tell that person this is our code of ethics, this is the way we act,” said Baugh.

Sophia: How has this school changed your life?

Donald: The school gave me a real strong code of ethics. A strong code of what it means to be part of society. To honestly just grow up.

Steve Baugh: And the martial arts is one way of getting rid of anger, frustration… to grow up. It’s a way to quench that thirst you might say.

Donald: To actually stay there is where the sin is. To come out of that, to get up, to transform yourself and to become something different – that’s the magic in itself. That’s the miracle. It’s not about praying for a miracle; it’s about becoming the miracle.

And now Donald helps teach beginner classes at the school. The Shaolin tradition requires Master Baugh to take in every student who enters the school, even those who seem “bad” or those who can’t afford to pay.

Of the 200 students who are enrolled at the non-profit school, only about 80 pay for it.