Jan Ford, age 70, passed away at Serenity House in Santa Barbara on Monday, October 1, 2012. Born July 7, 1942, Jan Ford spent the greater portion of his life in Santa Barbara. Educated at Cal State San Francisco, Cal State Los Angeles, University of Washington, and Antioch University, Jan had a long career teaching sociology, anthropology and martial arts at a number of institutions. He taught at Santa Barbara City College for 24 years where he was a member and negotiator of the Executive Board of the SBCC Instructors Association. He also taught at Antioch University for a number of years.
Jan had a wide-ranging career from a VD investigator for the US Public Health Service early in his career to driving a taxi. During his life, Jan was also the owner/chief instructor of Ford’s Martial Arts in Santa Barbara, owned a bar, published a martial arts magazine and a radical newspaper, and was a community organizer. At one time he was President of Anger Management Counseling Services and among other tasks led psycho-educational classes for their “Batterers” Program.
Jan was a consummate scholar who could intelligently converse on a host of topics ranging from ancient esoteric Asian philosophy to statistics, and everything in between. The one thing you could always count on from Jan was an opinion, clearly stated with conviction. He relished vigorous debate and was a man who attempted to live up to a very high self imposed standard of integrity based on Buddhist principles (though he would not call himself a Buddhist).
In addition to his scholarship, Jan was an expert in martial arts who specialized in Chinese Arts, particularly Hung Ga Kuen, Tai Chi Chuan, and Wing Chun. He was also proficient in Goju Ryu Karate, Thai Boxing and various grappling arts. He was well known as a fighting and forms competitor in the California tournament circuit for many years, and, at one time was ranked at the top of both classifications.
Jan was deeply touched by lifelong friendships that had originated in Santa Barbara, some going back to kindergarten. In addition to cherishing his countless friends, Jan lived for intellectual rigor. He was an iconoclast of the first order who did not mind ruffling students’ feathers by challenging them to see past their preconceived notions. Right up until the day he died, he was still receiving letters from students thanking him for teaching them how to think critically.
Jan leaves behind students, friends, and colleagues who will all miss his sage advice, sharp mind, and loving heart.
A Celebration of Life memorial will be held at Oak Park on Sunday, October 21st at 11:30am.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care in Santa Barbara.