The kids of the world have Cosmo Zimik watching their backs. The 38-year-old Asian commits his time and considerable energy to training youths in the physical discipline of Kung Fu, and in mentoring them through life’s troubles.
Zimik was born in eastern India near the border of Burma. He admits that in his early years, he didn’t set much of an example. “When I was young, I was very violent; I caused trouble,” he said during a recent interview at his Dunamis School of Empty Hand Combat on top of the railroad bridge on 11th Avenue in Nampa. He opened the school on Oct. 31, 2009, with retirement savings from his eight-year job with the Idaho Department of Corrections. He learned business skills through MicroEnterprise Training and Assistance in Boise.
A conversion to Christianity changed Zimik from a trouble-making young man to a positively channeled one. “When I became a Christian, I utilized strength and energy the right way,” he said. He began to train in Thaing Shaolin Kung Fu-Chin Na and Muay Thai boxing in India and Burma, and eventually earned a black belt.
Later, he set out on a mission to spread the Gospel throughout Asia and said his life was in danger many times when he was a missionary. Even now, in the land of his birth, he said, “There are a lot of ethnic conflicts – it’s one of the most troublesome places in the world.”
One of the better things that happened to him on his travels was meeting an Idaho missionary named Sarah. After a courtship over long distances, the couple was married and Zimik came with Sarah to the U.S.
He worked at the Idaho State Penitentiary, first as a guard, then as a chaplain and later as religious activities coordinator.
He has trained area military and law enforcement personnel and has given martial arts seminars in Hong Kong, Europe, and Australia.
In Canyon County, Zimik currently teaches about 50 students, with the goal of ultimately having 200. Four volunteer instructors work with him. His students range in age from 5 to 67; he explained approximately 25 percent of his students come from troubled homes.
Through the mentoring program, he said, he teaches about “life and spiritual things.” No one is obligated to participate in any religious programs; and if they choose not to be mentored, Zimik seeks to educate purely by his own example a way to be what he calls “an asset to the community.”
His training costs $55 a month for unlimited classes, and he currently has 11 students who attend for free on scholarships.
He acknowledges young people want excitement – and that’s a good thing.
“God made people, especially the youth, to be adventurous,” he said. But many times, in church, young people are taught to sit still and be quiet. It can be boring, Zimik admitted, and all that pent-up, repressed energy has to go somewhere. Like himself, “I teach them to channel their energy the right way,” Zimik said.
He is now channeling his energy into changing lives and has helped people quit smoking, drinking, and taking drugs. He and his wife fund orphanages in India and Burma, with more than 600 children in all in the two facilities.
Zimik hopes to return to the missionary field one day and wants to train his volunteer teachers to run the school in his absence. He is a man who wants to leave his imprint on the world and particularly impart the strength of good character to its youth.
In fact, he said, nothing would make him happier than to hear people say, “That crazy Asian had an impact on my life.”