Metro's Best of Silicon Valley 2002

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[whitespace] Editors Picks: Sporting It

Cung Le Real-Life Fight Club: Shou-style boxer Cung Le demonstrates his come-wither stare.

Best Ass Kicker (Not Ass Kisser--That's Us)

Cung Le
Cung Le Martial Arts Training Center, 3469 McKee Rd., San Jose 408.729.4468; 950 Monroe St., Santa Clara 408.249.5800;

World martial arts superstar Cung Le is the wrong guy to mess with. The San Jose resident is the premier fighter in san shou, a vicious Chinese martial art that combines the quick hands of boxing, the high kicks of kickboxing, the body throwing of wrestling and the savage leg whacks of Muay Thai. Le is a three-time san shou world champion. When he's not beating down Billy Bad-Asses on the fight circuit, Le follows a strict workout regime and teaches san shou at two of his South Bay training facilities. Cung Le is also expanding into different areas. He's behind USH! Gear (Unlimited Strength and Honor), which touts a line of workout products, videos and T-shirts. He is the subject of a documentary called Cung Le: The Making of a Champion (available on VHS through the USH! website), and he's shopping around a television pilot called Off the Hook With Cung Le. He's a one-man marketing and wrecking machine. San shou is a growing martial art and is being called the future of fighting. Make peace with Cung Le and his students before that time comes.

Best Xtreme Sportsman

Ryan Nyquist

BMX rider Ryan Nyquist is used to jaw-dropping stares and hearing "Dude, you're sick!" as he rolls by. Four years ago, the Los Gatos native was a rising star in bicycle stunt riding--one of the rare talents who can compete in street, vert and dirt. At the 2000 X Games, he nailed a 720 during a dirt-jumping competition. Today, the 23-year-old is considered the top of his class. He's a favorite at many BMX triple-crown events. Sponsorships from Adidas, Haro Bikes, Split and Oakley help boost his public image, but Nyquist commands the most attention on his knobby tires, flying through the air, pulling back-flip bar-spins or suicide no-handers with the casualness of opening the Sunday paper. You might not know what a Seat Grab No-Footed Can Can or a No-Handed Bar Spin Back-Flip is, but Nyquist has nailed both. He has enough Gravity Games and X-Games medals to strangle a horse. He currently hangs them in his Greenville, S.C., domicile, but in interviews he still calls Los Gatos home. And dude, that's totally sick.

Best Place for a Reel Conversation

Hank's Custom Rod and Reel
205 Jackson St., San Jose 408.292.1004

Tracking down the old man and the sea is not as easy as it used to be. A lot of those oldsters are in gate retirement communities, playing with fishing video games, or collecting those robot fish that sing every time you walk by. Not so in Japantown, where experienced fishing gents have held court for close to half a century. Freshwater or saltwater, they'll hook you up with a reel and pole, new or refurbished, that you'll swear is the luckiest setup you've ever owned. They'll even fix anything old that's broken, including restorations of bamboo poles that have become family heirlooms. These people are not from the throwaway culture that erupts from modern trendy outdoorsmen. Friendly and helpful, Hank and company stock a lot of off-brands that are lower in price and higher in quality than the price name brands. No need to ask about for matching his and hers wades (don't stock 'em). This Japantown holdout has weathered the storms of old and new. And if you just can't wait, there's sushi next door.

Best Place to Feel the Wild Blue Yonder

Adventure Center Skydive
55 Mercury Dr., Hollister 800.386.5867

They say perspective is everything, and we agree. What better way to take in the lay of the land than from the vantage point of 18,000 feet? We're not talking through cramped airplane windows over the shoulder of some other peering passenger--we're talking Superman-style, with no visual impediments of any kind. Just you, the earth and the sky. There's only one way, and that's to skydive. Scared? Don't be. We ascribe to the bumper sticker that reads "Remember the good old days when sex was safe and skydiving was dangerous?" Your first jump costs just $139, which includes an experienced skydiver and instructor strapped right to your backside. You'll do about 45 seconds of windy free falling before your shoot opens with a schwippp ... and then all you have to do is enjoy the floating, the incredible 360-degree views and the sense that the world is bigger than you thought.

Tireless contributors to this year's editor's picks included Corinne Asturias, Michael Gant, Allie Gottlieb, Todd Inoue, Gary Singh, Sarah Quelland, Loren Stein and Gordon Young

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From the October 10-16, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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