Thomas Richard Garriga was born to Dudley and Jean Garriga on Aug 23rd, 1945, in Bay Saint Lewis, Mississippi. Tom was the oldest of four children. After High School he served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Sacramento, California Mission. When he returned home from his mission, he answered his nation’s call and joined the military. He enlisted as a Marine, and as part of his service, he trained troops going to Vietnam in hand-to-hand combat. After his enlistment, he served several more years in the reserves. Tom met his eternal companion Cynthia Ann King at church in Glendale California. They were sealed three months later Aug 29, 1966, in the Oakland California Temple. They were blessed with two sons, Matthew David and Adam Patrick. While living in Glendale California Tom earned his Bachelor of Science in Accounting.
Despite having his degree in accounting, Tom’s career always would follow his personal passion for the Martial Arts. Tom was a tremendously talented and a driven martial artist. He began training at the young age of eleven years old. From that time on he would continue to train in the martial arts in some way nearly every day for the rest of his life.
The martial art accomplishment that he felt the most honored at achieving was earning a 5th Step Mastery ranking in the closed door “Ge Family System” of martial arts, Tom renamed this system Wu Ji Quan Fa (All Origin Martial Method). To say the least this system was tremendously impactful on the rest of his life.
Outside of the Ge Family System Tom was also a first-generation Black Belt under Ed Parker in American Kenpo. He would earn an 8th Degree Black Belt under Ed Parker and later was awarded an honorary 9th Degree black belt from 10th Degree Kenpo Black Belt Mike Pick. Tom also earned a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Shotokan Karate, and a Brown Belt in Kodokan Judo. Tom also trained in Nakai Jujutsu, Tomiki Aikido, Tenshin Katori Shintoryu Swordsmanship, Western Boxing, British Cane Fighting, as well as the Marine Corp Hand-to-Hand Fighting Method of the Vietnam era. Tom had the chance to train with and build friendships with several famous martial artists including the previously mentioned Ed Parker, as well as Bruce Lee, Mike Pick, Chuck Norris and several others.
Tom began teaching at Ed Parker’s Pasadena California Kenpo school in 1966. He taught there until 1970 when he and Cindi then moved to Utah to raise their two sons. They lived in Cottonwood Heights and later Hyde Park, Utah. Tom opened his own martial arts school that he named the Tang Wei Martial Arts Institute. The School was named for his Chinese given name, Ge Tang Wei, which he received from his Ge Family System Instructor. By the time he passed away Tom had taught martial arts for about fifty-five years in total. He taught thousands of martial arts students in his martial arts system and worked as a contract instructor in use of force related skills for the State of Utah Youth Corrections Division, as well as 80 other agencies across fourteen states.
Tom was a gifted and excellent teacher who made a massively positive impact on society. He was willing and happy to teach every person on every level. Tom was a patient, dedicated, meticulous and yet kind teacher. He would always point out the good in his students as he worked to help perfect their skills. Tom was also a deeply devoted Latter-Day Saint, and as such he was unafraid of being a spiritual guide to those who needed it. He was instrumental in many of his students becoming aware of the spiritual dimension of their lives, as well as helping many to become active in their religious faiths. He genuinely loved all his students and thought of them as family.
Outside of the martial arts and work, Tom was a dedicated and loving husband and father. He loved his family dearly and was always motivated to be the best he could for them. Even and especially when traveling he always made time to call Cindi multiple times a day. Tom loved the outdoors and would always take time to hike with his family and with his dogs throughout his life.
While visiting a student on a vacation, Tom and Cindi fell in love with the San Juan Islands in Washington State. They later moved and built a wonderful life there, and made many dear friends. They lived there 10 years and are still closely connected to that place which they call home. In recent years Tom and Cindi enjoyed the opportunity to travel together and lived in Tennessee, Baja California in Mexico, and returned to the San Juan Islands. Most recently they lived in Logan Utah.
On January 6, 2024, Tom slipped away peacefully from this life. It is hard to summarize in words the impact of this gentle, patient, powerful, and unassuming man. He never liked drawing attention to himself, but we all felt what a tremendous impact he had. Tom was a fearless friend, mentor and protector to all who knew him. He has changed generations of families with his devotion and careful teaching. Tom will be truly missed by family, friends, and students more than can be expressed.
Tom is survived by his beloved wife: Cynthia Ann, youngest son Adam Patrick, brothers Mark and Terry and his sister Keron MacDaniel. Tom was preceded in death by his oldest son Matthew David and his parents Dudley and Jean Garriga.
A Memorial Service in Tom’s honor will be held on Saturday, February 17th, 2024 at 11:00 a.m. at the White Pine Funeral Home, 753 S 100 E, Logan, Utah.
Tom's memorial service can be viewed via Zoom at: CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
A go fund me has been set up to show appreciation to Tom by supporting his wife Cindi Garriga. To donate visit gofundme.com and search “Tom Garriga Memorial Expenses and Gift to Cindi”. https://www.gofundme.com/f/tom-garriga
Garriga Thomas Audio.mp3