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Meet West L.A. Rock Climbing Instructor: Jennifer Tanaka

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Tanaka.  Below you’ll find edited excerpts of our interview with Jennifer.

Jennifer, please share your story with us.  How did you get to where you are today?
My very experienced friend got me started in Rock Climbing in ’02 at a local climbing gym, Rockreation.

I had just graduated high school and was looking for a fun summer job! Rockreation soon became my home: I climbed; I taught classes; I set routes; and I belayed. I was a true gym rat! While a lot of my friends with whom I started climbing ventured outside to climb at five-star climbing crags and eventually moved onto big wall climbing, I was happy walking into Rockreation and having the space to create, meet, and teach students what I loved so much about rock climbing:- movement. We are all made up of the same stuff: bones; skin; hair; etc. but each one of us moves in our own way. A lot, I mean a ton of people have asked me if rock climbing is hard because I am short, standing vertical at exactly five feet tall. My response is that size doesn’t really matter, at least when it comes to rock climbing! I have always loved solving the puzzle of any route in front of me, kind of like life. I took a short break from climbing to pursue Martial Arts for a few years and I really missed climbing. Now with the combination of a Martial Arts mindset and the freedom of the climbing world, I am excited to tackle the future and bring climbing to everyone seeking to make themselves better!

Has it been a smooth road?
My biggest challenge has always been camping and outdoor climbing. I do like the comforts of the indoors, such as running water, showers, and electricity. However, when I started meditating a few years ago, the connection to the environment became much stronger. I make the effort to go outside and climb in nature and learn more about heights and movement in the outdoor environment.

Let’s dig a little deeper into your story.  What was the hardest time you’ve had?
Losing my father at the age of 23 was one of the most eye opening and life changing experiences for me but not the hardest moment, it was a moment of clarity, I was no longer Daddy’s little girl.  Little did I realize at that moment I was put on a path to the hardest moment that would experience 8 years later. 12/7/13, I survived 5 days of martial arts testing, with the last three days of no sleep. I became the first Female to earn a Black Sash under the guidance of Shi Gung Thomas Rizzo in the Rare Southern Style Kung Fu System of White Tiger Kung Fu. In that week I understood that no matter what, I could do anything.

Do you ever just stop and think WOW – I’ve made it?
One day I was in a Soul Cycle class in Santa Monica, I thought everything was great and that I had become JouGau, assistant instructor, balanced, upright, benevolent, and harmonious. At some point I had stopped living for me and I was living for the idea of what I thought I should be. I was happy teaching Kung Fu to kids and adults but at some point I had stopped training for me. Mid Soul Cycle class the instructor yelled, “GORGEOUS,” it shocked me that one little word could shake the foundation of what I had been working on the past 8 years.  There was nothing in my life that I could even attached the word gorgeous to. The words that followed, “Stop trying to record. Just let it happen, you will remember what you need to; just ride. Let you change you and let the experience happen. This is for you. Let it just be about you.” Lindsey S. told a room of us a simple affirmation that when coupled with endorphin’s of a high intensity workout allows an individual the opportunity to check in. I checked in and decided to pivot, the next day I accepted the General Manager Position at RockreationLA. 

Contact Info:

  • Tel: (310) 207 7199
  • Email:
  • Instagram: RockreationLA
  • Facebook: Rockreation LA
  • Website:

Check out her work below:

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