An article featuring Sifu Robert and a self-defense class he’s running in Laguna Woods was recently on the front page of the Laguna Woods Globe (Thursday, March 13, 2014).
By Jennifer Karmarkar – Staff Writer
Laguna Woods ~ Master Charles Robert darts nimbly among the lines of students, like a dancer choreographing a waltz.
Casting his eyes on their stretch kicks, he fine-tunes their form. “Relax your shoulders,” he instructs one woman. “Don’t bend your front knee.” he cautions another.
Later, Robert pairs up participants to practice the ancient escape technique of Chin-na. About a dozen had turned our to preview the new Kung Fu Self-Defense Class at Clubhouse Six.
The eight-week session begins at 10 a.m. today.
Sponsored by the Recreation Division, the hourlong class teaches participants the basics of Shaolin Kung Fu. Students will learn stretches, kicks and forms as well as self defense strategies such as hand strikes, escape techniques and leverage over brute force.
Classes are designed to flow at the pace and skill level of each student, building upon what they’ve learned. By the end of the session, students will have increased their balance, strength, and endurance substantially, Robert said.
“They will also have the concept of self discipline, and what it takes to get better at what they’re doing.”
As students’ ability increases, so will their confidence, Robert said. “They walk as if they know what’s going on. They’re alert. Typically, bullies don’t like that.”
For many residents, this class is their first foray into the martial arts.
“As you get older, young thugs want to pick on you. They think you are easy prey,” said Stanley Skinner, 65. “This is a way to defend yourself and your loved ones, and keep them safe.”
Barbara Bennett, 71, an avid hiker and camper, said she is taking the class to learn to defend herself in the wilderness. “I want to be sure I’m safe.”
Shaolin Kung Fu emphasizes technique and ability, rather than power, which is why it’s ideal for seniors, Robert said. “The movements don’t have to be extreme, but it still increases strength and endurance.”
Originated 1,500 years ago in the Shaolin Temple in Henan, Shaolin is considered the premier martial style in China, and is practiced worldwide. Based on the Buddhist philosophy of nonviolence, the intention is not to kill your opponent, but to stop them from harming you.
Before and after sparring, opponents pay respect to on another by placing their left hand over their right fist, symbolizing knowledge over aggression. The’s followed by mutual bows.
Robert began his Kung Fu training in 1979 and has won gold, silver and bronze medals at the International Praying Mantis Tournament in Yantai, China.
He touts Shaolin-style Kung Fu for its “live and let live” philosophy. “It’s not just beating up people; it’s how you live your life, how you interact with others and how you do things.”
Classes will be held in the Clubhouse Six Main Lounge from 10-11 a.m. Thursdays beginning today. For information or to register call 597-4273 or visit the Recreation Division Office in the Community Center.
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