At the recent Active Living Fair held in Lacombe on Sept. 11, attendees were treated to a demonstration by local martial artists from Lacombe Karate and Kickboxing.
Students and instructors from the school showcased their skills demonstrating their abilities in kata, sparring, self-defense and board and brick-breaking.
Sensei Clint Robison, head instructor at Lacombe Karate and Kickboxing, said karate is a fun, interesting way for people to get some exercise while learning something new.
“It gives people something to do,” said Robison. “That’s what we offer. A way to better yourself.”
A fan of Bruce Lee, Robison started taking karate lessons after watching Lee’s movies sparked his interest in martial arts. Robison said he saw an ad in the paper, signed up for classes and has never looked back.
Many people get involved with martial arts for reasons similar to Robison’s, but not everyone realizes the amount of effort and dedication it takes to develop the skills. Robison said it takes years to develop substantial skills in martial arts. He added it took him seven years to earn his black belt in karate.
“It takes a lot of hard work and discipline,” said Robison. “You have to train hard for many years.”
For children just starting in karate, Robison said they can develop good skills, enough to defend themselves against an average person with no combat training, in two to three years. He added that, on average, students in his system earn their black belts within five to seven years.
During the years of hard work that it took to get to where he is, Robison stayed hooked on karate.
He said the competitive aspect of karate was something that kept him interested in the sport when he was younger and training for his black belt.
Competition is an important aspect of karate for Robison, he said. Not only did it keep him interested in training for many years, Robison said he believes competing helps his students grow as karate practitioners.
“You really get experience by putting yourself out there, you test your skills against other clubs,” said Robison. He added that the goal of competition is not necessarily to win every match, but to learn from competing against other practitioners.
Robison said that his students are strongly encouraged to compete in as many tournaments as possible.
He said that this helps students immensely when they apply to test for their black belt and he tries to have his students compete in at least 10 tournaments by the time they test for black belt.
Today, it is teaching that keeps Robison involved in karate.
He said he enjoys being able to impart his experience on to his students and see them improve and grow in their skills. As such, it is fitting that Robison’s students address with the title, ‘sensei’ which is a Japanese word for ‘teacher’ and a title used to refer to all black belts at Lacombe Karate and Kickboxing.
While Robison has his black belt in karate, he has by no means reached the end of the road in his karate training.
He said there are five degrees of black belt in his system and it is possible that the head of Zen Karate, Dwight Scheer, who is based out of Saskatoon, could contact him in the near future to test for his third degree black belt.
Robison trained under and earned his black belt from Sensei Lyle Cheney at Cheney’s Zen Karate and Kickboxing in Red Deer.
Today, Lacombe Karate and Kickboxing is still a sister school of Cheney’s school in Red Deer.
Karate is not the only martial art offered at Lacombe Karate and Kickboxing. As the name suggests, Robison also offers lessons in kickboxing. He said he first tried kickboxing while he was a brown belt in karate. After training in kickboxing for a year, Robison had his first fight, which he won, in Prince Albert.
“I liked that too, I liked the full contact,” said Robison. He added that his experience in karate was a great benefit in kickboxing, as he had experience with more dynamic kicks other kickboxers weren’t used to seeing.