Karate — not just for kids anymore
Diane Melson of El Dorado Hills always celebrates in May, the month of her birth. But last May she enjoyed two celebrations — her 60th birthday and the acquisition of her karate black belt.
Three years earlier Melson had experienced a heinous act of violence against her family. It was then that she and her daughter decided to learn to defend themselves so that such a thing would never happen again.
Melson participates with the Silver Tigers, a senior citizens group that meets twice weekly to enjoy camaraderie while strengthening their bodies, improving their minds, and learning self defense techniques.
Does she consider herself too old to be practicing Taekwondo? “Recently,” she said, laughing, “Time magazine reported that Keiko Fukuda of San Francisco had acquired the highest black belt degree possible in Judo at age 98. When I reach that age I hope to have acquired that level in karate.”
The Tigers meet each Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to noon at Robinson’s Tae Kwon Do in Cameron Park. There they practice a set of exercises especially designed for seniors to increase their physical strength, improve balance to preclude falls, augment weight loss, and improve memory. Everyone starts seated in a chair, learning how to properly lift the arms and legs. No one moves to higher level exercises until properly demonstrating the basics.
Ron Flynn, 72, of Cameron Park joined the Tigers a year ago to see if he still possessed the “right stuff.” In the Navy he was stationed in Japan and there earned a brown belt in Judo while competing with the Yokohama police. “I’m not as strong nor as fast as I was back then,” he said, “ but I’m a lot stronger than when I started here a year ago.”
Flynn’s favorite exercise involves learning to use the walking cane as a weapon. “To a mugger I may look like an aged Fred Astaire, but I hope he’s not foolish enough to try anything,” he said with a chuckle.
Bob Parker, 73, of El Dorado Hills has no intention of ever facing an opponent in competition.
“I’m a lover, not a fighter,” he quipped. “I got involved a year ago after my doctor advised me to get off the couch and start moving. When I read about the free introductory offer of the Tigers, I decided to take them up. I like free. But then I got hooked and now look forward to every meeting.”
Instructor Lisa Deines said she finds real joy in working with the Silver Tigers. “Because of their life experiences and eagerness to achieve, my challenge is holding them back.”
The club welcomes all interested seniors who have celebrated their 50th birthday. “Try it out for a month at no cost,” Deines suggested. “ Then if you are benefiting, Robinson’s will discuss a low-cost program designed to your specific needs.”
Deines can be reached at Robinson’s TKD, 4100 Cameron Park Drive, Suite 123, via phone at (530) 676-7475 and e-mail at [email protected].