Imagine mastering the ancient art of Tai Chi and reaping its many health benefits, all within the comfort of your own community. Join me as I have an enlightening conversation with martial arts expert and health enthusiast Bob Martin, who shares his 50-year journey practicing, teaching, and living the martial arts lifestyle. From learning Taekwondo in Vietnam to teaching self-defense specifically designed for seniors, Bob shares how his experiences in Long Valley, New Jersey, and Cincinnati, Ohio, ultimately brought him to the Villages where he now teaches Tai Chi and other martial arts classes.
We explore the power of Tai Chi and its ability to improve both physical and mental wellbeing, delving into Bob's unique technique of "Lymphatic Breathing" - a method of breathing and body movement designed to boost the immune system. Discover how Tai Chi has helped his students in various ways, from improving their golf game to managing stress. Plus, we discuss the importance of wearing comfortable clothing during Tai Chi classes and the allure of traditional attire. Don't miss this fascinating conversation with an inspiring martial arts expert!
Open Forum in The Villages, Florida is Produced & Directed by Mike Roth
A new episode will be released most Fridays at 9 AM
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Announcer Zoey: Welcome to the Open Forum in The Villages Florida podcast. In this show we are going to talk to leaders in the community, leaders of clubs and interesting folks who live here in The Villages to give perspectives of what is happening here in The Villages. We hope to add a new episode most Fridays at 9am. We have converted all of our shows to Buzzsprout. Of course, you can still listen to Apple Podcast, amazon Music and about 20 other podcast platforms. Your favorite podcast player will still work. We are now a listener-supported podcast. You can become a supporter for only $3 or you can choose to pay more per month. Go to openforminthevillagescom and click on Support in the black box. There will be a shout out for supporters in episodes. This is a shout out to supporters. Tweet Coleman, dan Capellan, ed Williams, Alvin Stenzel and Major supporter Dr Craig Curtis at K2 in The Villages. We will be hearing more from Dr Curtis with short Alzheimer's tips each week.
Mike Roth: This is Mike Roth and Bob Martin. Thanks for joining me today, Bob.
Bob Martin: I'm glad to be here.
Mike Roth: Good Bob, why don't you tell our audience a little bit about yourself and what you've done before you came here to The Villages?
Bob Martin: Well, I worked in broadcast television for a better part of 30 years, but as a health enthusiast, I also was involved in martial arts for 50 odd years over 50 years.
Mike Roth: Okay, martial arts. I mean you started martial arts when you were about 10 years old.
Bob Martin: My first formal training was when I was in Vietnam. That was in about 1970. Then I got out and I started looking for other forms of martial arts. That was Taekwondo that I started in a lot of people. I found Goju Karate, which has roots in China and Okinawa. That kind of fit the bill for me at that moment.
Mike Roth: Karate is something that I think everyone's heard of Here in The Villages. You're an instructor for Tai Chi.
Bob Martin: Well, I teach Tai Chi, which is also a martial art. I also teach self-defense, which is based on Tai Chi principles, as well as Karate principles in Jiu Jitsu. It's designed for the street and I teach it for senior citizens who are not going to be jumping 20 feet in the air.
Mike Roth: No, not many of us can jump 20 feet in the air in improv. I have trouble asking people to talk and speak at the same time. Hello, so jumping in the air is not what you teach Now. Do you teach these classes as recreation center club activities or do you teach them through the Enrichment Academy?
Bob Martin: I teach it at the recreation centers. I do take donations because I have to buy equipment for some of the classes, because we try to base our training on where we live, so quite often I'll have the rec centers bringing out coffee tables and chairs. It's one thing to stand up and have all these things going around, but this is what we do here in 2023 and been doing it for years. We go places, we sit down. Sometimes I do call safety seminars. What do you do when someone approaches you in your car? Haven't done golf carts yet. That's in the future.
Mike Roth: Well, that's very common here in The Villages. I understand there's an excess of 60,000 golf carts in The Villages and growing Yeah.
Bob Martin: So again, coffee tables and chairs. I gave a guy a cane lesson yesterday a lot of cane, so we're going to just do it. Even if you don't need a cane, we're going to have lessons on using a cane and any type of stick, as well as knives and things like that. Okay.
Mike Roth: Good, before we go any further, bob, I always like to add a joke into the show for my grandson, Evan, and I'm going to ask you a question, Bob what do you think a cat's favorite dessert?
Bob Martin: is Cat's favorite dessert is probably a meow.
Mike Roth: No, it's a bowl full of mice cream, Bob. so how many years have you lived here in The Villages? About two and a half.
Bob Martin: Two and a half years, Two and a half. And where were you before that? We were up in Long Valley, New Jersey. This is another part of New Jersey, about 26 miles from the Poconos Oh, really, North Jersey. Oh yeah, We were, and we were up on a hill. so if we would get snow a half mile down the hill, they might get, eh, three inches. we would get at least a foot, Yeah.
Mike Roth: When I lived in Cincinnati we lived up the top of a hill And first year we're there, the first time it snowed by California Mercedes. Your wheel drive would not get up the hill And at the time I called my wife, who had a front wheel drive Mazda, and I said hey, kay, why don't you come down to Star Bank parking lot and pick me up, because I can't drive my car up a hill.
Bob Martin: I've seen it happen As a matter of fact once I moved down here. I don't post a lot on Facebook, but people understand martial arts. You hear the term roux R-Y-U and foux. So I posted a thing. Now that I'm down here, i no longer have to practice two of my arts, which is plow, roux, plow roux And shovel foux And shovel foux.
Mike Roth: Oh yeah, Did you have a plow that you used in New Jersey? Well, I had a snow blower.
Bob Martin: But for the initial impact. I always had a guy come through the driveway and all that, And then you had the municipal trucks come by and block the driveway again. Yeah, yeah.
Mike Roth: That was exactly the same thing in Cincinnati, Ohio. I had a snow blower and it was a light snow. The snow blower did a pretty good job, But if it was a heavy, slushy snow, I could be out there for hours. It was terrible Snow and weather, probably the two biggest reasons why I wound up in The Villages.
Bob Martin: And the other thing, taxes, property taxes. That was an immediate savings in the thousands of dollars moving down here. What kind of change was it for?
Mike Roth: you About a $13,000 savings $13,000 a year that you saved by moving down to The Villages and property taxes. Oh yeah, I could pay for a lot of meals at the country clubs, but in The Villages. What are your favorite activities? Well, obviously, martial arts, martial arts. How many times a week do you teach about your martial arts classes?
Bob Martin: I teach officially two days a week, but I have private students who come by And I also help teach and really take a natural what they call natural health class. That's given by a woman named Lily Brown her real name is Lizgy Yao And I also take another Tai Chi yoga class which in the newspapers called Yoga with a Tai Chi Warmer. So for a while about a year I used to teach the Tai Chi part of it, which is half hour, but I always wanted to take yoga And the good thing about the yoga is that you can do it. Number one it's not easy for me and I just get a chance to laugh at myself.
Bob Martin: So I say who wakes up and decides well, let me twist my body this way and see what happens. Who? does that, but I have fun and it's a class taught by Sandy Lang.
Bob Martin: Okay you know villages Hey where do you teach your classes? I teach my classes at Rohan Tai Chi. I teach on Tuesdays at 10 30, and then the self-defense, self-protection I teach on Thursdays at 1 30.
Mike Roth: Okay, let's, let's, let's talk about the Tai Chi first. Not being terribly familiar with Tai Chi, I think of it as the, the Chinese exercise. We assume various positions and move every few seconds. Is that about it? Oh no, okay, give our listeners a little bit more of an education on Tai Chi. Well, tai Chi is a philosophy.
Bob Martin: So you got the philosophical approach and then you have the go, like the Practical or physical approach, and then you have the art and the philosophical, the science and then the art. Tai Chi is a martial art, but part of studying Tai Chi is called Qi Gong. A lot of people don't teach you go, but she gone deals with energy and then stimulating your natural energy and cultivating it. Gung, the symbol of gong, looks like a plow, mm-hmm. So what you're doing is cultivating your internal energy as well as externally. How do you do that? through breath work. Give us an example.
Bob Martin: Well, so you can't see your breath, but you know it's there, right, see right. And through body contraction and release and also their Meridians that run through the tips of the fingers and down and toes and feet and along the inside and outside of your limbs, mm-hmm. So those are pathways to the organs. So when you hear people talk about a Qi Gong exercise, what they're doing is targeting the head, the body, main body part of the body and then the basement on down. So we like to call it the attic, the main floor in the basement, mm-hmm. So you're stimulating through certain types of exercise. It is a lot of Qi Gong exercises, but it helps stimulate you internally. Tai Chi is an internal art where it's karate, jiu Jitsu there, all what you call external or hard arts, mm-hmm, but eventually the two come together.
Mike Roth: This is Mike Roth with Dr Craig Curtis with today's Alzheimer's tip. Dr Curtis, there's been a lot of information floating around The Villages about research on Alzheimer's disease. Will participating in one of these studies cost a person anything?
Dr. Curtis: No, sir, the way the clinical trial system is set up in the United States. Patients come in and volunteer for a clinical research trial, let's say for Alzheimer's disease, and They're actually compensated for their time and trouble. It's usually a very small amount but they're compensated and insurance is not involved and there are no charges to the patient.
Announer: With over 20 years of experience studying brain health, Dr Curtis's goal is to educate The Villages community on how to live a longer, healthier life. To learn more, visit his website, craigkurtismdcom, or call 352-500-5252 to attend a free seminar.
Mike Roth: So what would be the first exercise that you would teach people in Tai Chi class?
Bob Martin: Well, in my classes we do what I call lymphatic breathing and what that does is a certain type of breathing and shifting and expansion and tightening of the body that boosts your immune system, your lymphatic system. Oh, that's good. So how would you do that? Well, it's kind of hard to describe it Okay.
Bob Martin: So I'd have you stand shoulder width and the body part I'd have you shift back behind your arch. As you do that, you tilt your Pelvis slightly forward and bend your knees and grip the ground with your toes. So we call that being as great as you in. Then I have you come up a little bit, shift forward and now raise the heels If you can, but as long as you're in front of the arch, that would be good enough. So that's that piece. Now your arms are gonna be at your sides. You're gonna act like each arm is in a tube that you can rotate. So as you shift back, you're gonna rotate your palms and turn them more towards your body, and as you sink down Right and then as you start to shift forward, you're gonna rotate them away from your body and look up where the ceiling in the floor meets, and as you do that, so you're gonna touch your shoulder blades together. All right, so that opens up the front, closes the back.
And as you shift back down.
Bob Martin: You rotate your palms towards your body and turn them out to the walls as you squeeze. That's shifting down. You're squeezing your body from the shoulders on down, mm-hmm. And in general, if you're moving forward or up, you inhale through the nose. Moving down or back, you exhale through the mouth. You put the tip of your tongue behind the front, two teeth on the gum line. So when you exhale you part your lips lightly and squeeze your body And then you start to inhale. You shift forward, inhaling through the nose. You fill up and then you squeeze the body And rotate the arms as you go and down.
Bob Martin: That's called lymphatic breathing, lymphatic breathing right, because your lymph system has a bunch of filters. Mm-hmm doesn't have things like the heart just pumps, pumps right, as public. The other, the lymphatic system, your daily motion, your daily Movement makes them function. So what you wanted to, particularly in this time of post COVID and things like that, you want to put those filters in the overdrive, mm-hmm. So through exercise, breathing and contraction and releasing of the body and the muscles, you're able to Pump those fluids through much more effect. I always say there's no guarantee, but stack the deck in your favor.
Mike Roth: Okay, it makes a lot of sense. Yeah, so you teach the class in Tai Chi at Rohan which day of the week Tuesdays at 10 30, Tuesdays at 10 30, and how many people typically show up for that class, oddly enough.
Bob Martin: I don't even advertise it as a Tai Chi class, but through word of mouth, because it's advertised as unified force martial arts. But through word of mouth. I have people who've been doing Tai Chi for years. Some of them say they never even knew it was a martial art And it's all about the feel good. After each class I gather people in a circle. I want to know what's your takeaway. I have people who've improved their golf game. Wow, oh yeah, this is. It's not just you know, I’m gonna take this and I have to take myself.
Bob Martin: No, you use the different elements in it to deal with everyday life. Because you know, when people talk about self-defense, your real self-defense has to do with the air you breathe. This is 24 seven. The food you eat, what stresses you out, how do you handle stress. All those things can lower your immune system, make your opponent. So when we talk about Tai Chi or martial arts, it includes a major health fact. Anybody can go out there, smacks somebody upside the head, but then there's the healing part. So the healing is the higher form of martial arts.
Mike Roth: Okay, and there's no problem if you know 50 people show up in your class.
Bob Martin: Oh no, not at all, not at all. And we laugh in our class.
Mike Roth: Well, that's good.
Bob Martin: We laugh a lot about class and make fun of each other in a nice way.
Mike Roth: Yeah, okay. So how long has the have people stayed with your class? I have people over there from day one, really, and how many years is that?
Bob Martin: Two years, two and a half years Yeah, great the way I started teaching down here. It had more to do with self-defense.
Mike Roth: Let's talk more about the self-defense now.
Bob Martin: Yeah as a senior citizen Well, let me put this right went to a class I have. There's a good class down here called karate for life, right I?
Announcer Zoey: like that class.
Bob Martin: And the first time I came down here before we about maybe 67 years before we actually bought Guy and charling lia yellow He asked me if I would teach part of his class. So the way the story goes after I finished teaching somebody came up to me and asked me where I was from. I'm from New York, my wife's from Philly. She'll be here to pick me up The young lady and I'm inside after the class talking to people. I come outside and I see my wife, Norma, crying with this woman. I'm trying to say what happened. So the way the story goes, the woman came out to Norma and said oh, your husband tells me you're from Philly. I'm from Philly too. What are you doing Philly? Oh, I taught Norma. My sister taught too. The woman says what was your sister's name? But before Norma could answer, the woman said Vivian Robinson or Vivian Cheney, something like that. And the woman told Norma and you look so much like your mother. So Norma said she's looking at her. How do you know that This woman was Vivian's friend, not only cold, but Vivian's friend, and she was at Vivian's funeral. Vivian had died 10 years earlier. So those were kind of like quasi-happy tears memories.
Bob Martin: So I knew I wanted to move down here because they had a lot of martial arts And obviously the weather. Norma looked up and said God, are you messing with me? So I took that class and I would come down every year and they would send out a little memo that people know I would come down here. A lot of people had previous training. But then I went to another class And, long story short, in my opinion the guy didn't know what he was doing. So after about four classes I left and some people in this class called me up and asked me, without teaching, if they booked a room for me. I said OK. So about a month, every Friday I would teach about a half dozen guys certain things about martial arts And they kept saying, when you got to start your own class.
Mike Roth: So that's how I started teaching down here, ok, ok, so let's talk about the self-defense procedures. How did that start?
Bob Martin: Well, it's for anybody. But when you say seniors, you have young seniors, yes, then you have older seniors, correct? You have people with different types of issues. Some of them are women, some of them are people who have to take blood thinners. So you have to understand the audience In my class. If you come in and you bruise easily, i would tell you to go someplace else. Oh really, yeah, because we have contact, not heavy contact, but we do have contact. So if someone touches your arm and you start bleeding, that's not the class for you. Yes, not good, i think it's cool. I think it's cool. I think it's cool. Cool it in or something. Oh yeah.
Mike Roth: Yeah, it's around though.
Bob Martin: Yeah, but with the breathing I've had people say to the allergies what they learned to is improved because your pumping was fluid through your system and the other thing is through the principles. The principles of Tai Chi is they pull, you push. If they push, you pull. So you're able to guide someone's force, their power, your direction. When you understand that to a finite degree you're able to deal with somebody younger, somebody faster, As you age, things happen.
Bob Martin: You just wake up, sometimes away that come from. So how do you continue your martial art until you drop dead? A lot of people quit because they can't do what they did when they were 20 or 30 years old.
Mike Roth: We have a lot of You shouldn't have to, right? We have a lot of people who have a hard time standing up.
Bob Martin: Yeah, Tai Chi. As a matter of fact, I’ve had doctors recommend to their patients to come take my Tai Chi class because there's a lot of weight shifting in Tai Chi And you get used to shifting your weight. We actually do it when we walk but we're not conscious of it, right Subconscious. So in Tai Chi we break it all down and then you're able to feel and be conscious of controlling the different shifts that your body has to make, doing different movements, particularly bending over and standing up or lowering your body, and raising up.
Mike Roth: Can you give our listeners one self-defense tip for someone that's, say, 65 years of age, walk away if you can. Walk away. That's the best. That's the best. That's the best.
Bob Martin: If you can get out of it, walk away. If you can't get out of it, then you need to get 100% into it. So if a person is attacking you and you're just trying to defend I hope you're a good defender That's a losing position. But no matter what they're doing, if you become the attacker yourself when you're attacked, i have a saying when you're attacked, you become the attacker. Now you have to deal at least with what I'm going to do. So if you're grabbing me and I stick my finger towards your eyes, do you still want to grab me or do you want to be blind? Yeah, i mean I need to put it cool, but seniors are considered easy prey, right? So somebody else out there might be talking about fighting. No, we're talking about surviving. So they're involved, but we have to be committed.
Mike Roth: So you also mentioned earlier and I did want to get this into the show What should you do if you're approached by someone and you're in your vehicle.
Bob Martin: Well, the normal thing, like I used to live in New York And then when I moved to Jersey and I'm driving in on the car, I’d see people by the Port Authority These guys reaching to the cars and take pocket books and things like that and people trying to push them away. But you have to understand that the car is your environment. You have the steering wheel, you have the frame of the car, so if you're reaching into my car, I’m probably going to pull you in. So now the car is blocking your lower body and you're inside the window. So I have the window frame and something to slam up against, slam you up against.
Bob Martin: I have the steering wheel and quite often I used to give out four inch hat pins. You can stick in the visor or in the car seat, pull it up, stop being acupuncturist. And then you have your elbows and stuff, so they're trapped. See, they don't realize it, but if you try to push them out, you're going against your own environment. So that's one of the approaches And when you understand the principle and the concept behind it, a whole new world opens up.
Mike Roth: Yeah, if you're thinking what would happen, they're going to pull themselves out of the car.
Bob Martin: Yeah, they're going to get it. They're going to want to get it. I got stung by an electric catfish when I was younger because I didn't believe I didn't know there was an electric catfish.
Mike Roth: Oh yeah, electric eel There's electric catfish too.
Bob Martin: And I grabbed this thing. It was on the bottom tank of a cast iron stand with a larger tank up above. It shocked me, i yelled, i raised my hand out from the tank and it hit the bottom of the cast iron stand. So not only was I shocked, my hand was swollen. All I could do was laugh because the catfish did what it was supposed to do. And I started thinking. From then and this is before I took formal martial arts I said wouldn't it be cool if I did something to make somebody want to let me go See?
Mike Roth: so that was part of my approach. Okay, coming on. Electric catfish, oh yeah, but here's a question for you. I wish your hand knew any of the catfish.
Bob Martin: Electric catfish tank because I was stupid and decided let me see if this thing can really shock anybody. It felt like I stuck my finger in a socket. Oh yeah, that's the feeling that it had. So for anybody who still that has doubts, Don't do it. Yeah, don't do what.
Mike Roth: I did. Yeah, i have a scar on one of my fingers from when I touched them. Electronic component on a circuit board to see if it was hot. It was more than hot. It was AC. Pow, pow, pow, oh yeah, pop. If someone wants to get a hold of you and ask your question about Tai Chi before coming to your class, how should they do that?
Bob Martin: First, let me just say all you need to do is show up comfortable clothing And we wear shoes of the Tai Chi class. So they get in touch with me by Phone numbers. Two zero one, nine, eight, eight, two, three, seven, four. This two zero one, nine eight, eight, two, three, seven, four, and my Email is firstname.lastname@example.org. The website which needs a little updating, but as you get a good Description and a good understanding of my approach to martial arts, is WWW. Unifiedforce.net.
Mike Roth: Okay, bob, I notice that you're wearing long pants today. Is that what you suggest people wear to the Tai Chi classes? warm pants, it doesn't matter I.
Bob Martin: I tend to wear long pants. It's kind of like a traditional thing, but they can wear shorts, t-shirts, whatever makes you feel comfortable.
Mike Roth: great Bob, I want to thank you for being on the show.
Bob Martin: Well, thank you for inviting me. I had a good time Great.
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