Don Denton & Travis PatersonNews staff
The ancient teachings of the samurai warrior live on in a martial arts studio on Quadra Street where local karate expert Ken Marchtaler conducts his classes.
Last month the 57-year-old was awarded the distinguished karate title of renshi, or polished master, one of three samurai warrior titles.
It’s one of the highest levels of distinction in karate, and comes from a life spent dedicated karate’s physical and mental disciplines.
“If you want to progress to a higher level (in karate) then martial arts mindfulness and mediation needs to be part of your daily habits,” said Marchtaler.
From the Warrior Martial Wellness Centre space next to 24 Hour Fitness, the former banker practises and teaches mindful meditation and embryonic breathing, a higher level meditation, as well as karate’s trademark movements.
Despite Marchtaler’s iniative to teach both sides of martial arts, he’s not overlooking the crucial fitness component. His five-hour renshi test was in California and included a grueling one-hour crossfit session to achieve the title.
“I wasn’t aware of how important it would be for me, but it has made me realize how significant it is, not only in Japanese society, but to my students, my teacher, and to our grandmaster Shugoro Nakazato,” Marchtaler said.
One in every 100 students that starts martial arts makes it to black belt, he added. There are no statistics beyond the first-degree, but very few make it to second-degree, and even less beyond that.
Marchtaler offers a number of Martial Wellness programs which provide traditional martial arts training that take into account western needs. The workshops cater to men and women but he is particularly concerned with children developing proper wellness and fitness habits.
Marchtaler’s endeavours reach far beyond his Saanich studio as he’s has written a book for kids based on his teachings called Little Warriors: The Book of One, which has been optioned for television and a movie before it will come to print.
He’s also been heavily involved in the creation of the World Martial Arts Games, an entity that brings many of the world’s martial arts associations together.
It came as a response to the Olympics’ inclusion of Tae Kwon Do and Judo, while more than a dozen more martial arts associations were being overlooked.
Marchtaler has been with WMAG since 2005 and oversaw it bring several organization together, acting as commissioner since 2012. WMAG has now been handed over to TAFISA, the Association for International Sport For All.
In September, TAFISA ran the 2014 World Martial Arts Games in Richmond, using the podiums of the 2010 Olympics and medals designed by Corrine Hunt, who designed the 2010 Winter Olympics medals.