Young at heart perform martial arts

Young at heart perform martial arts
By: Carly O'Keefe

MARION, Ill. - A two-day martial arts tournament at the Williamson County Pavilion drew folks from all over the United States, Canada and Mexico--but not all of them were karate kids.

Herbert Mullins of Des Moines, Iowa is 81 years old, although he's not your typical senior citizen.  He breaks 1" boards of wood with his fists.  Mullins first became interested in martial arts when he was in his 60's.

"My grandson and I went to the 'Y' and he said 'Grandpa, you can't do it'. Now I'm still doing it and he went off to college to find girls," said Mullins.

Now, Mullins is a black belt and keeps up a daily martial arts regimen to maintain his health.

"I like the camaraderie, the exercise and agility," said Mullins.  "You have to have lots of energy, which I do, as you can tell!"

James Webster of Cape Canaveral, Florida is 70 years old, and has been practicing martial arts for nearly half his life.

"I started when I was 36 with my son," said Webster. "I became interested in it because of the influence of Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris.  But once I got into it I learned there were benefits other than punching and kicking people."

Webster said he feels sorry for other folks his age who aren't in martial arts, because according to him it keeps him young.

"My doctor says my body is like a 40 or 50-year-old man because of what I've done with martial arts," said Webster.

Keenan Brown began martial arts training two years ago, and says it's become more than a hobby for him.

"I'm on dialysis, three times a week, so to do karate, it's really saved my life," said Brown.

Master Thomas Black teaches martial arts in Carbondale. He said he's seen a lot of folks getting into the sport simply to improve their health.

"You don't have to be the best fighter or the best athlete.  You're just you, but it brings out the best in you. That's martial arts," said Black.