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Karate master at Kilmarnock Heights Home

Karate master at Kilmarnock Heights Home

Kilmarnock Heights Home resident Bob McCallum.
Kilmarnock Heights Home resident Bob McCallum.

Enliven’s Kilmarnock Heights Home in Berhampore is home to one of the most well-known New Zealand figures in Kyokushin Karate.

Bob McCallum is a member of the New Zealand Martial Arts Hall of Fame, a seventh-dan black belt, and a branch chief in the International

Karate Organisation Kyokushinkaikan. What’s more, at 86 years old he’s a testament to the fact that age is just a number.

Bob says his interest in Karate began in 1965 after seeing a man splitting stones in half with his bare hands in Japan.

“The stone splitting sparked my interest and when I was back in New Zealand I saw a tiny ad in the paper for Karate classes, so I decided to give it a try,” says Bob.

“It took a lot of time to get any good, but my thinking is that if you’re going to do something you’ve got to do it right, no matter how long it takes you.”

It was that mind set and dedication which inspired Bob to practice Karate throughout his life.

“I haven’t stopped doing Karate and I’m 86. Karate isn’t a sport; it’s a way of life.”

Bob has taught Karate all over New Zealand and his students call him Shihan, a Japanese honorific title for expert or senior instructors, and while he has no trouble karate-chopping rocks in half it’s not something he or his students do in public.

“We only did it in training to see how our technique was, and whoever says it doesn’t hurt is a liar.”

After having a stroke 15 years ago Bob was told he would never walk again, but he manages to make his way round with nothing more than a walker. Even after hip replacements and the arrival of Parkinson’s disease he still perseveres.

“I just see it as another challenge. The same way I’ve always looked at everything else.”

Now Bob lives at Enliven’s Kilmarnock Heights Home in Berhampore, and while he’s still coming to terms with not being able to live on his own anymore, he realises that everyone needs extra help eventually.

“It’s hard feeling like you’re losing your independence, but I’m coming to realise that this is the best place for me because there’s help at hand when I need it.”

Kilmarnock Heights Home is operated by Enliven, part of the not-for-profit organisation Presbyterian Support Central, and specialises in rest home care, respite care and health recovery. Kilmarnock Heights Home also hosts a fun and engaging day activity programme for older people living in their own homes or with family.

To find out more about Enliven’s Kilmarnock Heights home, located at 20 Morton Street in Berhampore, call 04 380 2034, email kilmarnockheights@psc.org.nz or click here.

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