November 30, 2004

90-Year-Old Man Still Teaching Kids Judo

LINCOLN, Neb. - Paul Owen turned 90 this week, and he's still getting his kicks from judo. "I don't know what keeps me young," Owen said. Maybe it's the kids he teaches at John Roseberry's Sho-Rei-Shobu-Kan Martial Arts Center in Lincoln.

Owen, a fourth-degree black belt, easily keeps up with his exuberant students between ages 4 and 12. He instructs them on throws, holds, kicks and other basic movements.

Owen picked up the sport at age 40, taught for almost 40 years and then went on hiatus because he couldn't compete as he had in the past.

"I guess I thought I was too old," he said.

So for a decade, Owen stayed away from the downtown dojo where he taught hundreds of judo novices. He decided to resume teaching the sport he loved two years ago.

Two weeks ago, Owen received a plaque to commemorate his 50 years of judo. Lincoln police Capt. David Beggs, Owen's student 30 years ago, said Owen does a great job working with the young students.

Owen picked up judo after being invited to a class at the University of Nebraska in the 1950s. He became friends with John Roseberry who eventually started his own dojo.

"I was a student and a teacher," Owen said.

Roseberry said Owen has always had a knack for judo. He'd hold his own at the few tournaments he attended, even though he was in his 50s.

Outside the dojo, Owen exercises three times a week. He runs on a treadmill, rides a bike and lifts weights to keep his muscles toned.

"The guy is phenomenal," Beggs said. "I hope I'm still alive at the age he is."


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star