Art of Aging: Del. dojo teaching seniors self-improvement

WILMINGTON, Delaware (WPVI) -- Rick Berry was almost 27 years old when he decided to try martial arts in 1966.

"I just wanted to learn a little self-defense and a means of keeping myself physically fit. I figured I would practice for maybe two years or so," Berry said.

Now, at almost 80, he is still going strong, teaching Aikido at the Quiet Storm Dojo in Wilmington, Delaware which he founded over 30 years ago.

"Well my instructor told me that I was too old to become a karate champion; he said strive to become a good instructor," Berry said. "I started out in Shrin-ry, that's an Okinawan system and, after three months, I switched to taekwondo which is a Korean system. About 18 years later, I switched to Aikido."

"The ultimate goal in Aikido is to protect yourself and not cause any undue harm to the person who attacks you. The most important thing is timing and rhythm."

Berry says there are four primary principles.

"Being calm, learning relaxation, correct posture and positive mind," Berry said.

Berry has taught thousands of students to apply these principles beyond the mat; many are now instructors themselves.

"Rick is always challenging you to be better. He's teaching you how to live, not just from a physical standpoint, but I would say a spiritual and a mental standpoint as well so I found it helpful in my professional life and in my personal life," sensei Nick Nichols said.

"We use the medium of self-defense, but we're teaching self-improvement," Berry said.

Students say they also enjoy the social aspect describing it as like a second family.

"I think I look at the world a little differently now and we talk about our lives and philosophy and different things. We really look out for each other," student and instructor Steve Metaxas said.

"The whole idea is to enjoy yourself, to enjoy life, that's what this thing is all about," Berry said.
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