© MITCH MACDONALD/THE GUARDIAN
Rob Norton demonstrates a starting position on a body opponent bag that provides a subtle form of conflict resolution by leaving his palms open, rather than clenching his fists.
Martial arts instructor looks to teach self-defence and conflict resolution to Islanders
Rob Norton is a man who trusts his instincts.
It was about 15 years ago when the martial artist moved from the United Kingdom to Canada without ever having been to the country.
“I really trusted my instincts, they just said ‘come to Canada’ and they were right,” said Norton, who made a similar gamble when he recently moved his family from Pickering, Ont., to P.E.I. “For some reason, I just sort of woke up one day and P.E.I. was the place to go .... As soon as we got off the bridge there was just a feeling of ‘I’m home’.”
Norton is now hoping to enhance Islanders’ own instincts, especially when it comes to resolving conflicts and self-defence.
He’s currently securing venues to hold four free workshops in Charlottetown, Cornwall, Stratford and Summerside for women to learn self-defence and hopes that may spur interest in his martial art of Shoto-Gin.
Norton is the founder and president of Shoto-Chi, which focuses on conflict resolution and self-awareness.
“I wanted to develop a martial art that was unlike anything else,” said Norton, who founded Shoto-Chi in the U.K. when he was 17 years old.
“There is a lot more to what should be in martial arts other than being 100 per cent reactive.”
Rather than teaching traditional martial arts lessons like learning how to block punches, Norton said he starts from a belief of prevention and attempts to keep confrontations from getting physical.
For example, instead of assuming a starting position with clenched fists, Norton said he teaches to approach a possible conflict with open palms to possibly diffuse the situation.
“I started creating the art around human behaviour to understand how people think and move within conflict,” said Norton, who has also outlined his main principles of conflict resolution in his book, “Pine-Wave Energy”.
Norton said his lessons aim to take a fresh, fun and sometimes humorous approach to learning self-defence.
He also eliminated some of the more traditional aspects, such as sparring, competitions and using a belt-based grading system.
He said his art is built more around realism.
“I’m not saying traditional martial arts are not realistic, but with them you’re going through years of training,” he said.
“A lot of people cannot afford or do not want to take years of martial arts training just to be safe.”
Norton said anyone interested in taking part in a workshop can contact him at 416-417-5690 or firstname.lastname@example.org.