Local 75-year-old earns 5th degree black belt

Jim Wild, 75-year-old black belt

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Jim Wild is approaching 80, but always makes time for karate class.

Western New York Karate Center is a second home for Wild; he’s there twice a week to practice his art, something he says is his apple-a-day.

He’s been going for more than 20 years.

“It’s training for life, it’s not necessarily kicking and punching,” Wild told News 4.

He said karate changed his life.

“When he came to me over 20 years ago I found out that he was a smoker. So I told him, either you smoke or you do karate, you can’t do both,” said Wild’s instructor, Jim Cvetkovski.

Wild now sports a fifth degree black belt, along with a large scar over his heart.

He had open heart surgery 15 years ago, but was back on the floor in just three months, slowly getting his rhythm back.

He said continuing with karate was some of his best medicine.

“Once you start you just keep going until you get there, wherever that is,” he told News 4.

For Wild, “there” is a healthy lifestyle, and feeling good; a place he said, he’s happy to be.

“It’s an art. And art can be practiced for the rest of your life. Unlike other activities, you can be 5, 15, or 50, you can start at anytime and do it for the rest of your life,” Cvetkovski said.

Despite not hearing as well as he used to, Wild’s karate skills are still up to par, and improving.

From push-ups, crunches, hand-to-hand combat, and self defense, he’s one of the leaders in class.

“I never thought it would be me, but here I am,” Wild said.

There’s 10 degrees of black belt; he said he’s not done learning anytime soon.

Click here to start a beginner trial at Western New York Karate Center.

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