Robin Taberna is the 2019 USA National Marital Arts “Grand Master of the Year” – placing him amongst the pinnacle of the greatest American martial artists of all time. 

Nominated by acclaimed martial arts master, movie star, and stuntman Eric Lee, Taberna – who was born and raised in Manteca and has spent nearly four decades providing free Tae Kwon Do lessons to youth at the Manteca Boys and Girls Club – spent his Memorial Day Weekend in Fullerton being inducted alongside some of his heroes and mentors and adding another honor to an already prestigious career. 

“It was a total surprise – I was shocked when I found out that they were going to add me,” Taberna said. “It is such an honor to have that kind of recognition after all of the years that I have put into this. 

“This is – this is my life. And it’s humbling to have somebody recognize that.”

Already inducted as a member of the Black Belt Hall of Fame by the International Martial Arts Competition Federation, the Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall of Fame, the World Martial Arts Masters Hall of Fame, the International Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame and the Masters Hall of Fame, Taberna – a lifelong Manteca resident and Vietnam Veteran – is nearing his 37th year offering lessons as part of Taberna’s Tae Kwon Do Academy, and for almost 25 years helmed the Golden State Karate Association which held upwards of 10 tournaments a year with all proceeds benefitting the Boys and Girls Club. 

Taberna retired from tournaments earlier this year after hosting more than 200 during his 25-year tenure, and while he is now 72 years old, has no plans on stopping the free lessons that he has been giving for more than half of his life. 

“This is everything to me – this is my life,” Taberna said of the twice-a-week classes that have turned out blackbelts as well as successful students in nearly every facet of professional life possible. “As long as this place is here, I’m going to keep doing this because this is something that benefits the kids and that has always been my main focus – they’re why I do this. 

“I love it – it’s a chance to give back to the community, and to do something for the kids.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email jcampbell@mantecabulletin.com or call 209.249.3544. 

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