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Active Life Martial Arts brings timeless techniques to Roseville

By: Scott Thomas Anderson, The Press Tribune
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Jon Dunlap likes watching grueling, gritty mixed martial arts fights as much as the next fan: But for him teaching the ancient Chinese traditions of self-defense is not about blood and pain — it’s about discipline, self-reflection and constant fun. Dunlap recently opened Active Life Martial Arts Center, a tidy, family-friendly venue situated near the corner of Douglas and Sierra College boulevards. The instructor was first introduced to martial arts when he was 12. “We moved around a lot when I was a kid,” Dunlap said. “My family wanted me to build confidence, learn social skills and know how to defend myself. Over the years I always stayed involved with it, mostly because it’s so much fun. I still think it’s fun.” Having been a teacher in numerous martial arts studios in southern California, Dunlap is now settled into a new space decorated in patterns of black-and-red and accented by Chinese symbols of gold. A row of ranking belts is displayed across the top of the north wall, just over a large, framed American flag. Dunlap, who has had students signing up from ages 4 to 68, believes it is crucial for his studio to capture the right energy. “The culture is the most important part of any dojo,” Dunlap said. “People need to know they’re coming to an environment where no one’s trying to hurt them, but where they will be leaving sweating, smiling and soar.” At Active Life Martial Arts Studio, the type of self-defense that gets students’ hearts pumping is a root system of Kenpo, with sub-disciplines of Kung Fu, Jiu Jitsu and Karate. Students can also learn forms and katas with swords, nunchucks and the bo staff. Carla Sisneros, one of Dunlap’s adult students, is finding the class invigorating. “I haven’t done anything like this before, so martial arts is new to me,” Sisneros said. “So far I’m loving it. I wasn’t physically active before, and now I’m getting exorcise and learning self-defense. For me it’s really working because I’m working out in a way that’s not boring and I like Jon’s personality and his approach.”