As owner, he’s trained his share of athletes at the Pleasant Street martial arts gym in a number of styles, including kickboxing, Kajukenpo, Chuan Fa and mixed martial arts.
However, Tobin has decided to step back for personal family reasons, and pass ownership of the gym to his senior student, Brenna Urquhart, who has trained with him for 19 years.
“I feel confident and honoured that she’s taking over, and I know that she’ll do a fantastic job,” said Tobin. “I believe in tradition, integrity, and honour – that’s what we’re all about here, and family. There really wasn’t a second pick for me, so if she had said that she didn’t think she wanted to take over, I’d still be here.”
Urquhart also has her own class at 22 Glendale Drive in Lower Sackville. She’s a third degree black belt in PaiLum Kungfu, a first degree black belt in Kajukenpo Karate, and an international medalist.
As ownership shifts, the gym is under renovations for the summer with Urquhart planning a grand reopening in September. It will also provide an opportunity for members of the public to visit the facility and learn more about the different classes offered.
“I’m feeling very good about it, but really nervous – it’s an awfully big shoe to fill,” says Urquhart. “I’m really just excited to hit the ground running with it.”
While he’s confident in Urquhart’s ability to run the gym, it’s a bittersweet time for Tobin.
“It’s a double-edged sword for me, it really is; I love teaching. For over half of my life that’s what I have done, train and teach martial arts,” he said. “It’s always in my heart, and I want to continue to do it, just at a different level.”
During his time running the gym, Tobin has taught classes where membership ranged from three members to 18, and has taught people of all ages, the youngest being four, the oldest, 67.
For Tobin, the best part of teaching has been watching his students grow. “For me, it’s seeing a person develop some sort of success.”
The classes and styles of teaching will remain the same at the gym when it reopens under Urquhart’s ownership later in the year. For people considering joining a martial arts class, Urquhart encourages people to visit the gym when it reopens.
“Try it out, and do it for you,” she says. “ I find so many people in their minds think ‘I’m going to try it when I’m in better shape’ or ‘if only I was younger,’ but you have to start somewhere.”