Creator of new champs

Ho teaching his charges the right wushu techniques. ―Photos: SHAARI CHEMAT/The Star

Ho teaching his charges the right wushu techniques. ―Photos: SHAARI CHEMAT/The Star

AFTER retiring from the national team, former world wushu champion Ho Ro Bin also known as Robin Ho didn’t know what to do.

Wushu was all he knew since young.

He began learning wushu at 11 years old after being influenced by the action movies he grew up watching.

In 1999, he became the first Malaysian to win a gold medal in the World Wushu Championship in Hong Kong.

After taking part in the World Wushu Championship in 2005, he decided to call it quits.

“I had collected the full set of gold medals. I wanted to retire when I was at my peak at 30 years old.

“When I was in the national team, I only had to focus on training and preparing for competitions.

“But after quitting the team, I was lost, I had no direction and lost my confidence,” he said.

Ho in action during his younger days as a wushu exponent.- Filepic
Ho in action during his younger days as a wushu exponent.-filepic

He was then offered acting roles. He spent one and a half years acting in movies and dramas, including Malaysia’s first ever full-fledged martial arts movie Kinta 1881, which was also shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

“I enjoyed the action scenes but when it came to acting and dialogue delivery, those were not my strong points.

“I then decided that acting was not for me,” he said.

Even though the film industry was not for him, it taught him other things that prepared him for life after being a national athlete.

“When I was an athlete, all I knew was martial arts. I didn’t know about interpersonal skills,” he said.

He later decided to set up the Ho Ro Bin Wushu Training Centre in 2007.

“I’m a tough teacher, my students are scared of me but they know that I care for them.

(Left) A student of Ho practising his moves with the Nandao (Southern sword).
A student of Ho practising his moves with the Nandao (Southern sword).

“I see some of them three, five and even seven days a week. I see my students more often than I see my own children,” the 45-year-old said.

He has two daughters, aged eight and 15.

When it comes to coaching, wushu skills are just part of the training; Ho also instils discipline, good manners and moral values in his students.

“When parents send their children to be coached by me, I feel it is my responsibility to guide them.

“Here they learn something different from school. We build team spirit. My students would cheer and encourage each other,” he said.

His hope for his students is that they can take the good values they have learned at the training centre and apply them in life.

Aside from teaching wushu, he also sells wushu equipment, provides talent for wushu performances at events and also choreographs martial art scenes like a commercial which starred actress Datuk Michelle Yeoh.

He takes on many roles but it is all related to wushu, the craft he is passionate about.

During the interview, Ho proudly showed a video clip of a performance he choreographed where the performer interacted with the computer graphics displayed on the screen.

Aside from preparing students for competitions, he also organises wushu competitions and wushu camps.“Competitions are good exposure for my students,” he said. He hopes to get more support and sponsors.

“It is not easy. Like getting training venues.”When the going gets tough, he tells himself, “I have to be strong. I’m the one leading my team, the one running in front. I have to shoulder the burden and responsibility.”

From being a world champion, Ho is now a creator of champions.

Some of his students have become state or national athletes.

For Ho, it is not about winning competitions but the effort that was put into working towards it.

“I would tell my students: if you had put 100% into training, then the result is not important.

“Even if you easily won a competition that had only a few opponents, where is the pride in that?”