Robin J Gardiner

Head Teacher/Researcher

Robin Gardner Synthetic School of Martial ArtsRobin Gardiner (1951-) 5TH DAN…

Robin was born in Perth Western Australia.

He began his formal training at Jan de Jong’s Ju Jitsu Kan in 1967 when in October of that year a visiting French Karate Ka aikidoist Philippe Boiron, introduced the fundamentals of Shotakan Karate, covering the first three Ei An katas.

Robin then studied Pent jak silat with Jan de Jong – the training consisted mainly of a two person kembangan (bunga flowery dance) and applications.

In 1968 Robin began his study of Goju Ryu Karate with a Japanese 5th Dan Yasunobu Nagai who was from the home dojo in Japan, he trained six days a week and soon took charge of the classes at the university. It was at that time when he had his first contact with the styles of Choy Lay Fut and Wing Chun through two brothers who attended the same school of Bruce Lee, and also through exchange students from Hong Kong and Malaysia. Robin was graded a 2nd Dan in Goju Ryu.  He wrote an early piece on Goju Ryu for Karate and Oriental Arts.

Robin early years

Around 1970 Robin was introduced to William Cheung in Canberra and began attending his Wing Chun classes. Over the next three years Robin returned to train with William and learnt the three forms, the wooden man form, sword cuts, pole work, chi sau and strategy models. One of Wong Shun Leung’s students taught him his dummy form etc, whilst at university Robin studied Tai Ji Chuan with an exchange student from Malaysia who had learnt from Huang Shen Shyan,    a strong tenacious solid Tai Ji.

He returned to Canberra in 1973 and studied with William Chung and moved toMelbourne. Robin created a very experimental Wing Chun group in Perth.

Robin young

In 1976 Robin flew to London travelled to London to meet Rose Li (Rose Shao Chiang Li 1914-2001), After a year in the USA and Canada, he returned to study Tai Ji Chuan, Ba Gua Zhang and calligraphy with Miss Li. He always arrived early to watch every class for three years. During this period Robin studied old master painting techniques and print making at a branch of Chelsea School of Art under Kalman Kemeny and Ruskin Spear. He also began a full time three year course in internal speech formation, movement and therapeutic art based on the research of Rudolf Steiner, and also attended the sculpture school in St John’s Wood.

In 1981 Robin was approached by Steve Cox and Nathan Johnson. After teaching them they helped Robin prepare the first ever English language publication on the Bil Jee Form, as well as another book on the Wing Chun Butterfly knives and pole.

The Southampton group under Steve Cox has maintained contact for 30 years and has continued in ongoing research. Robin also wrote several articles for the Karate and Oriental magazine at the time.

Robin returned to Melbourne, Australia in 1983. In 1984, then Robin returned toLondon and began a career as an art dealer becoming an expert in the field of published original prints 1850-1980.  He later became Director of the Drian Gallery inLondon. He developed his expertise in the post-war schools of painting.

In the early 1990’s Robin continued his love of Ba Gua Zhang by studying with Wen Lin Jun who had recently arrived from China a serious Wushu teacher who had a deep grounding in Shaolin Kung Fu from his grandfather and fifteen years with Sha Kuo Cheng who had learnt Ba Gua Zhong form Sha Guo Zhenj (1920 – 1992), he studied the forms for three years.

During this period Robin reconnected with Miss Rose Li to attend the Tai Ji classes and the Ba Gua group at her home.  A contact in Chinatown introduced him to the Dacheng Chau style and writings at this time. Also through the suggestions of Paul Crompton in the late 1990’s Robin made contact with John Davies and the Yin Fu school and was thus brought into contact with the vast body of material offered by Dr Xie Pei and He Jin Bao, the true power training methods of Yin Fu became available through these workshops.

An interest and love of studio pottery led to the taking of classes with the excellent potter and thrower Liz Hammond. In 2006 Robin moved to St Leonard’s on Sea and founded the School of Synthetic Painting with Rina Thea, a book on the work is in preparation. Also several students have compiled the 40 years of martial arts notes and pictures into booklet form along with an analysis of Rose Li’s contribution, which deals a lot with her research into the Chen style roots of Tai Chi.

Robin continues to host “at homes” for experienced martial artists, currently the research continues and features the important areas of loosening Ba Da Jin, Chi Exercises, Standing postures, walking, Five Animal Play, Tai Chi, Ba Gua, Wing Chun and Hsing I.

Robin collage