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Special to The Press-Enterprise

Ken Haslam will mark 50 years in martial arts on Thursday with a celebration at his San Jacinto studio.

Current students will demonstrate their skills for belt promotion and former students are invited to join in the festivities. Friends and family members will also be on hand to help Haslam commemorate his 60th birthday.

Although he spent his childhood traveling all over the United States, the stability of martial arts became important in Haslam’s life at age 10.

“When I first saw a demonstration at our school I got addicted,” said Haslam, of Hemet. “My mom said as long as I did my homework I could go to classes twice a week. Then I started spending my whole weekends there and soon it became a lifestyle.”

When Haslam entered junior high school, his family settled in Colorado and remained there until he graduated from high school. He earned his black belt in 1969 and was a third-degree black belt before age 19.

Attending college as a pre-med student, Haslam showed promise in the field of research but dropped out in his third year when he married and had children. He spent years making ends meet with various careers while always maintaining a martial arts studio.

“I opened my first studio when I was 21,” he said. “I realized I could help others build confidence and for me it’s always been about helping others.”

Haslam worked with the U.S. government as a civilian, teaching troops how to survive.

“That’s when I learned firsthand what reality was. These men were in combat and their lives depended on what I taught them — it wasn’t a sport,” he said.

Haslam said working with the military and always being the new kid on the block as his family traveled around during his early childhood made him realize that self defense martial arts isn’t about fighting, but about trying to avoid confrontation.

When he moved to the San Jacinto Valley 30 years ago, he opened a studio and made martial arts a full-time career.

“One of the nice things this year is that I’ve been stable long enough to be able to teach three generations of the same family,” said Haslam.

He earned his 10th-degree black belt in 1999 before a panel of top martial artists from around the world.

“I wanted them to validate my art that carries my name,” said Haslam, who chose the name Pan-Technicon from the Greek words meaning “all” and “arts and skills.”

“I’ve taught in my garage, open fields and lots of buildings around town,” said Haslam. “This is by far becoming our most successful location. Everything my students get here — they earn. That is what builds their self esteem and confidence.”

Pan-Technicon is at 2543 San Jacinto Ave. (Farmer’s Corner) in San Jacinto. The celebration starts at 5:30 p.m.

Information, 951-375-6811 or www.pan-technicon.com