Today: Jun 24, 2024

Longest running club still kickin’

Jennifer HofferSports Editor

The martial arts club here at Southern is one of the oldest running clubs on campus. It was first founded when Southern was still a teaching school.

The club is run by two black belt instructors along with a core of veteran members.

The club currently has over a dozen members — including both boys and girls. Although boys and girls typically don’t fight each other that frequently, if the girls are ready for the competition then they can compete.

Senior martial arts member Jremy Flanders said that they are always looking for more members.

“It’s open to everybody,” Flanders said. “We would love to go with an army to go to some more tournaments around the state.”

The team usually competes in at least three tournaments per semester. Their most frequent competitor is fellow Connecticut state university, CCSU.

To compete this season, and hopefully be a stronger team, Flanders said that the team is going to take part in the Tough Mudder this October in New Jersey.

Some members of the club have had prior experience with sports or martial arts before joining the club.

While Flanders did not have any experience with sports or martial arts before joining, he eventually blended in with the team after all his practicing and hard work. We then move in to working on sparring off on each other. We’ll spar off each other either at the same rank, above our rank, or below our rank.”

But Blake Williams, also a senior member, did have prior experience with marital arts.

Williams was involved with martial arts as a child, but stopped, as he got older he became part of the track and field team at his high school as a runner.

“Part of the reason why I joined the karate club was that I stopped competing in track and field when I came to college,” Williams said. “I wanted something physical to do to help me stay in shape.”

Being physically strong is crucial as a member of the martial artist club.

“Our instructor is very good at putting workouts together,” Williams said. “The workouts not only challenge our physical strength, but also our determination. In the end we are always better off having stuck through it.”

A typical day of a martial arts club member includes doing a lot of legwork.

“We then separate into different forms depending on what that that certain member is specialized in,” Flanders said.

black belt

Williams’ freshman year he made friends with the karate instructors at a studio near his home. And from there he went to classes at the studio. Williams’ friends at the studio encouraged him to keep taking classes, which persuaded Williams’ to join the club when he was attending the club fair on campus one semester.

Josh Kish, also a member and senior, became intrigued in the martial arts because he wanted something to satisfy his competitive nature.

“I wanted to stay in shape,” Kish said. “I didn’t feel like paying for the gym we have on campus. The martial arts club is perfect for people who are looking to get in shape and stay in shape.”

The bonds and relationships that are made within the club is Kish’s most favorite part about the club.

“You build a sense of camaraderie among members by completing all of the workouts and training sessions,” Kish said. “Training sessions that can range from a walk in the park to something we affectionately call “Hell Night.”

For Williams though it was also quick decision for him to join the club.

“After attending a few of the practices, I decided that I liked the club and stayed on as a member of the club,” Williams said.

As far as clubs being successful goes, Williams said that clubs needs to have an active base of members.

“Without people participating in the club’s events and undertakings it will eventually fall apart,” Williams said.

It’s helpful to keep a club together when it gets involved in socials and interacts with its members frequently.

“The karate club has socials to foster relationships between its members,” Williams said. “We get together and watch movies, eat, and hang out. We also occasionally have socials with other groups and organizations on campus.”

Last year, the karate club outreached to one of the sororities on campus and had a social.

“Keeping players and getting new recruits is key to any clubs success,” Flanders said.

This is one thing, Kish said, that the club lacks.

“We have a core group of around eight people, and anywhere from one to twelve white belts that sporadically show up,” Kish said. “We need people who are willing to come to practice and help us expand this club.”

All three members said no experience is needed to join. Members will teach newcomers everything they need to know.

“You will become a bona fide practitioner of martial arts,” Kish said. “Dedicated people make or break a club. All it takes for a club to be successful is a few dedicated individuals willing to make a few sacrifices to expand their club.”

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