By Matt Fulkerson/sports editor
The Martial Arts Club on NE Campus kicks off in February with new activities to bring more awareness to the club.
“Students don’t need to have any previous experience,” NE instructional associate Shane Whitehead said. “We have students of all skill levels and various styles.”
Whitehead has 13 years of experience training in kenpo, a Japanese martial art based on a system of self-defense.
He hopes students learn to have better situational awareness while participating in a fun and welcoming atmosphere.
“We’re really relaxed,” Jacob Wilkinson, the club historian, said. “Even if you’re just a little interested, come out and look for a day.”
NE student Gersian Casdilan studied muay thai at a local gym for a few months, but he said that he found it too expensive.
“I was surfing around on WebAdvisor and saw them in the list of clubs, and I decided to check it out,” he said.
Whitehead and the more experienced members work with the group and individual students, explaining concepts and demonstrating proper technique.
“We start off with a quick warmup and then do some falling practice before moving into striking practice and awareness instruction,” he said.
Whitehead teaches a color code to help students prepare for specific scenarios and maintain an awareness of their surroundings.
The code uses four colors, each of which signifies a different state of mental preparation.
“The first stage of awareness is white and represents a state of total relaxation, such as walking alone with your headphones on,” he said. “This is followed by yellow, where you are relaxed, but aware of what’s going on around you.”
In orange, an event or person enters the awareness that may or may not be a threat while red indicates an immediate threat, he said.
Whitehead teaches students to know their surroundings to help avoid these red-level encounters or to respond to them effectively.
“The worst type of transition to find yourself in, is to move from a level white into a level-red situation,” he said.
Along with these types of instruction, Whitehead said the club uses group discussion to allow members a chance to speak about and demonstrate their own learned techniques.
“It’s not about competition,” club president Matthew Adams said. “It’s about being able to control your body and have more control over your situation.”
This year, the club plans to begin work on a special video project it hopes to have ready for the fall.
“It’s top secret right now but should be a lot of fun and will give the members a chance to show off their knowledge in a different way,” he said.
Whitehead said he encourages anyone to come and check out the club, no matter the skill level.
The Martial Arts Club meets 12:30-1:15 p.m. every Wednesday at the racquetball courts in the gym, and there is no cost to join.