By Grace-Aileen Holdinghaus
Turtles might not seem like martial arts masters, but Bucs —thinly disguised pirates — are just the opposite of Beloit College’s ninja clan: the Martial Arts Club. These turtles have thoroughly impressed me. I recently attended one of the tournaments they participated in, and the sheer energy of the crowd bowled me over. Apparently yelling, called “keying up,” is required in many martial arts events like board breaking and sparring — a fact that alarmed me for the first few contestants. Watching these crisply uniformed men and women scream before windmill-kicking a wooden board into bits is more than everyday impressive. It’s downright amazing. The most impressive part of the day, though, was watching as every Beloit student in attendance stood up to assist the other competitors. They held boards, sometimes getting kicked for their efforts, and judged events for the smaller kids. It was inspiring the way every contestant was a part of a bigger honorable family, willing to help one another in any way. I was proud to be a turtle that day.
I’ve heard it said that the Martial Arts Club is mostly about competing these days. This belief might stem from the fact that the team has brought home a whopping 60 trophies from the most recent three tournaments they attended before Thanksgiving break. That’s impressive for a team mostly made up of sophomores and first-years. I think it’s great that these students feel talented enough to compete so soon and that they have been trained well enough to win trophies in their age divisions. However, that doesn’t mean that the rumor is true. Martial Arts Club isn’t simply about tournaments. Joining the Martial Arts Club is a great way to get exercise (sometimes hard to do during the chilly and busy winter) and has the added bonus of learning how to kick and punch people. I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to add some realism to those “*@!# you” fantasies we all have? Even the fun of hitting things, though, takes a back seat to the self-esteem boost most students get from joining Martial Arts Club. This self-esteem generally stems from feeling like an action hero, according to what I can gather.
Overall, I’ve found the members of the Martial Arts Club to be fun-loving and welcoming people. They rib each other in good humor while they train, and they seem to truly enjoy hanging out with each other — even while they try to knock their partner’s face to the mat. I look forward to attending more tournaments during second semester; maybe I’ll even join the club and compete in one!