Martial arts club kicks its way onto campus

Junior psychology major Justin Sanchez practices a choke hold on club instructor Chewy, who declined to give his full name. Photo by Ian Craddock

Justin Sanchez has always been a fairly angry person, he said. Martial arts taught him how to channel and control that pent-up aggression. The sport strengthened Sanchez’s mind, body and spirit, and it taught him how to be humble in both victory and defeat.

Most importantly, it taught him how to handle adversity.

The Chapman martial arts club is a place where people like Sanchez, a junior psychology major and the vice president of the club, can thrive in a positive environment and learn the benefits of martial arts. The club is working to become a recognized club sport by fall 2018.

Starting this spring, the club’s adviser, Andrea Molle, will teach a martial arts physical education class, known as Aikido, for credit.

Because the club isn’t an official team yet, it isn’t allowed to compete against other schools, said sophomore kinesiology major and club president Max Strul.

“A lot of our members already compete,” Strul said. “It would be better to compete in the Chapman name.”

Sanchez competes for a gym outside of Chapman, but also wants to compete for the school, he said.

“I’m so hyped for that,” Sanchez said. “Could you imagine a competition team with the logos on them and we get to represent Chapman on top of it? That would be pretty cool.”

Sanchez is no stranger to martial arts. He competed in the 13th annual North American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation tournament in Cerritos, California, in August, receiving a silver medal in his belt and weight division.

“At this point, I had only been doing jiujitsu for just over a year,” he said. “I had a good feeling I’d do well. I train with high-level coaches and teammates, so I felt confident that I would perform well.”

His favorite form of martial arts is muay thai, which is a Thai martial art also known as Thai boxing.

Freshman digital arts major Gabrielle Saral practices practices her grappling with club instructor Chewy. Martial Arts isn’t yet a club but some members competes nationally. Photo by Ian Craddock

“It’s called ‘the art of eight limbs,’ because a fighter can strike using the hands, elbows, knees and legs,” Sanchez said. “Muay thai is a little more diverse in your striking capabilities, compared to traditional boxing.”

While many club members have experience in competitive martial arts, Strul described the club as a learning environment rather than a competitive space.

“It’s like a self-defense class,” Strul said.

Freshman digital arts major Gabrielle Saral has done martial arts for seven years. She found the club to help her transition into life on campus, but realized that the skills she has learned can help her protect herself if she needs to, she said

“I love jiujitsu,” Saral said. “It really pushes me to my limits, and I love the practical application, because the ground is a common battlefield in any fight. Learning how to get the upper hand in that is crucial.”

Martial arts has made her a stronger person, Saral said.

“I think I wouldn’t be the person I am today if not for martial arts,” Saral said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect spelling of Andrea Molle’s last name. This information has been corrected.

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  • ERRATA CORRIGE: The name of the advisor is Dr. Andrea Molle (Assistant Professor in Political Science)

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