By Victoria George
Are you looking for a hard-kicking way to spend your Wednesday and Thursday evenings? Fitchburg State’s Martial Arts Club is the place to go. The club is getting a new identity and a new reputation. Officers Morgan Cefalu, Sengin Holland, and Brian Henriquez are encouraging students to experience the new and improved Martial Arts Club on campus.
Self-defense teacher, longtime member, and event coordinator Cefalu said, “Our club is revitalized with a refreshing start. So far we have hit the ground running this year, with our first successful event. Our goal is to not only teach martial arts, but also self-defense so students can feel confident in their abilities to protect themselves.”
Cefalu has been a member for two years and has taken it upon herself to rebuild a seven-year-old organization from the ground up. Acting President Holland has been involved for three years. Both are instructors in different martial arts forms.
On Wednesdays, adviser Coelynn McIninch teaches formal martial arts form American Goju Ryu from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Thompson Dance studio, located in G-lobby Hammond Tunnel. The officers run self-defense courses on Thursdays. Holland says, “During these classes, we teach proper blocking, punching, and kicking, how to get out of different holds, and real-life scenarios including gun/knife removal techniques.”
Holland is a yellow belt in American Kenpo and has a background in Tae Kwon-Do. Cefalu is a yellow tip in American Goju Ryu, and a purple belt in American Kenpo. “I started doing martial arts sophomore year of college knowing nothing about martial arts,” says Cefalu. “Now as a senior, I teach the self-defense class on Thursdays.”
Additionally, Treasurer Henriquez, who holds a yellow belt in American Kenpo, also has a background in kickboxing. He specializes in sparring, in-class combat battle, hand-to-hand combat, and how to protect yourself from different punches.
Cefalu is eager to demonstrate different self-defense techniques to newcomers. She passionately believes that martial arts is a needed skill that empowers both men and women. “I am strongly passionate about Martial Arts Club, because as a female, I am tired of walking around at night feeling scared that someone could jump me at any time.” says Cefalu. “Now learning martial arts, I have developed more of a confidence in myself.”
She says she now feels confident in her abilities as an athlete, an artist, and a person since being introduced to martial arts. Cefalu notes that while learning techniques is a great form of exercise, the objective is only to learn protection, but never to be an offender.
In order to gain a strong foothold in the university’s future, the club also hopes to host events.
According to Cefalu and Holland, the club has changed since last year. They have more freedom to teach what they want, and are collaborating with more clubs. They are open and accepting of new members, they say, no matter the experience.
The officers also endeavor to make the classes enjoyable, entertaining, and comfortable. Cefalu and Holland both emphasize that they break down each technique and go over them multiple times to make sure each student feels confident in their abilities. They also say that they do not push anyone harder than they are willing to go. Students are encouraged to check out the club freely.
Cefalu says that she is determined to get the club known throughout the school, and encourage more people to join. She believes that the club “is very important to have at FSU, because you are learning free techniques to protect yourselves.” They can be reached on Facebook at FSU Martial Arts Club. The club’s members promise a good time.
The Martial Arts Club will be hosting a Self Defense Seminar (open to faculty, staff, and students) on Thursday, Oct. 30 from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Main Event Space in the Hammond Building. This event is co-sponsored by Alpha Sigma Tau sorority and the Psychology Club. From 7 to 8:30 p.m., the focus will be on getting females comfortable with self-defense and males will be able to join after. There will be a presentation by both the Psychology Club on the flight or fight mindset, as well as the FSU Rape Aggression Defense program. Officers from RAD promise candy for those in attendance.