Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Everybody was fighting during martial arts exposition

Spectators at Northwestern’s Martial Arts Exposition Saturday learned there is much more to the disciplines than Jackie Chan-like kicks and board-breaking karate chops.

Members of six groups in the NU Martial Arts Coalition organized the event at Blomquist Recreation Center to give students a chance to see what the sports are all about.

“Some people maybe don’t know a lot about the martial arts or know only what they’ve seen in the movies,” said Elizabeth Bacon, Aikido Club member and Information Technology research associate.

The groups wanted to display technical differences within the martial arts community.

“Martial arts can be anything from a performance to something very aggressive,” said Michael Lee, a Weinberg sophomore and member of the Brazilian Ju-Jutsu Club.

Representatives of the Paracombatives Ju-Jutsu, Brazilian Ju-Jutsu, Aikido, Wushu/Kung Fu and two tae kwon do clubs all showed off their moves during a series of half-hour demonstrations. Their techniques ranged from aesthetic performances by Wushu/Kung Fu group members to full contact fighting by Brazilian Ju-Jutsu participants.

Club leaders said no prior athletic experience is needed to participate in the martial arts.

“A lot of people would tend to think it’s very physically challenging,” said John Heins, the Paracombatives Ju-Jutsu Club secretary and a McCormick sophomore. “(But) after one quarter, you’re confident in real-life situations.”

Wushu/Kung Fu co-president Jarva Chow, a Weinberg senior, added that people of all body types and ages can practice the martial arts.

“You just need a genuine desire to learn,” Chow said. “That will take you farther than anything else.”

While the pins, throws and joint locks looked painful, most demonstrators said the martial arts are not dangerous.

“Falling doesn’t hurt,” said Keith Moore, a professional aikido instructor who led a demonstration at the expo. “It’s actually fun.”

Besides learning to fall safely, participants take other precautions by wearing protective padding during tae kwon do sparring and using props such as bamboo staffs instead of real weapons.

Mastering the various techniques may take hours of practice every week. For some NU groups, this can sometimes be logistically difficult because the clubs are not guaranteed practice space. The Wushu/Kung Fu group is not even a club sport, but rather an off-campus group currently working to gain club recognition.

“Obviously the varsity sports have priority when it comes to practice space,” Bacon said, but added that club sports director Peter Parcell has been extremely supportive of the martial arts community.

Despite the obstacles, Moore, who has practiced aikido for 16 years, described the sport as “exhilarating.”

“When you get good,” he said, “eventually it’s like riding a rollercoaster.”

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Everybody was fighting during martial arts exposition