Story by Da’Sha Tuck, Staff writer
The Southeastern Association of Kenpo Karate Jiu Jitsu became a club on Murray State’s campus 45 years ago and is still instilling self-discipline, confidence, balance, speed and power in its members.
Chief Instructor Carlos Lopez said the organization practices a martial art which was founded as a self-defense system.
“It is designed to provide an individual with the combat effective means to protect and defend basic inalienable rights, granted to him, his loved ones and his fellow man,” Lopez said.
Lopez said the Southeastern Association focuses on applying self-defense techniques for a variety of combat situations, including ground combat.
There are several other martial arts clubs on campus but the Southeastern Association says their group is different from the rest because it is taught as a tool, not a sport.
“The difference lies in that it is a lifelong commitment on the student’s part,” Lopez said.
He also said unlike other clubs, the members are able to progress in ranks and eventually become the instructor. Lopez said his organization involves more physical contact than to other martial arts clubs on campus.
He said the art is constantly revised and evaluated in order to keep it current and as practical and effective as possible. This is not just a club but an organization that is teaching life skills.
The group is made up of four students with ranging ranks. The first belt is white then progressing to yellow, orange, purple, blue, green and black. They have one white belt, two purple belts and one brown belt.
Emily Hoard, freshman from Metropolis Illinois, has been a part of the program since the beginning of the semester and is now a purple belt. Hoard said a purple belt means she has mastered the basics including kicks, strikes and blocks, as well as defensive arts against grabs.
“This organization is set apart from other campus organizations because it is not only enjoyable but practical,” Hoard said.
She said the organization teaches physical fitness and mental toughness; with these combined, the ability for self-defense is created.
Hoard said being a part of this group has allowed her to meet new people on campus as well as help her build confidence, but she came into the club with experience.
She said she began her training in her hometown with the Metropolis Club a year ago.
“Kenpo is meant for self-defense and is not a sport,” Hoard said. “Although, I believe it is OK for individual members to compete if they choose to, it is not generally a part of Kenpo.”
Hoard said the program is growing. She said in five years she would like to see the program have more students.
In order for students to be involved they have to attend two sessions and observe. If they are still interested in joining they will then go through an interview process. If everything checks out, the student can begin learning Kenpo.
“It may seem intimidating at first, walking in with no experience, but it really is a great club,” Hoard said. “It will get or keep you active and you will definitely learn a lot along the way, both physically and mentally.”