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NIU martial arts club teaches the art of Aikido

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Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 9:58 pm

Aikido Club offers students techniques to diffuse tricky situations. This club teaches students the basics of the ancient Japanese martial art.

The club meets regularly from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Chick Evans Field House. There is no commitment required and anyone can show up to and participate in their meetings.

Aikido is a Japanese martial art. Club members use Japanese terminology for counting and body parts, and they also bow to one another.

Junior mathematics major Robert Marks is in his second semester with the team and is also the vice president. Marks explained that he attended a club fair and he joined Aikido Club because it seemed like the most interesting.

“It’s definitely a different form of martial arts,” Marks said. “It’s based around using the momentum of the attacker to diffuse the situation.”

The goal of Aikido is to disable an opponent or attacker without hurting them, so physical strength is not as important as technique. Marks said that with the proper training and commitment, the most unlikely person could be dangerous.

“I worked with a 70-year-old woman at a conference whom had done [Aikido] for 15 years and she could have broken my arm at any time,” Marks said.

Members of the club describe it as a beginner’s club and said helping others learn the art and its techniques helps them as well. The team doesn’t compete, but its members do attend instructional seminars and conferences, most of which are within an hour of DeKalb.

Graduate mathematics student Susan Ficken has been with the club for the past seven years and she described it as a life-changing experience. Through the club, Ficken said she has built up her confidence and become a stronger person. She spoke about the practical aspect of Aikido.

“I think that learning how to fall down is a pretty practical thing as well,” Ficken said. “Most people fall down more often than they get attacked by 17 knife-wielding thugs in a dark alley.”

Ficken also explained that since the art is focused on diffusing dangerous situations, some emergency medical technicians and law enforcement are trained in it. According to Ficken, Aikido doesn’t just appeal to those looking to learn a martial art, but also those seeking real-world applications to what they’ve learned in the classroom.

“At many universities it ends up being popular among physics and engineering majors because of its applications of leverage and momentum,” Ficken said.

Ryan Morse, the coordinator of competitive sports and youth programs for Campus Recreation, oversees all 30 of NIU’s sport clubs, which include Aikido. Morse helps the club by securing facility space, assisting them in retaining members and coordinating guest instructors. Once a month, Morse conducts a meeting for all clubs on a variety of topics, from injury prevention to group leadership.

“I think it’s a great avenue for different students to get involved,” Morse said. “Not everybody wants to get involved in something where they [are] traveling and competing; they want something a little bit more low-key. I think that it’s a necessity for any kind of sport club program.”

For more information, email the Aikido Club at niuaikido@gmail.com or attend one of its meetings from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Chick Evans Field House, Room 110.

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