A stroll around the campus courtyard in the mornings can be peaceful in the wake of a stressful schedule. The fresh air, green grass and touring trees provide a beautiful landscape for quite contemplation. All of this is true, except for Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to noon when the sound of grunts and “Hiya!” come from the practicing Martial Arts Club. The club was started by Clayton Aazlor, a student who’s passionate about martial arts and is a former martial arts instructor.
“I love martial arts. I wanted to bring it back, so I just found a few people before spring quarter who were interested in starting it up,” said Aazlor. The club usually has about 10-12 people who regularly participate, but in total, about 60 waivers to join have been signed. Members of the club are eager to accept new members and are an accepting community to outsiders, said Aazlor. “
This is the first chance I’ve had to learn. It’s amazing because I never had money as a kid to, you know, take martial arts,” said club member Kirsten Vanaken. Aazlor said he’s been practicing martial arts for as long as he can remember, like when he was a 4-year-old doing jump kicks in front of a mirror or practicing with the handles of broken brooms. He said the arts have helped him throughout his life but were especially helpful when he became a disabled veteran. “Without my martial arts training, I would not be able to walk. I was bedridden for about three years and had to reteach my entire body how to move,” Aazlor said.
Club members hold events that are open to all students. Aazlor said student can show up with no previous experience at all. Their most recent event included the opportunity to break boards that, to Aazlor, was a lot more successful than he was planning. He said it was so popular he didn’t have enough boards for the number of people who showed up. “I carry the waivers with me at all times. I’ve always got them in my car.
So if you ever just find me on campus or anyone else who’s in the club and you’re like, ‘hey, I’m interested’ they’ll direct you to me, I’ll be like, ‘Alright, let me go grab you a waiver,’” said Aazlor.
Members of the club only had positive things to say about Aazlor and praised him for his patient approach to instructing. Vanaken especially praised Aazlor and the club he’s created.
“Once you get to know him, he might tease you a little bit, but he’s wonderful. He’s really cautious about people’s boundaries and that’s really important when you’re doing an activity where you’re going to be hitting at people,” said Vanaken.
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