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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Bettering Lives by Bruising Knuckles

What most people consider to be an aggressive and violent act, Ryan Monolopolus, junior media study major, views as a way of life.

He punches a concrete bag with full force until his knuckles are bleeding. Sweat drips down his forehead until he reaches spiritual and physical peak.

One year ago, Monolopolus wanted to take UB's Martial Arts club and transform it into something that would benefit the entire UB community. When the former president of the club was impeached, Monolopolus took the initiative to take over the club and make it better.

After working with the SA to legitimize the club, he contacted Richmond Hall staff to book the aerobics room for classes. He then went on a hunt for volunteers to instruct the classes that are offered seven days a week from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m.

Today over 1,000 students have joined the club, which is more than double that of previous years. Monolopolus refers to the martial arts community as a sub-culture that people from the outside do not understand and people from the inside cannot explain.

"My parents could never understand why I [punch concrete bags], but I couldn't imagine my life without it. It's made me who I am," Monolopolus said.

He sometimes feels that the major role he plays in the club is in spite of his parents. They constantly try to steer him away from his passion. They ask why he doesn't try to find a job and why he spends so much of his time arranging and coaching martial arts classes. However, his devotion cannot be shaken.

"I don't need people to understand, as long as I'm helping myself and other people," Monolopolus said.

Members of the club believe that the martial arts community has formed a brotherhood stronger than any Greek Life fraternity. Outside of the Richmond gym aerobics room, they all go out to parties and clubs together, and also spend their down time relaxing.

"We really are all friends," said Mahyar Hassid, a sophomore business major. "We like to be with each other, it's not only about the workout and fighting."

Hassid joined the club last year and upon entering thought it was strictly a world of fighting and exercise. Over time, Hassid has realized that there is much more to martial arts.

"There's a spiritual side to it. It's about finding peace and learning not to get into fights. I'm learning a lot about myself, learning to push past those limits I've had for myself," Hassid said.

There are many classes available to all students for free. The club holds demos and expos and brings in master level instructors to teach UB students how to find their inner spiritual martial art ability.

John Lehman, a renowned kick boxer, will be coming to run an event for the Martial Arts club some time this year. It will be available to all students on a first come first serve basis.

Designed to suit the interest of different people, the Martial Arts club offers women's self-defense, dance, and kickboxing classes for beginners and advanced students. There is yoga, Pilates, and conditioning, which have over 75 students attending each week.

The club also does community service events where they travel around Buffalo to teach children the art of defense. In addition, the team is going to Chicago in the spring to compete in the Arnold Classic sporting event. There will be sporting events such as kickboxing, stick fighting, grappling, and more.

"Our club is like a community. It's a group of minds coming together learning a martial art to better themselves, as well as those around them," Monolopolus said.




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