To its many devotees, Martial Arts is not simply a path of self-defense, rather it is one of self-awareness and determination, capable of both uniting and enlightening people from all walks of life.
Through the UB Combined Martial Arts Club (CMAC), many have found the path to inner peace and discipline, though they did not always start their journey with this goal in mind.
That was the case for senior international relations major David Cobb. Having been beaten down and picked on by bullies for most of the earlier part of his life, Cobb sought an outlet that allowed him to express his intensifying frustrations and learn to defend himself.
"I was tired of being afraid," Cobb said.
He quickly learned, as most who follow the path do, that the reasons he joined were not the reasons that kept him practicing.
"It's not about violence," Cobb said. "It's about learning how to defend yourself and learning how to teach others…giving them the confidence to go out in life."
To Cobb, the club also fostered a sense of brotherhood. Through martial arts, he has gained the ability to defend himself and gauge the consequences of his actions.
Today, Cobb is able to take the negative energy that stemmed from his bullied childhood and focus it into more positive things. This is practiced through conveying the humanities of brotherhood, and imparting that philosophy into anyone willing to learn his path and master their own.
Cobb's message is one inherent in the experience of many others who joined looking for a way to be stronger, a path that eventually led them to themselves.
For Mayar Hassid, UB CMAC treasurer and sophomore business major, the discipline he has attained since joining the club has paved his way along the path to learning martial arts.
When he entered UB, Hassid doubted his capabilities for surviving the potential bar fights that might arise during his college experience. But today, one year after joining UB CMAC, Hassid has found the confidence to push past his limits and maintain the composure of his path.
"[Martial arts] is not about fighting…it's really about disciplining yourself, avoiding those fights, but when need be, you can defend yourself…pushing past those limits when the little voice in your head says ‘I'm tired and I need to stop right now'…it's calming and that's what I really enjoy about it," Hassid said.
The same sentiment is shared by UB CMAC President, junior media studies major Ryan Monolopolus. He has been practicing martial arts for 15 years, and took home a first place title in the 2006-2007 World Championship tournaments. To Monolopolus, martial arts is about "breaking free of that linear style of thinking."
"There's a lot of Eastern methodology that comes into it, which is why we differ a lot of the times from wrestling or boxing…[those kinds of practices are] very ‘let's make this happen' oriented, whereas eastern martial arts are oriented towards letting it come," Monolopolus said.
It is this feature of martial arts that has had the most profound effects on practically all aspects of his life. According to Monolopolus and other club members, it is an art form that teaches one to let go.
This concept has been thoroughly applied by Monolopolus, turning the almost disbanded club into one voted most improved by the Student Association in just a year, and moving its members closer towards physical, mental and spiritual unity and further away from self-doubt and restrictive thinking.
To each of the UB CMAC members, martial art signifies something personal and distinct, but one thing they all have in common is the concept of brotherhood, which can be well inferred from their club motto, "Unity through Martial Arts."
This brotherhood is not just restricted to the male members of the club but is extended to the entire UB community including its female counterparts. Amanda Martin, sophomore psychology major, is a proud member of UB CMAC whose favorite aspect of the club is the people. Martin, like the rest of the club members, enjoys the feeling of belonging to a vast multicultural community of people who genuinely connect through the shared interest of Martial Arts, learning together, growing together and even just hanging out together.
Now, over a thousand members strong under the leadership of Monolopolus, the UB CMAC members look forward to the club growing and expanding its reach. Offering over 12 different martial arts classes for free, the members and instructors are all ready to donate their time to all aspiring Martial Artists, hoping to disperse its teachings of unity and self-determination throughout campus.