Karate Club provides workout of both mind and body
By Shay Hearn ’16
Halfway through its first year at Salve Regina, the Karate Club is providing a place where, through Shotokan karate-do, students may participate in a workout of both mind and body.
Each week, Dr. JD Swanson, assistant professor of biology and biomedical sciences, leads his group of about 10 students in a two-hour practice of this complex and beautiful form of karate. Swanson has been practicing Shotokan for 33 years in 10 different countries.
Using the dance studio in the Antone Academic Center as their dojo, both the sensei and his students leave the world outside and respectfully train for the improvement of both their physical and mental well being.
It is a place where “all different walks of life come together, leave the stress of the lives they lead at the door and concentrate on the perfection of their individual self,” said Christina Musser ’15, a member of the club.
A strong sense of recreation and camaraderie pervades the atmosphere between both the sensei and students. However, once they kneel to initiate the beginning of their training, the goals of Shotokan – to seek perfection of character, be faithful, endeavor, respect others, and to refrain from violent behavior – become the foremost importance in their minds and in their performance.
Through progression of the kihon, kata and kumite, Swanson works with his students on everything from basic fundamentals to eventual partnered combat. The practice stresses the importance of understanding the physical spatiality of your body as well as knowing the emotional condition of your mind.
“Second training, she punched me square in the face,” said Swanson, beckoning toward one of his students with a laugh, “but that’s what it’s all about, mentally adjusting your distance and ability while also physically discovering what you’re capable of.”
Form, balance and control lie at the root of Shotokan, which connects the smallest movements and mechanics to generate a powerful yet smooth performance. “The basics build into something meaningful and powerful, generating energy from the core for force with precision,” Swanson said.
Since its formation, the Karate Club has been traveling throughout the Northeast and participating in the East Coast Collegiate Karate Union. In addition, Swanson has brought in guest teachers such as Master Teruyuki Okazaki, founder of the International Shotokan Karate Federation.
“It was amazing,” one student said. “Despite the fact that Sensei Okazaki is 80 years old, he moved through the kata with unbelievable grace and precision. I guess that’s just another one of the things Shotokan can do for you.”
Currently, the students are working towards their next tournament at Temple University on Saturday, Feb. 9. For more information on the Karate Club, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.