Unusual Athletic Classes At SMC

In a classroom within the Core Performing Center, at Santa Monica College's Main Campus, is where a class of students dress in a range from typical exercise clothing to a traditional karate gi can be found. This is a class of students who have signed up for a Karate class.

They start the class by going through the Junbi Undo which is a routine that consists of many stretches and warm-ups to get them ready for the class. Kobushi no Ude-Tate Fuse is one part of the process and is a type of push-up where you use your knuckles instead of placing your palms on the floor. After finishing every step, they pair off as the professor shows them the moves they will practice for the day.

SMC offers a variety of kinesiology classes, which are worth one unit, that are not something you’d typically experience but are ways to get some exercise and learn something new.

Being the newest building on the main campus, the CPC has some of the most modern equipment around including general weight-lifting equipment. A student needs to be signed up for a class to utilize the facilities.

The Karate class this semester meets every Monday and Wednesday from 3:45 PM to 5:05 PM in room 218 of the CPC. It has three levels depending on experience and they currently meet at the same time so students can learn alongside people with varying backgrounds. The professor or Sensei of the class, Garen Baghdasarian teaches Marine Biology at SMC but also been teaching Karate classes for around three years now at SMC with his 26 years of martial arts experience.

Yael Sagi, a Karate student says, “It’s a class that involves also an awareness and a connection of not only the body but a lot of wisdom as well. It’s also great exercise. You get fit and you get to face your edge and you always go two-steps ahead because it’s a big challenge.”

The class itself teaches the traditional style of self-defense such as grabbing and kicking. It also teaches breathing and meditation. Sensei Baghdasarian believes that the class is not just about the physical act of learning Karate, but it also helps outside of the class.

He says, “Along the course I teach students how to meditate, how to focus, how to calm themselves down and be observant of things. There’s a huge mental aspect of all of this. It’s about getting students to come in and showing them something that they know they can’t do and yet two to three weeks later they are doing things they thought they’d never be able to do.”

Edward Nagao-Itano, a Mechanical Engineering major, has prior experience with martial arts and says, “Come watch and see that it’s pretty fun. What I like is that it allows contact to some degree. It’s not fake Karate where you are punching in the air the whole time. It’s not watered-down. You learn a lot more than just Karate. You learn general self-defense.”

SMC is also currently offering a beginner rock climbing class for the first time in the CPC, which has a two-story rock wall. It is being taught by Professor Blaine Eastcott who has been teaching at SMC for 11 years. The class meets in room 201 in the CPC with three sections. The class is small, with around 24 spots.

The rock climbing class teaches proper belaying which is a system of ropes that allows the prevention of serious falls when done correctly. Professor Eastcott says, “People have a perception that you have to have a really strong upper body and be in shape to do this and that’s not the case. The class can be for anybody.”

Josh Hodges is currently taking the class and is in his first year at SMC. “It sounded really interesting and I’ve never done it so it sounded a lot more interesting than weight lifting.” Hodges says regarding his experience with the class, “I had zero experience before I started and I was climbing the top of the wall by the fourth week of semester.”

While the class teaches proper training to make sure that safety remains the most important, there are also several trained instructors in addition to the professor to make sure the class can protect its students.

Hodges says, “It definitely gives you confidence. You’re literally putting a life in somebody else’s hands. It’s a lot of fun and an adrenaline rush. I haven’t found one person who isn’t enjoying this”