Karate Kids: SMC students learn martial arts in specialized class

Free to students, from the Brazilian dance-style of Capoeira, to the defensive, resolute practice of Japanese Aikido, the wide spectrum of martial arts and styles practiced by SMC’s diverse group of students and staff, compliments the multi-faceted atmosphere of the school.

The class meets every week on Monday at 4 p.m. and every Friday at 10 a.m. at the school's clock tower.

Branching from Capoeira to Kendo, to Jujitsu, the practice of martial arts blossomed through student teachers and licensed practitioners.

The result is a tight-knit, welcoming group of students and teachers who gather to practice and refine these impressive physical art forms.

“It’s diverse! They teach Capoeira, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, and Japanese Jujitsu,” Shoni Doe said.

A practitioner in the defensive martial arts said, “The people, they’re not strict. [The class] has a ‘take your time, we’re gonna teach you,’ relaxed environment.”

Regardless of the great atmosphere, students were encouraged to be both concise, and tact.

Not taking the art seriously can result in a lap around the school, or push-ups.

“They do push you when it comes to doing things properly. Especially when performing the moves. They really stress being safe,” Doe added.

Witnessing a Capoeira maneuver from a distance, it certainly was nice to be safe.

In at most two seconds, a mighty kick with the weight of a human was dropped down in force.

Grass didn’t fly off the ground, but it was absolutely clear there was power in this practice.

Melissa Pineda, a musician and student, started practicing martial arts mainly for self defense, but also because it seemed fun, and because it's an art form.

Considering that these techniques and styles can be harmful and dangerous, Pineda said, “martial artists will never pick a fight, just defend themselves. [It is] a way of life and how you go about it.”

Roger Holt, another SMC student said, “I saw martial arts as ‘not learning to fight, but to attune yourself to your physical body.’ Martial arts is also a meditative thing - and an exercise.”

Holt feels like learning a physical art is also about making friends and discovering new things internally, which is just as great.

“I saw this as a chance to learn [Capoeira] for free, so why not?” he added.

The practice of Martial Arts spans many schools and states, with the instructor Jassi Patayon naming UCLA, UC Berkeley, several State Universities like Long Beach, Pomona and Harvard.

With this wide network of a shared interest, students are never alone, whether at SMC, or at their planned schools of transfer or admittance.

Field trips are organized to schools of practice as well as tournaments and various matches.