Pontano’s Club Corner: How Rowan’s Karate and Self Defense Club Continues to Grow

Rick Bellia practicing with a fellow member of the club. Bellia is someone who joined the club with prior martial arts experience. - Photo / Anna Boddy

Rowan’s karate and self defense club was started in 2016, and has been growing and getting stronger since then.

All martial arts styles are welcomed, including Tae Kwon Do, Goju Ryu, and Jiu Jitsu. President and current senior Ryan Eno explains the growth of the club over the years. 

“We’ve gone from a lot less people with blackbelts and stuff like that and have a lot more beginners,” Eno said. “Generally the club has grown so we’ve definitely seen a huge growth going from, probably like a handful people before COVID to now we’re at about 20 active members.”

There is no requirement to have previous martial arts experience, and the club is completely student run, so there are no instructions like you would find in a dojo. If members want to learn about a certain technique, the club is willing to pick it up.

One of the members that is new to martial arts is graduate student Anna Boddy. She does not have a belt, but is currently training with the club.

“So I train in a kind of a mix of all types of martial arts,” Boddy said. “My favorite aspect of martial arts is the friendliness of everybody willing to train and learn from each other.”

Members have the freedom to compete with their own dojo when a tournament arises, along with participating in the weekly team meetings. This is just one of the ways the club is more on the lenient side.

“It’s kind of a friend group or like any other kind of club and I enjoyed that because a lot of gyms kind of or martial art schools or dojos have set rules and there just seems to be a certain kind of atmosphere,” Eno said. “That makes it kind of more strict and intense. I like that we’re more laid back and chill. And it’s just like a bunch of friends training.” 

Everyone in this club is there to learn and to get better at martial arts, so all the members always give everything they got into every practice. One of the experienced members, senior Rick Bellia, explains how the club rejuvenated his love for karate.

“So I started karate at the age of four,” Bellia said. “I did Tae Kwon Do and I competed all over the country and then I dislocated my knee. Then, I got into other martial arts and I went back to karate. The karate club really helped me find my love again for it.”

The flexibility of the club allows the members to learn multiple styles at once. This club provides great lessons in self defense while also encouraging the growth of these skills.

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