Self-defense and community found through Martial Arts Club


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Martial Arts Club competes in Taekwondo, Judo and Hapkido.

Rachel San Agustin, the Taekwondo Club president and senior in electrical engineering, started martial arts 10 years ago in middle school as a way to stay active and make friends.

San Agustin said the Martial Arts club has helped her continue her journey to third-degree black belt, becoming a trained student.

“It’s a chance to really spend some quality time with my friends on the mat,” San Agustin said. “We’ve traveled all over the country together; we’ve hit road bumps, and these are the people that are going to be there for me through my best times and worst times.”

More than self-defense, martial arts are a way of life that benefits you physically, mentally and socially, according to the Masters of Martial Arts Academy.

“[For] physical benefits for starters, there’s flexibility, building muscle, staying fit,” San Agustin said. “As for mental benefits, working out with other people on the mat and having that sense of community helps all students and faculty join us [and] release the stress that they need to.”

San Agustin said discipline is an important part of the practice that extends to students of all ages’ everyday lives on and off the mats.

“Our martial arts family do have a set of tenets such as self-control, indomitable spirit, responsibility and courtesy,” San Agustin said.

Most of all, San Agustin emphasized the significance of community in martial arts. She discussed how the martial arts community at Iowa State broadens your worldview. She said martial arts come with learning the language and customs of Asian culture and building international friendships.

“Martial arts is for everybody. Every black belt was a white belt at the beginning of their journey,” San Agustin said. “So, whether you’ve got experience or not, we’re always looking for new people to join us.”

The Martial Arts Club primarily includes Taekwondo, Hapkido and Judo. They currently have 230 members, and anyone can join by reaching out to one of their presidents.