Self-Defense

does more than protect

ALISON MIDDLETON
Staff Writer
Photo by J. JASON WARNER / daily sundial
Pictured: Experts say students are open to learning martial arts such as karate because they are so different from other sports.

The stereotypical "Karate Kid" is long gone. Moviegoers are flocking to theaters to see Jackie Chan perform martial arts moves. But martial arts are quickly becoming more than a scene in an action movie.
More and more CSUN students are turning towards self-defense classes to get fit, tone up, and feel confident.
The increased interest in martial arts on campus can perhaps be attributed to the famed Billy Blanks World Training Center, now open in the San Fernando Valley. The center teaches classes in tae bo, a combination of boxing, karate and dance that gives the body a complete workout and exercises all muscle groups equally.
Whatever the reason for the increased interest, the kinesiology department now offers classes in karate-do, tae kwon do, aikido, tai chi ch'uan and personal defense.
"Karate teaches people to get out of situations, as well as to defend themselves," said Sensei Hiroyasu Fujishima, seventh degree black belt and CSUN instructor. "They learn confidence."
Fujishima, the highest ranking black belt in America within the Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation, has taught karate at CSUN since 1969. He said he believes students are open to learning martial arts because it is different from other sports.
"We try to teach students to have an awareness of their surroundings and be in control of a situation," said Forrest Welsh, first degree black belt and graduate student who assists Fujishima. "If they are forced to fight, we teach them to protect their vital organs, to yell and how to shock an attacker. However, we maintain that the most effective way to use karate is to just walk away."
Students of karate say the sport relieves stress and improves quality of sleep, while developing concentration skills.
Eric Stamaris, a 21-year-old kinesiology major, has studied karate with Fujishima for six weeks.
"If you really concentrate in karate it can help with your fitness level a lot," Stamaris said. "You basically get out what you put in. The more that you concentrate, and the more work that you put in, the more worth the experience has been.
"(Karate) helps take my mind off things and it helps with stress," he added. "I also know that if I ever got into a fight, it would definitely help me."
The popularity of the classes may be because of the focus on the psychological effects of martial arts in the classes taught by Fijishima. The classes emphasize the importance of confidence and motivation, while teaching students to take out their aggressions in a positive manner and keep control of a situation.
Fujishima, who has been forced to use his martial arts skills in order to defend himself, believes that many people who take the classes may have had a bad experience and wish to avoid another in the future.
"Karate creates a positive attitude," Fujishima said. "People gain a lot of confidence. Ninety-eight percent of the time, people freeze when they are in danger. It's a normal human reaction, but one that we teach people to avoid and be in control of the situation.
"Each body is structured differently," he added. "I will teach differently, depending upon the student. I've taught people who are in a wheelchair and I've taught deaf students. Karate is open to everyone."