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DePauw's Hapkido Club

By Sarah Eutsler
On February 27, 2009

The barefooted individuals spring to life. They flow through a series of arm circles, head rolls and jumping jacks. The sounds of squeaking gym shoes and shouting basketball players carry up the stairs to the mat room on the second floor of the Lilly Center. Welcome to Hapkido Club, where students of all years and ability levels gather to share the love of martial arts.

Hapkido Club was founded by Brandon Sieg, an assistant professor of kinesiology, when he arrived at DePauw 10 years ago and began teaching martial arts courses. Sieg saw the need for the club as a way for students enrolled in the class to gain additional practice and continue with the martial art after they finish the course. The club also provides a way for students to progress through the ranks, and those who start out early have the opportunity to earn a black belt.

Sieg has personally learned several forms of martial arts, but he finds a special interest in Hapkido.

"I come back to Hapkido the most because it's so varied," he said. The Korean martial art combines a variety of elements from other martial arts, such as the strikes and kicks of Karate and Tae Kwon Do.

"I think it's a very welcoming martial art. I think it's a very catch-all club," Sieg said. "Because it is such a diverse art, you can draw on your prior experience and do well here. . I really think anyone who comes who has any type of experience can find a home here."

Many members cite the self-defense aspect as their favorite part of Hapkido.

"I liked it a lot at the beginning because it's very practical self defense," said senior Zach Koch, the elected president of the club.

Koch got involved after taking the Hapkido physical education course the second semester of his freshman year. "It's practical to learn the self-defense aspect because you never know when a situation may arise in which you need it."

"If someone were to attack you, you could use Hapkido," said junior Kevin Pereira.

Freshman Kaitrin Higbee said she finds many of the self-defense aspects are fun.

"What I really like about Hapkido are the throws and rolling-falling kinds of things," she said. "There are a lot of escapes that are fun to do even if, hopefully, you never have to use them."

But the self-defense aspect isn't the only reason people like Hapkido. Many members had always had an interest in martial arts but never had the opportunity to take lessons. Higbee was initially interested in martial arts because she has friends at home with black belts in Tae Kwon Do. After taking Sieg's intro to martial arts Winter Term course this January, she decided to join the club, which gave her an outlet for the childhood interest.

"It gives you good self confidence," said junior Kate Mittendorf, who has been doing Hapkido for four semesters.

"It has really helped with my hand-eye coordination," said freshman Jordan Moscoe, who is in his second semester of Hapkido.

Senior Mary Weston said she has also gained greater coordination since she began Hapkido during her freshman year. Weston also likes the bonus of friendship.

"You make friends really well in martial arts," Weston said. "You tend to bond together."

Weston ponted out the significance of placing your body in the hands of another person, which naturally creates a bond.

"There has to be a fundamental level of trust," she said.

"It's really another fraternity, if you will," Sieg said.

While some members come in with a little martial arts experience, others have clean slates.

"You don't have to have any experience. Everyone starts as a white belt," Sieg said.

"It's really easy to start. Anyone's welcome," Weston said.

Senior Hilary Gerwin encourages more students to consider Hapkido.

"I think it's really cool and you learn things that are useful for everyone," she said. "I wish more of DePauw knew about it."

Hapkido Club meets Monday and Wednesday's from 6 - 7 p.m. in the mat room.

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