Looking to release some stress in a positive way? The New Mexico Tech Martial Arts Club might be the perfect place to do so. Participating in Jiu Jitsu, Taekwondo, and Capoeira fighting styles, the club practices multiple times every week in the school’s gymnasium while also going on various trips to club sanctioned competitions.
Started in 2015 by now former club president Daniel Aranda, the goal of the group is to teach discipline while also allowing students a break from book work.
“It is always great for people to explore things that they are not necessarily comfortable or familiar with,” he said. “Being a part of this group is not just a great way to relieve stress but also to make friends by working hard together in this atmosphere of friendly competition. A lot of people are worried that they don’t have experience in martial arts but we take in anyone that wants to learn no matter who they are.”
Aranda became a part of the Martial Arts community when he was 5 and living in Juarez, Mexico. He trained at the Vargus Martial Arts Studio and received a black belt at the age of 10 before his mother Emma got married and moved them up to Los Lunas. When he came to study at NMT he was excited to begin and create a culture of martial arts training. He is stepping down as his senior year studies have become daunting and he prefers to focus on his education.
Stepping in as new club president is current junior computer science major Caleb Cheng. Born and raised in Albuquerque before coming to Tech, Cheng has been studying martial arts since the age of seven, mainly attending the Kim’s Martial Arts school.
“One of the former presidents of this club noticed me and pulled me aside at one of the fairs here,” he said. “They had noticed me from various events throughout the years around the state and I was thrilled to get back into it. I’m so glad that Tech has a martial arts club. It is a lot of work but also a great way for you to find balance in a stressful day to day life.”
Weight class is not an issue with the club but age limit is with the minimum being 14. People from around the community are welcome, not strictly Tech students. Around 15 participants from semester to semester participate in the various classes depending upon availability. Jiu Jitsu is currently the most commonly attended classes, which Aranda credits to the growing popularity of MMA sports.
“Taekwondo has this perception of being more of a sport,” he said. “For example when you see in the Olympics it’s all about earning points. With Jiu Jitsu it is more like fighting instead of being so focused on technique. It is a great style to learn for self-defense.”
The club depends on the work of volunteer instructors such as Trent Seelig. His main level of expertise is in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu based on the NoGi style of grappling.
“A lot of kids coming out of high school are looking for something unique to do,” he said. “Especially since a lot of the students I’ve worked with have wrestling backgrounds. Others just want to learn how to start fighting because they saw it on say television or the internet. This is a great way for students at a school like this to be active but also engages you mentally because this is a very technically sport.”
Local community members of all ages can be found at these practices, such as Robert Huber, a life long martial arts enthusiast. Huber started in Judo over 35 years ago when he was growing up in Minnesota before coming to Tech for school and eventually making Socorro his home. He got involved with the club a little over a month ago after seeing an article in El Defensor Chieftain.
“This is a great program from what I’ve seen so far,” he said. “The guys running this here know what they are doing and how to teach students proper technique. Mentally this is great to learn how to act and react against an opponent.”
For anyone interested in joining the group or times in which they practice contact the school’s athletics program page or pop into the gymnasium any day of the week.