Self-defense, competition draws students to Karate Club


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Tianyu Han/Staff Photographer Members of the Central Michigan Karate Club practices on April 24, 2014 in the Rose Center.

To many, being equipped in self-defense means having a gun, a knife or a quick left hook.

Central Michigan Karate instructor and third-degree black belt Douglas Resseguie said two of the most important self-defense assets are knowing how to avoid a fight and being a little more cell phone savvy.

“Ninety percent of Americans carry the phone and have information in there that if I took your phone from you, I could hurt your family,” Resseguie said. “Any phone, whether it’s active or not is required to take 911 calls, so I encourage people to put an extra phone in their backpack, one in their glove box, little things that will keep you alive and keep you aware that don’t require you to fight.”

The Central Michigan Karate Club was formed in 1969 by Don Davis. He received his first-degree black belt from Grandmaster David J. Praim in September 1970.

The organization promotes well-being and self defense through the Korean Karate art of Moo Doo Kwan Tang Soo Do, created by Grandmaster Hwang Kee, who tested Praim.

Central Michigan Karate is made up of three primary locations: Central Michigan University, Mid Michigan Community College and the Harrison Karate Club, as well as a satellite location in Grand Rapids. The club holds practices in Rose Arena twice a week and provides training and seminars for RSOs on campus interested in self-defense. 

Each of these locations has been in operation for more than 25 years, promoting 23 members to the rank of black belt.

Karate Club member James Cowley said getting into a fight should be the last resort, regardless of one’s skills.

“As a kid, if you get into a fight, the worst that’s going to happen is you’re going to get the PlayStation taken away,” Cowley said. “As an adult, you can go to jail, lose everything and have a messed up resumé. Getting into a fight is the last thing you want.”

Cowley said karate is a growth process and he has learned the activity isn’t about battle preparation for real world fights or trying to test your skills against others. He has been with the club since 2011 and will be a graduate student in the fall to begin his Master of Science Administration degree.

The Flint native helped with instruction of the Karate Club in the past as part of his leadership minor.

“He had to put together lesson plans,” Resseguie said. “It’s teaching him the principles of planning a class so he got to apply what he’s learning at CMU in a real life environment and even though it’s training in karate, he’s having to do the other things that he doesn’t normally do as a student.”

Cowley competes in both the forms and fighting divisions for CMU. The forms division is a competitive scored event judged based on balance, power and speed.

"It’s like a gymnastics routine," Resseguie said. "In fighting divisions, you physically fight opponents and you fight matches and you’ll continue to fight people until you basically don’t win anymore. It’s kind of like March Madness.”

He earned second place in Men’s Green Belt Fighting and second place in Green Belt Forms in the 40th Annual Grand Rapids Open in November. He also took fourth in the 41st GR Open Karate Championships in March and placed fourth in the Men’s Green Belt Forms division.

Originally, Cowley said he was inspired by martial arts movies and cartoons like "Dragon Ball Z" and began participating in karate as a freshman in high school, but had to quit because of the high cost.

The Central Michigan Karate Club gave him the opportunity to cheaply resume his passion. While most karate schools cost hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket, Cowley said the maximum students will spend per semester in the Karate Club is $40.

“I just remembered that passion and that fire and wanted to do martial arts (again)," Cowley said.

Their next competition is April 26 in Holland.

Karate Club trains from 8:30 to 10 p.m. every Monday and Thursday in Rose 126. Training is free, but testing requires a $20 uniform fee and $15 test fee.


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