Karate Club Spotlight


By Jonathan Moniz, Staff Writer

Founded in 1982, UMass Dartmouth’s Shotokan Karate Club has been around for thirty-four years, instructing its members in self-defense and the martial art of karate.

It is one of the oldest clubs on campus, taking place and holding practices back when UMass Dartmouth was still known as Southeastern Massachusetts University.

It holds a rich and storied history, not only with karate itself but with also the many members of the club.

Based on teaching the principles of self-defense, as well as a combination of exercise, enthusiastic past-time, and competitive sport, it has multiple different appeals and does not base the appeal of the club on discipline alone.

Shotokan is a certain style of karate that was developed in 1936 by Gichin Funakoshi. It is the style that came to popularize karate and the training, exploration, and exhibition of karate particularly popular within the university level, and led to the foundation of a lot of clubs like the one here at UMass Dartmouth.

It specifically focuses on teaching students and members of the style form, motion, and then sparring as an application of the two, in order to refine techniques and improve their own style.

While the Karate Club often focuses on exercises and performs it regularly to maintain skill level and general fitness for club activities, it is not a set standard.

The club is willing to adapt standards to meet differences in each student’s fitness and schedules to allow them to participate in the club without making it necessary to be at the level of all members.

The current instructor and adviser for the club is Tony Benevides, a master in Shotokan and the current head of the AIKA (Almeida International Karate Association).

John Almeida, another instructor, is also from Portugal, where several clubs and dojos are that UMass Dartmouth frequently co-operates with.

The club also partners with various other dojos and classes offered around New England.

Meetings are held every Monday at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday on 11:30 p.m. The meetings are held in the aerobics center of the Tripp athletic facility and gym.

The club itself does not require previous experience in karate or any form of martial arts, as they are willing to teach people from the start, according to member and senior English major Shawna Fox.

When considering some of the most important aspects of the club for her, she said that “knowing how to fight and defend yourself is such a great skill that everyone should learn.”

Fox says the club is the “perfect combination of good exercise, great people, (and a chance) to learn something useful that could change someone’s life.”

While not having any previous experience in martials is welcomed, having experience with other forms is also welcomed.

Fox herself had six years prior experience with another form of Karate known as the shorin-ryu style, which Benevides often asks her to demonstrate a certain move to compare the two styles. She says that the similiarities and differences between the styles make it interesting to learn and compare them.

The club has seen many of its members go on to compete in karate with the Shotokan style, competing in tournaments in the Collegiate World Championships for Team USA and also placing second within that tournament.

The karate club often visits and competes at a few tournaments a year for the semesters, and serves as encouragement for those who wish to go on and compete themselves within the world of karate.

When asked to describe the one part of the club Fox loved most she said, “I think my favorite thing about the club is the people. We’re a family, and even though there’s a lot of karate classes and clubs all over the world, such a group of talented, devoted, and genuinely kind people is rare.”

To contact the UMass Dartmouth Shotokan Karate Club, they can be reached here.

Photo Courtesy: Karate Club


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