Article by: Georgina Pekin
Photography by: Liah Gomez
Of the substantial amount of extracurricular activities ISM offers, possibly one of the most intriguing and admirable, however also extremely low profile, are the martial arts teams. Martial arts refer to traditional combat methods practiced for a variety of reasons including self-defense, competition, physical health, fitness, and entertainment. ISM has an Aikido, Taekwondo and Judo club, open to students of all grade levels and abilities, while there are also students involved in such activities outside of school. Even with the ATAC teams being schoolwide and active year-round, an average of only about 10 students are involved per team, per year. With so many other options for extracurricular involvement and busy IB schedules, the commitment to a year-round club such as the martial arts teams can be quite demanding. High school members of the gymnastics, swimming and chess teams share the same lengthy commitments. Many students and teachers admit to having little or no knowledge of the existence and involvement of students within the martial arts community, either in ISM or in Metro Manila. Consequently, BT took to investigating into some of the logistical facts about the inconspicuous Martial Arts teams in ISM and the experiences of one of our very own Bearcat Aikidokas!
Aikido is a Japanese martial art created by Morihei Ueshiba in the late 1920’s, whose goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury. Aikido is performed by blending ones motion with the that of the attacker and redirecting their force, rather than opposing it head-on. The ISM Aikido team has the most high school students involved out of the three forms of martial arts offered; Aikido, Judo and Taekwondo. Coached by Mr. Ray, the team trains two or three times a week after school for about 90 minutes. Joe Flynn, Senior, and captain of the Aikido team says he got hooked to Aikido “because it’s a great way of instilling discipline in yourself,” and because, “the physical and mental challenges that you face are really rewarding.”
The Aikido team may lack the benefits that come with other school sports such as soccer or basketball, that bring in great crowds and play games almost every week, but the team benefits in the sense that motivation for the art comes more internally. Athletes such as Joe compete for the love of the art and the benefits its brings, even if the fan pool remains shallow. Joe states that he has “stuck at it because a bond is created between the coach and the members of the club and it makes you want to keep coming back, training harder and harder.” He also adds that “the ability to defend yourself is one of the more significant benefits, and it’s a always a little more assuring to know that if things ever do kick off, you know you’re ready.”