UK’s Kempo Club teaches important self-defense lessons – Kentucky Kernel

Olivia Walton

Instructor Chip Sebastian smiles with members of the British Vigilante Club Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022 at the University of Kentucky Alumni Gymnasium in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Olivia Walton | Kentucky Core

Walk past the small room below the Alumni Gym’s weightlifting floor on a Monday night, and you might see a group of students kicking, rolling, and throwing themselves on the blue and black mats.

There’s no need for alarm – after every move is complete and after all the punches have been thrown, the sparring partners bow to each other and their meeting ends with a series of hugs.

The UK Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Martial Arts Club, also known as the UK Kempo Club or the UK Self-Defense Club, was originally founded in 1993 by Matt Dolan and John Curtis, two students interested in learning martial art. self-defense.

Chip Sebastian was a student when the club was invented. He had been training in martial arts for about nine years when the club formed. Sebastian took over after Dolan and Curtis graduated in 1997, teaching classes and chairing meetings until 2001. The club was run by several students until 2008 when it ceased operating altogether. ‘to exist.

That was until last October when Sebastian decided to contact the university and try to start club meetings again. He said he wanted to create a space for students dedicated to teaching self-defense after seeing an increase in crime in Lexington.

Unfortunately, his sighting is not mere speculation.

According to city crime data released by the Lexington Police Department, there has been an increase in reports of forcible rape and aggravated assault since 2020. For example, in data released in 2022 up to present, there have been 381 reports of aggravated assault. That’s 30 more aggravated assault cases than the total number recorded at the end of last year.

Sebastian is determined to teach students, especially those most susceptible to attack, the skills and techniques needed to protect themselves in dangerous situations.

“We train so that if violence happens to us, we can do something about it and stop the violence,” he said.

Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei is a self-defense system founded in Frankfort, Kentucky, by Grandmaster William Durbin. According to the organization’s website, this system is based on 10 principles and their respective physical martial arts movements, as well as a philosophy of peace, patience and non-violence.

Training in the Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei style is not intended to encourage aggression, but rather to prepare students for any situation they may encounter.

The UK Kempo Club meets from 6.30pm to 8.30pm on Mondays and Wednesdays in the multipurpose room of the Alumni Gym at the Gatton Student Center. A typical club meeting begins with warm-up exercises and casual conversation. The group then moves on to instruction time, which is when Sebastian introduces the new skill of the week.

UK Kempo Club students begin by learning the basic movements, including throws, chokes, kicks and rolls.

For club president and sophomore Ashley Powers, a hotel management and tourism major, mastering these seemingly simple moves gave her a sense of confidence.

She said she felt secure in her ability to protect herself at all times thanks to the techniques she had learned as a member of the club.

“I walked yesterday at 2:30 a.m., completely around campus, not caring about my safety at all,” she said. “I’ve only been doing it for six months now, but I had no doubt in myself that I could handle it.”

Powers first became interested in self-defense as a way to cope with depression after being sexually assaulted. She decided to try Kempo Club in February 2022, and she officially joined in March 2022.

She believes self-defense is something every college-aged woman should learn. And for anyone who wants to join the Kempo Club, she strongly suggests trying it out more than once.

“If you want to learn self-defense, if you want to expand your training routine, come at least three times,” she said. “It took me that third time knowing that I really wanted to do it.”

Sebastian hopes that all students will be welcome in his classes by maintaining a welcoming atmosphere.

“I keep a very light class,” he said.

Like Powers, he also stressed that anyone interested in the club should start by attending a meeting without expecting any pressure to join.

“Come in and try it. There is no commitment,” Sebastian said.