Several students and teachers at East compete in martial arts. There are many different types of martial arts, and a wide variety of these different martial arts are practiced by these students and teachers at East.
Economy one teacher David Muhammad has been doing martial arts as long as he can remember. At the age of three, Muhammad started karate at his father’s dojo (a room where martial arts are performed). Ever since then, he has been doing karate and taekwondo with his father. He trains at his dad’s dojo in Kansas City, Mo. six times a week.
Muhammad competes an average of four times a year. He has gone to several different places around the country for competition. Last summer he went to South Carolina to compete for the U.S. team for karate. He made it to the third round and got fifth in his weight class.
“There’s a lot of training that goes into it, a lot of mental preparation, and everybody’s wanting to win so you’re always mentally trying to figure out how to one up the other guy,” Muhammad said. “Physically everybody has the same skill set pretty much, but mentally you try to come up with a better game plan.”
Muhammad plans on continuing martial arts for the rest of his life.
“I think even once I get done competing I’ll be doing it for the rest of my life,” Muhammad said. “It’s a big passion of mine. I see myself competing until I’m like maybe 40, being one of those old guys out there still trying to do it, and once I can’t do it anymore i’ll just coach and teach it.”
When senior Lily Fritts was 11, all of her older sisters were playing soccer. Lily wasn’t interested in soccer and wanted to do something unique. So she started doing karate.
Now, seven years later, Fritts is going to ten competitions a year, training six times a week, teaching two classes a week, and as of a week ago, she’s a black belt.
“I do (karate) for so many reasons,” Fritts said. “Fun would probably be at the top of the list, but training makes me a better person. I learn a lot of life lessons like discipline, dedication and respect through karate.”
After doing karate almost her whole life, senior Ty Nanos decided two years ago she wanted to expand and try something that wasn’t karate. She decided to do fencing. It’s a little more combative, which she likes.
At training, Nanos usually starts off with stretching and running, then they’re taught new moves depending on their skill level, and they end with a dual.
Nanos doesn’t have time to fence during the school year, so she only does it during the summer. When she is fencing, she does one month sessions during the summer at Heartland Fencing Academy in Overland Park, Kansas. Nanos thoroughly enjoys fencing, and mainly does it for fun.
“I definitely do it just for fun,” Nanos said. “I’m pretty competitive, but only in the moment, during a duel.”
Spanish teacher Pam James started doing Aikido 15 years ago. Aikido is a Japanese martial art that focuses on the defensive side of martial arts.
About 15 years ago James was living in her first apartment on her own in Lawrence, Kansas. While at an Einstein Brothers, she noticed a flyer for Aikido, and decided it would be something new to try. She also knew it wasn’t a bad idea to learn to defend herself while living in an apartment alone.
Every four years there are international Aikido seminars held in Japan, which James has attended twice. She has also gone to competitions in St. Louis, Colorado, Texas, and Las Vegas, where judges
James attends Aikido classes in Lawrence once a week, and teaches classes there twice a week.
“I started (Aikido) out for something new to learn and for self defense, but now that I’ve been doing it for so long, I do it for fun,” James said. “All my friends are there. Also it’s really is fun to do it, you get to fly through the air and land on a mat which I love.”