Aerobic Walking and Jogging, Tennis, Swimming and Bowling are just a few of the wellness activities offered at John Brown University each semester. This fall, however, students signed up for two classes not normally found on the course schedule, Martial Arts and Dance.
Taught by Jim Blankenship, associate professor of biblical studies, Martial Arts kicked off at the start of the semester. This is the first time the course has been offered in recent years.
Last February, Blankenship received an invitation from the University to teach the class. Always intent to keep up his training and to share his knowledge, he accepted.
Blankenship began his formal training in martial arts while pursuing an undergraduate degree at Indiana University, starting with the Korean specialty Hapkido. However, this specific form proved difficult to find in other cities he moved to post-graduation, so Blankenship went on to study other martial art forms such as Taekwondo, Filipino Martial Arts and Jujitsu. His pursuit of expertise eventually led him to earn black belts in both Hapkido and Taekwondo.
For eight weeks, Blankenship will pass along some of his knowledge to seven men and seven women. With such a short amount of time, the concepts and exercises explored will remain fairly basic, although pulled from many different schools of martial arts.
“I want them to learn some safe training methods that will let them practice for a long time to come… I hope they can remember the material and keep it active in the future,” explained Blankenship.
Classes include a warm up drill called hubad-lubad, a review of past techniques and an addition of a new technique. Students focus on elements such as footwork, timing, rhythm and reacting to one’s opponent or partner.
Also this semester, after Fall Break, Dance will be offered as a class for the first time in the University’s history. Alumnus Anna Buck, receptionist and program assistant for the Soderquist Center, was chosen to teach the course.
With a life-long love of dancing and a degree in Exercise Studies, Buck is excited for the upcoming months. While studying at the University, she was involved in the Swing Society, which became an official club last year, as well as the Great Abandon dance ministry. Even after graduating, she continued to help choreograph the ministry’s dances.
Since the spring of 2012, Buck discussed the possibility of a dance class with the University, but with course schedules already planned, the idea did not become a reality for almost a year.
Once official, the class filled quickly and now has a waitlist. In mid-October, 20 women and four men will devote a few hours each week to learning different styles of dance including, ballroom, ballet, modern and jazz.
“I want to inspire them to pursue dancing as a lifelong activity,” said Buck. “Any kind of dancing is a great way to stay active.”
She also hopes students will learn how to teach dance.
With such interest shown, two sections of this class will be offered in the spring.