The insider's guide to the Jerome Fisher Program at the University of Pennsylvania

Becoming a Martial Artist

by Arjun J., M&T Class of 2016

by Arjun J., M&T Class of 2016

Yeah you read that!

Three times a week I enter a shady entrance at the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church near the Harrison High Rise. I am in an entirely new world, one that is free from Management 100 and the Writing Seminar.

Since the beginning of freshman year I’ve been taking Ryukyu Kempo, a combination of karate and street fighting (and at Penn we do it with a bit of a Quaker twist). It is one of the many martial arts clubs offered at Penn, but is unfortunately the least known.

My three sensei are all black belts, although honestly upon first glance they looked like your average chaps. On my first visit, before I knew it…BAM! Down I was on the mat… it was a good reminder to never judge a book by its cover.

Coming into Kempo, I was really afraid that I would not fit in, as I had never taken any form of martial arts in my life (besides a little stint into judo in the 2nd grade). However, my three sensei were more than willing to work with me personally and get me on the same page as everyone else! And in order to make sure that I exceeded their expectations I would clear my room of all junk and practice my roundhouse kicks or the Takuyuka Shodan stance, hoping I wouldn’t break my toe on my desk.

Kempo is pretty amazing. I’m not going to lie; we learn some crazy things in that class. From taking down guys twice my size and defending against knives, to draining all the energy out of someone with a single touch (Yeah…I was pretty freaked out when I first heard that was possible).

So how did I hear about it?

The campus fair…never a time in the fall will there ever be so many people on Locust Walk (comparable to a Best Buy on a Black Friday). As I fought my way through the crowd in desperate search of something that would change my life, I came across a petite booth labeled “Kempo.” I thought…hey why not? And I haven’t looked back since.

So am I going to become the next Bruce Lee? Probably.

Ok that might be a bit of a stretch, but what’s life without hope?

Arjun is a current M&T freshman in the Class of 2016. He studies Computer Science within Penn Engineering and has yet to declare his concentration in the Wharton School.

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