Durham Tech Aikido Club offers opportunity for students to learn martial art

two students practice aikido ove, raising arms, crossed, while instructor looks on
Demario White and Karen Chamberlain practice Aikido during club meeting last month.

A Japanese martial art that teaches self-defense, flexibility, and exercise, all while improving interpersonal skills like communication – Aikido – is available to students at Durham Tech.

“I was ecstatic to learn that Aikido was starting at Durham Tech,” said Demario White, 27, the club’s president. “Just to know that we’re learning a form of martial arts and providing students with an opportunity to join a club like this is really incredible.”

The Durham Tech Aikido Club is under the umbrella of Tomiki Aikido of the Americas and led by staff sponsor, Erik Townsend, the College’s VoIP and Email Administrator.

“Aikido requires students to cooperate and work with each other,” Townsend said. “In today’s society, everyone’s looking at their phones and in their own world, but in Aikido, it’s impossible to be in your own world. You have to have conversations and give criticism in a polite way, and I think martial arts in general allows you to work with each other.”

Students say the club is making a personal impact.

“I get to learn new skills and build confidence while making new friends,” said Karen Chamberlain, 27, student at Durham Tech who joined the club when it started in 2016. “The biggest benefit is that you’re learning self-defense, so if something ever happened, you’ll know what to do or how to get away.”

Khalif Reubin, 24, has also been in the club since its inception.

“Aikido helps you be more aware of your surroundings and builds self-confidence,” Reubin said. “But it’s not just learning moves, it also teaches you how to be more disciplined in life.”

White says he enjoys the connection Aikido makes between mind and body.

“You’re more in touch with yourself because it really focuses on how your body moves,” White said. “You learn how mind, body, and spirit work together and it really builds strength.”

The club meets at 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Facility Services Warehouse (Building 7) on Durham Tech’s Main Campus.

“Aikido offers students a way to become positive and confident because they’re putting themselves in a new situation that they’re unfamiliar,” Townsend said. “It teaches them how to walk around confidently so they don’t become a victim. If someone is confident, I think they can do a lot more with their lives.”

Townsend is also a member of the Wellness Committee at Durham Tech and encourages faculty and staff to join the club alongside students.

“It is a great way to get some exercise, learn to protect yourself and make some new friends,” Townsend said. “Not only is there hand to hand defense, you will learn how to use a short staff and bokken, or wooden sword.”

Those interested in joining the club may contact Erik Townsend at 919-536-7261 x6108 or townsende@durhamtech.edu.

The first practice of the semester is Tuesday, January 15.