KIAI! Florida Tech’s Martial Arts Association

It’s Brooke and Ashley here. The title isn’t a misspelling; rather, it’s the Japanese expression for spirit coordination, sometimes manifested as a shout.

If you’re ever in the Clemente Center on campus between 6 and 8 p.m., Tuesdays or Thursdays, you’ll hear quite a bit of this shouting, emanating from Florida Tech’s martial arts training. We wanted to write about this awesome club, which we’re both a part of: the Martial Arts Association (MAA).

MAA is a club that meets directly after the Intro to Karate and Advanced Karate courses (which are also awesome) and our sensei is Mark Laderwarg, who has more years of martial arts experience than most people reading this article have been alive. Here at Florida Tech, we practice Mushinoto Ryu Jujutsu, a style of Japanese Jujutsu.

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Sensei Mark Laderwarg teaching MAA members

Ashley: My favorite part of this course and this class has definitely been feeling and seeing like I have been learning and getting better. I enjoy learning karate, not only for self defense, but also as a form of exercise and a means to make myself stronger and more fit.

Brooke: I’ve always wanted to learn martial arts, but could never afford it when I was in high school. So when I learned there was a class here, I was all for it. Learning how to defend myself has helped me increase my self-confidence and is a great way to relieve stress. After doing homework and sitting through lectures all week, it’s wonderful to be able to release all that tension by punching and kicking stuff!

We interviewed a few of the club officers to get an inside look and to see what they had to say about being a part of the Martial Arts Association at Florida Tech: President Katarina Vuckovic, a junior majoring in aerospace; Vice President Beatriz Saldana, a junior majoring in astrobiology; and Secretary Frank Ciardullo, a senior majoring in Information Technology Management.


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Omar and Katarina practicing


How long have you been training in martial arts?

Katarina: I trained three years before FIT and have been training here for two years now.

Beatriz: I’ve been training for four years: two years of tae kwon do and two years here.

Frank: I’ve been training in Mushinoto Ryu Jujutsu at Florida Tech for approximately three years.


What first interested you in martial arts?

Katarina: I wanted to know how to defend myself and I always thought martial arts were cool.

Beatriz: The notion of having ultimate control over my body.

Frank: I thought learning martial arts as a form of self-defense would be beneficial to me both physically and mentally.


 What’s your favorite thing about being in MAA?

Katarina: It gives me a chance to continue my training.

Beatriz: Training.

Frank: It allows us to interact with people from not only our own style, but people from other styles of martial arts as well.


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Beatriz and Evadne practicing


What’s the best thing about being an officer? The worst thing?

Katarina: It gives me a lot of things to do. But sometimes there’s too much to do.

Beatriz: The best thing is building my leadership skills. The worst is I tend to mess up and forget to do things.

Frank: The best thing about being an officer is knowing you have influence over the direction of the club. The worst thing about being an officer is knowing that if something goes wrong, such as planning for a tournament or ordering supplies, the club as a whole will suffer because of it.


Do you have any advice for new white belts or for anyone who wants to start training?

Katarina: Train hard and don’t give up!

Beatriz: Be consistent and train consciously.

Frank: Not only must you be willing to learn, but you must also be willing to take constructive criticism well. You will make mistakes, but you will learn and become better because of them.


As you can see from above, there can be something found here for any major, no matter if you’ve had previous training or not, although we recommend taking the Intro to Karate class before joining the Martial Arts Association. The Intro to Karate and Advanced Karate courses meet Tuesday and Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Martial Arts Association meets on the same days, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Come check us out if you ever get the chance!



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