Let’s get it out of the way now: regular old kung-fu fighting is so 1974. Just ask WPI’s Society of Martial Artists, or SOMA.
Every week, group members come together to learn and practice three different martial arts styles interchangeably—Aikido, Capoeira, and REaCT—to perfect their skills and meet new friends (not to mention earn PE credit for the first semester of every year).
While Aikido (a modern Japanese martial art where fighters use their opponents’ bodies against them) and Capoeira (an Afro-Brazilian dance/martial art combination that mixes acrobatics with kicks, dodges, and other martial arts basics) have roots in traditional martial arts, REaCT (Reality Endurance and Combat Training) is a mixed martial art that’s divided into three phases: stand-up fighting, tosses from standing to the ground, and groundwork. More than that, though, “It’s a great stress reliever and a way to keep active during the school year.”
So says SOMA president Claire Nicolas ’22, who, although she broke her ankle in her first term on campus and wasn’t medically cleared to participate until C-Term that year, cites the club as one of the reasons she decided to attend WPI in the first place. “Not many colleges offer a system where you can learn different martial arts all while being part of the same club,” she explains.
It’s also helped Nicolas with the transition from high school to college, using meeting times as both a de-stresser (particularly helpful around finals week, we’re sure) and a way to meet new friends in an already-bustling campus community.