LU Taijutsu: building resilience amidst stress

Midterms are fast approaching for Lawrence students, and with such a time often comes stress. Everyone has a unique way of dealing with it, including President of LU Taijutsu junior Alex Stewart, who sets aside time each week to help unite body and mind through the martial art taijutsu.  

“It helps me stay active during the term because it’s a set time and a set place to go do something […]when a lot of stuff is happening […]and assignments are coming in,” Stewart said. 

Stewart’s time with LU Taijutsu began when he was a first-year. He had been looking to begin practicing martial arts before Lawrence but did not want to commit since he would be leaving for university. So, when the opportunity presented itself as he scrolled through the student organizations list, he decided to take it, venturing into what would become a major focus of his time at Lawrence.  

The year Stewart joined was the first time LU Taijutsu met in person since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the pandemic’s effects had greatly impacted the club’s membership; Stewart described it as being “bare bones.” Given the intramural nature of the club, it would be difficult to meet online, but in-person meetings had been off the table in the year before Stewart’s arrival. Stewart remembered that the former president had put great effort just into keeping LU Taijutsu recognized by the Lawrence University Community Council (LUCC) as a student organization. Since the pandemic came to an end and Stewart became the new president, membership has been increasing slowly but surely.  

Rebuilding LU Taijutsu has been Stewart’s main goal as the club’s president and extends beyond just rebuilding its membership. At the end of his first year, he stepped up into the role of treasurer. He spent his sophomore year learning how to be an LU Taijutsu officer since there were no meetings to discuss what was expected from such a role and the club was mainly focused on staying afloat after the pandemic. Thus, he made it his goal to define what an officer role is in the context of the club.  

Another way Stewart hopes to insert LU Taijutsu into Lawrence’s culture is to collaborate with other student organizations. The club is currently working on a collaboration with the Student Alliance Against Sexual Harassment and Assault (SAASHA) to create a self-defense course that would be offered once or twice a term.  

LU Taijutsu is led by an instructor who has been teaching taijutsu at Lawrence for around 20 years. However, his time at Lawrence extends even beyond that; he had been coming to Lawrence as the previous instructor’s apprentice. His teachings are mostly based on ninjutsu, but he also draws from several different martial arts forms, including but not limited to karate, taekwondo, muay thai kickboxing and jiu jitsu.  

Aside from martial arts, LU Taijutsu also teaches the art of meditation, which Stewart said has been a helpful experience amidst the hustle and bustle of the school year.  

Stewart encourages Lawrentians to try taijutsu out for themselves and welcomes everyone to come try out a class.  

“It is a great place to come to learn self-defense and to learn how to be more in tune with your body and mind,” Stewart said. “Also, it’s fun as hell. You learn how to throw people around!”