Image Credit: Catherine J Bailey Flickr

Boasting a membership of over 100 people, the UCD Lau Gar Kickboxing club is one of the most popular martial arts on campus. They cater for a wide range of interests and levels, from beginners to advanced. The club particularly welcomes beginners at the start of each term, but you can also join at any time of the year as senior members of the club will be on hand to help you catch up to what level you would like to reach.

The code is based on the traditional Chinese Lau Gar syllabus, with a wide variety of options available for members to get involved in. Kickboxing, sparring and self-defence classes are regularly on offer for members but significantly, fighting is not mandatory with plenty of alternatives available to utilise. These options include circuit training, partner work and locks. Each session on offer also includes opportunities to improve your aerobic and cardiovascular fitness that also provides a chance to improve one’s flexibility.

Behind every club is a strong team – and that is no different at the UCD Lau Gar Kickboxing Club. Club captain Mark Cullen will arguably take much of the limelight, but he is certainly helped in so small hand by his team around him. Secretary Colm Magee, Treasurer Róisín Lande, Senior Treasurer Chris Quinn, who is also the club’s first aid officer. OCM’s Dylan Kierans and Charles Kelly also help with the smooth running of the operation. Last, but certainly not least is PRO and Ents Officer Lavinia De Vito.

Keeping in tandem with a high number of beginners joining the sport within the Belfield Sport Halls – Lavinia relates to how many start joining the sport in UCD when she spoke to the University Observer; “It’s like kickboxing I suppose. If you hit the head you get the most points, if you manage to hit your opponents from under the stomach there’s no points or if you don’t get points if you hit the back of your opponent.

“It’s very much a sport based on what the referee sees. If you touch them or if you think they touched them. You can get points without getting counted or you can get points even if you don’t touch your opponent.

“This year we’re having our second annual inter-club competition which is actually going to be geared towards beginners. We have a lot of new people in the club who have never tried kickboxing before and it’s actually quite easy to pick up. It’s a good workout and intensity even if you don’t want to do any fighting or anything like that.

“You can develop and improve in the sport quite quickly. I tried other clubs and I wanted something more intense for an exercise and I ended up giving that a go and I really liked it and here I am!”

The club will also be given a significant boost this year as their main sparring coach will return after a year’s sabbatical on September 30th. As mentioned previously, people of all levels and interests are welcome to join the club – with the more beginners joining the club the better. The scope for getting involved is fairly relaxed in all arenas as there is no great emphasis placed on one or two sole interests.

The club provides an opportunity to give members the platform to either use the sport as a means of working out, rather than just going for sashes, which, by all accounts, are quite achievable to gain in a short enough period of time. Also, there are plenty of practical skills that are provided to members, such as protection from knife attacks.

The club also has a decent number of accolades to associate itself with in recent months, as seen in February with the success at the inter-club tournament that took place in UCD. Of the three categories, two were won along with medals picked up at events in both Laois and Wexford.

The club also has plans to arrange a variety of social events throughout the year with a weekend away early on in Semester One planned to take place, while there will also be plenty of social events to take place throughout the year. There are hopes that a martial arts ball can be arranged to take place in conjunction with the Karate Club, but this has yet to be confirmed by all parties.

If you wish to join the club, there will be a stand at the Sports Expo in the UCD Sports Centre during Freshers Week where you can sign up to join the club. Membership costs €20 for the year which includes two sessions a week that can be availed of along with a wide variety of other benefits. You must be a student, staff member or alumni of University College Dublin to join and you can contact the club via email or through their social media channels.