Karate club joins campus as new student org


Sergio Montanez

New to Oakland University, the karate club is affiliated with the International Shotokan Karate Federation.

New to Oakland University’s endless list of activities and recreations is the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) Karate Club. 

Led by the passionate and dedicated Professor Mohammed Mahmoud, who also functions as the academic adviser and Sensei of the group, the club — although still growing — is eager to make an impact at OU and enlarge its size since beginning this August. 

The club is open to all, not just students and faculty who are associated with OU. Community member Yusuke Nakamura, who will be attending OU next semester, said he has really enjoyed the club thus far, despite having no experience before joining. 

“[Karate] is similar to Japanese culture in the way that it values traits of respect and strictness,” Nakamura said. 

The club is affiliated with the ISKF. Shotokan is a type of Karate style, one of the most popular, according to Mahmoud. 

The sport of karate consists of sharp, counteractive movements of punches and kicks in order to block an opponent. Karate is an art of self-defense

“When out on the street — whether you are a child, adult, senior, male, female, whoever — can use their skills [of karate] to protect themselves,” Mahmoud said. 

Although the activity teaches self-defense and promotes physical health, it assists with mental health as well. 

“[Karate] is good exercise, leading to good posture, heart, bones, muscles,” Mahmoud said. “It also helps with mental focus.” 

President Dr. Martin Vaughan of ISKF, also the chief instructor and regional director of the ISKF/U.S. Mid-America Region, offered to come instruct the club and train with them for free. Typically, training from an instructor of that caliber would be expensive, according to Mahmoud. 

On the official website, ISKF states that its mission is to “preserve and spread traditional Japanese karate through exceptional instruction.” The nonprofit organization has dojos all over the world, with Mahmoud hoping for OU’s club to become one as well. 

There are two official dojos in Michigan thus far: Swartz Creek Karate Club in New Hudson and Lightning Strikes Shotokan Karate Club in Flint. OU’s ISKF Karate Club truly aspires to become the third in Michigan overall. 

Instructor Carol Glenn of Swartz Creek Karate Club has extended an invitation to assist OU’s club with training of its members, most starting off as beginners, or white belts. In order to become an official club with ISKF, the club will need more diversity in its belt rankings. 

Besides diversity in belt rankings, Mahmoud would like more diversity in the club overall. Although the club is all men right now, inclusivity in gender is being strived for. 

Mahmoud, who has been studying the Japanese martial arts since he was 10 years old, said the ultimate goal of Karate is the perfection of character. For OU’s Karate club, he hopes they ultimately grow in size and in diversity of belt rankings. 

“It’s a blessing that I have this martial arts,” Mahmoud said. 

OU’s ISKF Karate Club’s meeting date, time and place, as well as any other information on the organization, can be found on the group’s GrizzOrgs page